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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

98%

recommend

1,008 Reviews

  • Excellent 671
  • Great 264
  • Average 53
  • Disappointing 16
  • Terrible 5

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.6
  • Guide
    4.6
  • Activities
    4.6
  • Lodging
    4.6
  • Transportation
    4.6
  • Meals
    4.6

Tour Reviews

Northern triangle tour

Highlights of Northern India

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Amazing tour, fully loaded with all aspect of a great insight into India and the Northern city highlights!
Avoid sleeper trains as major delays and the slowest running train ever, disappointed as wasted a precious day of our trip!
Friendly people living in basic facilities opens your eyes to our western luxuries and lifestyle! Tigers in the wild and the beautiful Taj Mahal big highlights!

Great, friendly, informative!

Follow trip advise notes and you will be fully prepared for this trip

Baby wipes and gut medication is a must!

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Highlights of Norther India

Highlights of Northern India

4.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
This was my second trip with Exodus and again, the trip was very well organized and our tour guide very knowleg. It was fast paced which covered all the important sights on what is known as the "golden triangle." The only draw back was the amount of time spent on a bus between sights - something that was unavoidable. So if you are someone who likes more exercise/walking this might not be the trip for you. It however, offered an excellent overview for a first trip to India.
Of course, seeing that famous building - the Taj Mahal - it did not disappoint. And seeing both a tiger and a leopard at the Ranthambhore National Park, a sighting which is rare.

Besides being well organized, helpful and always pleasant, he was very informative about the history and politics of his country. Also, with 17 people to manage everyday on a very active, fast paced trip, he was still able to respond to our individual needs and to do it with an unflappable style.

Bring a large roll of toilet paper - you won't regret it! ;>) (A roll of hotel toilet paper in India is usually about the 1/3 the size what is available in the U.S.) Also, facial wipes are handy especially when you are on the train and can't wash up very well.

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A fantastic taste of India

Highlights of Northern India

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
We had a wonderful tour of some of the sights of northern India and were left feeling that a return trip to see more would definitely be on the cards!
The evening ceremony at the ghat in Mathura was incredible - so full of sights and sounds - and we got a real sense of the community's involvement in this event.

Mani was brilliant and dealt with the changing whims of the group dutifully and professionally, even when plans had to change due to inclement weather. He certainly left an impression with his wonderful laugh!

Be warned that December and January can see a lot of fog in the north due to the rivers. Our sleeper trains to Varanasi ended up being cancelled due to this, however the alternative location of Mathura was more than acceptable. Unfortunately, our visit to the Taj Mahal was on a particularly foggy morning and we could hardly see it until we were right next to it, but it did lend a certain mysterious charm to the visit.

The change of plans when we couldn't reach Varanasi would have been less disappointing to the group had the alternative plans to go to Mathura been explained in the trip notes. This omission is especially baffling since the fog has apparently affected several of the trips to the area around this time of year.

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5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
This tour is worth consideration as you see and experience the wonderful sites of Northern India. After time both in Nepal, Goa and southern India this must be a must. Visiting major important sites under expert leadership both enhances and develops individual knowledge of India and its past.
Having trawled extensively in India, China, Southern Africa and America especially Peru one stood at the Taj Mahal and the wonder and spiritual dimension of the site left one spell bound. This was the major event with some other wonderful sites every day

Our leader spoke good english and had the leadership skill when took a good tour to excellant.

The train journey was good but some delays should be expected.

I totally commend this tour to anyone seeking to see the BEST of northern India

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A Sensory Extravaganza!

Colours of Rajasthan

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A fantastic introduction to this amazing country. The food, the people, the history, the sights, the sounds....my senses were constantly bombarded with new experiences at every turn. India had been on my travel bucket list for a long time and it did not disappoint...I'm already planning to go back!
The Taj Mahal is simply breathtaking - most definitely the highlight of the trip.

Take some entertainment for the long bus journeys although there is usually plenty to look at as you pass through the villages and towns. The evenings and early mornings can be surprisingly chilly during the winter months so take a jacket. Hat and gloves are also a good option for the very early game drive in Ranthambore National Park.

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


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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