55 Unique World Festivals for Your 2024 Bucket List

The best festival of the world is of course, subjective, but here are 50+ awesome world festivals to add to your festival bucket list. This list of celebrations around the world is going to give you some serious festival wanderlust – you have been warned!

festivals around the world

The best world festivals can be the top way of experiencing somewhere new. Go to a world festival and you get to sample the local cultural traditions in one place, you can mingle with the locals, and see their twist on festival fun.

I’ve been to over 60 festivals around the world, so let me introduce you to some of my favourites, and the famous festivals in the world I want to go to in the future.

Philippines festivals

Festivals don’t all have to be welly-wearing, rain dodging affairs – and you can actually learn a lot from going to different festivals around the world. When it comes to the best festival in the world, you need to visit a few of these before you decide. If you already know which is your favourite festival in the world, let me know in the comments box at the end.

To help you compile your own list of world festivals you need to attend, here are just some of the top festivals in the world for your festival bucket list.

Festivals and celebrations around the world calendar

If you want to know more about festivals in January, I have a whole blog post dedicated to the month.

January world festivals calendar

1. Thaipusam Festival


Fancy popping over to Malaysia to celebrate that little thing called good versus evil?

Every year Hindus, more specifically the Tamil community, gather at their local temples to express their thanks and pay penance for anything bad they may have done.

Although you can see the celebrations anywhere in the country, the Batu Caves in Selangor is one of the most popular places. People journey here on a pilgrimage, cleanse themselves and fast as part of their homage to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war.

– When is Thaipusam festival? Thaipusam usually falls in January or February.

– Where is Thaipusam festival? Malaysia

2. Timkat Festival 


If Ethiopia wasn’t on your travel list before, slide it right in there. Next up on the international festivals list is Timkat – taking place on the 19th of January every year. It’s also Ethiopia’s biggest festival.

Otherwise known as the Feast of Epiphany, Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus with a few special ceremonies followed by neighbourhood parties. Locals reenact the baptism, people make the pilgrimage from other countries and the streets are decorated in the colours of the Ethiopian flag.

While there’s loads of places in Ethiopia to see some of the traditions, the capital Addis Ababa is by far the best.

Timkat is one of many deeply religious festivals around the world, and one of the best festivals in Ethiopia.

– When is Timkat festival? 19th January

– Where is Timkat festival? All over Ethiopia

3. Hogmanay Festival


Fire and Hogmanay

A wee dram of whisky, some ceilidh numbers and a few degrees from freezing makes for the best way to see in the new year. Hogmanay is one of the best New Year festivals in the world.

Held in Edinburgh, the midnight main event takes place in Princes Street Gardens, right in front of the famous Edinburgh Castle. It could definitely be the best festival of the world, on NYE anyways.

Although today much of New Year’s Eve in Scotland is about the swally and the street parties, the night actually has a pretty significant role in Scotland’s history. Back when it wasn’t getting on with church, Scots didn’t get to celebrate Christmas and so they stockpiled all their party spirit ready to be unleashed on NYE in full force.

Obviously times have moved on but the strength of the celebrations remains strong and Scots still see in the bells with a good old knees up whether it be in a Highland bar, Glasgow house party or at the famous Edinburgh street party.

The centre of the city is closed off to cars, so pedestrians can wander free and bring their own alcohol in plastic containers to party on the streets.

Real life vikings come over from the Shetland Islands to lead the city’s procession with fire torches, before the hourly firework displays light up the skies. This is definitely one of those bucket list festivals you need in your life.

I WENT: My Hogmanay Experience in Edinburgh

– When is Hogmanay festival? New Year’s Eve

– Where is Hogmanay festival? Edinburgh, Scotland

4. Kumbh Mela Festival


The Kumbh Mela is a gathering of over 1 million people around the River Ganges. It’s the biggest festival in the world.

I went a few years ago, when it was reported there was over 70 million people in attendance over the month. SEVENTY MILLION!

Kumbh Mela experience

I very nearly got lost at the biggest festival in the world – it wasn’t fun. You can read more about my Kumbh Mela experience here. This is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar.

I feel like this festival doesn’t make it onto best world festivals lists for some reason, so I’m happy to include it here!

