The Ultimate Travel Calendar: Every Festival Around the World in 2019
The new year is almost here, meaning it’s time to start planning your travels in 2019. To give you a hand, we have compiled the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about what’s happening around the world in 2019. Our ultimate travel calendar showcases all of the major festivals around the world in 2019, making it that little bit easier to plan out your dream travel destinations for the year.
Whether you’re a foodie, a theatre-lover, a music fan, or a comic enthusiast we have rounded up the best festivals around the world across the art, music, food, dance, sport scene and more, so there’s something to suit everyone, everywhere.
Have a look below at some of the top events around the world by month and download our full calendar with all events listing using the link below.
Typically considered the dreariest month of the year, and for good reason. Christmas is over, the weather is cold, and there’s nothing really to look forward to. But around the world, it turns out that actually there is a lot to look forward to. In Dubai, for example, there’s the international Dubai Shopping Festival, the world’s biggest shopping festival that sees malls and shopping destinations come to life with unbeatable deals, thrilling entertainment, firework displays, and live concerts. Or head to Cuba for their annual Havana Jazz Festival; founded in 1978, the festival pays homage to the undeniable love for jazz that has been part of the country since the abolition of slavery.
The showstopper event for the month, however, has to be the Saparro Snow Festival in Japan. Running from 31st January until 11th February, the festival was founded in 1950 when six local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park. Since then, the festival has grown to around 400 statues being displayed, with two million people coming to enjoy the art work, ice slides, and even a maze made of snow.
The shortest month of the year, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on – and it’s not all centred around Valentine’s Day, surprisingly. Why not head to Slovakia for their annual Sled Dog World Championship, or to Canada for the Vancouver International Wine Festival, which has three important mandates: to provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience, to be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry, and to raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society. Oh, and to drink wine, of course.
February wouldn’t be February without the Chinese New Year, which this year falls on the 5th. 2019 is the year of the pig which, according to myth, is associated with the Earthly Branch, and the hours 9-11 at night. In Chinese culture, pigs are a symbol of wealth, and it is said that pigs have a beautiful personality and are blessed with good fortune in life.
March is the sign of springtime, and with it comes a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration.
So, what better to do than jet off to Brazil and take part in the iconic Rio Carnival? Held every year before Lent, and typically considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day hitting the streets. The carnival dates back to 1723, when it was a celebration of the gods, and a respect to the great waters that provided a foundation for the local towns and villages.
Spring truly has sprung across the northern hemisphere, and with it comes a renewed obsession with outdoor festivals. Think the Grand National, held at Aintree Racecourse in the UK every year since 1839, or the Altitude Comedy Festival in Austria, a six-day comedy extravaganza in the mountains.
The true highlight of April is the Tulip Festival in the Netherlands, where the country comes alive with colour from the famous tulips. Blooming tulips are available to see in over 85 different locations: in the public areas of Amsterdam, in the gardens of the city’s museums and hotels, and by notable buildings around the city. The Keukenhof Gardens, for instance, plant more than 6 billion bulbs every year, which bloom in these English-style landscape gardens right on time for a huge flower parade on 21st April.
The weather is finally beginning to change all over the world, and with the start of the summer season comes an undeniable feeling of restlessness. Give in to those insistent feelings of wanderlust with a trip to the Electric Daisy Carnival in the USA, an electronic dance music festival with performances from the likes of Yellow Claw and Tiësto. Or embrace the culture and history of Mexico with the annual Cinco de Mayo festival, a celebration and commemoration of the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire during the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.
The real festival for May though that everyone will be talking about is Festival de Cannes, an annual film festival famous for its extravagant guests and even more extravagant outfits. The festival began in 1946, and it previews new films of all genres – including documentaries from all around the world. The actual red carpet event may be invitation only, but hundreds of bars, restaurants, and venues will be hosting Cannes themed parties and streaming the show, you can be sure of it.
It’s officially summertime in Europe, and the southern hemisphere is finally starting to cool off, meaning pretty much everywhere around the world is currently at peak travelling season. In line with this, countries around the world are cranking up their festival calendars: Portugal hosts its NOS Primavera Sound festival from 6-8th, while the Royal Ascot Races are the main event on the calendar in the UK.
Something you’ll definitely want to make sure is on your itinerary for June is the Verona Opera Festival in Italy, where opera performances are given in Arena di Verona, an ancient Roman amphitheatre capable of holding 30,000 spectators. Performances traditionally begin at dusk, and guests are encouraged to bring small candles that are lit as darkness falls. It truly is a magical scene.
