The Top 10 Most Beautiful Festivals Worldwide

Festivals worldwide are a unique and poignant glance into a country’s culture and traditions. Not only are festivals buckets of fun, but they are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to immerse yourself into the culture at the country’s most celebratory time of the year.

Your experience will be richer, your memories will be more fruitful, and your language acquisition will flourish when put in such a monumental position in time. 

Most countries have a few important annual festivals that represent and combine their compelling religion, history, art, and language. Make the extra effort to travel to countries for their famous festivals – you will not regret it!

Here are the top ten festivals from around the world that should be on the tippity top of your bucket list. Some of these are the biggest festivals in the world. Let’s begin!

 

#1: Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

festivals worldwide

Leave the gray skies of your hometown in February to travel to the colorful, outrageous, exorbitant display of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Falling in mid-February before the Catholic holiday of Lent (the 2023 dates are February 17th – February 22nd), Carnival is a week-long spectacle of grandiose parades, extravagant costumes, rhythmic drum displays, and delicious food. It is a flash of color, creativity, and culture. 

The Portuguese Basics To Know Before Traveling To Carnival:

EnglishPortuguesePronunciation
Hi/HelloOi/Olá  /
Good morningBom dia
Good afternoonBoa tarde
Good nightBoa Noite
Nice to meet youPrazer
PleasePor favor
You’re welcomeDe nada
Thank you Obrigada
Yes/NoSim/Não  /
What is your name?Qual é o seu nome? 
My name is …Me chamo …
How are you?Tudo bem?
I am good.Eu estou bem.
I’m hungry!Estou com fome!
I don’t know.Eu não sei.
Excuse meCom licença
What time is it?Que horas são?
I am learning Portuguese.Eu estou aprendendo Português

If you want more Portuguese learning materials, check out Useful Guide To 50+ Basic Portuguese Words.

 

#2: Holi – India

festivals worldwide

The Holi Festival is one of the most popular festivals in Hinduism, celebrating the triumph of good over evil. The images Holi evokes are striking, specifically because of the electrifying, highly saturated color powders thrown in celebration, coating people in a beautiful rainbow. 

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival, and it is in the Spring to represent new life and hope (it’s on March 8th in 2023). Although Holi is mostly celebrated in India, you can also find the festival in other countries that practice Hinduism like Nepal or Mauritius. 

The Holi festival is pure, uncontaminated joy, and one that will make you feel childlike at heart. 

The Hindi Basics To Know Before Traveling To Holi:

EnglishHindiPronunciation
Helloनमस्ते (Namaste)
Thank youधन्यवाद (Dhanyavad)
Sorryमाफ़ करना (Maaf kijiye)
Excuse meक्षमा करें (Suniye)
How are you (formal)?आप कैसे हैं (Aap kaise hain?)
How are you (informal)?क्या हाल है (Kya haal hai?)
Yes/Noहां / नहीं (Haan/Nahi) /
I’m hungry.मुझे भूख लगी है (Mujhe bhookh lagi hai.)
How much?कितना? (Kitna?)
Where are the toilets?शौचालय कहाँ हैं (Shauchalay kahan hai?)
Goodbyeअलविदा (Alavida)

If you want more Hindi learning materials, check out 100+ Basic Phrases to Start Speaking Hindi Quickly.

 

#3: Saint Patrick’s Day – Dublin, Ireland

festivals worldwide

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th every year, the death date of the patron Saint Patrick of Catholicism. It celebrates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, but nowadays is a huge public display of parades, leprechauns, live music, food, shamrocks, and pride. 

You’ve never seen more green in your life than you’ll see in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. The legend goes that you’re invisible to leprechauns if you’re wearing green (so as not to get pinched!) In that case, pack up all your green clothing and travel to one of the most spirited festivals in the world this upcoming March!

The Irish Basics To Know Before Traveling To St. Patrick’s Day:

EnglishIrish
Yes
NoNíl
HelloDia duit
GoodbyeSlán
CheersSláinte
PleaseLe do thoil
Thank youGo raibh maith agat
I’m sorryTá brón orm

If you want more Irish learning materials, check out 30 Words And Phrases In Irish.

 

#4: Songkran Festival – Thailand

festivals worldwide

Welcome to the world’s biggest water fight! The Songkran festival is the celebration of the Buddhist New Year (falling on April 13th every year), and one of the most joyous celebrations in the Thai calendar. 

Originally, water was used in the ceremony of pouring water over the Buddha statues for the symbol of purification, but today it’s a festival of drenching everyone with water, not just Buddhas!  

People travel far and wide to participate in this crazy fun festival, and it has become a day of laughter and light for the Thai people and travelers alike. 

