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The Ultimate List of the World’s Greatest Festivals [Part 2]

The Ultimate List of the World’s Greatest Festivals [Part 2]

WOE Media


Open’er Festival – Gdynia, Poland (July 01)

Poland’s largest annual music event is uncommonly cool. Many fans refer to it as a low-cost Glastonbury Festival (the UK’s big rock and arts ta-do), since it has similar big-name bands and avant-garde theater and arts, but for a much smaller price tag.

Manchester International Festival – Manchester, England (July 02)

The Manchester International Festival is a biennial international arts festival, with a specific focus on original new work, held in the English city of Manchester. The festival is a biennial event, first taking place in June–July 2007, and subsequently recurring in the summers of 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Wife Carrying World Championship – Sonkajarvi, Finland Jul 03

The World Wife-Carrying Championship is yet another tongue-in-cheek event from those crazy folks in Finland. The race, which has been held since 1992, draws over 40 couples and almost 10,000 spectators. While the sport has been considered by some as nothing more than a joke, competitors take it very seriously, just like any other sport.

Fiesta de San Fermín – Pamplona, Spain (July 06 – 14)

Ernest Hemingway meets sprinter Usain Bolt at one of the world’s most famous and adrenaline ­filled festivals, la Fiesta de San Fermín . With a million revelers visiting from all over the world and a dozen bulls in every run, the streets of Pamplona provide the backdrop for a festival with a nearly mythical reputation.

Bastille Day – Paris, France (July 14)

Like July 4th in the US, France is decked out in red, white and blue, but instead of beer and backyard barbecues, this more formal celebration features decorated military, lush banquets and red wine. Across the world freedom is celebrated with a bang at Bastille Day , and on this night, The City of Light shines brighter than any.

Melt – Grafenhainichen, Germany (July 17)

Set in one of the most unique festival locations in the world, Melt! Brings life to the gigantic monuments of the machine age with its colorful lighting and thumping tech beats. This is the ultimate “Industrial Meets Electronic” music festival that takes place in the massive industrial museum of Ferropolis , Germany. The event location spreads over 6 floors, and has a line-up of nearly 100 live acts over the weekend.

Maine Lobster Festival – Maine, United States (July 29)

Lobster is synonymous with the state of Maine . So much so that until 1999, a bright red lobster was the only ornamentation seen on the Pine Tree State’s license plates. The Main Lobster Festival —part culinary celebration, part arts and crafts fair, part music fest, and part maritime exploration—is classic Americana.


Gay Pride Parade – Netherlands (first weekend of August)

Amsterdam Pride is a citywide gay-festival held annually at the center of Amsterdam during the first weekend of August. The festival attracts several hundred-thousand visitors each year and thus one of the largest publicly held annual events in the Netherlands. Amsterdam Pride was originally organized in 1996. The peak of the festival is during the Canal Parade, a parade of boats of large variety on the first Saturday of August.

Cannes International Firework Festival– Cannes, France (August 24)

It is in the fantastic setting of an open bay between the Iles de Lérins and the Pointe de l’Estérel, in a natural setting and the 400 metre wide and 200 metre high, star bedecked screen of the City of Cinema, that the best pyrotechnicians will come to compete and win before an audience of 200,000 people, their heads craned skywards. This is a meeting of the gods of the world of fireworks.

Burning Man – Nevada, United States (August 25)

Burning Man conjures up all kinds of outrageous images for the uninitiated: from naked New-Agers dancing till dawn to polyamorous pursuers fueled by drugs. Yes, the Playa (the desert stage location where the Man, the temple and much of the art is) is a culturally curious place, one part hedonistic, one part idealistic. But, amidst the hippies and Silicon Valley CEOs that populate this pop-up town, the common thread is an appreciation of the life-affirming nature of the artistic spirit.

La Tomatina – Valencia, Spain (August 26)

La Tomatina is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, a town located 30 km from the Mediterranean, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight purely for fun. It is held on the last Wednesday of August, during the week of festivities of Buñol.  La Tomatina started the last Wednesday of August in 1945 when some young people spent the time in the town square to attend the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade.


