8 Festivals That Are Full of Color and Life
Festivals have taken place since the beginning of human civilization. In many cases, they were done to please the gods and ensure such things as fertility and a bountiful harvest. Some involved sacrificing virgins and such, but fortunately we’ve gotten over those kinds of things and now the focus is more about having fun and enjoying the company of friends. With that in mind, here are 8 colorful festivals you need to visit!
8. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta | USA
What started as a humble celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of a local radio station back in 1972 has blown up to become the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. The event features more than 500 hot air balloons (compared to 13 that first year) that take to the sky over a period of nine days. On any given day, more than 100,000 spectators enjoy the sights of the colorful, uniquely designed balloons from the launch field.
7. Up Helly Aa | Scotland
This fire festival, which literally translates to “Up Holy Day All” is celebrated on the Scottish Shetland Islands from January through March to mark the end of Christmas-inspired Yule season. The largest such festival, celebrated on the island’s capital of Lerwick, involves up to a thousand Christmas mummers (men dressed up in period-themed clothing) leading a procession through the streets while carrying torches. The dazzle of the fire is quite a spectacle, but also a bit haunting.
6. International Sand Sculpture Festival | Portugal
Held annually in Pêra, Algarve, Portugal since 2003, the International Sand Sculpture Festival is the largest event of its kind in the world. It features around 60 sand artists who create works of art using 35,000 tons of sand. It is especially a sight to behold at night when ambient lights create a breathtaking glow around the sculptures.
5. Electric Forest Festival | United States
First begun in 2011, this four-day music festival hosted by the Double JJ Resort in Rothbury, Michigan features electronic music and jam bands. But this isn’t just any run-of-the-mill music festival with a big stage and field; this one takes place in a forest that is lit up with psychedelic lasers and colorful ornaments. This creates an unforgettable, surreal experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
4. Lantern Festival | China
A Chinese festival of great importance that goes all the way back to the Western Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago, it falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, or around February/early March on the Gregorian calendar, with the last day signifying the Chinese New Year. Cities all around China are decorated with lanterns that light up the night; most notably red ones, although animal-shaped lanterns have become common in modern times. This holiday is also celebrated as a holy Buddhist day of observance.
3. Winter Light Festival | Japan
The Winter Light Festival in Kuwana City, Japan uses the term “winter” very liberally. While you might initially imagine snow and a chill in the air, this celebration, in fact, takes place for 5 months from mid October through mid May. Located in the Nabano No Sato Botanical Park, the 1.2 million LED lights that make up “The Tunnel of Light” are the real stars of the festival. The flower-centric garden features an impressive variety of flowers that bloom at different points of the year, making this a place worth visiting more than once.
2. Carnival of Brazil
The famous Carnival of Brazil takes place on the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday at noon, the start of Lent, the forty-day period that ends with Easter. Although the celebration is Catholic-based today, its beginnings can be traced back to the pagan festival of Saturnalia. Parades take place throughout the country, but the most notable one is in Rio De Janeiro, the largest carnival in the world.
1. Holi | India
Given that India is full of bright, colorful images, it comes as no surprise that it is the birthplace of perhaps the most colorful festival of all: Holi. This ancient Hindu festival dates back to the 4th century and is a time to repair broken relationships, meet new people, laugh and play, and simply enjoy life. People celebrate this festival by throwing a dry powder called Ghulal that comes in various colors, particularly red, yellow, blue, pink and green. The concept has become so popular that there are plenty of festivals in Europe to mark the occasion, even amongst populations that don’t practice Hinduism.