The Thai Basics To Know Before Traveling To The Songkran Festival:

EnglishThaiPronunciation
Helloสวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii)
Good morning.สวัสดีตอนเช้า (sà-wàt-dii dtɔɔn-cháo)
Good afternoon.สวัสดีตอนบ่าย (sà-wàt-dii dtɔɔn-bàai)
Good night.ราตรีสวัสดิ์ (raa-dtrii-sà-wàt)
Nice to meet you.ยินดีที่ได้รู้จัก (yin-dii tîi dâi rûu-jàk)
You’re welcomeด้วยความยินดี (dûuai kwaam-yin-dii)
Thank youขอบคุณ (kɔ̀ɔp-kun)
Yes/Noใช่ / ไม่ (châi/mâi) /
What is your name?คุณชื่ออะไร (kun chʉ̂ʉ à-rai)
My name is …ฉันชื่อ… (chǎn chʉ̂ʉ)
How are you?สบายดีไหม (sà-baai-dii mǎi)
I am good.ฉันสบายดี (chǎn sà-baai-dii)
Excuse meขอโทษ (kɔ̌ɔ-tôot)
I don’t understand.ฉันไม่เข้าใจ (chǎn mâi kâo-jai)

If you want more Thai learning materials, check out 500 Useful Common Thai Phrases For Travel.

 

#5: Dia de Los Muertos – Mexico

festivals worldwide

The ‘Day of the Dead’ festival in Mexico is not quite what it seems. Instead of mourning the dead, the Mexican people decide to celebrate and remember those who have passed with elaborate costumes and face makeup, skulls, paper mache decorations, and adorning gravestones in cemeteries. 

The legend goes that the spirits of the deceased visit their families on Halloween night and leave on November 2nd, so many Mexican people spend these days in cemeteries, celebrating their deceased loved ones with traditional music, food, and dances. 

It’s a lovely and striking display of remembering those who have passed while celebrating their own special culture and enjoying the gift of life. 

The Spanish Basics To Know Before Traveling To Dia De Los Muertos:

EnglishSpanishPronunciation
HelloHola
GoodbyeAdiós
PleasePor favor
Thank youGracias
SorryLo siento
Yes/NoSí/No /
Good morningBuenos días
Good afternoonBuenas tardes
Good eveningBuenas noches
Hello, my name is …Hola, me llamo …
What’s your name?¿Cómo te llamas?
Nice to meet you.Mucho gusto.
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?Disculpa. ¿Dónde está el baño?
What time is it?¿Qué hora es?

If you want more Spanish learning materials, check out 60+ Best Basic Spanish Words And Phrases.

 

#6: Cannes Film Festival – France

festivals worldwide

Located on the stunning French Riviera, the Cannes Film Festival is a hub for the advancement of high-quality filmmaking. Held annually, this famous festival showcases fascinating, powerful films that may have been overlooked at the big box office, as their mission is to provide a platform for new talent. Through funding and celebrity appearances, the festival has turned into a legendary and prestigious affair.

This high-class, annual event is a must for any self-proclaimed film buff. Here, you will find A-list celebrities enjoying the beauty of filmmaking and the powerful effect it can make on the world. Cannes Film Festival has become the most important film festival in the world!

In 2023, the 76th Festival de Cannes will take place from May 16th – May 27th. Enjoy the sweet, salty air of the Mediterranean Sea while geeking out on brilliant films at next year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The French Basics To Know Before Traveling To The Cannes Film Festival:

EnglishFrenchPronunciation
Hello/Good morningBonjour
GoodbyeAu revoir
Yes/NoOui/Non /
Thank youMerci
PleaseS’il vous plaît
Good eveningBonsoir
Excuse meExcusez-moi
You’re welcome (informal)De rien
I’m sorry.Je suis désolé
What is your name?Comment vous appelez-vous?
Do you speak English?Parlez-vous anglais?
My name is …Je m’appelle
How are you doing?Comment allez-vous?
What time is it?Quelle heure est-il?
Can you help me?Pouvez-vous m’aider?
How much is this?Combien ça coûte?

If you want more French learning materials, check out 50+ Basic French Travel Phrases.

 

#7: Snow & Ice Festival – China

festivals worldwide

Looking for cozy winter festivals around the world? You should consider traveling to Harbin, China for a winter wonderland immersive experience.

The city becomes alive with gorgeous ice sculptures and art installations that light up the night sky from December – February. The festival features intricate light & laser shows, dog sledding races, and festive fun that is contagious to everyone present. There’s also an Ice Lantern Festival that precedes this one!

Pack your boots and travel to China for the largest ice & snow festival in the world, also known as the illustrious snow sculpture festival.

The Mandarin Chinese Basics To Know Before Traveling To The Snow & Ice Festival

EnglishMandarinPronunciation
Hello你好 (Nǐhǎo)
Thank you谢谢 (Xièxiè)
You’re welcome别客气 (Bù kèqì)
Good morning早上好 (Zǎoshang hǎo)
Goodnight晚安 (Wǎn ān)
Where is the bathroom?厕所在哪里 (Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ?)
How much?多少钱 (Duō shǎo?)
Very beautiful很漂亮 (Hĕn piàoliang)
I don’t understand 我不明白 (Wǒ bù dǒng)

If you want more Chinese learning materials, check out 50+ Basic Chinese Phrases.

