Festivals from Around the World
By Sarah V. Hines, on August 20, 2018
When Americans think of festivals, they often think of their local fairs, parades, Mardi Gras or any of the high-profile music and film festivals. These are often put on during the summer months and call to mind lots of music, food and entertainment. It’s not a common connection with travel and tourism.
Yet, many countries have some amazing festivals of their own that are worth planning a vacation to experience. There are some chances to see the epitome of a country’s culture and history in the celebrations it partakes in, and many countries invite visitors to witness the festivities.
If you’re looking for a different event to plan your vacation around, here are five festivals that are worth grabbing your passport for.
1) Lantern Festival — Pingxi, Taiwan
Chosen as one of National Geographic’s “Best Winter Trips” in 2016 and named by Fodor’s as one of the 14 festivals people should see in their lifetime, the sky lantern festival of Pingxi is not to be missed. The culmination of the festival—set to celebrate the end of the year—is the release of thousands of sky lanterns into the night.
No visa is required to visit Taiwan, but the dates of the celebration change every year. As millions of people are expected to travel to the event, it’s wise to contact hotels and travel services as far in advance as you can.
2) International Ice and Snow Festival — Harbin, China
Another winter festival, Harbin, China, invites people from all over the world to partake in the ice and snow festival. Participants build ice sculptors and even buildings out of blocks of ice and snow, with many of the buildings lit up with amazing color effects.
When traveling to China, a visa is required beforehand, and proof of travel must be submitted. It’s a good idea to book your travel as soon as possible to start the visa process. If needed (or even just for peace of mind), companies such as A.P.V.I. can expedite the visa process in 5 days, barring any delays with the Chinese consulate.
3) Dia de Muertos — Mexico (Various Locations)
Perhaps one of the best-known festivals, Dia de Muertos celebrates the memories of loved ones who have passed on. Often, gravesites are visited with small gifts left. There is also often a festival with the traditional clothes and face paint that is widely associated with the day, and sweet bread and sugar skulls are created for the event.
No visa is required for Mexico, and, as each location can do things differently, it’s best to research the location you would like to visit in order to see the list of events.
4) Carnival of Brazil — Rio de Janeiro
Though the carnival of Brazil takes place all over the country, with each location having its own regional music and costume, Rio de Janeiro is the most popular stop in Brazil. Much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the carnival celebrates the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Along with tradition Samba music and dance, you can expect to find traditional Brazilian spiced meats and poultry before the season of Lent, when Catholics refrain from eating these.
Brazil requires a visa before entering the country, and proof of roundtrip travel, as well as a notarized letter from a friend or relative if you are not staying in a hotel, is required for the visa. Visas can take 5-10 days to process with no delays, so be certain to leave yourself plenty of time for the application process.
5) Holi — India (Various Locations)
Well known throughout the world, Holi is an important Hindu celebration. While India is the first and foremost country that everybody associates with the holiday, it’s actually celebrated all over the Indian subcontinent and in places all over the world with large communities of Hindu worshippers. The holiday represents a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring, as well as focusing on the overcoming of good and evil, both in Hindu beliefs and in oneself. The most famous element is the colored dusts and liquids that are released and thrown over one another.
India requires a visa before you leave America. Be certain to have all travel arrangements made and be prepared to answer questions about arrival, departure and lodging.
When visiting any country for its festival, it’s important to keep in mind the religious and cultural importance of the events. Be certain to familiarize yourself with these aspects of the festival in order to allow practitioners their time for the important prayers and events that may be associated with the festival. With that said, all of the mentioned festivals welcome people to enjoy their time regardless of culture or religion. If you find that you need help with a visa or passport in order to reach these festivals, contact APVI to get started today!