Home to our much-loved Road to Ultra and Clockenflap, Hong Kong hosts a couple of cool music and arts festivals each year, but we’d have to be honest and say that it doesn’t hold a candle to some of these weird and wonderful global events. From water gun battles to eagle races, burning of viking boats and chasing cheese, you’re going to want to plan your annual leave around some of these bucket-list worthy spectacles…
Not your average event, Burning Man sees tens of thousands of people flock to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to join a community that’s dedicated to art, self expression and self reliance. All are welcome and invited to experience this quirky metropolis that seeks to “produce positive spiritual change in the world!” Intrigued? All festival-goers are expected to actively participate in creating a city known as “Black Rock City” and encouraged to express themselves in any way they see fit. So if you’re down to meet some amazing people while creating the best version of yourself, this one is for you!
When: Sunday, 30 August – Monday, 7 September, 2020
Where: Blackrock Desert, Nevada
Tickets: Tickets will be available online from March!
Welcome to Amsterdam Gay Pride – one of the happiest events of the year and a gathering place for some of the most colourful, liberal and loving party people on the planet. Celebrated over the course of a week, highlights include the world-famous Canal Parade, during which flamboyant floats grace the city’s canals as onlookers cheer from the banks; and the Drag Queen Olympics, where the crème de la crème of drag compete in a series of hilarious challenges, including the Stiletto Sprint, Handbag Toss and Bitch Volleyball.
When: Saturday, 25 July – Sunday, 2 August, 2020
Tickets: Free, but make sure you book your accommodation early!
What started out as a simple Buddhist tradition has since manifested into wild, wet parties that sweep the streets of cities throughout Thailand. From Phuket and Koh Samui, to Bangkok and Pattaya, you’ll have no issues picking a spot to see out the weekend. Staying dry is not an option, so be sure to stock up on water guns and buckets, ready to battle it out from the safety of a bar. Songkran takes your “shower beer” to a whole new level.
When: Monday, 13 April – Wednesday, 15 April, 2020
Where: The festival is widely celebrated throughout Thailand, however Chiang Mai is known to kick it up a notch if you’re looking to really immerse yourself in the festivities
Tickets: The festival is free to participate in – your only cost is your weapon (and beverage) of choice!
Japan’s most rocking outdoor music festival attracts over 100,000 visitors from across the world every year. Despite the name, Fuji Rock has found its home at Naeba Ski Resort, around 90 minutes from Tokyo, where sloping expanses double as camp grounds and lay the foundation for a spectacular weekend of live music. Last year saw The Chemical Brothers, The Cure, SIA, Death Cab for Cutie and James Blake say Konnichiwa to the cheering crowds. With seven main stages and offering plenty of options and activities, this is a music fest that caters to all types of tastes. We’d just suggest you wear comfortable, waterproof shoes.
When: Friday, 21 August – Sunday, 23 August, 2020
Where: Naeba Ski Resort, Japan
Tickets: Pre-sale tickets are usually available online from February
Expert eagle hunters from around the region gather in a two-day event that will make your head spin! Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage cultural event, the festival begins with eagles showcasing their insane hunting abilities, competing to catch fox skin dragged behind by a horse and returning to their owner on command. You’ll also have the chance to witness camel races as well as Kazakh games that involve racing on horseback to pick up a coin, and tug of war over a goat carcass on horseback. The festival doesn’t end there either, you’ll want to book to stay overnight and check out the traditional concert and theatre performance.
When: Saturday, 3 October – Sunday, 4 October, 2020
Where: Bayan-Ölgii aimag, Mongolia
Tickets: Admission tickets can be bought from USD$40, however we’d advise booking through a reputable tour operator who will be able to arrange accommodation, transport, meals and a guide, ensuring that you have everything you need before embarking on your trip!
Read more: Your Mongolia Travel Itinerary: Where To Stay, Eat & Explore
A welcome assault on all five of your senses, Rio Carnival deserves a prime spot on your bucket list for 2020! Expect an explosion of sound and colour as people from all over the world gather to celebrate over five days of non-stop parties, parades and masquerade. The only question is, can you keep up?
When: Friday, 21 February – Wednesday, 26 February, 2020
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tickets: Available online now! Rio Carnival is just around the corner, so consider getting in early for 2021
A tradition that is still standing strong since the 1800s, Shetland turns into a display of fire and chanting on the last Tuesday in January each year. Friends, family and visitors dress in their viking best to ignite a wooden ship and send it up in flames before taking to the nearby halls for hours of dancing and performances. The spectacle is even followed with a public holiday so that everyone is able to recover from the festivities.
When: Up Helly Aaa takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year
Where: Lerwick, Scotland
Tickets: Admittedly tickets to the festival are not easy to get your hands on unless you know someone living in Shetland, but keep an eye out towards the end of the year for tickets that will go on sale in the Shetland Times newspaper, or call Shetland Tourist Board who may be able to put you on the waiting list!
In need of no introduction, Oktoberfest invites party-goers from all over the world to dress up in their finest lederhosen and let loose. Expect enormous beer tents, endless tankards of beer, authentic German food, live performances and carnivals that stay open throughout the night. Nearly six-million people flock to Munich each year, so be sure to book quickly.
When: Saturday, 19 September – Sunday, 4 October, 2020
Where: Munich, Germany
Tickets: Available online now!
