Who doesn't like festive seasons? The magical music, the fierce dance, the vibrancy, the color and the enthusiasm! Being at festivals is like standing inside the mind of a culture as it dreams. So here are the 10 coolest and most unique festivals celebrated around the world. I bet it will be a divine experience.
1.Saint Patrick's Festival, Dublin
Saint Patrick's Day, also known as Feast of Saint Patrick is celebrated every year on March,17th in the memory of Saint Patrick. It is a festival for all the true Irishmen and those who feel Irish from their heart. History states that March,17 marks the death of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick baptised people and cast out paganism. Hence the Irish believe that thanks to him there are no snakes on their island.
Department stores are all decorated with green shamrock,a three-leaved plant which symbolizes the day. After green-the color of spring,the shamrock and national color of Ireland,the famous Irish Whiskey "Jameson" is sold in green glass bottles. People get dressed and painted in bright green, some wear costumes with red wigs and green caps, carry bagpipes and arrange lavish parades. They also listen to Irish music and sing funny songs.
Noisy celebrations are continued all day long and end with a grand display of fireworks. Indispensable companions are Irish whiskey and beer, foods such as corned beef with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes with parsley and green onions-generally foods that are green in color. For the Irish around the world, this is a magical day when winter dreams begin to turn into the wonders of summer!
2.Night of the Witches, Mexico
If witches and wizards have a spiritual home, it may well be the Mexican town of Catemaco. In 1970, a local shaman was struck with an idea to host a witchcraft convention and now every year hundreds of shamans, witches and healers from all over Mexico travel to Catemaco to perform a mass cleansing ceremony designed to rid them of previous year's negative energies. It is more of "Bewitched" than "The Blair Witch Project" with the event attracting tourists from all over the world.
The streets are crowded with vendors selling trinkets, magical potions and healings. Spiritualists and sorcerors hang out in every nook and cranny selling traditional remedies. The festival officially called 'Noche de Brujas' starts on the first Thursday night in March and carries on through the weekend. Hire a brujas and have them cast a spell on someone! It might be just the place for that lucky rabbit's foot you've always looked for.
3.Dragon Boat Festival, China
The Dragon Boat festival, also known as the Dwanwu Festival has been celebrated in China for more than 25,000 years! The Fifth day of the Fifth lunar month marks the beginning of the various events held and also boosts up the tourism industry. Legend says that a Chinese patriot, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Mi Lo river to protest against the corrupt government in the period of 475-221 BC. In order to save him and prevent the fish from eating him, the locals threw rice patties into the river. Ever since then rice dumplings or zongzi are prepared and eaten during this festival season. Other activities include drinking realgar wine and dragon boat racing.
Dragon boats are giant sized boats painted attractively and embellished with a dragon head and tail. The race begins with the rowing of boats to the rhythm of pounding drums. Once the night falls the breath-taking Dragon Lanterns and brightly lit creations come alive and truly steal the show.Since summer is a time when diseases spread rapidly, Dragon Boat Festival represents an occasion for driving off evil spirits and pestilence and for finding peace in one's life.
4.Carnival of Venice, Italy
The tradition of carnival dates back over 900 years. It was the one time during the year when there were no bounds. Everybody was free to do things desired all year without any guilt thanks to the masks. In Italy, it is celebrated in different ways varying from city to city. The most popular is the Carnival of Venice which is famous for masks.
Venetian masks were wore first in the 15th century to remove social and sexual differences. During the carnival, Venice comes alive with masked Venetians and tourists. Bands,jugglers and entertainers are everywhere and the canals are full of colorful boats. The nights are also full of parties and masked balls.It gives you a feeling as if fairy tales are coming alive!
5.Las Fallas, Spain
Las Fallas, one of Spain's most odd and crazy fiestas held every year in Valencia. Las Fallas means "the fires" in Valencian. The origin of Las Fallas dates back to the 16th century when the onset of spring season was celebrated as a pagan ritual. The focus of this festival is to create and destroy ninots(puppets or dolls), which are statues made out of cardboard,wood,paper-mache and plaster. These ninots are lifelike and usually demonstrate satirical scenes or poke fun at corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities. Many ninots are several feet tall. The ninots remain intact until March 19th, after which men stuff them with fireworks.
