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 temporary and 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: August 26 – 3 September, 2018
Where: Blackrock Desert, Nevada
Tickets: Burning Man tickets have been on sale since 25, April 2018, so if you aren’t able to bag one this year, be sure to get in early for 2019!
What started out as a simple Buddhist tradition has since manifested in to 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: Songkran has already past this year, however be sure to book your trip between Saturday, 13 and Monday, 15 April 2019.
Where: The festival is widely celebrated throughout Thailand, however Chang 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.
Read more: Festivals Around the World: Your Guide to Songkran
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 take part in a traditional concert and theatre performance.
Read more: Journey Through Mongolia: Riding Horseback in the Gobi Desert
When: Saturday, 6 October – Sunday, 7 October, 2018
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.
A welcome assault on all five of your senses, Rio Carnival deservers prime spot on your bucket list for 2019! Expect an explosion of sound and colour as people from all over the world gather to celebrate in five days of non-stop parties, parades and masquerade. The only question is, can you keep up?
When: Saturday, 2 March – Saturday, 9 March 2019
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tickets: Available to buy now, but be quick as tickets to main parades are already selling out!
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. Best festival ever? We think so.
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 germans eats, 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, 22 September – Sunday, 7 October
Tickets: Tickets are on sale now and packages can be bought from various websites and tour groups, so it’s best to shop around for the best deals.
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 on the huge beach parties which kick off in the evening.
When: Friday, 13 July – Saturday, 22 July 2018
Where: Daecheon Beach Boryeong-si, South Korea
Tickets: Set to go on sale soon, keep an eye out here for the release date. Alternatively a percentage of tickets can be bought on the door, or online on the day.
A spectacle of snow and ice, Harbin International Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival won’t disappoint as it makes its annual appearance and celebrates its 35th anniversary. Set to start from Friday, 5 January in 2019 (although be sure to check the dates as these can move), next year’s theme explores “”Pearl on a Crown of Ice & Snow.” 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: The festival usually takes place from the middle of December and runs through to the middle of February, however official dates will be confirmed via a statement from Harbin Municipal Government in early to mid December.
Where: Harbin, China
Tickets: Tickets can be bought on location, but packages can also be bought from tour operators. More info here!
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 Instagram 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 in to the open.
When: Wednesday, 20 March – Thursday, 21 March 2019
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 the prize.
When: Monday, 28 May 2018
Where: Gloucester, England
Tickets: If you plan on staying for the weekend, book quickly as accommodation fills up fast! No need to buy a ticket, but you’ll want to get to the famed hill early and bag one of the best viewing spots at the bottom so you can take in all the action.
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, definetly 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, 29 August 2018
Where: Buñol, Spain
Tickets: Tickets are already on sale, with many tour operators offering accommodation, travel and ticket packages. As Buñol is pretty small most people opt to stay outside of Buñol in the nearby city of Valencia and travel in for the festivities.