Top 10 World Festivals for 2018

From the colourful fun filled Rio Carnival in Brazil and Holi and Diwali in India, to the Cherry Blossoms in Japan, New Year's in Red Sqaure and the Harbin Ice Festival, here are our top picks for 2018. It's going to be difficult choosing which ones to go to - we did warn you!

Rio-Carnival-Brazil-primary
The World's Biggest Party...

Rio Carnival in Brazil: 9th - 14th February 2018

The captivating city of Rio de Janeiro, home to exotic nightlife, lush mountains and beautiful beaches, hosts the world’s greatest street party. A destination known for its sexy atmosphere and energetic spirit explodes with colour, music and hip swaying for Rio Carnival the weekend before Lent. A spectacular event, across the five days the streets are lit up and filled with revellers in extravagant fancy dress. When you arrive, receive a warm welcome from the Brazilians who are proud to share with you the world’s best party. The highlight of the weekend is the Sambadrome, a spectacular parade of hundreds of marvellous floats travelling down the streets, flanked by dancers in glitter-covered costumes. If you are unable to get tickets to the Sambadrome, you will still have a wonderful time joining in with the street parties dancing to the infectious samba music from dusk till dawn.

Recommended Tours: Rio Carnival City Break | Rio Carnival Beach Break

Holi Festival India
A riot of colour and celebrations...

Holi Festival of Colour in India: 1st March 2018

Holi is a celebration of good triumphing over evil, the importance of love, happiness and new beginnings with the end of winter. With imitation festivals cropping up all over the world, nothing beats the dazzling vibrancy and invigorating energy of the original. Festivities take place all over India on the day after the full moon in March, the streets transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour. The evening before, large bonfires are lit to burn away evil spirits in a ritual known as Holika Dahan. The following morning as soon as you step on to the streets you will be covered in a rainbow of purples, greens, pinks and blues, thrown by children and shopkeepers. A carefree festival, join the locals as they spread coloured powder over their faces, stand under showers of coloured water and dance around water sprinklers.

Recommended Tours: Holi Festival of Colour

Cherry blossom and castle - Bucket List
A symbol of hope and renewal...

Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan: April 2018

One of the most traditional and beautiful sights of Japan is the blooming of cherry blossom. Also known as Sakura, this iconic event is eagerly anticipated not just for its beauty but because it also signals the end of winter and is a symbol of hope and renewal. The blossoming of these delicate buds starts in early February in the southern islands of Okinawa, the opening of the delicate flowers spreading across Japan to reach the northern cape of Hokkaido by the end of May. Hanami is the traditional custom of enjoying the flower, with people spending time in parks, gardens and riversides to enjoy the picturesque settings covered in a gorgeous soft pink hue in the fresh spring weather. Travel to Kanazawa in April, the best time to see the flowers, to appreciate one of Japan’s most impressive gardens Kenroku-en covered in a light rose tint.

Recommended Tours: Cherry Blossom Festival

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White Nights and Culture...

Night at the museum in St Petersburg: 21st May 2018

St Petersburg, Russia’s imperial city, is full of cultural treasures waiting to be discovered – fabulous palaces, impressive cathedrals and intriguing museums. On the 21st of May, in what is becoming an annual tradition, the city’s most admired and beloved museums of the city stay open all night from 9pm till 6am the following morning. It is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sights of the museums with a lack of crowds and elbow bashing, visiting the Planetarium, the Geological Museum, The Gallery of Modern Art and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. To celebrate this event there are special exhibitions and street art performances. The exciting atmosphere of the late night activity is enhanced by the pearly all-night glow of the White Night, when the sun barely sets on this intoxicating city.

Recommended Tours: White Nights and Museums | Night at the Museum

Full Moon Festival Celebrations - Southeast Tours - On The Go Tours
Mid-autumn celebrations with moon cakes...

Full Moon Festival in Vietnam: 23rd September 2018

Travel to the charming and graceful Vietnamese town of Hoi An for the Full Moon Festival which takes place on the 14th day of each lunar month. Vietnamese people paying homage to their ancestors with alters full of flowers, candles and incense as offerings for good luck and prosperity. The old quarters switch off the electrical lights and close the roads to motorised traffic, plunging the streets into darkness and silence to experience the beauty of the flickering candlelight and glow of the multi-coloured lanterns. Stand side by side with the locals along the water’s edge or glide along the water on a sampan ride as hundreds of lanterns are released down the river and into the sky, the luminous lights making an already beautiful Hoi An absolutely extraordinary.