– When is Kumbh Mela festival? Jan / Feb

– Where is Kumbh Mela festival? India

I’ve written a book about festivals around the world – check it out here!

February world festivals calendar

For more great festivals in February read this post.

5. Venice Carnival


world festivals

If you love mystery, magic and masquerade, pop this one on your own list of world festivals to attend. Each February, Venetians put two weeks aside to party. Back in the 12th century when this first became of thing, lent was a party-free zone. It also meant you couldn’t eat any rich food so to make up for what they’d be missing, Venetians would cram all their wild ways into the two weeks before lent and the tradition has since carried on.

Back then, wearing a mask was very much the norm and so the locals’ love of them is revived every year with masked balls, mask contests and masquerade pub crawls. Loads of the events are invite-only and are super fancy, but there are a fair few concerts and street parties you can join for free.

The Venice Carnival is definitely on my festival bucket list for next year!

– When is Venice Carnival? Around 8th to 25th February

– Where is Venice Carnival? Err, Venice. 

6. Sky Lantern Festival


sky lantern festival china

For all the amazing festivals China has, the Sky Lantern one is the mothership. Celebrating Chinese New Year, usually around February or March, no doubt you’ll have seen plenty of pictures of the Sky Lantern Festival.

Thousands of lanterns are let go at night creating the most magical experience. The festival is over 2000 years old and is traditionally a time to be spent with family before socialising with other loved ones.

You can catch the festivities, including a parade of a traditional Chinese dragon, all over the country, but some of the best places include Nanjing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

One of the most amazing festivals around the world to experience as a bystander.

When is China’s Sky Lantern Festival? Around February 8th

Where is China’s Sky Lantern Festival? All over China.

READ MORE: The Best Present Ideas for Festivals

7. Rio de Janeiro Carnival


festivals around the world

Known as one of the biggest and best festivals in the world, Rio de Janeiro Carnival is an iconic Brazilian parade that has the celebs flocking and backpackers saving just to be a little part of this colourful extravaganza.

Held around February to March depending on the start of lent, the Rio Carnival floats and costumes take months to put together and are some of the most amazing you’ll ever see. You can line the city streets to watch the parade go by or else buy spectator tickets for The Sambodromo where the themed floats go by to the sounds of samba, steel drums and screams of onlookers.

Tickets cost upwards of $60 and while it’s not a bank breaker, the cost to get to Brazil might mean a little saving. Take a look at my top tips for saving money at festivals to help you get by. Add this to your celebrations around the world calendar!

– When is Rio Carnival? Around Fri, 21 – Wed, 26 Feb

– Where is Rio Carnival? Rio, in Brazil.

festivals book

READ MORE: I’ve Written a Book About Festivals!

March world festivals calendar

For more festivals in March, check out my dedicated post here.

8. Holi Festival


world festivals

We’ve all heard of Holi right?

To experience the dust throwing, colour crazy fest in all its glory, you have to head to its home country of India come March time. An ancient Hindu festival, it goes way beyond good insta-photos and signifies the start of spring and the coming together of friends and family to rid of bad blood.

As one of the world’s most iconic and best festivals, Holi is celebrated nationwide meaning you can pick your preferred Indian location and start joining in the bonfire displays and street parties wherever you are.

It’s just one of many festivals in India, although the most important one, which I’ve been to, is the Kumbh Mela. There are so many Indian national festivals to choose from, but this is definitely the most renowned.

– When is Holi Festival? Around 9th to 10th March

– Where is Holi Festival? All over India, but also celebrated around the world

9. St Paddy’s Day


festivals around the world

An easy one to tick off given its close proximity to us in the UK, is St Paddy’s Day in Ireland. It’s one of the most popular world festivals and although the epicentre is in Ireland, Paddy’s Day is celebrated around the world.

If you want to go to one of the craziest festivals in the world, fly over to Dublin and then either stay in the city or go on from there to any Irish town where you’ll find friendly locals, a decent pub and a load of Guinness to help you celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.

No matter where you end up on March 17th, you can guarantee there’ll be decent music, a lot of partying and loads of green clothing to honour the day their favourite saint died.

