Festivals around the world
Collected by Kim Fortson, AFAR Contributor
Derb Zerbtana, Fès 30110, Morocco
When I told people I was traveling to Fes for north Africa’s most celebrated music festival, I heard, “Will you feel safe there?” or “You’re traveling halfway around the world to listen to church music?” Ironically, at the primary concerts,...
53100 Siena, Province of Siena, Italy
Each spring as a child, I looked forward to the annual Derby Day party in our family backyard when my parents’ friends donned odd hats and downed mint julips. Somehow, I thought Il Palio was going to bring back childhood memories, but the Kentucky...
Kırkpınar, Kemertaş Mahallesi, 69000 Kırkpınar Köyü/Bayburt Merkez/Bayburt, Turkey
“Enjoy watching groups of grown men dressed in leather and doused in olive oil grappling with each other?” asked my guidebook. As is true of many cultural traditions, it’s easy to mistake what this festival is all about. Kirkpinar is about honor....
09109 Castrillo de Murcia, Burgos, Spain
Do the Spanish have the weirdest festivals in the world? I asked myself this as I made the 43-kilometer trek by taxi from the charming city of Burgos in northern Spain (no public transportation to this remote village). Since 1621, the...
Newada Samogar, Uttar Pradesh 211009, India
Kumbh Mela is a perfect habitat for exploring "cultural curiosity." It forms a place for the salvation of mankind who wish to be free of the cycle of life and death. No small theme for the world’s biggest gathering. The crowd on the main days is...
Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 226
If you’re logical, you might not make the trek to the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. Depending upon where you live, this is a long way to go for just a few hours of visual splendor in the sky. The fact is that the highlight lasts no more than about...
Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
My ideal habitat is a warm day on a tropical beach. I'm also a sucker for beauty in all its most unusual forms (part of the reason I'm on the Board of Burning Man). So, when I heard about the Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival in northeast...
Kampung Selayang Permai, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
Landing in heat-soaked Kuala Lumpur after being on the road for 24 hours can be disorienting. Incessant chanting (“vei vel shakti vel”), monkeys screeching, wafting incense, a glorious moon, and a million people. Thaipusam falls on a full moon and...
Black Rock City, NV, USA
Burning Man conjures up all kinds of images for those who’ve never been. Naked new agers dancing till dawn. Polyamorous pursuers fueled by ecstasy. Yes, the Playa (the desert stage where the Man, the temple, and much of the art is located) is a...