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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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