There are loads of festivals in May around the world for you to add to your bucket list. Something fun to kickstart the summer anyone?
Are you planning your next big adventure for the spring of 2024? With warmer weather, beautiful sunsets, and summer round the corner, it’s hard to ignore May as one of the best months for exploring new places. Why not coincide that exploration with some amazing festivals from around the world?
From signature music extravaganzas in Europe to street parties in South America and traditional feasts in Asia – May offers a unique range of events that promise an experience like no other!
So here are our top picks for must-see festivals and celebrations in May this upcoming year. Get ready for a festival line-up like never before!
Best Festivals in May Around the World
All the best events in May worldwide.
1. Cannes Film Festival, France
14th til 25th May 2024
Every year since 1946, the world has gathered in the tranquil French town of Cannes to enjoy the Cannes Film Festival. Over 4500 film professionals from around the world join to attend screenings and social events and get valuable insights into the current trends in the film industry. It’s one of the world’s most prestigious and widely acclaimed film festivals in the May festival list, known for showcasing some of the best international films, actors, and directors.
The red carpet at Cannes provides a window into glitz and glamour. More importantly, it allows viewers to witness cultural diversity as filmmakers come together to celebrate their works and share their stories. This event is entertaining and meaningful as it fosters creativity, innovation, and artistic expression while paying tribute to the art of filmmaking. Whether you’re looking to mingle with Hollywood’s elite or soak up the atmosphere and spot your favourite stars, you’ll have a great time at Cannes!
2. Pahiyas Festival, Philippines
15th May 2024
Each year, the city of Lucban, Philippines, celebrates a traditional harvest festival known as Pahiyas. From colourful decorations to vibrant street markets and traditional performances, Pahiyas Festival is an absolute blast. It’s one of the most popular festivals in May around the world.
The event’s highlight is when locals decorate their homes with variously coloured leaves and produce. In some parts of the city, people even decorate their homes with kiping (foliage-shaped wafers made of rice flour) and other ornamental items. As well as the decorations, there are also plenty of traditional delicacies to enjoy, such as suman (sticky rice cakes), bibingka (rice cake with egg custard), puto (cake flavoured with coconut milk and ginger), and many more.
Aside from the delicious food, there are also plenty of cultural activities to enjoy, such as parol-making (lantern making), agawan ng Perlas, street dancing, and live music. Pahiyas Festival is a must-see event celebrating culture, tradition, and community spirit.
3. Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival, England
27th May 2024
The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival is an annual event on the last bank holiday of May in Brockworth, England. The festival is unique – spectators gather to watch competitors race down a steep hill after a wheel of cheese! The winner is the first person to make it to the bottom and catch the cheese.
The origins of this event are unknown, but it has been happening for centuries and continues to delight fans worldwide. Aside from watching competitors roll their way down Cooper’s Hill, you can also enjoy traditional English festivities such as Morris dancing, street food stands, and live music. This entertaining event offers plenty of fun for everyone!
4. VIVID Sydney
24th May til 15th June 2024
VIVID Sydney is an annual event celebrating art, music, and technology with its various light and sound installations. Taking place over 23 days, the festival presents a range of activities such as interactive workshops and talks, music performances from world-renowned artists, large-scale projections onto iconic buildings around the city, and much more.
The streets of this vibrant Australian city come alive with lights, colours, and sounds! It’s no wonder VIVID Sydney is one of Australia’s most popular festivals. This year’s VIVID Sydney festival is all about celebrating humanity. It begins on 24th May and ends on 15th June with its world-famous display of colourful lights illuminating some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. If you’re looking for some entertainment while in Sydney in June, don’t miss out on this exciting multi-sensory experience.
5. Cross the Tracks Festival
26th May 2024
Cross the Tracks is an annual music and arts festival that takes place in London in May every year. This unique festival celebrates contemporary music, culture, and art with a diverse line-up of artists from around the world. Featuring some of the biggest names in hip-hop, grime, techno, and house, this one-day event offers something for everyone. As well as live music performances, there are also interactive art installations and workshops to get involved with. Other activities include street food stalls, craft beer bars, record fairs, and pop-up shops.
