Best Events and Festivals
Why stick to the mundane old travel schedule year in and year out when you can spread your wings and explore a fun festival, exotic party, or bizarre show! And, talk about a way to celebrate!To thoroughly understand a culture, there’s nothing better than spending time together.
Forget about sticking your nose into a book – the best way to learn about it is to drink with the locals, engage is some heartfelt chats with the taxi drivers and party together! Some of what we’ve discovered deserve to be on your list of things to do at least once.
So pack your suitcase for some adventure and embark on one of these special festivals…
Isle of Wight Festival (Isle of Wight, UK) – It would be hard to forget the Woodstock Music Festival… so we’ve found the most comparable music event of the year – “The Isle of Wight Festival” in England. This event dates back to 1968 with bands and artists like the Moody Blues, Bob Dylan, T. Rex and Jimmy Hendrix. The success of the Festival increased the concert in 2004 to a 3-day event featuring headliners like the Stereophonics, The Who and David Bowie. The following years have featured REM, Coldplay, Robert Plant and Bryan Adams. This year’s Festival (June 8-10) will include performances by Snow Patrol, Keane, James Morrison and Amy Winehouse. What to pack: an appetite for music.
Tomatina – aka Tomato Festival (Valencia, Spain) – The streets of Brunol are tainted red during the world’s largest tomato fight. Over 30 thousand participants travel to Valencia to throw over-ripe tomatoes at each other (imagine the amount of sauce they could be cooking instead?!). Held annually on a Wednesday at the end of August, the festivities include music, parades, fireworks and a Paella cooking contest. What to pack: We strongly advise protective goggles and gloves – since no one is spared during this chaotic tomato brawl.
Siena Palio Festival (Siena, Italy) – This exciting horse race will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into time. Held in the beautiful medieval city of Siena, July 2nd and August 16th signal two very important races for the people of Siena. Visitors from all over the country gather at the cafes in the palazzi to watch this amazing spectacle as horses and their riders stroll into the plaza in their traditional uniforms in hopes of crossing the finish line first. What to pack: Your camera.
Manumission Music Festival (Ibiza, Spain) – Ravers and die-hard partiers join together for the craziest Festival in the world! Anything goes during this weeklong event – from all-night beach parties to live sex performances – be prepared see something shocking. Ibiza, known as the clubber’s paradise, holds true to its name during this insane week of fun and closing parties. Music from Kaiser Chiefs, Oasis, Gold Frapp and Maximo Park fill the summer air. Bar M, Cafe Del Mar and Club Privilege are the venues to visit during the second week in September. (Privilege was recently featured in the Guinness Book of Records for holding the max capacity in a club – 10,000 people!) Organized by the Ministry of Sound, this year John Digweed, Alex P., Ferry Corsten and many others will spin at various venues across the island. What to pack: Your A-Game and an open mind.
Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany) – Lively Bavarian music and the smell of fresh-grilled bratwurst fill the air during the “largest peoples fair in the world” held in late September and early October. This event is superfun and the people are superfriendly. You’ll meet travelers from around the world at your long tables. You’ll find yourself dancing on the tables and downing some of the best beer in the world! But be careful as Bavarian beer is 8% alcohol compared to most American beers being 3%. Yes, those St. Pauli looking girls can really carry 10 large liters of beer at a time. Yes, Hofbrau House Tent is cool, but also duck into a real Germain Tent that does not have only Americans and Auzzies so you can get the true German essence of this amazing event. Originally set as a commemoration of the Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage in 1810, today the festival signifies German beer, sauerkraut and a terrific atmosphere honoring the German heritage. And don’t think about drinking the Germans under the table as they will win every time! Don’t believe us? Thirty percent of the year’s production of beer by Munich breweries is consumed on average during these 2 weeks. What to pack: Tolerance and thirst for some brew.
