What's on around the world
From the colourful exuberance of the Holi festival in India to the serene beauty of Hanami in Japan, there are plenty of seasonal celebrations going on around the world this March. Here are just a handful of amazing international festivals and events for intrepid travellers to experience this month.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Venice and Cologne
Carnival is celebrated in many Roman Catholic countries before the fasting of Lent beginsi, but the festivities in Rio, Venice and Cologne each have their own unique sights and sounds. Rio de Janeiro is known as the Carnival Capital of the World, with thousands of foreigners travelling there annually to see the raucous festival that runs from the 28th of February to the 4th of March this yearii. Listen to the infectious beat of the street bands' drums, be dazzled by the extravagant and daring costumes and samba the night away as locals and foreigners alike party like there's no tomorrow!
Venice also hosts a spectacular Carnevale, running from Valentine's Day on the 14th of February and culminating with the best masked costume contest on the 4th of Marchiii. Enjoy the romantic backdrop of Venice's canals while parades and spectacles showcase amazing medieval costumes and masks, with this year's theme of "Wonder and Fantasy of Nature" sure to impressiii.
Karneval in Cologne sees the German city transformed as young and old, locals and travellers dress up in their finest or most bizarre costumes. One of the most anticipated Karneval events is Rose Monday, on the 3rd of March this year, when a procession of floats make their way through the city, scattering sweets, gifts and flowers to the crowdsiv. Continue celebrating into the evening by singing "Kölle alaaf" or "Long live Cologne" and drinking the local beer, Kölsch.
A national Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of spring across India, Holi falls on the 17th of March this yearv. The celebrations begin with the lighting of bonfires on the eve of Holi, but the real fun begins the next day when old and young alike take part in playful fights with colourful powder and dyed water.
SXSW Music Conference and Festival, Texas, U.S.
A must-see for music lovers, the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW) showcases over 1700 artists in the week-long extravaganza in Austin, Texasvi. The festival, running from the 7th to the 16th of March this year, includes a music industry trade show, conference talks, a film festival as well as endless live music and gigs throughout the festivalvi. You can purchase a badge that will give you access to some or all of the events throughout the week, with a universal access Platinum badge costing a cool USD $1595vii.
St. Patrick's Festival, Ireland
The national holiday of St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in many nations worldwide, but to enjoy a truly authentic Irish experience, head to Ireland's capital, Dublin, for four days of festivities running from the 14th to the 17th of Marchviii. There'll be Irish craft beer and food markets, fairs, Irish dancing displays, a treasure hunt and more before the festival is topped off with the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on the 17th of Marchix.
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain
Las Fallas is Valencia's famed festival of fire, which sees deafening fireworks let off at 2pm in the city each day from the 1st to the 19th of Marchx. The revelries really heat up towards the end of the festival, when hundreds of huge papier-mâché monuments are displayed on wooden platforms around the city and are set ablaze in festive bonfires on the 19thx. Throughout Las Fallas the city is alive with festivities at all times of the day, including outdoor concerts, bull fights and paradesxi, making it a great time to experience all Valencia has to offer.
Each year as cherry blossoms begin to bloom throughout Japan, locals and tourists flock to popular spots to picnic and party under the trees and view the budding flowersxii. Although the cherry blossom season can begin from January in Okinawa in the south and as late as May in Hokkaido in the north, Hanami festivities are usually in full swing by the end of Marchxii. One of the most beautiful spots to have a picnic party under the blossoms is in Maruyama-kōen in Kyoto, where a grand weeping cherry tree is illuminated at night, creating a remarkably beautiful spectaclexii.
Whether you've set your sights on rocking out to an up and coming band in Austin or would rather picnic with Japanese delicacies beneath flowering cherry trees, make sure you take out travel insurance once you've booked your flights.