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Best Festivals & Special Events Guided Tours All Festivals & Special Events Trips
Top Trip Memories
  • Joining in the party at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Rio’s Carnaval; will it be catching beads or sampling the samba?
  • Floating over New Mexico’s high desert at Albuquerque’s hot air Balloon Fiesta
  • Braving the firecrackers and embracing the fervor at India’s Diwali, the Festival of Light
  • Downing a few liters of beer (and dancing on the tables) at Munich’s boisterous Oktoberfest
  • Getting splattered by fresh tomatoes and then plastering others with same at Spain’s one-of-a-kind La Tomatina
  • Running with the bulls (if you dare) at Pamplona’s notorious San Fermin fest
  • Grooving to the vibes at Montreal’s Jazz Festival
  • Taking in the spectacle of lion dances and marching bands at San Francisco’s colorful Chinese New Year celebration
  • Bathing in mud at South Korea’s Boryeong Mud Festival
  • Absorbing the local culture at Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo or Day of the Dead festivities
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Tour Tips
  • Plan well in advance to attend top festivals since tours, lodgings and flights may fill quickly
  • Be prepared to pay a bit more for everything around festival time
  • If price hikes during top festivals stretch your budget, consider structuring a tour around lesser-known events
  • Festivals are ideal times to arrange custom tours, whether on your own or with friends and family
  • Keep in mind that festival days may not be the best times to do regular sightseeing, if that’s a priority
  • Also consider your tolerance for crowds and noise before booking a festival tour
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Festivals & Special Events Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.6 out of 5

99%

recommend

621 Reviews

Excellent 189 Great 88 Average 11 Disappointing 3 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.6 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.6 Lodging
4.6 Transportation
4.6 Meals
4.6
Tour Reviews

A Himalaya Journey. Amritsar to Leh

A Himalayan Journey - Amritsar to Leh

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes I was very pleased with the whole trip. The tour leader went beyond his
duties I'm sure to accommodate 9 Western individuals. The scenery was
spectacular!
Visiting Dharamsala,. home of the Dalai Lama. A dream for so long. Also the
many monasteries we visited as well as meeting so many beautiful Tibetan
people. An inspiration in themselves.


I thought he was very patient, kind and put up with an at times difficult mix
of people. He was very knowledgeable.
He worked hard.


The altitude affected quite a few people in different ways. One person had to
be transported down to lower altitude.It's hard to know if you'll be affected
but those on altitude medication seemed to suffer the least if at all.
Do some walking training beforehand. There's not a huge amount of walking but
what there is involves steepness, altitude and stairs at times.


I would suggest a daily roster on seating in bus. There was some antagonism
created when people wanted to sit in particular seats. The leader would also
have to accomodate those who suffer motion sickness as well.


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Highlights of Northern India

Highlights of Northern India - Summer itinerary

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes A fantastic trip giving you an experience of the countries culture, the local
wildlife and numerous modes of transport. It’s an excellent trip for first
time travellers.
Watching the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. A magnificent white marble building
that turns golden as the sun rises. Our guide ensured we were the very first
to witness the Taj in the morning, this made for amazing pictures with nobody
else in the background.


Our guide Chandrajeet Rathore was excellent; he really did make the trip. He
was very knowledgeable, insightful and a great story teller. It was really
obvious how much he loved his country. Throughout the trip he would explain
their religion, food and really did help us experience their culture first
hand.


Its the kind of holiday you truly want to immerse yourself in. The food, the
people and the atmosphere as a whole, if you do so you're guaranteed a great
trip.


This trip was a fantastic and truly unique, an experience everyone must try.
As this was my first trip solo I was hesitant at first, but the guide was
waiting there in the airport after you arrive and everything is organised and
ready for you. I loved every minute and would seriously recommend to anyone
who has ever wanted to see India.


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Stunning and unforgettable experience !

