Three festival highlights to come in 2011

After researching some of the world’s most popular cultural festivals, words like ‘different’ aren’t really adequate when comparing them to the festivals we’re used to in the west. I don’t think I’ve quite nailed how to describe how refreshingly they contrast with my narrow understanding of what a festival should be (ie. band, sunshine, can of lager) but images of chalk and cheese do spring to mind. I can’t wait to sample these festivals in person.

For example, during the Ladakh Festival in Leh, the people of the mountains flock to the cities wearing their finest gold and silver ornaments and exotic headgear. The Ladakh festival is the region’s cultural showcase, with processions, dances, concerts, archery, polo and performances from various local cultural troupes throughout the 15 day festival. Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is a great place to see the best of the festival as this is where the procession passes before ending at the polo ground. Read Amar Grover’s account of the Ladakh festival here.

The Pushkar Camel Fair in India is a chance to see an authentic cultural side to India. Along with the serious business of trading some 20 000 camels, cattle and horses, there’s a moustache competition, a cricket match and traditional stalls packed with jewellery and textiles from the surrounding areas. Make sure you take time to explore Pushkar itself, which is one of the five most holy pilgrimage sites in India for Hindus. Furthermore, the Brahma temple here is the only one in all of India. Although you may not be able to take part in the trading of camels or other livestock, you’re sure to leave with a good store of fantastic memories.

Then there’s the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, an extraordinary event in Egypt when the rays of the rising sun beam straight into the inner sanctum of the temple of Abu Simbel. Built by Ramses II, who had the temple carved out of a mountainside over a period of some 20 years, the temple was angled to catch the rays of the sun on the dates of the Pharaoh’s birthday and coronation. Read more about it here.

The Ladakh Festival runs from the 1st to the 15th of September, and we run a Unique Adventure to the festival every year. For more details on the Ladakh Festival, click here.

Our Unique Adventure to The Pushkar Camel Fair departs of the 5th of November, more details here.

Visit the temple of Abu Simbel with us during the Abu Simbel Sun Festival. More details here.

And for more details of the amazing festivals we visit, click here.

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