Once a year, the world’s largest arts festival descends on Edinburgh’s cobbled streets in a cacophony of colour, comedy and creativity. Open-access and often open-air, the Fringe will include anyone with a story to tell in its hugely diverse programme, which consists of theatre, music, exhibitions, cabaret, children’s shows and of course, stand-up comedy. Be sure to download the Fringe App, a useful hub of information which will give you the lowdown on everything the festival has to offer.
When: Friday, 7 August – Monday, 31 August, 2020
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
Tickets: Tickets for some Fringe events start going on sale early in the year, so keep an eye on the website!
If you’re looking for a slightly more chilled out festival, then kicking back with ice-cold beers in a mineral-rich mud bath isn’t a bad place to start. Taking place each year on Daecheon Beach, spend your afternoon submerged in giant mud baths before washing off in the ocean. Take the experience up a notch by participating in a ton of beach games (think giant inflatable ninja warrior courses) and join in with the huge beach parties which kick off in the evening.
When: Friday, 17 July – Sunday, 26 July, 2020
Where: Daecheon Beach Boryeong-si, South Korea
Tickets: Available here now!
A spectacle of snow and ice, Harbin International Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival won’t disappoint as it makes its annual appearance and celebrates its 36th anniversary. It got underway on 5 January and the theme this year is “Ice Snow Integration, Happy to Go Together”. There’s plenty to Instagram as you explore the different shows and fairs, but don’t miss out on the winter sports taking place over the month, too.
When: This year the festival will be running until Friday, 28 February, 2020
Where: Harbin, China
Tickets: Can be bought on location
This cultural celebration is one you’re not going to want to miss out on as colour and excitement see in the first days of spring throughout India and Nepal. Essentially you can book a flight to anywhere in the country and you’ll be welcome to join in on the week-long party, although, fun fact: Holi, also known as Phagwah, is celebrated in some African subcontinents and area of the Caribbean, too. We’d advise going with someone who knows the area you’ll be staying in, as the festival is notoriously crazy and the streets can be quite overwhelming.
Tip: Although stunning on your feed, these vibrant powders are known to really stain, so take all the necessary precautions and apply coconut oil to your hair and skin before venturing out into the open.
When: Monday, 9 March – Tuesday, 10 March, 2020
Where: Widely celebrated throughout India and Nepal
Tickets: No need for a ticket – just rock up and enjoy the celebrations!
A more obscure addition to our list, Cooper Hill’s Cheese Rolling Festival is a day that you just have to experience for yourself. Held annually, this hundreds of years old tradition essentially invites people from all over the world to compete for a nine pound wheel of cheese. Participants chase the cheese down a steep hill and, yep, you guessed it, the first down walks away with the prize.
When: Monday, 25 May, 2020
Where: Gloucester, England
Tickets: Free, but make sure you book your accommodation early!
There are several theories as to why thousands gather to throw tomatoes at one another in the small town of Buñol, Spain, but it has since become one of the largest global festivals to take place each year. Battle commences between 11am and 1pm on the last Wednesday in August, however if you’re staying for a while, definitely check out the pre and after parties, as well as the Valencia Boat Party, a three-hour long cruise along the Mediterranean coast (booze included).
When: Wednesday, 26 August, 2020
Where: Buñol, Spain
Tickets: Available online now!
The world’s greatest show on snow – that’s how Snowbombing, the original alpine music festival, is described. Spend the days tearing it up on pristine slopes in one of Austria’s most stunning ski resorts, and the nights partying away in a weeklong whirlwind of live bands and DJs. This year’s lineup includes Liam Gallagher, Chase & Status, Rudimental, Foals and Loyle Carner. Raise the roof in a party igloo, explore an enchanted forest and indulge in après ski. Blue skies. Black runs. White-hot DJ sets. What’s not to love?
When: Monday, 13 April – Saturday, 18 April, 2020
Where: Mayrhofen, Austria
Tickets: Available online here
Known as “a celebration of art, music, food and ideas”, this festival is a staple for the HK bucket list. With sustainable living at its core, Wonderfruit offers a fantastically diverse range of experiences. The festival draws music and movement lovers from across the world, but in addition to its various stages, festivalgoers (or ‘wonderers’) can explore everything from wellness workshops spotlighting Thai healing traditions to perspective-shifting stories to move the soul, a bamboo boudoir that’s home to flamboyant hedonism, a design competition celebrating sustainability and even a karaoke den hidden in a tree. From acroyoga to undiscovered indie bands, expect to have every sense awakened at Wonderfruit.
When: December, 2020 – Exact dates to be announced!
Where: Pattaya, Thailand
Tickets: Coming soon, though you can join a waiting list here
Multi-genre Primavera Sound is the beating heart of music festivals in the Mediterranean. Striking the perfect balance between idyllic setting and unbeatable lineup, the festival has continued to grow every year since its inception in 2001. This year you can make the most of influential artists from across the board performing on 16 stages, including The Strokes, Massive Attack, The National, Lana Del Rey, Caribou, Beck, Kacey Musgraves, Yo La Tenga, and many, many more.
When: 3 – 7 June, 2020
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Tickets: Not available online just yet – keep an eye on the website here!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and was most recently updated in January 2020 by Melissa Albarus.