St Patrick’s Day may be one of the most popular festivals in Ireland, but it’s also one of the biggest and most famous festivals in the world. It’s celebrated wherever you can find an Irish pub. 

When is St Patrick’s Day? 17th March every year

Where is St Patrick’s Day? Mainly Ireland, but there are also huge celebrations in Chicago, New York, Sydney and London.

world festivals

10. Mardi Gras


New Orleans Mardi Gras

It’s all about New Orleans, especially around Easter time; when Mardi Gras takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday. Despite taking place in New Orleans, its roots actually originated from Europe and the celebrations held by Pagan people that were then adopted by Rome and brought to New Orleans by explorers.

Over the centuries Mardi Gras festival has garnered more steam with over 100 different parades taking place in and around New Orleans. In fact, Louisiana is the only state that makes this day a national holiday. This is a huge world festival.

Mardi Gras is a huge thing for New Orleans, and people turn up in their thousands to celebrate it. If you’re planning on visiting, I have a great cheap guide to New Orleans and a comparison of the decent priced accommodation too.

– When is Mardi Gras? Around 25th February

– Where is Mardi Gras? All over New Orleans

Fancy doing a festival quiz

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Known as ‘Canada’s tiny, perfect festival’, you’ll find the whole community supports the Dawson City Music Festival in some way. Being up in the northern Canadian wilderness there are some friendly characters to get to know over a beer.

Expect up-and-coming Yukon and First Nations artists gigging on the grass by the river, and at venues in town. The remote location and intimate shows combine to create a unique spirit.

– When is the Dawson City Music Festival? Around 17th to 19th July

– Where is the Dawson City Music Festival? Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

32. Down the Rabbit Hole

Ewijk, Netherlands

The multi award-winning festival, Down the Rabbit Hole, only started in 2014 but it’s already gaining a magical reputation.

It’s located in the Green Hills Park, in the rolling land between the Maas and Waal Rivers. There’s an enchanting forest, a beautiful beach and a bohemian festival atmosphere you only get from small festivals pre-peak.

Their tagline says it all: ‘where you are who you are when no one can see you’. Big names and emerging talent from rock, pop, hip hop, electronic and jazz bless the line up, with campfires, dress up and hidden discos all in.

– When is the Down the Rabbit Hole Festival? Around 3rd to 5th July

– Where is the Down the Rabbit Hole Festival? Ewijk, Netherlands

August world festivals calendar

33. Reggae Sumfest

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Think reggae music, you think Caribbean, and even more niche: Jamaica.

Reggae Sumfest is one of the biggest celebrations of reggae and dancehall in the world. Chart toppers and legacy acts come to Montego Bay to join the crowd in the night’s unparalleled surroundings.

The party starts at 9pm and finishes no less than 12 hours later, leaving you time to rest on the beach all day.

You absolutely cannot help but dance to move with the crowd. It’s been coined the ‘greatest reggae show on earth’.

One love!

– When is Reggae Sumfest Festival? Around 1st August

– Where is Reggae Sumfest Festival? Montego Bay, Jamaica

34. Ghosts Festival


Ghosts Festival is a Buddhist and Taoist tradition that has locals across China and other Asian countries revealing their most superstitious sides.

In an attempt to keep their ancestors happy and stop any ghosts from getting up to mischief, locals leave food on the roadsides, release lanterns into the lakes, burn incense and listen to Chinese opera. The most popular thing to do though is to put on a slap up meal leaving a few empty chairs for the dead to dine too.

Depending on the lunar calendar, it usually takes place in August or September.

– When is the Ghosts Festival? 15th August 2019

– Where is the Ghosts Festival? All over China

READ MORE: The Best Festivals in August

35. La Tomatina

Bunol, Spain

Exploring Tomatina 2015

Another one with a great international reputation, La Tomatina is considered by many as one of the best festivals in the world. I think it’s just an opportunity to revert back to being a kid and get away with throwing crazy amounts of food at your friends so what’s not to love… unless you don’t like tomatoes?

Taking place on the last Wednesday of each August in the small Valencian town of Bunol, this one has been running since 1945 when one guy kicked off, threw some veg and soon had everyone pummelling tomatoes at one another.