Classic India

5.0 May 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes Four of us travelled together, and everyone had different favourite moments. For me, Varanasi was a stunning and unforgettable experience -- from witnessing the celebration of a religious festival to experiencing the chaos of the street life. It was India in a microcosm: history, life & death, colours, noise, mystery, diversity. In contrast, our peaceful evening eating dinner with a family in Jaipur who opened their home to us was every bit as wonderful as any of the sites. They were welcoming, interesting and gracious. And the homemade meal was a bonus.

Guidance through the visa process was quite helpful.

Almost all of the accommodations were first-rate. Ahilya Fort, Dera Mandawa and Sarai at Toria stood out because they were small, and each had a uniquely personal touch. The Fort was in a great location -- adjacent to the town and the river -- yet quiet with amazing rooms and views of the river. We were able to go down to the river early in the morning and see the town come to life. The rooms at Dera Mandawa were beautiful, the staff amazingly attentive. Again, although we were in a city, the hotel was a peaceful refuge. Sarai was a surprising spot next to Panna, again with interesting and helpful owners and staff. If you found places like these throughout India, I would forget about staying the in big five-star hotels.

Kaush, our guide beginning in Indore, was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive to our needs and interests. He handled the logistics of meeting local guides, porters, local drivers and dozens of other details flawlessly. In a disorganized country, he was a model of organization. We knew we were in good hands, start to finish.

A guide he engaged in Khajuraho to take us through the temples stood out as a brilliant and interesting individual. Everyone loved him.
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Classic South India

Classic South India - Premium

2.0 March 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: No The holiday overall gave me a very good experience of Southern India. unfortunately I felt the trip notes were very misleading. The majority of the coach journeys were longer than stated the worst being from Coonor to Cochin (trip notes 5 - 6 hours) this took 10 hours and we were told that on a previous trip it had taken over 11 hours. If we had known there would be so much time spent in the coach we may well have considered some other holiday in India. There were other things that were underwhelming e.g the botanical gardens in Ooty which although it was a pleasant park was devoid of flora and every member of our group looked for orchids (see trip notes) but found none. There was also a mention of buying fish from fishermen in Fort Kochi and having it. cooked for lunch in a local restaurant but there was no mention of this when we were there. We were looking forward to more free time to explore or just relax but possibly due to extended time on the road this was not possible. I felt we had far less time outdoors than I would have liked but maybe I had wrongly anticipated the holiday format.
Mysore, we had a very good local guide and covered a lot of interesting palaces and temples in the time there. Our Exodus guide also took us to the Kaveri River to observe rituals etc., to the Chamundshwari temple high up overlooking Mysore and the Nandi statue carved out of solid granite these three places being additions to the Exodus itinerary.

Eugene our leader was excellent. He did not overload us with information but was always keen to give additional details when asked. He was very knowledgeable, had a good sense of humor and coped well with everyone in the party of 16.

Unless you are the sort of person who enjoys "coach trips" my advice would e to think twice about this trip. Ther was a huge distance covered and a lot fitted in but it was not an ideal holiday for myself or my husband. We do no regret the trip as the plusses were greater than the niggles!

Rewrite the trip notes.

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Wow

Classic India

5.0 January 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes Toni's country knowledge and travel experience were very important. We loved all of the customized tours we received. There were separate guides for the dabba wallah and the Dhobi ghat in Mumbai. We especially enjoyed meeting the spice trader in Cochin and then meeting up with him again in Kumla to see how cardamom is processed. I'll never forget Brunton Boatyard....such a great location to watch the shipping activity on the bay.

Paradisa Plantation...its exotic location and the traditional Kerala house.

