This week we bring you a Sunday special: our very first collaborative post on festivals around the world, featuring four of the best travel bloggers out there. They are not four random folks; the five of us will soon embark in an exciting new adventure, the Wednesday Roamers. Stay tuned for more!

This is me just before our favourite festival - do you know which one is it?

This is me just before our favourite festival – do you know where I am?

Valencia’s Fallas – by Dave from Cook Sip Go

Valencia - Fallas

Photo credits: Cook Sip Go

Valencianos let their hair down once Fallas arrives on March 15th. For five days, reserved, hardworking members of Valencian society pack public squares for fireworks at 2:00 p.m., with beer flowing wherever served. The streets are filled with kids throwing firecrackers between groups of pedestrians headed to meet friends. And the bars and restaurants are lively throughout Fallas, with conversations drowned out by the passing parades.

The Spanish city’s annual spring festival has its roots in woodwork. In past centuries, carpenters in Valencia would burn their waste on the eve of the day of their patron saint, St. Joseph. Now, neighborhood groups compete to have the most imaginative creations ready for Fallas, all of which will be burnt for the crowds on March 19th. These ‘ninots’ range from social commentary and parody to the fantastical. Their ignition marks the end of Fallas and signals to all in attendance that it’s time to get some sleep. The most impressive part of Fallas, though, is in its communal spirit. During these five days, friends are treated like family and strangers like compatriots. A visit to Valencia for the city’s greatest festival is an enduring and meaningful experience.

Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens by the Bay – by Jon from Jonistravelling.com

mid autumn gardens by the bay

Photo Credits: jonistravelling.com

Singapore’s cultural diversity doesn’t just make for great food and interesting history – time your visit right and you can take part in one of the many annual festivals. If you happen to visit around September or October, you might catch the Mid-Autumn festival (also known as Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival). The dates change from year to year, but when you’re out shopping and mooncakes are available at stores, you’ll know it’s time.

I’m not really a mooncake fan, so my favourite aspect of the festival is getting to see the psychedelic lanterns that are scattered around Gardens by the Bay. You can also see them at the Chinese Gardens, but the already impressive night time atmosphere at Gardens by the Bay makes it the best choice. There are all sorts of lanterns, from huge houses to a fast food waitress version of Libra. I’m not into star sign stuff at all, but the lanterns are so well made and look so bright and colourful that it doesn’t really matter what they are depicting.

The Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens by the Bay is free, and if you don’t mind frustratingly slow moving crowds you’ll have a great time checking out all of the displays.

Juayua Food Festival – by Jules and Christine from Don’t Forget To Move

juayua food festival

Photo Credits: Don’t Forget To Move

Tucked away in the Northern highlands of El Salvador, along the Ruta de Flores, is the small town of Juayua. This sleepy town comes alive every weekend with their famous Juayua food festival. The normally quiet plaza bursts into action with stalls lining the street, each cooking up different delicacies for tourists and locals.

With everything from roasting meats to sickly sweet desserts, there’s really something for everyone. If you can’t decide, try a heaping plate full of a little bit of everything. Sizzling chorizo, marinated pork ribs and grilled fish are just a few delicacies on offer. One thing’s for sure, you won’t leave here hungry.

Make sure to leave room for delicious tiramisu or flavored shaved ice. Before heading back to your hostel to pass out in a food coma, check out the local entertainment happening in the plaza. If you’re lucky, local celebrity Manuel Jose might be singing his rendition of Gangnam Style, complete with dance.

Sea of Orange during Kingsday in The Netherlands – by Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers

Queensday

Photo Credits: Bunch of Backpackers

Orange. Orange. And more orange. One day a year the Netherlands completely changes color. It’s the day we celebrate the birth of our King Willem-Alexander. Of course we’re talking about Kingsday, celebrated on April 26th.

Kingsday is one of my favourite holidays. It’s most famous for ‘vrijmarkt’, a nationwide streetfair on which people (mainly children) sell used goods and home-made cookies or play the violin. However, for most people Kingsday is the national day of music festivals and parties. The biggest parties are seen in Amsterdam, where the beautiful canals are filled with boats full of dancing people and the streets are packed with orange happiness. The famous Museumplein changes in a huge outdoor concert venue. However, during Kingsday festivities are organised in every corner of the Netherlands ranging from electronic music festivals to concerts and parades.

The Netherlands wouldn’t be the Netherlands if we wouldn’t try to extend the festivities a bit. So, in the last couple of years we also celebrate Kingsnight (the night before Kingsday). During Kingsnight there are mainly live music performances. Utrecht and The Hague are both good places to celebrate Kingsnight.

If you ever are in the Netherlands during Kingsday there are only two things you have to do to fit in: 1. Wear orange 2. Bring a party mood!

Our own personal favourite – Carnevale d’Ivrea

Action shot from Carnevals d'Ivrea - those oranges hurt!

