Bringing some colour into your life is never a bad thing. It’s even better when you can add a festive air as well. Before the dreary greys of winter set in, feast your eyes on these colourful festivals around the world and start making plans!
When: On the day of the full moon in March
Holi, or the Festival of Colours, is a Hindu festival to mark the arrival of spring. To celebrate, people pelt one another with vividly coloured powders. The festival is usually associated with India but is celebrated wherever there is a large Hindu community.
2. All Saints Day Kite Festival
When: November 1
In the Guatemalan towns of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepéquez, people honour the dead by flying kites in the local cemeteries. These aren’t just ordinary kites, though: they’re huge and traditionally take 40 days to build.
3. Holy Week
When: March or April
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter and is the most important week of the year throughout Latin America. In Central America, people work through the night on the Thursday before Good Friday to create colourful sawdust carpets lining the streets along which the Easter procession will pass.
The most famous Holy Week celebration is in Antigua, Guatemala but you will find the carpets and processions in most towns in Central America.
4. Pow Wow
When: Different times throughout the year
A pow wow is a gathering of First Nations people and is usually characterized by singing, dancing and drumming in colourful traditional dress. While some pow wows are private, many welcome visitors who want to celebrate the cultures of North America’s aboriginal people.
5. Feria de las Flores
The Festival of Flowers is one of the most important events on Medellin’s social calendar. It celebrates the end of slavery. In the past, slaves carried people on their backs to get them up the city’s hills, but now festival-goers carry flowers on their backs instead.
6. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Every year, New Mexico's skies are filled with colour courtesy of hundreds of hot air balloons. The festival is the largest of its kind in the world and is held over nine days.
7. Chinese New Year
When: Usually January or February
Where there’s a Chinese community, whether it’s in China, Southeast Asia or your nearest Chinatown, you’ll find people ringing in the Chinese New Year in style with fireworks, parades, dragon dances and lots of eating. The festivities usually stretch over 15 days.
8. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
When: Second Thursday in February to first Saturday in March
There are Pride parades and then there’s the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the world’s largest and most flamboyant LGBTQ festivals. It’s made up of different events, including discussion panels, a different kind of drag race, the Mardi Gras parade and the post-parade party.
9. Carnival of Venice
When: February or March
Carnival is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday to mark the end of Lent. In Venice, this Catholic festival involves parties and grand balls where people dress up in their most elaborate finery and striking masks.
10. Rio Carnival
When: February or March
In most countries with large Catholic populations, Carnival is celebrated with gusto but nowhere is it quite as colourful or as decadent as in Rio. It's basically a giant street party that lasts for five days, but the highlight is the parade of floats from the city’s different samba schools.
11. Masskara Festival
When: the closest weekend to October 19
Masskara is also known as the Festival of Smiles and was first held in 1980 to cheer up Bacolod’s population during a time of economic crisis and after the sinking of the MV Don Juan, which was bound for the city. The festival is known for its street dances where the dancers wear masks with smiles on them.
12. Cape Town Minstrel Carnival
When: January 2
The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival has its roots in the 19th century and the days of slavery when slaves were given one day off every year on January 2. They would celebrate by dressing up in bright costumes with parasols and white-painted faces, singing and dancing and basically mocking their masters.
Second New Year, as the day became known, is still celebrated with a parade of thousands of minstrels.
13. Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin is home to the world’s largest ice and snow festival, which officially starts on January 5th and can last until late February. The huge ice sculptures get their colours from LED lights.
14. Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival
The Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival is a way of driving away the gloom of Iceland’s very dark winter nights. Events during the festival include Museum Night, Swimming Pool Night, live music and poetry readings while the colour comes from the light art installations found throughout the city.
15. Fuji Shibazakura Festival
When: April and May
"Shibazakura" is Japanese for moss phlox, which blooms in spring at the base of Mount Fuji. The blooms form vast carpets in varying shades of pink, purple and white.
16. Busan International Fireworks Festival
During the Busan International Fireworks Festival, thousands upon thousands of fireworks light up the sky over the Gwangan Bridge. It’s one of Asia’s largest fireworks festivals.
17. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Throughout April, the Skagit Valley in Washington State becomes a riot of colour as the tulips bloom. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival features a street fair, concerts, and sports events but the main attraction is a scenic drive through the valley to admire the tulip fields.
When: April 27 (or April 26 if the 27th is a Sunday)
Koningsdag, or King’s Day, celebrates the Dutch king’s birthday with the biggest street party in The Netherlands. Everything, from the people’s clothes to the food, is bright orange.
19. St. Patrick’s Day
When: March 17
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is the world’s greenest celebration: literally. Everyone wears green while enjoying traditional Irish music and drinking lots of beer which may or may not be green as well.
There are St. Patrick’s Day parades all over the world, with one of the longest running of these happening in Montreal.
20. Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival
The Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival has been held every year since 1974 and features circus acts from around the world. Performers, including acrobats, animal acts, and clowns, vie for the Golden Clown Award.