The food at both of them was absolutely amazing.
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Festivals & Special Events Trips & Tour Advice

Festivals, which you can find the world over in a myriad of forms, aren't just fun -- they're a reflection of a culture. Some are centuries old celebrations, such as Il Palio, an elaborate horse race in Siena, Italy. Others are more recent in vintage, such as San Francisco's annual Gay Pride Parade. And of course, many are indeed great fun, such as Rio's Carnaval, New Orleans' Mardi Gras, and Spain's chaotic Tomato Festival, in which everyone pelts each other with juicy red fruit. Special events may include Christmas Markets in Germany or New England fall foliage tours. Whatever your favorite festival or event, a good tour will take you there.

Festivals can be among the most memorable and colorful experiences in travel.

Whether you’re shouting “Hey, Mister, throw me some….” as the krewe floats pass by at Mardi Gras in New Orleans; watching a solemn religious procession at Semana Santa in Seville, Spain; downing way too much beer at an Oktoberfest tent in Bavaria, Germany; or checking out the wares at India’s exotic Pushkar Camel Fair, festivals can be fun and frenetic but also fascinating, by serving as a window into the very heart of a culture.

They can also be just plain wacky or offbeat, such as Spain’s La Tomatina (tomato-throwing) or South Korea’s Boryeong Mud Festival (mud play).

Here’s a calendar of major festivals around the globe as they take place throughout the year. Note that many dates are approximate and change based on factors such as holidays or lunar cycles.

Top January Festivals Around the World

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Harbin, China. This is the world’s largest snow and ice sculpture festival and, appropriately, features the largest actual sculptures as well. Starting in early January each year, it runs for an entire month. Harbin is in northeast China, and, perhaps needless to say, is cold in winter, but the festival attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City, Canada. Quebec’s two-week-long Winter Carnival, which typically starts in late January and runs into February, is a celebration of all things snow: It’s the world’s largest winter carnival and ranks third for all carnivals after those in Rio and New Orleans (Mardi Gras). Winter sports, dogsled races, snow sculptures, an ice hotel and more are featured. 

Top February Festivals Around the World

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Extravagantly designed yet skimpy costumes, samba dancing, and a certain degree of licentiousness mark Rio’s Carnaval, held in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lenten sacrifice. This is the place to drop your inhibitions and let yourself go, in the company of a million other visitors. Since Carnaval dates are tied to Easter, they differ each year and may extend into March.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana. With similar timing to Carnaval, Mardi Gras culminates in a parade of brilliantly decorated floats sponsored by a variety of krewes (clubs). Krewe members typically toss out beads and candy to spectators, who have also been known to imbibe a bit on Bourbon Street.

Chinese New Year, San Francisco, California (and many other cities around the world with large Chinese populations, including, of course, in China). Chinese New Year, which varies with the lunar calendar and sometimes falls in March, is celebrated by lots of noise (firecrackers), color (lion and dragon dances), gift-giving, and traditional feasting. It lasts about two weeks and culminates in parades and visits to family and friends.

Top March Festivals Around the World

St. Patrick’s Day, throughout Ireland and New York City and Boston, Massachusetts. Ireland’s patron saint, who is said to have converted the island to Christianity, is honored by parades and freely flowing green beer. It falls annually on March 17.

Top April Festivals Around the World

Semana Santa and Feria de Sevilla, Seville, Spain. Seville’s Semana Santa – or Holy Week leading up to Easter – is marked by processions of huge religious floats carried by bearers and followed by hundreds of penitents. Seville’s Fair, also known as the April Fair, follows two weeks later, and is a week-long party of all-night eating and drinking. Many local women and men wear traditional dress – think flamenco costumes – and ride around in decorated carriages. Dates vary along with Easter.

Top May Festivals Around the World

Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is holiday time in Mexico, but it’s actually celebrated more fervently in areas of the U.S. with large Mexican populations, especially California and the Southwest. Parades, mariachis, Mexican foods, and margaritas are a big part of the mix. It commemorates a victory in battle over the French in 1862.

Top June Festivals Around the World

White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia. Centered around evening ballet, opera, orchestral and popular music performances, the White Nights Festival actually extends from late May through mid-July, but includes all of June, when sunlight lasts well into the night. Carnivals and costume parties round out the festivities.

