Global events you need to see this year!
A gap year is about cramming as many experiences as you can into your travels. Don’t just celebrate your own independence while you’re away – take a look at what’s happening around you! How many of these can you fit into your trip?
March 24th - Holi Festival of Colour, India
Celebrated the day after March’s full moon, Holi isn’t just an excuse to throw paint everywhere. The rituals origins lie in the Hindu faith, symbolising the burning of Daemoness Holika. As well as this, it signifies the end of winter and the oncoming harvest season.
The evening before, people light large bonfires and gather round them to sing and dance. It’s traditional to walk around the fire 3 times.
The main celebration is a time to get loose. Be prepared to get really messy! People flood the streets, throwing coloured paint powder (known as gulal), water… whatever they can get their hands on really.
A little bit of advice before if you’re planning on attending: take old clothes because the die will ruin them, and it’s advisable to rub coconut oil into your hair to prevent the dye from staining.
April 15th-17th and 22nd-24th – Coachella, USA
Coachella is infamous on the festival circuit. The Californian sun beats down on the Empire Polo Club location, which saw over 198,000 visitors across the two weekends last year.
Music and art fans gather from around the world to enjoy big hitters from across the music industry, such as Paul McCartney, Daft Punk and The Cure. This year’s talent includes Ellie Goulding, CHVCHERS and Sia, as well as large-scale artwork from Robert Bose, Do Lab and Alexandre Arrechea.
Tickets to Coachella sell out quickly, with limited packages available for 2016 already. If you’re looking to visit next year, early bird tickets go on sale later this summer and allow you to pay on an instalment plan.
May 29th – Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco
Formula One has been racing through the streets of Monaco since 1929. Considered the ultimate test of a driver’s ability, the winding street course combines tight corners, changing inclines and contrasting lighting conditions, making it one of the most difficult and dangerous in the world. If the course wasn’t already in the Grand Prix, it wouldn’t be allowed to join for safety reasons.
But, of course, it’s not just about the racing. The city of Monaco is notoriously expensive, but if you know where to look, you can soak up the race day atmosphere for a steal. Spending a day soaking up the sun in the harbour will cost you nothing, for a small fee you can tour the Princes Palace and further out of the cities centre you can grab a delicious bite to eat and a drink for a more affordable price.
June 24th – Inti Raymi, Peru
A tribute to the sun god Inti, this Peruvian cultural display can’t be missed. The ceremony is a re-enactment of a tradition that’s over 500 years old.
During the time of the Incan empire, people gathered at the capital of Cuzco to celebrate Incan New Year and the winter solstice. During this time, days were shorter and the sun was furthest from the Incan side of the Earth, so they believed the celebration would persuade the sun god to return.
Today, the tribute takes place at the stone ruin of Sacsayhuamán. Actors take the place of the emperor and the traditional llama sacrifice is no more, but the ceremonies key practises (such as the emperor being carried on a 60kg chariot by pallbearers) remain.
July 15th (estimated) – Boryeong Mudfest, Korea
The quiet beach town of Boryeong opens its muddy arms to millions of revellers for their annual Mudfest. It started up in 1998 to make people aware of the health benefits that mud from local Daecheon beach possesses. From its humble beginnings, Boryeong Mudfest has become a global icon.
Popular with the under 30's, revellers slather themselves in the restorative mud, indulge in a drink (or ten) and get messy… really quickly. There are a tonne of activities to take part in while you’re there: try your luck at mud wrestling, hop on a zip line, mudslide on your belly or get fit with a bit of Marine style training.
August 5th-21st – Olympics/Paralympics, Rio
The Olympics has left Britain and landed in the Brazilian metropolis of Rio! For the first time since the Olympics began, over 10,000 athletes will be flying over to compete in 306 events over 16 days.
This year’s competition see’s two additional sports added, rugby sevens and golf, raising the total to 28. They will be spread through 33 locations in Rio de Janeiro as well as 5 venues in São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador and Brasília (Brazil’s capital).
The South American touches that will be added to the opening and closing ceremony will make this year’s event extra special.
Figures for the first 3 days of the Olympics 2012 saw over 2 million visitors decent on the Olympic village; so be prepared for huge crowds this year.
September 17th - October 3rd: Oktoberfest, Munich
Last year’s Oktoberfest saw over 7.7 million litres of beer being poured into the necks of 5.9 million thirsty visitors to Munich, Germany – so be prepared to party if you plan on visiting this year.
This drunken celebration began in October of 1810, with the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Five days after their wedding, on October 17th, a large feast was held in front of Sendlinger Tor, a gate that led to Munich.
Each year that followed added more to Oktoberfest, with beer pubs and performers joining by 1818 and the traditional German dress code in 1887.
The modern festival follows the same principals as it did back then: indulging in local beers, delicious German delicacies and having a good time. The only thing that has changed is the date, which eventually moved to September as the weather is more pleasant.
So, put on your lederhosen/dirndls, grab a beer and enjoy bratwurst in their cultural home!
October 29th – Naga Fireball Festival, Thailand
Shrouded in mystery, the Thai fireball festival is known locally as Bung Fai Paya Na.
According to legends, the balls of fire that silently arise from the Mekong River come from a giant serpent called Naga. Buddhists believe that Naga resides in the riverbed and breathes these fireballs to mark the end of Lenten season.
Today, people from all backgrounds gather on the riverbanks to observe the spectacle. Sceptics and scientists still can’t seem to agree on a cause for this natural phenomenon, so it’s best to sit back and enjoy the legend.
Nov 11th – 90 years of Route 66, Illinois
Route 66 has been an American icon since its creation. Petrolheads have hit the 2448 mile stretch of road every year to make the cross-country pilgrimage from Chicago to California in tricked out muscle cars of the 1950’s.
This year, the black tarmac ribbon turns 90 and what better way to honour it than to take a trip yourself. You can rent a car and join a scheduled Route 66 drive, or go your own way and sample the delights that the route has to offer, at your own place.
December 26th – Junkanoo Parade, The Bahamas
If you aren’t a fan of cold British winters, then head for Junkanoo in The Bahamas. Streets come alive with a buzz of music, dancing, costumes and delicious street food for one of the best carnivals in the world.
The celebrations origins are a little murky, with opinions divided between whether it stemmed from the countries dark days of slavery, the story of Prince John Canoe or the French for masked people (gens inconnus).
Whatever the reason, this perfect blend of Bahamian culture and carnival atmosphere.
Take time to indulge in a local celebration or two… or three; it’s the best way to learn about the culture of your destination and maybe make a few local mates! Be sure, no matter where you go, that you remember these safety tips and to be responsible when drinking.