10 Best Festivals in the World to Experience At Least Once in Your Life

10 Festivals to Attend At Least Once in Your Life

Celebrate good times, come on!

Beyond the typical tourist destinations, some of the most unforgettable travel experiences come from witnessing the best festivals in the world. These celebrations offer travellers a chance to dive into new cultures, experience various traditions, and create lifelong memories. And with different festivals happening year-round, why not chase the party and plan your trip around these vibrant festivities? From Southeast Asia to The Americas, we round up some of the world’s most vibrant festivals that deserve a spot on your bucket list! 

Also read: A Guide to the Best Theme Parks Around the World Worth Travelling For

Best festivals in the world you need to experience

1. Carnival – Brazil

Image credit: Rio de Janeiro Tourism Board | Official Facebook Page

First on our list of the best festivals in the world takes you to the home of samba and bossa nova: Rio de Janeiro or simply Rio. Held annually as a pre-Lenten celebration, the Rio Carnival stages numerous street parades, parties, and open-air performances. Here, expect a vibrant explosion of extravagant costumes, elaborate floats, pulsating music, and infectious energy. Witnessing about two million people per day, it’s arguably the biggest carnival not only in Brazil but in the whole world. 

2. Day of the Dead – Mexico

Image credit: Eduardo Mogollán via Canva Pro

Celebrated from 31 October to 2 November, Mexico’s Day of the Dead isn’t your typical spooky Halloween-slash-All-Soul’s-Day celebration. This Mexican tradition is a vibrant festival bursting with colour, music, and a joyful remembrance of deceased loved ones. 

During this time of year, parade entertainers and revellers fill the streets dressed up as skeletons or catrinas. Meanwhile, cemeteries transform from sober spaces into visual feasts adorned with sugar skulls, marigolds, photos, candles, food, and drinks. For the most immersive experience of the festival, head down south to Oaxaca City, where the festival feels straight out of Disney’s Coco!

Also read: 14 Beautiful Places in Mexico for an Unforgettable Tour

3. Holi – India

best festivals in the world

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Holi, India’s Festival of Colours, is a two-day celebration of the divine love between Hindu deities Radha and Krishna. Annually celebrated in February or March (depending on the Hindu calendar), the festival also welcomes the arrival of spring, hence the coloured paint wars!

The festivities officially begin with Holika Dahan ( the day before Holi), in which a bonfire is lit to burn away negativity and ward off evil spirits. On the day of Holi, the streets come alive with booming music and energetic dances as festival-goers partake in playful banter by throwing coloured water and powder at each other. 

Also read: 10 Surprising Reasons Why You Should Travel to India Soon

4. Songkran Festival – Thailand

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Much like any New Year’s celebration, Songkran Festival aka the Thai New Year, offers a fresh start (literally). Following the Buddhist calendar, it takes place over three days, typically starting every 13 April. The Songkran festivities happen all over Thailand! The capital city of Bangkok attracts large crowds with its wild energy, while Chiang Mai provides a more traditional and laid-back vibe. Nevertheless, expect to be soaked with buckets of water and watch out for high-powered water guns!

Also read: 10 Best Destinations in Thailand for Culture and History

5. Yi Peng Lantern Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand

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The Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand stands out as an enchanting celebration of lights and cultural traditions. This Northern Thai festival, rooted in the ancient Lanna culture, celebrates the second full moon and is usually celebrated every 15 November. As its name suggests, the highlight is the mass lantern release, wherein thousands of brightly lit khom loi (paper lanterns) fill the night sky! 

These lanterns are believed to symbolise letting go of misfortune to welcome good luck and a bright future. Other practices observed during this time include lighting up the city with phang pratheep (small candles in clay pots) and releasing krathong (small floats) along nearby lakes and rivers. 

Also read: Take Part in Asia’s Most Magical Lantern Festivals at These Iconic Destinations!

6. Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival – Harbin, China

Image credit: Rincewind42 | Wikimedia Commons

In the province of Heilongjiang in northeast China, an enchanting spectacle awaits every winter! Spanning an area of 600,000 square metres, the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival puts on the world’s largest amusement park of fairytale-like ice and snow sculptures. These include towers, castles, and pagodas, which come even more alive when lit up at night. In addition to the grand ice creations, you can also enjoy a variety of winter activities such as skiing, sledding, ice hockey, and many more. 

Also read: 15 Best Winter Illuminations in Japan You Have to See IRL

7. Cherry Blossom Festival – Japan

Image credit: Sora Sagano | Unsplash

Witnessing cherry blossom season is an absolute must-do on many travellers’ bucket lists. Occurring only once a year during springtime, people from across the globe flock to Japan to see sakura trees in full bloom. Here, hanami (flower-viewing) is all about appreciating the short-lived beauty of seasonal blooms. So, you’ll find locals and tourists alike gathering at parks, picnicking under the trees, and soaking up the atmosphere. 

Each region in Japan celebrates this pink-filled season! Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove are major stunners. Of course, who could forget Tokyo’s iconic Ueno Park? Meanwhile, Mt. Yoshino in the Nara Prefecture boasts over 30,000 cherry blossom trees! 

Also read: Japan Cherry Blossom 2024 Forecast: When & Where to See Sakura

8. Mardi Gras –  Louisiana, United States

Image credit: Visit Orlando | Official Facebook Page 

Without a doubt, New OrleansMardi Gras lives up to its reputation as the “Greatest Free Show on Earth”! Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, marks the culmination of Carnival season and the last day of Ordinary Time before Lent begins. 

Marvel at eye-catching floats, enjoy free-flowing drinks, and catch strings of purple and green-coloured beads as part of the tradition. What’s more? Renowned for its music scene, New Orleans also knows how to create a vibrant soundscape for the festivities! If you want to stay close to all the action, head to Bourbon Street right at the heart of the famous French Quarter.

Also read: 6 Breathtaking Places in Louisiana You Shouldn’t Miss on Your Road Trip

9. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – California, United States

best festivals in the world

Image credit: Coachella | Official Facebook Page

Ah, Coachella, every music lover’s paradise! Held yearly in California’s Coachella Valley, this iconic festival features electrifying performances, immersive art installations, campouts, and other cultural experiences. Since 1999, Coachella has dedicated itself to showcasing music across different genres like rock, indie, hip-hop, and electronic dance music—a feast for the ears, indeed!

More than anything, Coachella is all about creating a platform for both global stars and rising talents to share their craft. Alternatively, it gives music and art enthusiasts the chance to enjoy live music along with fellow festival goers.  With tons of international audiences coming from different parts of the globe, Coachella certainly makes for one of the best festivals in the world. 

10. Oktoberfest – Germany

best festivals in the world

Image credit: Oktoberfest | Official Facebook Page

Calling all beer lovers, the world’s largest and most famous beer festival awaits. Enter Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany! Contrary to its name, the festival kicks off in late September and runs for about two weeks, leading up to the first Sunday of October. Originally a royal wedding celebration that started in 1810, Oktoberfest has since become one of the best festivals in the world that spotlights German tradition.

While beer may be the star of the show, there’s always something for everyone here. Explore the fairgrounds and enjoy a variety of fun rides and attractions. Of course, there are tons of stalls serving up traditional Bavarian eats like pretzels, sausages, and roasted chicken to pair with your ice-cold beer!

Also read: 12 Best Oktoberfest Celebrations Around the World (That Aren’t in Munich!)

Our list of the top festivals in the world barely scratches the surface of the incredible cultural celebrations happening all year round! Have you been to any of these festivals? What was your experience like? We’d love to hear all about it! Hit us up on our official Facebook page or tag us on your festival snapshots @tripzillamag with the hashtag #TripZillaShare. 

About Author

Andrea Larice Yap
Andrea Larice Yap

Andrea is a writer and creative individual based in Manila. This tiny human runs on iced coffee, music and films. You’ll probably catch her daydreaming in a park or jotting down random words to to put in a song. Otherwise, expect her taking a dive in the pool of uncertainty called “life.”