Labor Day – USA & Canada (September 1)

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.  After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored

Mid-Autumn Festival – China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore (September 8)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese peoples. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Han calendar and Vietnamese calendar (within 15 days of the autumnal equinox), on the night of the full moon between early September to early October of the Gregorian calendar.

Hajj – Mecca, Saudi Arabia (September 09 – 14)

Two thousand years before Christ was born, Abraham’s wife (Hager) and baby son (Ishmael) were stranded in the desert. Ishmael was about to die of thirst, the story goes, when the angel Gabriel created a source of water for the baby to drink: the Well of Zemzem. In gratitude, Abraham built the Kaaba—the the black-cloth-draped cubical building at the center of Hajj—at the exact place where Gabriel had placed the spring for his family. Over the millennia, people of different religions traveled to worship at the site, but in the year 630, Mohammed (RSAW)brought some of his followers there, making for the first-ever Hajj. While the Muslims were there, they removed the idols placed there by non-monotheists and dedicated the site to Allah. Since then, the Kaaba has become the focal point for Muslim prayer all around the world, and a source of unity for worshipers.

Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany (September 19 – October 4)

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest funfair held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event.

Balloon Cup – Kirchberg, Austria (September 21)

For the 25th time already, the “Libro”-Balloon Cup takes place in September 2014 in Kirchberg in Tyrol. Over 30 teams from Austria, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland meet in Kirchberg to compete in the skies. The ‘Balloon Night’ in particular will draw in the crowds of spectators.

Galway Oyster Festival – Galway, Ireland (September 24)

Founded in 1954, the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival celebrates the lowly but inspired mollusk, Ostrea edulis , aka European flat oyster, or a belon, in menu-speak. Pubs along the city’s Oyster Trail sell oysters by the thousands during the three-day culinary festival. Of course, an oyster’s decidedly salty nature only encourages the eater’s thirst, a remedy roundly suggested by participating pubs in the form of pint of Guinness.


Alba International White Truffle Fair – Alba, Italy (October 11)

The festival’s origins date to 1928, initially conceived as a harvest festival with several exhibitions and floats; one in particular by Giacomo Morra was so successful that he decided to turn the whole thing into an actual festival. There are many truffle festivals in northern and central Italy in the fall harvest season, but this one’s the mother of them all. And you don’t have to shell out big bucks to purchase truffles in order to enjoy the occasion. The pungent, particular smell is everywhere, and it’s not hard to find a dish of pasta, risotto or grilled vegetables featuring the revered mushroom.

Fantasy Fest – Key West, Florida, USA (October 17)

Started by two Key West businessmen who wanted to accelerate the start of the traditional peak winter season, Fantasy Fest probably rivals Mardi Gras as America’s most free-for-all hedonistic party for those 20, 40, 60, or 80. While the roots of the event match Key West’s gay mecca demographic, over time, the audience has grown more mainstream but, beware, there’s a “try-sexual” flavor that still adds a spicy twist to the affair. Fantasy Fest isn’t for everyone, but for those who love it, they swear by it and make the trek every year attracted by the combination of balls, costume competitions, body painting, homemade bikini contests, and the infamous camp parade where people just let it all hang out, literally.

Diwali – India (October 23)

An ancient celebration with deeply spiritual roots, this Festival of Lights (Diwali) is technically a tradition with a religious foundation, but all that are willing to share in the season of abundance are welcome. Thousands of oil lamps, fireworks, lavish feasts, fragrant flowers and colored sand in the form of lotus blossoms adorn India in this annual home coming that is Diwali.

Pushkar Camel Fair – Pushkar, India (October 26)

The Pushkar Camel Fair isn’t just a gathering of the dromedaries. This is a county fair of epic proportions, complete with rides like the “Cage of Death,” friendly competitions like the longest mustache contest, and an endless, Technicolor parade of dancers, snake charmers, magicians and musicians.

The Village Halloween Parade – New York, USA Oct 31

On October 31 in New York, it’s impossible not to feel a part of the beating heart of the city, to feel like a small but significant part of the great sum that is the Village Halloween Parade.


