magazine | Travel | Music, Festivals + Events

22 Celebrations of Culture From Around the World

photo: Jacob Riglin
Getting people together is at the heart of what we love about planning parties and events around the world. So, why not take a tour of some of the world’s biggest gatherings? While not all festivals can include a Beychella performance, there are art festivals, moon celebrations, new year’s parties and so many other reasons to get family and friends in one place to uplift one another and carry on traditions that have been around for many generations. From the lantern festival of Chiang Mai to summer moon parties in Greece to a Japanese flower show, we’re on a world tour of what it looks like to celebrate culture.

Reporter: Alyssa Brown
1 / 22
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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hundreds of balloons set flight at this 9-day October fiesta in Albuquerque. Kids and adults alike gather to the massive launch site for its festival like atmosphere and the absolute spectacle of seeing countless floating balloons of all shapes, sizes and colors light up the desert sky.
2 / 22
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AgitÁgueda

Águeda, Portugal
Águeda’s streets get a bright uplift in the month July, as colorful umbrella canopies line the streets of this town. From the 7th of July through the 29th, visitors and locals can expect art installations, performances and tons of street art as the festival AgitÁgueda takes place.
3 / 22
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Yi Peng Lantern Festival

Thailand
The skies of Chiang Mai are set aglow as thousands of lanterns are released throughout the city during the Yi Peng Lantern Festival. This citywide gathering takes place on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually November) and is often celebrated alongside Loy Krathong during three days of parades, markets, candle lightings and more.
Photo:capkaieda
4 / 22
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The Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Japan
This springtime floral extravaganza sees the blooming of hundreds of thousands of Shibazakura flowers at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. For the best experience visiting these vibrant blooms, you'll want to bring along your flower power gals.
5 / 22
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Holi Festival of Color

India
A Hindu celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of spring, Holi is catching on as a colored-powder-throwing party in many cultures beyond India. In fact, if you live in Boston, Houston, Chicago or a number of other major cities in the States, there may be a Holi Fest near you.
6 / 22
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Dia De Los Muertos

Mexico
Celebrating the lives of loved ones who’ve passed away is at the core of this Mexican tradition. But the colorful, marigold-filled altars and graveside flower installations combined with parades and Aztec rituals that are meant to bring the spirits to life for the day feel anything but somber. Día de los Muertos, which takes place on November 2, brings families and friends out in big groups, many donning traditional skeleton makeup and colorful costumes.
Photo:Heino Kalis
7 / 22
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La Tomatina

Spain
If you happen to be in the Valencian town of Buñol the last Wednesday of August, look out for flying tomatoes. The city’s wild tomato-throwing festival has been going since 1945 and is sheerly for entertainment purposes, giving you the opportunity to finally toss a few smashed tomatoes at your most annoying travel buddies.
8 / 22
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SF Pride

San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s Pride is a boisterous, wild, loud and ridiculously fun party. Packed with characters and buzzing with energy, this weekend-long celebration of pride includes one of the oldest and largest LGBTQIA parades in the world. Nothing like a get together of a hundred thousand people to boost your energy levels!
9 / 22
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The Jaisalmer Desert Festival

India
Three days before the full moon of February, people travel in groups to the Thar Desert in the Sam Sand Dunes to celebrate Jaisalmer Desert Festival. Over the course of three days, the remote desert landscape comes to life with performances, folk music and local lore being passed from generation to generation.
10 / 22
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Songkran Water Festival

Thailand
The celebration of the Thai New Year takes place in mid-April and features the most epic water fights you’ve ever seen. People fill the streets to literally shower one another with buckets of water and take aim at their fun-loving pals.

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11 / 22
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Carnival

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gathering something like two million revelers per day, Rio’s Carnival is hands-down the world’s largest Carnival festival preceding Ash Wednesday. The streets vibrate with music, dance, costume and chaos of the best kind.

Oktoberfest

Munich, Germany
The carnival heard round the world, Oktoberfest is Germany’s most famous gathering of locals and tourists alike. Taking place over a couple of weeks in October every year, this Munich pop-up of tented beer halls brings out the loudest and most traditionally clad revelers around.
13 / 22
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Burning Man Festival

Nevada
Burning Man is an annual experiment in creating a city in the Nevada desert. If community building, art installations en masse and bartering sounds like your bag, check it out with a posse. You’ll definitely want to roll with a crew for this epic gathering of makers, builders, artists, costumers, exhibitionists, musicians and folks from all walks.
14 / 22
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Feast Portland

Portland, Oregon
Getting people together around good food, good drinks and excellent company is at the heart of this Portland festival. This year’s Feast will take place September 13-16 and will offer hands-on classes, collaborative dinners and panels throughout the three-day extravaganza.

Floating Lanterns Festival

Honolulu, Hawaii
Meant to mark the day of remembrance, Honolulu’s Floating Lantern Festival takes place annually on Memorial Day. Thousands gather at Moana Beach Park to send notes to lost loved ones afloat.
16 / 22
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Art Basel

Miami Beach, Florida
Art Basel takes over the city of Miami, including its convention center, the first weekend of December and brings together people of all art-loving backgrounds to see gallerists and exhibitors from around the world. The show includes over four thousand artists and 200 modern and contemporary art galleries.
17 / 22
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Harbin Ice Festival

China
China’s Harbin Ice Festival begins at the end of December and continues through the month of February. Massive ice sculptures are built for the festival, drawing millions of people from China and around the world to see the snowy spectacles.

Comic Con

San Diego, California
You don’t have to be a comic book, movie or sci-fi fan to appreciate the sheer size of this massive gathering. Comic Con originated in San Diego and continues to draw about 130,000 people annually to enjoy workshops, special screenings, interviews, autographs and so much more in a convention format.

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto, Canada
Film buffs and industry pros from around the world settle into Toronto every September for the annual film festival. Movie premieres, parties and dinners celebrate the best films, actors and film industry folks throughout the 10-day festival. In short, that means a whole lot of gathering.
Photo:GTS Productions
20 / 22
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Mardi Gras

New Orleans, Louisiana
You probably have an idea of Mardi Gras being an all-out boozefest on Bourbon Street, but locals will tell you this New Orleans celebration is deeply rooted in tradition and is really all about the gathering of family and friends of all ages. Mardi Gras season begins January 6th with the bacchanalian celebrations of Twelfth Night and continues through to the day before Ash Wednesday. The biggest parades of the season, and the biggest parties, are in the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day which brings people of all ages and costumes together at parades, bars, formal balls and more.
21 / 22
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Glastonbury Festival

England
England’s big-name music festival gathers nearly 200,000 people annually in the small town of Glastonbury, where the usual population is less than 9,000. Glastonbury Festival brings in infrastructure, campsites, roads, water, electricity, security and so much more to create a pop-up city for this long weekend of epic entertainment.
Photo:Tak B
22 / 22
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August Moon Festival

Greece
Greece’s full moon festival falls in August every year and visitors flock to some of the biggest historic sites – like Acropolis and the Roman Agora – for performances through the night. Events usually start a day or two before the full moon and include theatrical performances, poetry readings, concerts and more in over a hundred archaeological sites, monuments and museums throughout the country.

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