As terrible as it is to write, Summer is coming to an end. Time to pack away the shorts, sunscreen, and grills for the fall. But because our favorite season is wrapping up, doesn’t mean we can still have some fun. One of the major reasons I travel is to experience different cultural events and traditions. And festivals always stand out as some must experience events. All around the world. I’ve teamed up again with Allianz Travel Insurance to bring you some of the best fall and winter festivals from around the world.
Possibly Falls most popular festival, Oktoberfest has taken the world by storm. With no signs of slowing down. With festivals in the US, Canada, Brazil, China, Australia, and of course Germany offering up plenty of Beer and Brats for your consumption. Oktoberfest is world’s largest Volksfest, which is a hybrid of a carnival, beer, and wine festival. Translated from German as “peoples’ festival”.The primary Oktoberfest is held in Munich, covering 16 days of events. Annually it attracts over 7 million visitors. With almost 7 million litres of beer consumed.
WARNING: Alcohol Poisoning
When: September 17th to October 4th.
Recommendation: If you want to experience the true Oktoberfest, head to Munich. But book early. Many hotels are booked solid and prices jump accordingly. To avoid the crowds, and possibly find cheaper rooms, head there during Monday to Thursday. Smaller crowds and lower hotel prices. Also, don’t forget to eat and hydrate. All of that beer can sneak up on you.
Loy Krathong is one of the most important holidays in Southeast Asia. Especially Thailand, which holds one of the regions best events commemorating the celebration. Thai peoples celebrate Loy Krathong by gathering around lakes, rivers or canals to pay their respects to the goddess of water by releasing lotus shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water. This festival marks the end of the rainy season every year and offers guests a unique look at Thai culture and faith.
WARNING: While incidents are rare, depending on where you are there might be a chance for pick pockets or thieves to strike.
When: November 3
Recommendation: While Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand, Chiang Mai has the best celebration. Chiang Mai is the flower capital of Southeast Asia. So it’s only natural they have some of the most beautiful offerings and presentations. While November is the end of rainy season, sometimes the season will run a bit longer. So be prepared for a bit of rain.
Diwali aka The Festival of Lights
From backpackers to Coldplay and Beyonce, this colorful festival has spread around the world. Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali is a 5-day celebration which means different things to different groups of observers. For some, it celebrates the return of Lord Rama and his wife Sita from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century. For others, it pays tribute to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Regardless of why it’s being observed, there’s no denying it’s one of the worlds most beautiful and colorful celebrations. It’s often celebrated with fireworks, beautiful candle arrangements, and the famous colored powders.
WARNING: Food Poisoning
When: October 19th
Recommendation: I recommend celebrating in Mumbai or Delhi. Varanasi is also an excellent place. Expect a constant wave of fireworks and processions. Be very careful with the food you eat and water you drink. Many a Diwali have been ruin by food poisoning.
Day of the Dead
Also known as Día de Muertos in Spanish, we’ve seen the Day of the Dead celebration depicted quite a bit in pop culture recently. Most notably, the opening scene of Spectre (James Bond). Mexico is one of the world’s most religious countries. With 88% identifying themselves as Catholic. The Day of the Dead celebration is an elaborate three-day celebration running from October 31st to November 2nd. It’s used to honor the dead and ask for their favor in the coming year. Specifically, from each families dead relatives. It’s been added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and is recognized internationally.
WARNING: Pickpockets and Robbery
When: October 31st – November 2nd
Recommendation: Oaxaca is the place to be during the Day of The Dead. Organize flights or other means of transportation before hand. I recommend flying directly, or as close, to the city you plan to celebrate in. Arrive a couple of days early to beat the insane crowds.
We’ve all heard and seen the New York Time’s Square Celebration. But Hogmanay is a world class cultural alternative which will have your head spinning from start to finish. Taking place in Edinburgh Scotland, Hogmanay is part NYE celebration, part music festival, part arts festival, and part pure debauchery. The origins of Hogmanay are debated but one thing is sure. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Warning: Copious amounts of alcohol, night time, and fire usually don’t mix.
When: December 30th – January 1st
Recommendation: Book early as accommodations fill up fast here. As with all other NYE celebrations, be ready for massive crowds. While it’s not as concentrated as Times Square, Hogmanay is still a bit dense. Make sure you don’t need to get anywhere in a hurry, hours before and after the main events begin.
Amsterdam Dance Event
ADE is a five-day electronic music conference and festival held in Amsterdam every year. Since its inception in 1995, it’s become one of Europe’s premier music festivals. Attracting international artists like Armin Van Buren, David Guetta, and Paul van Dyk. While music has taken a lot of the focus, film, art, and tech are also on full display. Five days of true artistry.
WARNING: In the last few years, several major festivals have had major scares. From fires to drug issues, festivals come with a certain level of inherent danger.
When: October 18-22
Recommendation: Use hearing protection. Possibly one of the most underrated tips out there. Be sure to check the event and performer schedule BEFORE arriving. And put them in your phone. ADE is massive, so give yourself plenty of time to get from one show to the next. And always know where the first aid staff is located. Not only for yourself but your friends and fellow festival goers. And lastly, bring baby wipes. LOTS of baby wipes. You’ll thank me later.
This post was brought to you with financial support from Allianz Travel Insurance. All picks and opinions are my own.