Running of the Bulls (Pamplona, Spain) – On the 7th of July, six bulls are let loose on the streets of Pamplona. The courageous (often eccentric and madcap crazy) folk run alongside the narrow streets for a chance to touch the bull (for luck) while trying to avoid being gored or impaled on the sharp horns. This event has been held during the San Fermin Festival since the 1600′s. The race begins when a rocket is set off to alert the crowd that the wild bulls have been released. Ernest Hemingway gave fame to this ancient tradition in his book “The Sun Also Rises“. What we found out is that the entire town parties for 8 days straight 24 hours a day. They pause each morning for 5 minutes for the bulls to run by and then the party continues. So you don’t have to run to have a good time. Yes, you can feel the bulls if you dangle your legs over the rails as they race by. Yes, the seasoned Spaniards are the main ones who try to hit the bulls with newspaper. What to pack: Anything – as long as it isn’t the color of red
Carnivale (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – A worldwide celebration that has rapidly become an important part of the Brazilian tradition, Carnivale is an annual Christian tradition, which takes place immediately before lent during February or March. The art of Masquerade is taken to the limit as tourists and locals gather together within the streets of Rio to celebrate life with music, costume and laughter. What to pack: A fun mask.
Mardi Gras (New Orleans, Louisiana.) – Also called “Fat Tuesday” – Mardi Gras has become an exciting event held in the French Quarters of Louisiana. What you’ll find is people covered in shiny beads, outrageous masks and wild jester hats dancing along Bourbon Street. And, you’ll quickly learn that every one of these clowns is at Mardi Gras for a reason- Cajun food, jazz music and stiff drinks. Often called “the greatest free show on earth” this celebration in Creole City draws tourists from all over the world! Yes, many girls flash their breasts in the spirit of the moment. Yes, the beads are the new currency and people will do anything to get them! Yes, you can act a little crazy and nobody will notice. What to pack: camera.
South Beach Wine and Food Festival (Miami, Florida) – Hosted by the Food Network, this national, star-studded, four-day event presents the talents of the world’s most renowned and impressive culinary stars. The Festival features food icons like Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Giada de Laurentis, Tyler Florence, and hundreds of other top chefs spanning the globe. If you were going to select an all-star team, this is the place to see them all in action. Most guests pick and choose which events they’ll attend – each one comes with its own price tag. The most popular gatherings are the “Grand Tasting Village”, the “Moët & Chandon BubbleQ” and the interactive cooking workshops – where you not only get to join the cook for an intimate cooking course, you also get to eat! Unlike most Wine Festivals, they also have DJs spinning and dancing and after parties on the beach. Get the scoop on attending the festival at journeyPod.com. What to pack: your appetite.
Love Parade (Berlin, Germany) – Originating in Berlin in 1989, the love has spread worldwide. This music festival, a celebration of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, was started by the Berlin Underground to rejoice in life and the newfound freedom. With the help of electronic music and floats filled with DJs and dancers fully decked in outrageous costumes, love is definitely in the air when this event takes place. Held on the middle weekend of July, the Love Parade features party animals, masks and some imaginative clothing (or a lack thereof). What to pack: A colorful outfit.
The Battle of Oranges (Ivrea, Italy) – Wouldn’t it be nice to have the opportunity of throwing an orange at your loud or cranky neighbor without the obvious retaliation? Well this is what the town of Ivrea gets to do once every year. The streets of Ivrea are transformed into a battlefield as neighbors throw oranges at each other. Over 350 tons of oranges are thrown over the course of two days. A nice way to get rid of stress…What to pack: a waterproof camera.
Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah) – One of the top film festivals in the world, Sundance runs films from the far corners of the globe and offers both documentaries and features. The event also allows you to be one of the first lucky people to see a new movie – since many of the films premiere for the first time during the Festival. If you like movies, the slopes and you want to party with the celebrities, get your VIP pass now and attend the festival during the third week in January. For tips on attending checkout our notes on booking early and getting on guest lists way way in advance. What to pack: Uggs, warm gloves and a scarf.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: Another good reason to visit New Orleans on April 27-May 6! The music, crafts and food make this event extremely popular for people of all ages. Master artisans create cultural treasures that have been passed on from generation to generation and Mardi Gras Indians sew dazzling beads. The annual six day event is held at the Fair Grounds Race course where local musicians play jazz, rock and gospel music. What to bring: Your artistic side.
