Sometimes, the best experiences are the ones you weren’t expecting: the ones where you step off the beaten track or go against the grain a little – culture trips, traditional music and gastronomical joy await!

Travelbag’s latest round up of the must-visit festivals across the globe has inspired a list of some of the more unusual options in the festival world. Including festivals that you perhaps wouldn’t initially think of, and events that will have you making a dent in your bucket list, as well as making memories for the future.

From literature festivals in the Caribbean, food festivals in the country of flavour and a sky filled with hot air balloons, here are the top picks for unusual festivals worldwide…

1. Calabash International Literacy Festival

A three-day bi-annual festival that takes place in a country awash with lush mountains, rainforests, and white sandy shorelines, Jamaica. Now in its 17th year, the Calabash International Literacy Festival, originally founded by novelist Colin Channer, producer Justine Jensell and poet Kwame Dawes, attracts literary giants showcasing storytelling, poetic readings and music.

You can find this literary treasure in the village of Treasure Beach, nestled on the south coast of the island and it’s become, quite rightly, Jamaica’s pride and joy, and an exciting platform for local creatives.

2. The Grub Fest

Immerse yourself in the senses with sight, smell and taste in India’s biggest food festival: The Grub Fest. Packed full of flavour and spices, you’ll enjoy exciting cuisines, outstanding aromas and some of the best foods from the country’s most talented chefs. If you’re a proper foodie, this is the festival for you.

Grub Festival India

As well as tantalising your taste buds with a variety of foods, you can also enjoy live music from India’s most popular artists as well as sampling some entertainment and experiences, such as a sky deck, movie screenings, chef demos and areas for you to relax; particularly good after all of the food.

3. Vancouver Celebration of Light

This beautiful and mesmerising festival takes place in numerous countries worldwide but it originated in Vancouver and with almost 30 years under its belt, the Celebration of Light is a much-loved celebration of fireworks, food and music.

Festival of Light

When dusk hits, the sky lights up with a stunning display of fireworks to be enjoyed from Vancouver’s English Bay or Second Beach; relish a selection of local food and drinks, sit back and enjoy the show.

4. Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tours and Music Festival

With its breathtaking landscape, Cappadocia has adorned many a bucket list in its time with its pastel-hued valleys and very-Instagrammable scenery. Becoming one of the most popular spots to jump in a hot air balloon, you’ll quickly see why this is a go-to destination for many tourists.

Cappadocia balloon flight

Spend time taking in the spectacular surrounds while you enjoy great music, delicious food, exciting outdoor activities and some stunning art pieces from this multidisciplinary festival set in a balmy and beautiful setting.

5. Brooklyn Book Festival

One of the newest but certainly the largest literary event in New York, the Brooklyn Book Festival (BLBK) offers a huge selection of national and international stars, including being a stepping stone for emerging creatives.

Attracting thousands of book lovers to Brooklyn in autumn, the BLBK festival is also home to the St. Francis College Literary Prize worth a page-turning $50,000. Other attractions include readings, panel discussions and author signings, to name a few.

For more festivals that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, check out Travelbag’s Global Festival Tour. And if you’ve visited any other weird and wonderful festivals, let me know in the comments below.

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