Recommended Tours: Full Moon Festival Hoi An | Full Moon Festival Express

Diwali India
Largest and brightest Hindu celebration...

Diwali Festival of Lights in India: 7th November 2018

The largest and brightest celebration in the Hindu calendar, Diwali the Festival of Lights is observed all over the world. The most joyous festivities take place in India with homes decorated, gifts exchanged and thousands of lamps lit. Its origins date back thousands of years to when God Lord Rama came home after conquering the demon King Ravana, starting the tradition of jubilation and happiness across five days from the 15th day of the month of Kartika. Firecrackers are set off in the nights to signal the start of colourful revelry including firework displays and wearing garlands of flowers and jasmine. Take a trip to the Birla Temple in the pink city of Jaipur, the gardens lit up and decorated with bright garlands and flowers – a stunning contrast against the stark clean white walls of the temple.

Recommended Tours: Diwali Festival of Lights

Abu-Simbel-By-Air-Itineraries-Day-Tours-Egypt
Bi-annual alignment of nature and man-made genius...

Jewel of the Nile Sun Festival in Egypt: 22nd October 2018

Egypt is a utopia of outstanding archaeological monuments. In the village of Nubia you will find Abu Simbel, a colossal structure built into the side of a mountain flanked by six statues, four of these representing the pharaoh Ramses II. One of the world’s greatest examples of architectural precision and manic egotism, Ramses II had the Great Temple aligned so that the sun’s rays would line up twice a year on the dates of his ascension to the throne, 21 February, and his birthday, 21 October. The temple has since been re-located further up the shoreline of Lake Nasser meaning the sun now strikes a day later. However, watching the sun rise and illuminate the inner Hypostyle Hall and the Sanctuary is a spellbinding experience, all the more magical for only happening twice a year.

Recommended Tours: Ramses Sunrise | King Ramses Sun Festival | Jewel of the Nile Sun Festival

Yi-Peng-Lanterns-of-the-Night-Itineraries-Main-Thailand
Floating lights filling the sky...

Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Thailand: 23rd November 2018

On the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar the Yi Peng festival is celebrated throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. This event is of great spiritual importance to Thai people, paying their respects to Buddha and new beginnings. In the picturesque and laidback Chiang Mai, Yi Peng is celebrated slightly differently. As well as the traditional water rituals such as boat racing, thousands of people release lanterns into the sky while making a wish to create good luck for the following year and dispel negative thoughts. An event with an incredibly peaceful and spiritual atmosphere, Buddhists use this time to reflect and let go of personal demons and negativity. A spectacular sight, watch in awe as the pitch black sky is suddenly filled with warm glowing orange dots.

Recommended Tours: Yi Peng Festival | Yi Peng Express

Harbin Ice Festival-China Tours-On The Go Tours
Amazing ice sculptures and fun rides...

Harbin Ice Festival in China: December - January

Sun Island Park is blanketed in the winter making it the perfect venue for a multitude of striking ice sculptures. The Harbin Ice Festival is spread out over December and January, the 70 days filled with many activities in this impressive winter wonderland. Visitors will see all manner of bizarre, beautiful and magical sculptures created out of eight metre high ice blocks, the diverse range of designs ranging from a dragon boat to a couple of cupids. The sculptures also include replicas of China’s most iconic attractions including the Great Wall of China and the Emperor’s Summer Palace in Beijing. The frozen beauty of the creations is enhanced with dozens of traditional Chinese lanterns and neon lights illuminating the glistening ice creations.

Recommended Tours: Harbin Ice Festival | Harbin Ice Festival Express

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Welcome the New Year with fireworks and vodka...

New Year's Eve in Red Square in Russia: 31st December

Where better to ring in the New Year than Russia’s legendary Red Square, surrounded by the iconic monuments deeply woven throughout the country’s rich and tumultuous history? Moscow is the perfect Christmas destination, wrapping up warm to venture out and discover Russia’s motherland in the crisp weather, the stunning buildings sprinkled with snow. Celebrate the last 12 months and all the possibilities the next year holds in the cobble stone square flanked by some of Russia’s greatest architecture. After a day exploring the mighty Kremlin, spend the evening in the cobble stoned square watching the spectacular firework display as it lights up the colourful domes and torrents of St Basil’s Cathedral. A new year in Russia promises to be one you will never forget.

Recommended Tours: New Year's Red Square