Best Festivals in January Around the World

Think ‘festivals’ and you might just think summer, but there are loads of festivals in January for you to enjoy. 

Hands up if you’re not a fan of January?

Cash strapped from Christmas, bad weather and a case of the winter blues mean many of us spend the month wishing spring would hurry up and arrive. It doesn’t have to be a total white out though.

The best way to beat the January blues is to check out this January festival calendar, and pick one or two to spice up the start of the year. Give yourself something to look forward to!

January festivals around the world

Photos of the Otaru Light Path Festival

Falls Festival, Australia

28th December to 6th January

The first question to ask yourself is where in the world isn’t seeing significant amounts of snow and rain in January? Australia will do.

Falls Festival tours to Lorne, Marion Bay, Byron Bay and Fremantle from the 28th of December right through to the 6th of January giving you plenty of places to choose from.

In its 27th year, the music fest knows how to put together a line up and does a good job of blending interactional acts like Halsey, Vampire Weekend and Disclosure with locals ones too.

Falls Festival is one of the only music festivals in January around the world. 

Harbin Ice Festival, China

25th December to February 25th 

Harbin Ice Festival photo

If you’re a fan of Frozen, put this Chinese festival on your list. Each year between Christmas Day right through to February 25th, hundreds flock to the town of Harbin in Heilongjiang province. It’s here that people showcase their sculpting skills for the annual display of the world’s best ice and snow sculptures.

And I’m not just talking small snowmen, people make whole buildings, towers and palaces big enough for visitors to walk into. At night they’re all lit up and create what feels like an entire city of icy magic.

I don’t think you’re getting much closer to Elsa than that.

READ MORE on January festivals

My visit to the Otaru Ice Festival in Japan

Ocaso Festival, Costa Rica

2nd to 7th January 

If there’s one place that’ll pull you right of that post-christmas funk it’s a trip to Costa Rica, and Tamarindo’s Ocaso Festival gives you the perfect excuse to go.

Kicking off right after New Years on the 2nd until the 7th of January, this underground music festival runs a line up of the hottest electronic acts with a focus on Costa Rica’s homegrown talent. But don’t expect them to be performing somewhere as mundane as say a stage; the acts perform poolside, beachside and even in a jungle making sure that the underground tunes are anything but underground. If you can tear yourself away from the music, you can also test out Tamarindo’s surf culture.

Voodoo Festival, Benin

10th January 

Looking for something a little different in your list of world festivals?

Start the year in Benin where each year on the 10th of January the country pays homage to its ancestors and various gods in a celebration of African spirituality. While it’s a national holiday countrywide, the town of Ouidah is the epicentre of all the celebrations with beach parties, costumes, drums, horse racing, sacred ceremonies and sacrifices.

This is probably one of the most unique festivals in January you’ll find. 

No matter where you’re going for your January festival, always get international travel insurance beforehand. If anything happens it can save you thousands, and a lot of hassle. Do NOT travel without it!

International Kite Festival, India 

14th January

International Kite Festival India

If you’ve mastered how to fly a kite then kudos to you, but if you want to pick up some tips on harnessing the wind, see how the pros do it in India.

On the 14th of January, thousands of kite lovers come from over 40 countries to Ahmedabad in Gujarat where, from dawn till dusk, their homemade colourful creations fill the sky.

And the fun isn’t just reserved for the flyer. Locals and tourists make a real day of it by hosting viewing parties, eating special foods like laddoos and a pop-up kite bazaar even opens for the full week before.

The International Kite Festival is just one of the many amazing festivals in India worth travelling over there for. 

Winterworld, Germany

19th January 

A little closer to home and not hitting the bank balance quite as hard, Winterworld takes place in Germany’s Karlsruhe on January 19th.

In its 17th year, it’s another for electronic music fans as well as those with a penchant for EDM and drum and bass, bringing together top DJs from across the genres. For ten solid hours, 8,000 people pack into the city’s dm-Arena and with tickets under €50 it’s a bargain.

Another January festival for you 

Photos from my trip to the Sapporo Ice Festival

Sneeuwbal Winter Festival

26th January 

Rather than running from it, one option is to fully embrace the colder weather in all its fur-wearing glory and head somewhere like Utrecht in the Netherlands for the Sneeuwbal Winter Festival.

On the 26th of January, top house and techno acts take the stage from 2pm in what organisers call an atmosphere of an ‘après-ski party.’ Adding to the theme, festivalgoers can alternate between listening to acts in igloos and activities like ice skating or snow sliding.

Dress code? Your wildest winter outfit whether that be 80s ski apparel or an ugly Christmas sweater.

Up Helly Aa

Last Tuesday in January

January festivals

You may think Scotland in the depths of January isn’t the best idea but I promise you Up Helly Aa, aka Europe’s largest fire festival, will soon warm you up.

On the last Tuesday in January, the town of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands embraces its Viking heritage putting a year’s worth of preparation out in full display. Think authentic music and dance performances, epic costumes, the burning of a Viking boat and plenty of beer before 1,000 Viking clad residents hold burning torches in a parade through the town.

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festivals in january

More festival advice 

What it’s like to visit Hogmanay in Scotland

The Best Backpacks for Festivals


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