 

#8: Gion Matsuri – Kyoto, Japan

festivals worldwide

Considered the most famous festival in Japan, the Gion Matsuri takes place over the entire month of July (with the grand parade on July 17th) and is a prime time to visit the incredible city of Kyoto.

This spectacular festival is over 1000 years old!! It dates back to the 800s and was created as a way to appease the gods during a disease outbreak.

Even today, the festival continues some history by appointing a local boy to be a divine messenger to the gods. The boy cannot step foot on the ground from the 13th until the 17th of July, only after he has been paraded through the spectacular town and procession of displays.

The Japanese people go all out with embellished decorations, traditional, elaborate clothing, and delicious food. One beautiful display is the lantern festival leading up to the main event. You can feel the excitement in the air as the stunning lanterns float by and people gather with their loved ones to eat.

If you are as fascinated by this unique history as I am, then you should definitely consider going to the Gion Matsuri at some point in your life. Become a part of history and support this beautiful festival.

The Japanese Basics To Know Before Traveling To Gion Matsuri

EnglishJapanesePronunciation
Yesはい (Hai)
Noいいえ (Iie)
Pleaseお願いします (O-negai shimasu)
Thank youありがとうございます (Arigatō gozaimashita)
You’re welcomeとんでもございません (Dōitashimashite)
Excuse meすみません (Sumimasen)
I’m sorryごめんなさい (Gomennasai)
Good morningおはよう (Ohayō gozaimasu)
Good eveningこんばんは (Konbanwa)
Good nightおやすみ (O-yasumi nasai)
How are you?元気ですか (O-genki desu ka?)

If you want more Japanese learning materials, check out 20+ Basic Japanese Phrases.

 

#9: Mardi Gras – New Orleans, USA

festivals worldwide

Mardi Gras (French for ‘Fat Tuesday’) is a gigantic & glutinous festival celebrated in New Orleans that ends before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Catholic religion (2023 date is February 21st).

Lent is supposed to be a time of abstinence and submission to the Lord, so Mardi Gras celebrates the final days before the holy week by indulging in excess: food, alcohol, costumes, beads, and masquerade balls.

The ornate parades and jolly spirits of the people turn this city into a wonderland of fun during Mardi Gras. It’s something everyone should experience once in their lifetime, so get cracking on your trip to ‘Fat Tuesday in the USA.

 

#10: Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany

Located in the stunning Bavarian region of Munich, Germany, the fall festival Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival), famous for its dizzying carnival rides and of course, its beer. Between all the lagers you will consume, there are food stalls, amusement rides, and general good cheer all around.

In 2023, Oktoberfest will begin on September 16th and finish on October 3rd.

Oktoberfest began in celebration of a royal wedding in the early 1800s and has turned into a modern-day jubilee. Between the beer, traditional German food, and joy rides, it’s impossible to have a bad time at Oktoberfest! Saddle up your lederhosen and join the fun at next year’s fun at this famous fall festival!

The German Basics To Know Before Traveling To Oktoberfest

EnglishGermanPronunciation
HelloHallo
Good dayGuten tag
PleaseBitte
Thank youDanke
Bless youGesundheit
Yes/NoJa/Nein /
My name is …Ich heiße…
What’s your name?Wie heißt du?
How are you?Wie geht es dir?
I’m doing well.Mir geht’s gut
Where is the toilet?Wo ist die Toilette?
How much is this?Was kostet das?
Do you speak English?Sprechen Sie Englisch?
I do not understand.Ich verstehe nicht.

If you want more Japanese learning materials, check out 100+ Essential German Phrases.

 

Honorable Mentions – Other Famous World Festivals

  • Burning man festival
  • Toronto international film festival
  • Montreux jazz festival (Montreal Jazz festival)
  • Edinburgh fringe festival
  • Glastonbury festival
  • La Tomatina festival (The tomato festival in Spain)

 

Final Thoughts 

There you have it. My list of the biggest and best festivals in the world.

Festivals are a beautiful expression of the human spirit and all the diverse cultures we come from. Traveling to these festivals is a rare experience in cultures different from your own. Become immersed in the music, food, dance, and traditional clothing of each country you’re visiting. Learn about the history of the best festivals, and the religious/cultural reasons why it’s important to the people. Try speaking to locals in their native language, and see how much both you and they appreciate it. 

These experiences will change your worldview, and allow you to better understand those around you. Though it takes more effort to travel to these places during the festivals, it will be worth it once you arrive and see the spectacular sights and sounds of the parades, places, and people. 

 

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