The Best Cultural Festivals from around the World

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It might be a while before we’re allowed to gather in large groups for an event like a cultural festival. But the world will eventually return to normalcy, and when it does, here are some of the most outstanding festivals you should consider attending.

Festival of Colors – India

The Hindu tradition of Holi is also called the Festival of Colors. This yearly event celebrates the end of winter, the onset of spring, and the victorious defeat of good over evil. On the eve of Holi, observers gather around a bonfire to sing and dance. The next day, everyone gathers for the main event, armed with dry colored powder made from various spices and plants. The fun begins when participants start throwing their powder at one another, purposely dying their white clothes with a haphazard combination of colors. Some events have even incorporated dyed water, turning this tradition into a colorful water fight.

Naadam Festival – Mongolia

Naadam, also known as “The Three Games of Men,” is like a Mongolian olympics, held annually over the course of three days. The trio of events including archery, horseback riding, and wrestling, bring together the diverse tribes of Mongolia every summer. In recent years, women have also come to participate in the archery and horseback riding competitions, though wrestling is still an exclusively-male sport.

Mardi Gras – New Orleans

The day before Lent begins, the city of New Orleans shuts down in celebration of Mardi Gras. People come from all over the world to crowd Bourbon Street for the Mardi Gras parade that’s packed with floats, beads, booze, and live music until the wee hours of the night. If you thought the French Quarter was crazy on a regular Saturday, then you need to see it on Fat Tuesday.

Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While Mardis Gras festivities are in full force in New Orleans, the Brazilians are partying just as hard down in Rio de Janeiro. Rio Carnival, which also marks the onset of Lent, is the biggest celebration in the world, attracting 2 million revelers each year. At Rio Carnival, the floats are bigger, the outfits are flashier, and the music is louder than any festival in the world. If you think you have the party chops to survive it, Rio is the place to be on Fat Tuesday.

Sky Lantern Festival – Taiwan

If a New Orleans Mardi Gras or a Rio Carnival are too raucous for your taste, consider the peaceful and pretty Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan. Just a few weeks after the Chinese New Year, thousands of paper lanterns are released into the sky, filling the night with graceful floating light. Top off the festivities with a bowl of Tang-yuan, a delicious treat made from glutinous rice balls, stuffed with sweet bean paste.

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