Tickets cost €35 (and a new set of clothes) and then you’ve got the cost of getting there but it’s well worth seeing this traditional fest in action.

After all the tomatoes have been thrown, La Tomatina becomes one of the best party festivals around the world and a total bucket list festival.

I went in 2016: Your Guide to Tomatina

– When is Tomatina Festival? Wednesday 28th August 2019

– Where is Tomatina Festival? Bunol, Spain

36. Burning Man

Nevada, USA

festivals around the world

Is it a festival list if the daddy of all fests doesn’t make the ranking?

Burning Man takes place at the end of August each year in the desert sands of Nevada where, rather than transforming an existing city into a cultural playground, they create a brand new one. A select few of the lucky who’ve bee say it’s one of the best festivals in the world.

For one week, Black Rock City becomes home to the creation of a new community free from consumerism and brimming with love, art and self-expression that makes it one of the coolest festivals around.

With tickets costing upwards of $1,573, it’s a little on the pricey side though, which is why I wrote this post… 

Festivals Like Burning Man, But Cheaper

Add this to your celebrations around the world calendar!

– When is Burning Man Festival? Sunday 25th August to Monday 2nd August

– Where is Burning Man Festival? Black Rock Desert of Nevada

37. Notting Hill Carnival 

Notting Hill, England

festival bucket list

If your funds aren’t yet up to splashing out on a Brazilian adventure, console your carnival soul with London’s own Caribbean themed fest. This is one of the most popular UK festivals for culture.

Running since 1996, residents and tourists flock to this fancy London neighbourhood for two days of August bank holiday mayhem. Think twerking (so much twerking) an epic costume parade, reggae beats and big crowds. 

Notting Hill Carnival is all about embracing creativity, community spirit and cultural diversity. It’s one of the most renowned national festivals in England.

I went a few times when I lived just around the corner in St John’s Wood – another great party festival!

– When is Notting Hill Carnival? August Bank Holiday Weekend 

– Where is Notting Hill Carnival? Notting Hill, London

38. Victorious Festival

Portsmouth, UK

When the sun’s out in England, you’re by a beach and it’s Bank Holiday weekend – you can guarantee the festival crowd will be on top form.

Victorious Festival England

Victorious Festival takes place on Southsea Common, on the south coast of Portsmouth, with a family-friendly crowd in mind. The fact that Henry VIII’s Southsea Castle, the D-Day Museum and a skate park are all in the grounds, adds to the unique atmosphere.

Victorious is a medium-sized festival, full of music, markets, tasty food, craft ales and local gins, circus and seaside fun. I’ve been to Victorious Festival three times now, and plan to go again this year too. 

Here are some of the Best Things to Do at Victorious Festival and my Victorious Festival Review too. If you have time to hang out for the weekend, there are some great things to do in Southsea too.

I’ve been to Victorious a few times: 7 Big Reasons to Go to Victorious

– When is Victorious Festival? August Bank Holiday Weekend 

– Where is Victorious Festival? Southsea Common, Portsmouth, England

39. Fuji Rock Festival

Yuzawa-cho, Niigata Pref, Japan

At the Fuji Rock Festival you can travel the mountains by cable car – how many other festivals can boast that kinda transport?!

Held in a ski resort 90 minutes from Tokyo, attendees have the coolness of the mountains to escape from Japan’s July heat. It’s the most popular festival in Japan, with over 200 national and international bands playing.

There are hot springs, nature walks, woodlands, clear rivers and emerald lakes. The crowd is fun but known for being ‘well behaved’. The organisers want the ‘cleanest festival in the world’.

It’s one of the biggest festivals in the world – I’d LOVE to go! It’s definitely one of the coolest festivals around the world too.

– When is Fuji Rock Festival? 21st-23rd August 

– Where is Fuji Rock Festival? Yuzawa-cho, Niigata Pref, Japan

festivals around the world

September world festivals calendar

Click for more of the best festivals in September.

40. Oktoberfest

Munich, Germany

Munich Oktoberfest

As far as different festivals around the world go, Oktoberfest is probably the one most known for its copious amounts of alcohol.

