Whether representing triumph over evil or commemorating a momentous deed or simply exhorting unity and humanity, colours have been glorified around the world thanks to some wonderful colourful festivals. Most of these celebrations are steeped in tradition. We scoured the globe to bring you many options for making unforgettable colourful memories on your next escape.
The 8 Most Colourful Festivals Around The World:
1. The Ultimate Masquerade: Carnival Of Venice, Venice, Italy
Venice’s world-famous Carnevale di Venezia (Carnival of Venice) is a two-week-long festival held annually every February. It’s said to have originated from the Venetian victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162 and is famous for its parades, masquerade balls, street performances, concerts, markets, and of course the ornate Venetian masks. During this extravagant festival, the whole city of Venice gets in its most festive and colourful mood. There is no specific entry fee and it’s open to all. This Carnival was first held in the 11th century, and since then quickly became an official event during the Renaissance period. Eventually, it came to be known as a famous symbol of Venice.
2. A Riot Of Colours: Holi
Holi is the one colourful festival that needs no introduction for Indians. Celebrated annually, between February and March, this Hindu festival is one of the most famous colourful festivals in the world. While it is celebrated across the globe, the biggest Holi festivities take place in the streets of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It marks the onset of the spring season and also celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Crowds gather in public places and cover each other in coloured powder commemorating Krishna and Radha’s love. Everyone, regardless of age or gender, plays with water and colours, which brings people together and generates a feeling of unity.
3. A Colourful Mess Of Tomatoes: La Tomatina, Spain
Another famous festival, La Tomatina is an annual event, where you can fulfil your childish dreams of making a mess. It is held in the Spanish town of Bunol near Valencia and involves people throwing thousands of over-ripe tomatoes at each other. Dating back to 1945, La Tomatina is one giant food fight held on the last Wednesday of August. All the participants are covered in the orangey-red mush, with the streets too taking on a similar shade of orange. This messy, colourful festival brings together thousands of people and is usually over in an hour; after which fire trucks hose down to clean the streets.
4. Enjoying The Transient Beauty Of Flowers: Hanami, Japan
In spring, Japan’s signature cherry trees bloom, and the country is carpeted with candy-floss-coloured flowers. Hanami (also called the Cherry Blossom Festival) is celebrated all over Japan as soon as the cherry and plum trees begin to flower in spring. The act of flower viewing (hanami) is a centuries-old tradition where the Japanese revere the blossom’s transient beauty with alfresco parties held beneath the cherry blossom boughs in parks and gardens. Visiting the Land of the Rising Sun during spring is the most magical time to go as it is transformed into a vast canvas of delicate pinks, whites and yellows. Inspired by this visual feast, other cherry blossom festivals have popped up all over the country. In modern Japan, many locals choose to picnic among the trees while enjoying one of nature’s finest spectacles.
5. Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, USA
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a balloon festival held every year in October in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This colourful festival is a nine-day event where more than 500 hot-air balloons dot New Mexico’s skies. This forest of coloured, inflated balloons rise together at Fiesta Park and are a sight to watch as the sun rises over them. This festival of balloons is the largest of its kind in the world and allows you to capture some of the most memorable photographs. These colourful orbs go up and down all day long, and at night, they are lit by the bright flame offering a completely different show.
6. To New Beginnings: Chinese New Year
Also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is celebrated in cities and towns across China and beyond. It marks the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar and is typically a 15-day celebration. Not to be confused with the Lantern Festival, which itself marks the final day of the celebrations, Chinese New Year is celebrated all over the world. Of course, no country celebrates it quite the same way.
The festival explodes with a cacophony of colour and sound as many hued decorations are a key part of any Lunar New Year celebration. You will find rainbow-hued dragon dances on the streets, while homes are illuminated with strings of red paper lanterns and elaborate decorations made of plants and flowers. Even the evening sky lights up with fireworks. There are numerous parades, and nowhere will you find two similar floats in style, colour, or theme. The spectators are brightly dressed as well, mostly in traditional clothing, and also eat lots of exotic delicacies. The Chinese New Year festival usually falls in early February or late January.
7. Biggest Ice And Snow Festival In The World: Harbin International Ice Festival, China
How can an Ice Festival be colourful? Well, it can, in China. The Harbin International Ice Festival held annually in China’s northeast Heilongjiang province is the biggest ice and snow festival in the world. The festival is made up of a number of theme parks, each with its own unique event and magnificent ice sculptures. The imposing towers, intricate ice sculptures and incredible Chinese-style castles are all illuminated from top to bottom with neon lights that give Harbin an iced and illuminated wonderland vibe. Harbin International Ice Festival officially starts on January 5th and can last until late February.
8. World’s Biggest Carnival: Rio Carnival, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Held just before Lent, the Rio Carnival is arguably the world’s biggest fiesta that brings 2 million people (per day) together onto the streets of the city for lively samba music, bedazzled outfits, and endless caipiroska cocktails. The festival has an electrifying atmosphere that allows one to witness the unifying beats of steel bass drums and a blast of colourful quirky outfits. Dating back to 1723, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is basically a giant street party that lasts five days, but the highlight is the parade that floats between seven samba schools in the city. It is held every year in February and March. All you need for this colourful festival is a fancy evening gown or an elegant creative costume, and the willingness to step in with the gargantuan and extravagant crowd.
Also Read: Top 6 Carnivals From Around The World
Have You Celebrated These Colourful Festivals Before?
These celebrations of colour and light will inject a happy dose of entertainment into your life. If you’re planning to travel to any of these destinations, plan your trips around the months these colourful festivals are held. However, do keep in mind that some of these will have certain rules and regulations. Research thoroughly before you go, so you don’t end up being culturally insensitive while celebrating these festivals. Let us know if we’ve missed any of the colourful festivals around the world.