Top July Festivals Around the World

Fiesta de San Fermin (“Running of the Bulls”), Pamplona, Spain. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises, San Fermin draws up to a million visitors per year Attendance is exciting but dangerous if you’re actually running with the bulls and not just spectating; one or more people get gored almost every year. The bulls run daily from July 7-14 each year.

Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Canada. The world’s largest jazz festival attracts some of the biggest names in music to this ten-day event, which draws two million visitors and 3,000 musicians for 1,000 shows, both indoor and outdoor, many of them free. The festival typically starts in late June and runs through the first week of July.

Boryeong Mud Festival, Boryeong, South Korea. Situated each summer in the little beach town of Boryeong south of Seoul, this nine-day festival is all about the mud: mud sliding, mud games, mud massages, mud swimming, mud bathing. It’s South Korea’s most popular festival for international visitors; dates vary.

Top August Festivals Around the World

Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland. The world’s largest arts festival, the Fringe Festival takes place over three weeks in some 300 venues around Edinburgh – currently more than 50,000 performances of more than 3,200 shows per year. Drama, comedy, dance, music – if it’s the arts, it’s here.

Palio di Siena, Siena, Italy. The Palio is one of the world’s most historic and colorful horse races, with costumed bareback riders representing ten different areas of the city competing in the Piazza del Campo, Siena’s beautiful central square. With origins dating back to the 6th century, it now takes place on August 16 and July 2 each year. Parades and other festivities extend over four days, culminating in the race itself.

Top September Festivals Around the World

Oktoberfest, Munich and other cities in Bavaria, Germany. It may seem strange that Oktoberfest begins in September, but it’s too much fun to wait—and the weather’s better. Mostly it’s about drinking beer, singing, eating sausages and general merrymaking in big groups seated in roomy tents or beer halls. This goes on from mid-September to early October, and has for more than 180 years.

Top October Festivals Around the World

Diwali, throughout India and various other countries with large Indian populations. Diwali is an ancient five-day Hindu celebration marked by gift-giving, candle lighting, and – most visible and audible to visitors – firecrackers. While dates can change each year, October is the most typical time.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The world’s largest hot air ballooning festival gets ramped up at dawn for five mornings (out of nine days) in early October. It’s also said to be the world’s most photographed special event, as hundreds of colorful balloons float over the high desert framed by the Sandia Mountains.

Top November Festivals Around the World

Day of the Dead (Dia de las Muertos), throughout Mexico and other regions with large Mexican populations. The Day of the Dead – marked each year from October 31 to November 2 – is much less morbid than it sounds. Yes, there are visits to cemeteries to honor dead ancestors and lots of skull masks and skeleton costumes, but they are incorporated into parades and other festivities. Oaxaca has some of the best.

Pushkar Camel Fair, Pushkar, India. Even if you’re not in the market for a camel, the six-day Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most colorful spectacles – which is saying a lot. Along with some 11,000 camels and horses for sale, traders and vendors come from all over Rajasthan, among the hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators.

Top December Festivals Around the World

Whirling Dervish Festival, Konya, Anatolia, Turkey. For a week in mid-December (December 10 to 17), some devout adherents of Sufi Islam -- known as whirling dervishes -- perform rhythmic, twirling dances that are meant to transport them into mystical unions with God. In their white outfits with flowing skirts, they are mesmerizing to watch. The dances commemorate a 13th century Sufi mystic.

Related Categories

Popular Continents:                      

AsiaEuropeNorth America & South America

Popular Countries:

IndiaItalyMexicoSpainCanada & Brazil

Popular Festivals:

Calgary Stampede, Canada; Day of the Dead, Mexico; Oktoberfest, Germany; Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval, Brazil; Kumbh Mela, India & Many More

Popular Amongst: 

18-30+Culture explorer

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