It all kicked off in 1810 in Bavaria as a means of celebrating a royal wedding and everyone had such a good time they decided to kick up their heels on a yearly basis. They also added on a few extra days to make it a casual 16 to 18 day folk festival.

Everyone dresses up in traditional attire, takes part in yes, more parades, enjoys fairground rides and eats their body weight in sausages and pretzels before washing it all down with what’s thought to be 7 million litres of beer.

It’s an absolutely brilliant weekend at an incredible world festival: trust me!

This is one of those bucket list festivals you just have to do at some point in your life!

I went in 2016: Oktoberfest Tips You NEED for Stamina

READ MORE: How Much Does Oktoberfest Cost?

– When is Oktoberfest? Around 21st September to 6th October

– Where is Oktoberfest? Munich, Germany, is the main one but we tend to celebrate it everywhere!

41. Mooncake Festival


Calling all lunar lovers… this one’s for you.

The Mooncake Festival is an evening dedicated to our wonderful moon and is one of the biggest events in the Chinese calendar. Once you’ve worked out when the 15th day of the 8th month is and you confirm that the moon is at its largest (September some time) join a local Chinese community to stare at the moon. But this experience wouldn’t be complete without eating copious amounts of cake.

Don’t be packing your Victoria Sponge though. Local mooncakes, aka lotus seed paste and duck egg yolk, is the only cake that’ll do.

One of the more interesting food festivals of the world.

– When is Mooncake Festival? Friday 13th September 2019

– Where is Mooncake Festival? All over China

42. Lake of Stars Festival 

Lake Malawi, Malawi

Malawi Lake of Stars Festival

It’d been a dream of mine to go to Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi, for a long time. And last year, I made it there. Lake of Stars really is another world, right on the edge of Lake Malawi. 

They get the biggest names in African music to come along and perform in the intimate setting. Over 60 acts perform on 4 stages on the beach on the edge of Lake Malawi. It’s all kinds of magical.

I lost my voice at Lake of Stars Festival because everyone just wants to talk, and sing, and dance. This is a small festival – one for the free spirits who know a good beat.

The acts will stay to enjoy the festival and mingle with the audience. A great opportunity to have a chat with your favourite.

As well as one of the coolest festivals in the world, it’s also one of the friendliest. Seriously, you can’t sit down without making friends. Every year is a different setting, making each experience totally individual. Means you have to go more than once! 

Lake of Stars Festival is one of the most popular African festivals, and I’ve been!

I went in 2018: First Timer’s Guide to the Lake of Stars Festival

– When is Lake of Stars Festival? 27th to 29th September 2019

– Where is Lake of Stars Festival? Kachere Kastle, Nkhata Bay

October world festivals calendar

If you want to see all the best festivals in October, click this link!

43. Feria del Mole


This October cultural fest comes with a side of feminism. Taking place in Mexico, Feria del Mole is all about good grub made by great women and you can take part by sampling the food.

Although it’s since taken off in other places, the Mexican neighbourhood of San Pedro Atocpan and the Universidad Popular’s Women’s Empowerment Program, is where it originated and the idea is to empower women by giving kudos to their great mole-making skills.

And just in case you didn’t know – Mole is a stew or sauce that comes in loads of different varieties and you can try them in all at the annual fair. 

One of the many great cultural festivals around the world.

– When is the Feria del Mole? All of October

– Where is the Feria del Mole? San Pedro Atocpan, Milpa Alta, Mexico City

44. Day of the Dead


festivals around the world

All those hours practicing the perfect sugar skull make-up are about to pay off.

An oldie but goldie, Day of the Dead Festival is a two-day Mexican holiday that dates back thousands of years to the Aztec, Toltec and Nahua times. Mexicans believe that their ancestors rise from the dead and join the living for two days in December. This makes it sound a little morbid, it’s anything but.

The idea is to dress up, host parties, dance, sing, make offerings to the dead and generally celebrate life. I went a few years ago and had an absolutely incredible time. The atmosphere is electric, and it really makes you feel differently about death as a celebration of life, rather than the end of it. 

One of the best festival of the world if you like dressing up and celebrating the dead!

I went to Day of the Dead Festival in 2014: What is Day of the Dead Festival?