All the streetlights are switched off and the ninots are set on fire at 12 am exactly. The last ones to be burnt win prizes and 1 ninot is saved every year for an exhibition at the Museum. When at midnight Valencia goes up in flames with about 300 ninots being burnt, the spectacle is unforgettable!
6.Day of the Dead, Mexico
Day of the Dead, as creepy as it sounds, is commonly known as 'Dia de Muertos' in Spanish and is traditionally celebrated on 1st and 2nd of November in Mexico. This festival celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died while also reminding people about their own mortality. Skull is used as a symbol of the holiday. People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing foods and beverages, as well as photos of the dead. This is done to encourage visits by the soul.
Celebrations can take a humorous tone as celebrants remember funny events about th dead. Toys are brought for the dead children and bottles of tequila for adults. Some people believe that the spirits consume all the nutrition leaving behind the matter. Pillows and blankets are also left out so that the dead can rest after their long journey.
7.Mardi Gras, USA
Mardi Gras, a French term which means Fat Tuesday referring to the practice of the last night of eating fatty foods before the ritual fasting which begins on Ash Wednesday. This day can occur anytime between February 3rd and March 9th, depending on when Easter is held that year. In 1857, a group called Mystik Krewe of Comus staged the first modern style Mardi Gras parade. The torchlit evening procession of floats illustrated themes from mythology and literature. The parades are headed by 'Kings' and 'Queens' who throw trinkets at the crowd. There's no general theme for Mardi Gras but each individual depicts a specific subject such as legends, children's stories, geography etc.
Originally the costumes were worn to keep the identities of Krewe members secret whereas today its no longer a big deal. Other practices include dancing, sports competitions, wearing masks etc. Its not compulsory to wear a costume. However, when you look around, you may feel strange out of costume rather than in it!
8.Burning Man, Nevada
Burning Man is a week long annual art, music and everything-else festival held in the middle of Black Rock desert,Nevada. It usually takes place between August 27 and September 3. But what exactly is Burning Man? It's hard to say. The founder reckons it's a City of Art; the motto is 'No Spectators' and everybody has to contribute something to that year's theme. This very special event which started with 8 people on a San Francisco beach in 1986 has grown to a huge art festival where hundreds of artists come and build art installations, sculptures, art cars and make performances.
A giant, wooden effigy is burnt which is possibly inspired by the horror movie Wicker Man. But it's not pagan, only a form of art. In short: it's an intriguing way to step out of one's normal lifestyle and combine artistic as well as personal freedom.
9.The Fringe Festival, Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world's largest art festival where visitors, artists, music and theatre mix together in a beautiful experience. This makes Edinburgh one of the most beloved places in UK. From 3 to 27 August, spanning 25 days, this year's festival will involve over 25,000 artists with over 40,000 performances!
The Fringe Festival originated when some artists weren't accepted to participate in the official Edinburgh's international festival. They then decided to set up an alternative event, which over the years grew huge. The major events include Music, Dance & Physical Theatre, Musicals & Opera and Children's Shows. Next time you're travelling in UK, don't miss this event!
10.Night of the Radishes, Mexico
One of the most colorful and unique festivals of Mexico, commonly referred to as 'Noche de Rabanos', is celebrated on December 23rd. As crazy as it sounds, the Radish Night festival lasts only a few hours due to limited lifespan of vegetables as folk art. Farmers carve the radishes into imaginative shapes in order to lure the people into buying the produce at the market.
Some of these radishes grown by the artisans are about 50 cms in length. These giant vegetables are heavily treatd with chemicals and fertilizers, hence not safe for consumption. The line of eager viewers is long, and the judges ready with the winners. Dozens of booths display carvings representing animals, saints, dancers, cathedrals, the Virgin Mary, nearly any imagination!