Action shot from Carnevals d’Ivrea – those oranges hurt!

We’re fond of festivals; after spending a year chasing festivals from the north to south of Italy, we consider ourselves festival experts. It was a very tough call to pick our favourite, but after some debating here it is: Carnevale d’Ivrea, famous for the Battle of the Oranges.

Dates change yearly, depending on when Carnival falls. Celebrations start with a night party on Saturday, where the eight orange throwing teams parade around town singing, dancing and having a good few drinks. We Couchsurfed in Ivrea, and were adopted by our hosts’ team, allowing us to join in the parade, which was terrific fun (see pic at the top of this article).

The real fun begins with the Battle of the Oranges, taking place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon. Orange-throwers on foot and on horse-carts take the streets, belting fruit at one another until the streets are covered in a layer of squishy mush. Read this post for our account right in the thick of orange-throwing madness!

Post linked to Sunday Traveler

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85 Responses

  1. Corinne

    Wow! I love this…because I love festivals, and the only one I’ve been to is carnevale!

    • Margherita

      Hey Corinne! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the article!

  2. Dave Cole

    I’m sure those oranges from the Carnevale d’Ivrea hurt a bit more than the tomatoes thrown at La Tomatina in Spain – good thing the participants are wearing helmets! I also wonder how many boats capsize in the Amsterdam canals each year from too much dancing and how I would pass the time in Juayua between the weekend food festivals.

    • Margherita

      They do hurt Dave! I was full of bruises when I came back, but what a day! All festivals sounds great, I would love to go to each of them!

    • Margherita

      Hey Esther! Sounds great, I’ll have to pay a trip there!

    • Margherita

      So right Surya! Thanks Jules and Christine for recommending it, I have to go and check it out!

  3. Michael Huxley

    That first photo has to be from the day of the dead, right?

    Great post! I absolutely LOVE travelling when a festival is on, it is a great snapshot into the culture of a country and great fun. That battle of the oranges looks mental though!?!

    • Margherita

      Hey Mike! The first pic was from Carnevale d’Ivrea, our team was called the ‘Morte’ (death) so we all had skull make-up. Amazing experience!

  4. frankaboutcroatia

    Awesome festivals around the world. Participated in Valencia’s Fallas and King’s Day already, but would love to experience the other festivals too. Good luck with your new Wednesday Roamers project. Looking forward to find out more about it.

    • Margherita

      Thanks Frank! The project will be revealed in a few weeks. If you liked the post, would you consider contributing to the next one? I’m sure you know lots of Croatian festivals!

  5. Margherita

    Hey Marissa! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the article! I want to go to Juayua too!

    • Margherita

      Hey Mandie! Bartending would be great fun, and a good way to experience the festival for free… Battle of the Oranges is great too, but be careful to not get hurt!

  6. Carmen @ CarmensTravelTips

    The Valencia’s Fallas festival looks like it would be a fun one to attend. We try to stay away from carnivals and festivals. My husband isn’t into going to busy places. Great pictures!

    • Margherita

      I felt like that too, for a while. then I went to some festivals, and I was hooked! Maybe you should try to convince your husband! Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hannah

    What a fun post! Las falls has been something I’ve wanted to see since I learned about it in a university Spanish class but the rest sound great too!

    • Margherita

      Hay Hannah! I loved Dave’s description of the festival too, I think I might go in March! Meet you there?

  8. Lauren

    Oh, I love festivals! They can bring people together from a town, or when people share a similar interest! Food festivals are fantastic, probably my favorite! We have all kinds of little festivals in my town – there’s one coming up for Canada Day (July 1st)! Thank you for sharing!

    • Margherita

      Hahaha Thanks! The theme was ‘death’, so I had a skull make-up, my host did it!

  9. Franca

    The Kingsday looks so incredibly crowded, it must be fun though! I think the Carnival would probably be the one I’d love to most. Good luck with your new Wednesday Roamers project.

  10. Alli

    Nice collaboration here, Margherita! Food festivals are my very favourite 🙂 The makeup in the first picture is impressive – did you do that yourself!

    • Margherita

      Hahaha no Alli! My CS host did it, she was a really good face-painter! Glad you liked the post.

  11. Elena

    Great post! I’ve been living for almost 10 years in Barcelona and never been to Las Fallas in Valencia…Shame on me!

    • Margherita

      You should go Elena! I might go myself next March!

  12. Anna

    I’ve always wanted to go to the Netherlands for Kingsday. Such an extraordinary day…

    • Margherita

      Thank you for hosting it Ashley! Glad you liked the post.

  13. Jay

    Great post first of all. The festivals looks fun and amazing. I wish I can experience all the festivals as you’ve experienced it. I’m from the Philippines and all the festivals that we have there year round is what I missed. This post really takes me back to those times of enjoying a fun festival. Thanks for sharing.