– When is the Feria del Mole? All of October 2019

– Where is the Feria del Mole? San Pedro Atocpan, Milpa Alta, Mexico City

45. Diwali


india festival diwali

Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights and is another celebration of good overcoming evil. The date fluctuates depending on the year, although it usually falls around October or November, and it’s celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists across loads of countries.

That means you can take your pick of where you’d like to see Diwali up close: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Myanmar or Trinidad and Tobago.

Wherever you are, you’ll see loads of lights, candles, and fireworks and each day of the five day fest is dedicated to doing something different whether it’s shopping, decorating, or spending time with family.

Given there are so many hindus, this is one of the most important world festivals.

– When is Diwali? Sunday 27th October

– Where is Diwali? Everywhere!

46. Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Starting off with just 13 balloons in 1972, this 9 day-long October event now pulls in 550 balloons. That makes Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to the biggest hot air balloon festival in the world

Albuquerque balloon festival

While you can jump in a basket any day of the week, take part in the photo contest or listen to live music, Mass Ascension days are the best ones to drop by. These are the mornings all balloons and their crews gather just before sunrise so that as the sun comes up, so do they.

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is the biggest hot air balloon festival in the world, and one of the biggest world festivals too.

– When is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival? October

– Where is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival? Albuquerque, New Mexico

November world festivals calendar

If you want to read about more November festivals, check out my post that goes into more depth.

47. Chiang Mai Lantern Festival


world festivals

The Chiang Mai Lantern Festival is all about letting go, figuratively and literally. Yi Peng, as it’s otherwise known, sees hundreds of lanterns released into the night Thai sky while candles in small boats made from banana stalks and filled with incense and flowers float off across the water.

Taking place right across the north of Thailand on the 25th November, it’s about honouring the Buddha and releasing any negativity you might have. While there’s loads of places you can catch the beautiful ritual, Chiang Mai is one of the best places to see the phenomena.

It’s one of the top festivals in the world, if you like a pretty light display in the sky.

– When is the Chiang Mai Lantern Festival? 25th November every year

– Where is the Chiang Mai Lantern Festival? Chiang Mai, but there are festivals all over Asia

48. Monkey Buffet Festival


Talk about different types of world festivals, this one ticks the culture, cute animal and exotic location boxes. Located in the province of Lopburi in Thailand, it’s where locals lay loads, I’m talking 4,000kg worth, of fruit around the local temples making insane fruity towers for their furry friends, the monkeys.

Originally designed back in 1989 as a tourist attraction, thousands swing by each November to see the locals’ love and appreciation for the macaques, which they say bring the area and its people good luck. The opening ceremony features people dressed up as monkeys.

I mean, what a photo op!

– When is the Monkey Buffet Festival? November

– Where is the Monkey Buffet Festival? Lopburi, Thailand

49. Winter Festival of Lights


Festival of Lights Niagara

If you can plan a trip to Canada between the 16th of November and the end of January, make Niagara Falls a must. Not just for the epic experience of seeing the four million cubic feet of water drop 50 metres but to catch the impressive Winter Festival of Lights.

With strobe lights, dramatic tunes, tours and shows that span over 8km, Niagara to the Dufferin Islands is turned into a winter wonderland.

Admission is free, although there is a suggested donation, and it’ll give you all the Christmas feels which is priceless.

This may be one of the lesser known world festivals outside America, but it’s a stunner to show off to your friends about.

– When is the Winter Festival of Lights? All through winter

– Where is the Winter Festival of Lights? Niagara Falls, Canada

50. Strawberry Fields

New South Wales, Australia

Festivals where the glitter and fancy dress prevail usually have the best atmosphere. Australia’s main contender is Strawberry Fields.

With a focus on creative expression, this is the electronic music festival for anyone who likes their festivals wonderfully wacky. It’s easy to bond over a face full of glitter.

The Strawberry Fields crowd is a loving bunch with high fives and hugs for anyone who wants to join. It’s grown from techno and psytrance to be more inclusive, but the friendly core still go to set the tone.

A beautiful setting in natural surroundings for one of the best international festivals.