July is the season for farmers’ markets, food festivals, carnivals, and fun fairs at seaside towns. It truly is the month of summer – even Canada gets a glimpse of the warm weather. From Wimbledon in the UK to the Lollapalooza Paris festival in France, everyone is getting into the summer spirit.
To truly experience the epitome of July celebrations though, you need to head to the 4th July festivities across the USA. 4th July is the USA’s Independence Day, celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 when America declared itself free from British rule. The day is now associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, concerts and more, and there is nowhere you can go on the 4th July, in the USA, that won’t be celebrating.
For guaranteed sunshine, no one is ever going to recommend the UK, but during August it’s possible that even here you can enjoy a pleasant afternoon on the beach. August is the month where some of the biggest musical festivals around the world happen – a lot in the UK, such as Reading and Leeds festival, for example. Other notable events include Notting Hill Carnival and Creamfields in the UK, and La Tomatina in Spain.
If you really want to get your festival groove on though, head to the Balls of Fire Festival in El Salvador, held on August 31st every year. It began in 1922, when an eruption of a nearby volcano forced locals to evacuate the town. As they left, residents saw giant balls of fire coming out of the volcano, and they believe it was their patron saint fighting the devil on their behalf. The festival is a re-enactment of that day, with participants covering their faces in war paint, donning leather gloves and water-soaked clothes to protect them from the flames, before hurling fireballs at each other. It really is a spectacle to watch, although you might have to be particularly brave to get involved.
The start of the academic school year often sees the same sense of nostalgia that comes with January, making it the perfect time to get away and enjoy the last closing days of the summer feeling. But that’s just in Europe: South America is blooming with stunning wildlife, and cuisine, design, and arts events are exploding around the continent. The same can be said about the rest of the southern hemisphere, with Rock in Rio happening in Brazil, and the Lake of Stars festival in Malawi.
The most stunning event on the calendar for this month is obviously the Ganesh celebrations in India, a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Ganesha. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence. On the final day, an idol of Lord Ganesh is carried by a public procession with music and group chanting, before being immerse in a nearby body of water where the idol is dissolved, and it is believed that Ganesha will return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva.
The coming of autumn means different things for different parts of the world: it can be the musty, smoky scent of bonfires and fireworks, with pumpkins at every house, or it can be the first signs of spring in countries like Australia, or in Asia it’s the end of the rainy season. Festivals are aplenty, from Diwali in India, to the Alba Truffle Festival in Italy, there really is something for everyone.
One of the most beautiful events on the calendar is the Lighting Festival of Myanmar, locally known as the Thadingyut Festival, which is held on the full moon day of the Burmese lunar month of Thadingyut. The Light festival is a celebration to welcome the Buddha’s descent from heaven after he preached the Abhidhamma to his mother, Maya, who was reborn in heaven. In celebration, and to welcome Buddha, the streets, houses, and public buildings are lit up with coloured electric bulbs or candles, and free movie and stage shows are put on across most of the streets in the country.
November is like the Thursday of months: you’re almost at the end of the year, the finish line is in sight, Christmas is right around the corner, but you’ve still got a way to go. Which makes sense that its practically doctor prescribed to take a trip during November, just to keep you going until the Christmas festivities begin. Why not head over to the Snow and Ice Sculpture festival in Belgium to get into the true winter-y spirit, or embrace your inner sports champion with the Great Ethiopian Run in Ethiopia?
The true spirit of November, however, is the infamous Día de Muertos in Mexico – otherwise known as the Day of the Dead. On the 2nd November every year, the people of Mexico celebrate and commemorate the lives of friends and family members who have died in the recent year, and help support their spiritual journey to the afterlife.
The holiday season is undoubtedly the best time of the year, whether you’re celebrating it on top of the snowy Alps or lying on a white sand beach. Make the most of the joyous occasion and experience how other cultures celebrate Christmas, such as with Krampusnacht festival in Austria, or the Christmas jazz festival in Estonia.
Once the Christmas cheer is over, it doesn’t mean the festivities have to end, and where better to ring in the New Year than with the traditional Hogmanay festival in Scotland in the UK? The origins of Hogmanay are typically unclear, but nevertheless it is one of the biggest events on the Scottish calendar, with customs including gift giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbour, plus plenty of street parties and fireworks.
Download the full calendar PDF here for even more events, and get travelling.
All dates correct at time of publication.