    • Margherita

      Hey Jay! I’d love to read about festivals in the Philippines, have you got any blog posts? Glad you liked the article!

      • Jay

        Hi Margherita. I don’t have any blog post about festivals in the Philippines, but I will work on one when I go back there. Some festivals are inspired by religion and a lot are very similar to Spanish festivals also as Spain conquered the Philippines in the Magellan era. I would love to share those information with you in the near future.

  14. Chris Boothman

    There are so many unique and culturally diverse festivals around the world that must be amazing to experience and I am very envious of folks who are able to sample many of these. Many of us that live in western societies generally don’t get to experience them as much as the East, at least that’s what my feeling is. Frequently festivals are held here in USA from ‘other cultures’ and this is sometimes frowned upon by locals which disappoints me because it is a great way for us all to learn about a different culture.

    This is a really great collaboration and thanks for sharing this as it will help us all learn a little more about cultures/festivals around the world!

    • Margherita

      Thanks Chris, glad you liked the post. You’re so right about attitudes towards festivals from ‘other cultures’ in the West. Sometimes people are really negative, and that’s a shame, because so many opportunities to learn are missed.

  15. antonette - we12travel

    The Queensday / Kingsday festival is great. The date got changed this year because we changed from Queen to King and apparently there were some tourists showing up in orange in Amsterdam on the wrong date (3 days too late) who hadn’t bothered to check about the festivities …

    • Margherita

      hahaah that’s funny! I would love to visit Kingsday, sounds fun!

  16. Bob R

    Sweet selection. I was in Valencia one year when they were preparing for the Falla shindig, but missed the actual festivities.

  17. Bianca @itsallbee

    Nice! I love festivals! Mainly for the food as you can be a little more adventurous I find, in eating things you wouldnt normally go for.

  18. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Great to hear about all these different festivals! I wasn’t in Singapore for mid Autumn festival but did experience it in Vietnam and it was a great atmosphere – loved the moon cakes! 🙂

    • Margherita

      I would love to see that festival too, sounds great!

  19. Brianna

    What a fun post featuring some awesome bloggers! I personally would love to see the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia. Viva Espana!

  20. Christina

    Great post. My favorite would be the Carnevale d’Ivrea but only watching it from a “safe” place. 😀

  21. Calli

    Great article – it’s always nice to see different traveler’s opinions and perspectives of these festivals, most of which I’d never heard of before. For me, the best festivals centre around good food 🙂

    • Margherita

      I agree with you Calli! Glad you liked the post.

    • Margherita

      Hey Jessica! It’s great fun still, but yes, being hit hurts! Glad you liked the post.

  22. Anna | slightly astray

    It’s so fun to read about festivals around the world! Every country has some really interesting ones. I don’t purposely travel to seek them out, but I think that ought to be changed!

    • Margherita

      We’ve travelled to some festivals purposely and stumbled across others, most of the times amazing experiences!

  23. noel

    I always love to visit when there is a local festival, any of these above would be excellent since I’ve never been.

  24. Margherita

    Hey Emily! Carnevale is amazing fun, once you learn ow to dodge the oranges!

    • Margherita

      The one I’m talking about is the orange festival, not the Tomatina! Or maybe the pic is so bad that I made oranges look like tomatoes?

  25. Christine

    Thanks for including us in your collaboration post! Great list of festivals here, we’ll definitely add them to the bucketlist!

  26. Laura

    Wow these all look excellent, but I’ve got to say, throwing oranges at each other appeals to me the most 😉

  27. Sabina

    The mid-autumn festival sounds absolutely amazing! Can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. Just another reminder that I need to get my ass back to Asia! 🙂

    • Margherita

      It sure sounds great! Another reason to go back 🙂

  28. Sonia

    Looking forward to a post on some Asian and South American festivals..
    Songkran in Thailand was one of the most enjoyable festivals!

  29. Rashad Pharaon

    Carnevale d’Ivrea looks hilarious! That is… until an orange hits you! Geez.. they seem to be lobby these with full force…

    • Margherita

      They are indeed, but if you can dodge them, it’s great fun! Thanks for stopping by!

  30. Adelina | PackMeTo

    Awesome round up! There are certainly plenty of interesting festivals to check out around the world. Looking forward to seeing what the 5 of you cook up as the Wednesday Roamers. 🙂

    • Margherita

      Thanks Adelina! Soon we’ll reveal the grand plan!

  31. Els

    Las Fallas are on my list for 2015! I am planning on visiting more European festivals in the next few years, nothing beats partying with the locals! 🙂

  32. Katie Featherstone

    A great list! I’d love to be a part of any of these festivals, although I would rather eat my food than through it! There are a lot of fantastic music festivals in England- Secret Garden Party is probably my favourite.

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