Melbourne Cup Carnival – Australia (November 14)

The Melbourne Cup is the crown jewel of the Australian horse racing calendar. First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is steeped in social, fashion related and cultural tradition. Each year on the first Tuesday of November, the greatest thoroughbreds from across the globe make their way to Flemington Racecourse for a shot at the prestigious title and a chance at the AU$6.2 million in prize money Covering 3,200 meters (almost two miles), it is the richest turf race in the world and second only to the US $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Lewes Bonfire – Lewes, United Kingdom (November 05)

The anti-papacy sentiment began under Queen Elizabeth I after she was excommunicated in 1570. Soon priests were being executed, Catholics were forbidden from performing Mass, and began fleeing the country. Lewes Bonfire Societies function much like the crewes of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Each group has its own meeting place (all pubs, except one), and each has unique colors (displayed on wide-striped sweaters) and costumes, individual nomenclature, and separate parade routes (since each society represents individual districts of the city).

Guru Nanak Jayanti – India (November 06)

Sikhism’s most sacred festival falls on the full moon, or Kartik Poornima , which is a lovely sight given that the location is the Golden Temple with a lake surrounding it. With the Golden Temple lit up, twinkling lights surrounding the lake, a full moon glistening and Sikhs donning turbans and their finest silks, Nanak Jayanti is a festival made for the visually-minded folks of the world.

Pirates Week Festival – Cayman Islands (November 06)

Every November, the Cayman Islands play host to an onslaught of scallywags and rapscallions at the annual Pirates Week Festival. Though the festival is known as Pirates Week, celebrations actually last for 11 days. This fun-filled event comes complete with a simulated pirate invasion and plenty of fancy dress.

Yi Peng and Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival) – Chiang Mai, Thailand (November 07)

The undisputable highlight of Yi Peng and Loy Krathong is the spellbinding show that happens when thousands of people converge to release khom loi (lit lanterns) into the night sky. Prior to the big spectacle, the setting is joyful and serene as monks perform chants during an on-stage ceremony.

Krampusnacht Festival – Klagenfurt, Austria (November 24)

Austria is where Krampus celebrations evolve from village parade to full on festival. Austria is where Krampus is so popular, psychologists and schools are considering banning the creature because it’s so ubiquitous and scary to children. Austria is where a Krampus Museum can be found in the town of Suetschach.

Budapest Christmas Fair – Budapest, Hungary (November 27 – December 31)

The annual, month-long Budapest Christmas Fair, open-air and free to enter, is held in central Pest’s Vörösmarty Square, at the end of the Váci utca, or “Fashion Street;” if you find yourself in front of the Great Market Hall, turns around—you’ve gone in the polar opposite direction. A sparkly, toe-tapping and downright tasty introduction to all things Hungarian, the fair is one-stop shopping not only for your holiday presents, but also for your exploration of the country and its culture.


SantaCon – California, United States (December 13)

In cities across the globe, imagine that all the shopping-mall Santas get off work at the exact same time and head straight to the bar. This is SantaCon , and this tide of crimson carousers puts a different spin on being merry, all while still being the Santa of dreams to children they encounter along the way.

Burning the Clocks – Brighton, United Kingdom (December 21)

Burning the Clocks is a unique festival of light and art that brings the city of Brighton together to mark the Winter Solstice. The festival was created in 1994 by the award-winning community arts charity Same Sky as a way to celebrate the holiday spirit regardless of people’s religious beliefs. Recently it has adopted a totally different purpose as a rebellion against the modern day excess of Christmastime commercialism.

Christmas –World (December 25)

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual religious and cultural holiday commemorating the the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night. Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

Hogmanay Celebration – Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (December 30)

Forget sitting in front of the TV and watching the ball drop in Times Square—the best New Year’s party is happening at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay .From December 31st through January 1st, tradition sends many Scots to clean their houses and settle debts, all in the name of getting a fresh start. When night falls, however, the Hogmanay celebration is in full swing with fireworks, parades and performances, all with a Scottish twist.

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