International travel is one of the best ways to fill your soul with adventure and memories. Meeting people with diversity, experiencing new cultures and enjoying a different palate are all part of thw joy of travelling. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to witness a country’s national festival? Priyavarshini Kamadevan suggests six international festivals that can be a part of your travel agenda.
Hanami – Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival (Late March – Early May)
Hanami or The Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every year from the end of March till the beginning of May. Hanami translates to “flower viewing” and dates back to many centuries. The main idea of this festival is to absorb the breathtaking sights that the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) offer. The best places to view Sakura are Kyoto, Hirosaki Castle Park, Osaka, Hiroshima and Mount Fuji. You could sit back and enjoy Sakura while treating yourself with dishes from local vendors. Feel free to buy souvenirs made by local sellers that differ from one village to another. Citizens enjoy the many competitions held during Hanami and conduct feasts under these Sakura trees, which is an excellent tourist activity too. Sakura parties sometimes extend until late into the night which is often referred to as Yozakura (Night Sakura). During Yozakura paper lanterns are held from Sakura trees giving the festival a magical twist.
La Tomatina – Tomato Throwing Festival in Spain (August)
The La Tomatina Festival is held in the last Wednesday of August each year. There are no particular theories about how the tradition started, but that hasn’t stopped people from taking part in it. This huge food fight is held in Buñol, a quaint town approximately 38 Kms from Valencia. Participants have certain rules to follow. The tomatoes used for La Tomatina are to be crushed and thrown, thus reducing the extent of damage. Participants are not allowed to rip the clothes of other participants and are expected to stop throwing tomatoes after the second shot. The festival lasts for about an hour after which the city is hosed clean. Participants can use public showers.
The festival brings a large number of tourists to this otherwise quiet town. You can plan a trip to Spain, including Valencia in your itinerary. Make sure you give enough time so that it opens a window for you to experience the La Tomatina festival.
Tip: Wear old clothes or clothes that you won’t be using again. If you plan on clicking pictures during the festival, carry waterproof devices.
Chiang Mai Yi Peng- Lantern Festival in Thailand (November)
Yi Peng is one of the most famous events in the Chiang Mai festival which is celebrated in November each year to honour Buddha. The ‘festival of lights’ as it is famously known worldwide, involves beautiful floating lanterns in the sky. The dates for the festival are spread after the first week of November. Due to the large number of tourists pouring in for the festival, authorities came up with tickets for the festival. The tickets can be received locally. Along with the Yi Peng festival, one should also participate in the Loi Krathong festival which is celebrated all over Thailand by floating lights in the water. Even though the Loi Krathong festival takes place in Chiang Mai, it takes place the next day/night of the Yi Peng festival. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, you could plan it around the Chiang Mai festival. This way, you will have the most memorable travel experiences ever.