Cheese Rolling and Wake (Gloucestershire, UK) – After weeks of preparation to build the roundest, heaviest ball of cheese – determined racers gather midday on the 28th of May to roll down Copper Hill. Clutching their prized chunk of cheese, racers hope to make it past the finish line without losing their balls (err… Cheese). Due to the steep incline and the vast number of people rolling down at the same time – injuries are known to occur. But don’t worry, St. John’s Ambulance Brigade is waiting at the bottom of the hill to mend any of your boo-boos. Talk about a crazy competition! What to pack: kneepads.
Guy Fawkes Night (Lewes, UK) – Should you happen to be in England on November 5th, make sure you attend the Guy Fawkes Night Party – more commonly known as “Bonfire night” or “Fireworks night”. This ritual dates back to 1605 when some conspirators led by a man named Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up the House of Parliament in London in protest of the new King James I. This event, held all over the UK features a dummy representing Guy Fawkes, which is burnt over a large bonfire. What to pack: a flask and earplugs.
Just For Laughs Festival (Toronto)- July 26-28th get ready for the most hilarious event of the season. Amateur and well known comedians take to the stage, check out other acts, and share stories over a few rounds of jaeger bombs! Big namers like Paul Sveen and Greg Morton can guarantee a full house- so get your tickets early!
Cow Pat (UK) – Also called Marshland Olympics, this manure-throwing contest is an annual competition in the UK and is slowly moving west. Crowds gather to compete in throwing an 800-gram of cowpat (also called “chip” or “disk”). Competitors work out their arm muscles weeks before the big event and the strong wind often add as an extra obstacle in the competition. Advice to those standing behind – keep your mouth firmly shut when the throwing begins. What to pack: A mask, gloves and boots.
Bonnaroo Music Festival (Manchester, Tennessee) – This four-day multistage camping festival attracts a diverse crowd from all over the country. Bonnaroo is Cajun slang for “a really good time” and the Festival holds true to its name. People pack heavy and head out early to find a nice place to camp. First held in 2002, the Festival occupies 700 acres of farmland. On June 14, 2007 The Police, Widespread Panic, Ben Harper, Damien Rice and over 100 bands and 20 comedians are scheduled to perform. Yes, you might not get to shower every day but it is a camping festival afterall. Yes, you can cut loose a bit since it is a private farm. What to pack: Camping gear and shoes you don’t care about ruining.
Winter Music Conference (Miami, Florida) – In its 22nd year, DJs and musical talent take the stages to entertain a crowd of celebrities and avid clubbers from over 60 countries worldwide. Top retailers, distributors, artists, radio and video programmers gather during this week of festivities to show off their brands and check out what’s new in the market. There’s nothing more soothing than listening to trance music right from your pool as many of the DJs spin their tunes at the hotels and clubs throughout the city. (The Miami Beach Resort and Spa is the place to be) Yes, the private parties and DJ events at clubs are just as fun as the actual Ultra Festival. Book early. What to pack: Ear plugs, bathing suit and club wear.
Fantasy Fest (Key West, Florida) – Put on your most imaginative costume and get ready to party in the Keyes this October 19-28th. This 10-day festivity has been drawing in the crowds for almost 30 years. Gnomes, fairies, dragons and other mythical costumes compete in the annual costume competition. Dress your dog in drag and let your imagination run wild during the pet parade. What to pack: A wild costume.
Burning Man Festival: To truly understand this festival you simply have to experience it! Art is the primary focus during this eight day festival (the week before Labor Day) which is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. A popular myth dates the origin to Larry Harvey, who burned a wooden man in a rage of jealousy. Today the event is an experiment in community, radical self-expression and radical self-reliance…bring your hippy self to this fun festival! What to bring: A man made of wood.
Midsummer Festival (Scandinavia) – June 21st marks the longest day of sunlight – talk about a great excuse for a party! Crowds gather around a bonfire the Saturday between June 20-26th to honor the Sun God and signify the defeat of darkness. Mid-summer delicacies include pickled herring, potatoes, fresh strawberries and Schnapps. What to pack: Sunglasses.
For more info on cool Events and Festivals worldwide checkout our journeyPod tips.
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