2018 is now upon us and now is the time to start planning your year of trips. So grab your passports and make a date for a far-flung festival. With hundreds of festivals all over the world throughout the year, there are many opportunities to get into the festival spirit and experience the local culture. We have teamed up with luxury long-haul specialist Wix Squared to bring you the best from the festival world. Whether it’s traditional religious festivals, carnivals, music, art or the must-be-seen-at social events surrounding major sporting fixtures, Wix Squared can book you a ringside seat – or rather secure you a place in the heart of the action.
Religious events (Tsechus) are celebrated on the 10th day of the lunar calendar. Communities gather to witness entertainment and masked dances. The Paro (March 2018), Thimpu (September 2018) and black-necked crane festivals are some of the most popular and advance booking is essential to secure the best seats, guides and rooms. That said, smaller, lesser-known festivals are more intimate and easier to coincide with a less flexible itinerary.
The Black Necked Crane Festival (Gangte) is celebrated annually in November in Phobjikha valley. It is an occasion for locals to rejoice and celebrate with song and dance the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes a part of their daily lives during winter.
For more information please visit www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/travel-requirements
Festivals play a key role in everyday life in India. Best known are Diwali (festival of light) in November and Holi (festival of colour) in March where Wix Squared can arrange for guests to join in celebrations with local families.
Galle and Jaipur’s literary festival (both in January) and the Nagaur Sufi festival in February are more recent additions. Wix Squared also has the inside track on many smaller festivals and tribal rituals with which they can time guests’ visits such as the Northern Tribal Festivals.
For more information please visit incredibleindia.org/
Advance booking is essential for cherry blossom season in March/April when the Japanese parks, gardens and mountainsides are at their most beautiful.
The Gion Matsuri festival in July is one of Kyoto’s most famous festivals along with the Jidai Matsuri. The festival’s main attractions are the music, decorated floats and a large parade, in which over 500 people dressed in the aristocratic style of the Heian Period (794-1185) walk from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines.
For more information please visit www.seejapan.co.uk/
July’s Bali Arts Festival is a full month of daily performances, handicraft exhibitions and other related cultural and commercial activities during which the whole of Bali comes to the city to present its offerings of dance, music and beauty.
Other traditional festivals include Independence Day on 17th August, Nyepi – Balinese New Year (March) and Jalan Jaksa Festival (July) in Jakarta where food stalls, craft workshops and street artists take over the streets.
For more information please visit www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/home
Shwedagon Pagoda festival, Yangon in March is one of the most famous festivals in the country. The 99-metre high Shwedagon Pagoda is plated with gold and embellished with thousands of diamonds. The event takes place at Yangon Division during Tabaung (March) every year. One of the amazing sights of this event is the radiant city during the night, with crowds of thousands from neighbouring countries meeting to celebrate with residents.
Meanwhile, the Taunggyi Balloon festival in November marks the end of the rainy season. It includes daytime parades and evening ballooning and pyrotechnic displays – balloons decorated with hundreds of lanterns and some with fireworks which are released throughout the night
Songkran (Thai New Year) – April. The exact date varies depending on the lunar cycle. The traditional celebration of Songkran is to pay respect to one’s elders by spraying scented water on their hands. Songkran has changed over the years and has become a public three-day water fight. It is near impossible to walk down the street without being sprayed by water. Numerous other festivals include Loy Krathong, vegetarian, lantern, music and flower festivals.
For more information please visit https://www.tourismthailand.org/
Also check out our feature on What It’s Really Like To Experience the Crop Over Festival in Barbados
Other major festivals and events on Wix Squared’s calendar include Iceland with its Reykjavik Arts Festival in May, the Reykjavik Jazz Festival in August and Octoberfest. Morocco’s film and music festivals, such as the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouria in June are also gaining a strong international following. For all these festivals and more, Wix Squared is able to arrange the best ‘seat in the house’ to watch or join in the celebrations.