20 Legendary World Festivals To See In Your Lifetime

We throw things. We set things on fire. We dance. There is just something beautiful about people coming together to celebrate our existence. If you feel it, then there are some festivals you absolutely must experience in your lifetime.

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Celebrations begin with the lighting of a bonfire on Holi Eve. Then, revellers proceed to throw colored powder absolutely everywhere to spread cheer and share joy with everyone across all social groups.

With over 7 million LED lights, the Nabana No Sato botanical garden celebrates winter in elegant style. Most of the park is powered by batteries charged with solar panels during the day, minimising the effect of the celebrations on the environment.

In 1162, the Republic of Venice was victorious against an attempted invasion. In victory, the people of Venice celebrated in San Marco Square. Now, the Carnival of Venice marks the start of Lent. What has not changed since the first carnival, however, are the exquisite outfits.

Up Helly Aa is a fire festival which marks the end of the yule season and sends spectators back in time. In Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands, thousands march through the streets in themed costumes. The procession ends with torches being thrown into a replica Viking longship.

Legend has it that tomato throwing began in 1945 when locals pelted the vegetables at troublesome woodland creatures and missed, hitting each other. Now, in August, 20,000 revellers throw more than 150,000 tomatoes at each other in a single day, just for the heck of it.

The largest balloon festival in the world sees more than 750 hot air balloons assemble for nine days of festivities. The Fiesta began in 1972 when 13 balloons assembled as a birthday celebration for 770 KOB Radio. We promise that you’ll have a sore neck by the time the party is over.

Burning man is an annual event that celebrates culture and art. Artists build dozens of huge installations, while musicians entertain crowds of over 50,000. It all ends with the burning of a large wooden man, which has been over 100 feet tall.

The Lantern Festival has been celebrated since ancient times on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar calendar. Those of Chinese and Vietnamese origin descend on temples, with thousands of lanterns embellished with complex but beautiful designs. At the end of the night, the lanterns fly away in a magnificent spectacle which symbolises letting go of your past self.

Garma Festival is a celebration held by the Yolngu people, native Australians. The festival is designed to encourage the practice, preservation and maintenance of traditional dance, songs, art and ceremony. It also aims to share the knowledge and culture of the Yolngu with those lucky enough to be invited.

During the days of the Inca Empire, the Festival of the Sun was one of the most important times of the year. The ceremony pays respects to Inti, the sun god. Since 1944, Peru has hosted a theatrical representation of the procession every June in honour of the ancient Inca people, attracting thousands of participants.

Every February, for seven days, hundreds of monolithic sculptures are visited by millions of people. The snow festival began in 1950, when six high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park after previous festivals were suspended during and after World War II. In 1955, a local army force joined in the fun and created the first massive snow sculptures. Since then, things have escalated to epic proportions.

Elephants are an important part of Indian culture and in March, they are celebrated in their own festival. It all begins with a procession of elephants dressed in magnificent costumes and covered in extravagant jewelry. Events include elephant polo, races, and tug-of-war.

Day of the Dead or “Dia De Los Muertos” is a Mexican holiday where people get together to pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away. The holiday itself dates back hundreds of years to an Aztec festival. The celebration includes elaborate costumes and a smorgasbord of traditional foods.

White Nights is an international arts festival held during the arctic season when the sun is still visible at midnight. Part of the event is the Scarlet Sails, in which a ship with red sails sets off along the Neva River, accompanied by fireworks, entertainers, and an audience of millions. The tradition began after World War II, when students united to celebrate the end of the school year. The event soon became a demonstration of freedom from school and conformity against a backdrop of totalitarian communist rule.

The Electric Forest Festival is a four day music event which focuses on electronica and jam bands. Hosted in June, the surrounding environments and spectacular light shows blend together to create a surreal wilderness experience. A portion of the revenue is donated to a nearby township of a few thousand people.

As the largest sand sculpture event in the world, this festival stretches across 15,000 square feet of beach. Each year, 60 artists use more than 35,000 tons of sand to create 50 amazing works of art.

In the middle of a tropical rainforest, thousands of revellers assemble to celebrate world music. Every year, dozens of bands from around the world, covering every kind of music you can imagine, play to crowds 30,000 strong.

Guadix and Baza are two towns located in Granada, a community in southern Spain. Historically the two are neighbours, sisters, and rivals. Over 500 years ago, a worker from Guadix found a buried image of Virgen de la Piedad. A group from Baza stole the piece before it could be returned to Guadix. A fight broke out and now, after working out their differences, the people of other towns hold a festival each year and get into a paint battle for control of the statue.

Since 1970, Glastonbury has been one of the biggest and best music festivals in the world. In 2013, 135,000 people attended to listen to live music from the Arctic Monkeys and Rolling Stones, as well as to watch dance, comedy, theatre, and circus performances.