– When is Strawberry Fields? Around 19-22 November

– Where is the Strawberry Fields Festival? Tocumwal, New South Wales, Australia

December world festivals calendar

If you want to read about more December festivals, check out my post that goes into more depth.

51. Mother City Queer Project

South Africa

mother city queer project

What a name. This Cape Town festival has been calling all ‘fun loving creatures’ since 1994 and marks a pretty important moment in South Africa’s history. All about being your fabulous self, it started as the signalling of the end of apartheid and the entering of a new era of equality.

Over the years, the Mother City Queer Project has garnered more speed, sparkle and spectacular themes making it the most flamboyant fancy dress event of the year, so pack the glitter and sequins.

Definitely one of the most important world festivals on the gay pride calendar.

– When is the Mother City Queer Project? TBC

– Where is the Mother City Queer Project? Cape Town, South Africa

52. Chichibu Yomatsuri


A city northwest of Tokyo, Chichibu transforms itself two nights of the year, on the 2nd and 3rd of December, into a twilight wonderland. Especially, to celebrate the local shrine and its 300 plus year history.

Chichibu Yomatsuri, to give the festival its full name, consists of lanterns, flute music, and the carrying of some ten tonne floats, aka mikoshi. Local men who consider it a rite of passage, carry the floats up the hill to the plaza at the City Hall just in time for the festival’s two-hour firework display. They really must love that shrine! 

This is one of the most important world festivals in the Asia festivals calendar.

– When is the Chichibu Yomatsuri? 2nd-3rd December  

– Where is the Chichibu Yomatsuri? Chichibu, Japan

53. St Kitts-Nevis Carnival

St Kitts 

Carnival on St Kitts

Street name Sugar Mas, this carnival marks the end of the year and the start of a new one. The St Kitts-Nevis Carnival is the country’s biggest event lasting a full two weeks from Christmas right through to the new year. It’s the biggest festival in St Kitts.

The Caribbean colours and calypso tunes with numerous parades, parties and performances taking place across the island make it the perfect place to escape the usual Christmas festivities. There’s also the crowning of the carnival queen, the calypso contest and the Grand Parade to watch out for.

After all that, it’s just about time to collapse on the beach. And WHAT a beach it is. 

One of the best world festivals in the Caribbean.

I’ve not actually been to the St Kitts Carnival, but I have been to St Kitts. Check out my St Kitts restaurant guide and my guide to what to do in St Kitts too.

– When is the St Kitts-Nevis Carnival? Two weeks over Christmas and New Year, main event on the 2nd January

– Where is the St Kitts-Nevis Carnival? St Kitts!

54. Lyon Festival of Lights 


Over 40 light installations brighten up the city of Lyon in December for the famous Fete des Lumieres.

Taking place over four nights, there’s a variety of different artists lighting up buildings, streets, squares and parks all over the city.

Lyon is a pioneer in the development of light technology and entertainment. And although light technology is definitely more common place in cities around the world at any festival, Lyon is where it all began. 

Also, a great excuse to go to Lyon and eat!

Definitely one of the best December world festivals to add to your festival bucket list.

– When is Lyon Festival? Around 5th to 8th December

– Where is Lyon Festival? Lyon, France

55. Cosmic Convergence Festival 


Celebrating the depth of Mayan traditions – from their culture and nature, to their lifestyle and music – the Cosmic Convergence Festival attracts a unique kind of person.

It’s held in one of the most outstandingly beautiful parts of the world, Lake Atitlan, over new year. It’s a small (3000 people) transformational festival with a dedication to social impact at its core, but also a respect to Mayan music.

The crowd dances to the 3 stages of world music with the energy of Lake Atitlan in the air, and a volcano as a background.

One of the coolest world festivals there is!

– When is Cosmic Convergence Festival? Around 5th to 8th December

– Where is Cosmic Convergence Festival? Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

best festivals in the world

International festivals around the world

And that’s it for world festivals, for now. There are seriously hundreds of festivals around the world in any given month.

I hope this has opened your eyes to some of the top world festivals, and inspired you to go! 

I’ll be adding to this over the course of my life, so let me know if you think I’ve missed any important festivals worldwide in the comments below, and do check out my article on the importance of festivals too.


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