There’s even a dedicated kids’ area filled with entertainment for the little ones.
With so much going on at Cross The Tracks Festival each year, it’s no wonder it has become one of London’s most vibrant and exciting events. So don’t miss out on this unique experience in May! Get your tickets soon and join us for a day of music, art, and culture.
6. The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
16th-18th May 2024
The Great Escape Festival is an annual music festival in May held in Brighton. It brings together the most exciting new artists from around the world, showcasing the best of upcoming talent. Taking place over three days, it’s a unique event that celebrates live music and emerging acts.
As well as incredible performances from international artists, you’ll also find industry panels and inspiring talks from leading industry experts. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to network with fellow music lovers at The Great Escape Festival’s impressive lineup of after-parties and social events. Get your tickets now for this one-of-a-kind event in May 2024. With its eclectic mix of musical styles and innovative productions, The Great Escape Festival promises a fantastic weekend of live music and culture.
This is one of the most famous festivals in May in England.
7. Bergen International Festival – Bergen, Norway
22nd May to 5th June 2024
The Bergen International Festival is Norway’s largest performing arts festival, taking place in the city of Bergen. Every year for two weeks, this festival in May celebrates and showcases creative expression from all over the world, featuring outstanding performances and an impressive range of music, theatre, dance, and art exhibitions. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or want to enjoy some amazing entertainment, this is a unique event.
This year’s program includes a mix of international acts as well as Norwegian talent. Plus, there are plenty of workshops and lectures throughout the festival that will give you a chance to learn more about the world of performing arts. Get your tickets now to experience art like never before at the Bergen International Festival in May & June.
8. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – Las Vegas, USA
17th – 19th May 2024
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is one of the most popular music festivals in the world, taking place each year in Las Vegas. This three-day event brings together thousands of EDM fans from all over the globe to experience a one-of-a-kind rave extravaganza. From its spectacular light shows and mesmerising art installations to its incredible stages and sound designs, this festival is an unforgettable celebration of electronic music culture.
You can expect some amazing performances from top DJs like Armin Van Buuren, Marshmello, and Tiesto, as well as plenty of other entertainment, including dazzling laser shows, interactive games, and more. Get your tickets now for this ultimate music festival experience that takes place in May!
9. Hamamatsu Festival – Hamamatsu, Japan
3rd-5th May 2024
The Hamamatsu Festival is an annual celebration of music, culture, and tradition in the beautiful city of Hamamatsu. For three days each year, over a million people come together to enjoy world-class musical performances from local and international artists. The event also features traditional Japanese entertainment, such as kabuki theatre, taiko drumming, and dance performances.
There’s plenty more to experience besides the music at this, one of the most popular Asian festivals in May. You can browse through traditional markets selling handmade crafts and artwork or try your hand at various activities like pottery making and origami. Make sure to visit during this vibrant festival in May in Japan! With its incredible lineup of performers, cultural events, and interactive activities, the Hamamatsu Festival promises a truly unique experience.
10. Hay Festival of Literature and Arts – Hay-on-Wye, Brecon Beacons National Park
23rd May to 2nd June 2024
The Hay Festival of Literature and Arts is an annual event that brings together a global array of writers, thinkers, and performers to share their ideas in the small, picturesque market town of Hay-on-Wye in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Held for ten days every May or June, thousands of visitors descend on the remote Welsh countryside for a unique cultural experience full of inspiring talks, theatre performances, film screenings, and music concerts.
The festival’s mission is to foster conversation and engage people from all backgrounds, creating an atmosphere of lively debate and new discoveries. At its heart remains literature, with dedicated spaces for book signings and lectures featuring some of the world’s leading authors. Whether you’re into politics, tech, or wordsmithing, Hay Festival encourages participation from newcomers and returning visitors.
11. Cinco de Mayo, Mexico
5th May 2024
Cinco de Mayo, or ‘5th May’, is a national holiday in Mexico that commemorates the country’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on 05th May 1862. While it is not as widely celebrated in the United States as it is in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become one of the most popular Mexican-American holidays.
