Some people travel to shop and indulge in good food, some plan their travels around their children’s school holidays while others travel to immerse themselves in different cultures. Let us add one more reason for you to travel – visiting unique festivals around the world that are not-to-be-missed!
Kanamara Matsuri in Japan
7 April 2019
One of the most bizarre festivals in the world, the Kamanara Matsuri pays homage to the phallus! Meaning ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’ in Japanese, this renowned festival is held each spring since 1969 at the Kanayama Shrine in the Kawasaki prefecture and attracts heaps of local and foreign tourists.
The highlight of the Kamanara Matsuri is a parade of a huge pink penis named ‘Elizabeth Mikoshi” and other portable shrines with large phalluses encased in them. The phallus is also seen everywhere at the festival, from decorations to gift souvenirs and even candy and food items!
The locals come to the Kanayama Shrine to pray for fertility, smooth marital relationships, prosperity and happiness. It is also popular with sex workers from the local tea houses to get blessings for protection from sexual diseases and misfortune.
Recently, this exuberant festival has gained notoriety as a significant event for the LGBT community. Beneath the festive facade, the true essence of the sacred Kamanara Matsuri is to pray for a society without discrimination.
Snowbombing in Austria
8 – 13 April 2019
If you think that this festival is about slinging snow balls at one another, well it is a lot more than that. Snowbombing is Europe’s largest music show on snow! Each April since 2000, the renowned slopes of Austria’s Mayrhofen ski resort gets converted into a massive playground featuring an impressive music lineup from famous artists all over the world.
The concept of Snowbombing is designed to combine winter sports, mainly snowboarding and skiing, with music performances and parties. Visitors to this unique snow festival get to experience rave parties held in the most unusual of locations such as snow-capped slopes, in the middle of a forest, in an igloo village, in a traditional alpine farmstead and more.
With a strong reputation for being imaginative and somewhat over-the-top, party-goers go all out in eccentric costumes while enjoying the party atmosphere in the Austrian alpines. Traditional Austrian culture including oompah bands and lederhosen can also be seen here, albeit with a contemporary twist. Travellers who enjoy snow sports and great music should definitely make their way here soon!
Songkran in Thailand
12 – 16 April 2019
Songkran, Thailand’s most famous festival, marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year and is celebrated nationwide with lots of water and merrymaking. Also known as the biggest water street fight in the world, millions of tourists flock to Thailand every year to experience this exciting festival!
Most Thai people celebrate this day with reverence as it is a Buddhist religious festival. However, the fun-loving nature of the locals have turned the water-cleansing ritual into a colossal party where everyone throws water and smears talcum powder on each other in good fun. Popular places to experience Songkran in its full festivities are in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket. What are you waiting for? Pack your water gun now!
Not sure how to prepare for Songkran? Read A Comprehensive Guide To Everything About Songkran for essential tips and important details!
Semana Santa in Brazil
17 – 24 April 2019
One of oldest religious tradition in Brazil that dates all the way back to the eight century, Semana Santa (meaning Holy Week) in Ouro Preto is an exceptional experience. During the week of celebrations, the quaint peaceful town of Ouro Preto gets dressed up in colours, elaborate costumes and religious festivities.
The key highlight of Semana Santa has to be the impressive carpets lovingly handmade out of natural materials such as sawdust, coffee grounds, scrapes of leather and white lime! These remarkably vibrant and intricate carpets portraying religious themes line the main cobbled streets to welcome the processions from one church to another.
Processions of Biblical figures joyously parade through the streets and religious events take place all around the main town area. Even if you are not of Catholicism faith, travellers can blissfully bask in the distinctive festive ambience with sacred music concerts and staged liturgical plays conducted against the stunning backdrop of the old baroque churches and beautiful colonial architecture!
Tulip Festival in Kashmir
First three weeks of April (exact bloom dates not released yet)
Calling all nature lovers and flower aficionados – if travelling to Netherlands or Holland to catch a sight of the stunning tulip blooms is too inconvenient, there is one located much nearer in Kashmir. In fact, the Tulip Festival in Kashmir is the biggest and best in Asia!
Playing host to the annual Tulip Festival is the famous terraced Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden located in the summer city of Kashmir – Srinagar. During the arrival of Spring, the magnificent blooming of tulips transforms the Kashmir Valley into a palette of the most vivid hues. With more than 60 varieties of mainly tulips and some smatterings of daffodils and hyacinths, visitors will be left spellbound at the endless carpet of orange, red, purple, yellow and white.
Set against snow-capped mountains and commanding a picturesque view of Dal Lake, capturing beautiful photos is going to be a breeze. Besides the breathtaking tulip display, tourists can also look forward to watching traditional folk dances, buying Kashmir handicrafts and trying out local Kashmiri dishes cooked by the local people themselves.
Koningsdag in Netherlands
27 April 2019
Koningsdag or King’s Day is a national holiday in Netherlands that celebrates the birthday of the King Willem-Alexander. And, it is truly a colourful festive affair. Everywhere you look, the city is alive with bright pops of orange (their national colour) as locals and tourists alike partake in the biggest party of the year!
This special day sees large-scale celebrations across Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam. Travellers will be treated to an extravaganza of concerts, music events and parties. Do not miss their nationwide Vrijmarkt, a free flea market where local Dutch people sell second-hand belongings from clothing to furniture items to bizarre collectibles. Vrijmarkt became so widespread because this is the only day of the year that the Dutch government permits street sales without a permit and without tax.
Besides bargain hunting and an electrifying atmosphere, countless street food vendors line the roads with tempting offerings of savoury and sweet Dutch snacks. Koningsdag is definitely a festival worth flying across the globe for!
Festivals are the heart of a community’s culture and they are always tremendous fun! In the midst of all that excitement, do remember to stay safe and stay connected with ChangiWiFi ! Oh and more collection points for our ChangiWiFi router has been added so you can spend less time queuing!
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