On this day, people around the world gather to celebrate with parades and street festivals featuring traditional Mexican music and dancing. There are also plenty of delicious food options, including tacos and tamales. No matter where you are, don’t miss out on this vibrant celebration and take part in some fun activities like piñata smashing or mariachi singing. Viva Mexico!
12. The Monaco Grand Prix
23rd to 26th May 2024
The Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco is a two-day race held on the iconic Circuit de Monaco every spring. It is one of the most prestigious and historic events in motorsports, drawing thousands of spectators from across the world to cheer on their favourite drivers.
The breathtakingly tight turns and street circuits will test even the best racers as they battle for pole position. Along with fast-paced action, you’ll also get a chance to experience the glamour of Monaco as you explore its stunning views and attractions. From luxury yacht parties at Port Hercule to celebrity sightings around Monte Carlo, this event promises an unforgettable weekend in May! Don’t miss out on this incredible spectacle – grab your tickets now!
READ MORE: The Best Festivals in June
How to stay safe during May festivals
No matter which festival you attend, it is important to ensure that your safety and health come first. Some tips for staying safe include:
- Following all local guidelines related to mask-wearing, social distancing, and other public health protocols.
- Planning ahead of time by researching the area and familiarising yourself with potential risks.
- Bringing enough supplies such as water, snacks, and sunscreen to last throughout the day.
- Utilising available transportation options like ride-sharing or public transit whenever possible.
- Staying aware of your surroundings at all times and avoiding large crowds or congested areas if possible.
- Refraining from drinking alcohol excessively or using recreational drugs.
- Knowing the nearest emergency contact points in case of an emergency.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your May festival experience is both fun and safe. Enjoy!
Best festivals in May
If you’re looking for a reason to get up and get out of the house this May, why not take a look at all the amazing festivals taking place around the world this year?
From Barcelona’s exquisite architecture to Monaco’s dramatic views, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in literary pursuits or taking part in a traditional Mexican celebration, May can be an enjoyable and safe experience if you plan ahead and take the necessary precautions. So don’t hesitate. Get ready to explore the world and have the time of your life this May!
What is special about May in the UK?
In the UK, people associate May with longer days and warmer weather (usually). The month features two Bank Holidays, and generally features the start of the summer festival lineup.
The UK also hosts special days in May the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, one of the world’s most famous horticultural events, as well as music and literary festivals – and let’s not forget Star Wars Day (May 4th). On a cultural note, May also sees various regional customs, such as the Maypole dancing and ‘Obby ‘Oss Day in Padstow, Cornwall.
What is on in May around the world?
May celebrations around the world are so diverse. In the US, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday, honouring those who have died in military service. Then there’s Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican communities in May around the world. In Japan, Golden Week takes place, which is a collection of four national holidays within seven days.
Various European nations also mark their liberation from Nazi occupation in May, like the Netherlands on 5th May 5th and France on 8th May. Overall, it’s a full month with lots of international events happening in May almost everywhere
Are there any religious festivals in May?
Lots of religious festivities and events take place in May around the world. The Christian holiday of Ascension Day usually falls in May, marking 40 days after Easter Sunday.
The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr might also be observed in May, although this date changes every year as it follows the lunar calendar. In Hinduism, Akshaya Tritiya, usually falls in late April or early May, as does Vesak Day, celebrated by buddhists. Finally, Jewish observances like Shavuot could also fall in late May or early June.
It’s clear there are occasions in May for just about every faith.
Which are the best festivals in May in Europe?
Europe comes alive with festivals in May, largely thanks to the improving weather. One of the highlights is the Cannes Film Festival in France, which is one of the most prestigious – and publicised – in the world. Spain has its Feria de Córdoba, an annual fair featuring traditional Spanish dances, bullfights, and other cultural activities. There’s also the Prague Spring International Music Festival in the Czech Republic that kicks off in May, and “Calendimaggio,” a medieval spring festival celebrated with various historical reenactments, music, and games in Assisi, Italy. That’s why the best festivals in May are in Europe – there are just so many different ones to choose from.