Top 10... festivals in 2019
We have handpicked some of our favourite festivals from around the world, featuring regional cuisines, popular traditions and enough culture to entertain all, with art, music and theatre from local and international artists and performers.
15th January – 4th March to 2019: Kumbh Mela, India
Held every six years, the Kumbh Mela is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. This year it will take place in Allahabad, which is considered the most sacred setting as it is where the Ganges and Yamuna river meet. Kumbh Mela is a place where sadhus – a holy person in Hinduism and Jainism – seers, fortune tellers and seekers of salvation come together from far and wide. Take a morning boat ride to witness the puja ceremonies and have evening talks at the camp with specialists.
20th – 21st March 2019: Holi, India
The well-known Holi festival – also known as the Festival of Colour – is celebrated across the north of India. Jaipur and Udaipur are among the best locations to enjoy the festivities, as revellers throng together to throw powdered colours in the air, leaving a rainbow in their wake. The celebration marks the end of winter and the abundance of the upcoming spring harvest season.
Cox & Kings can include Holi festival on private tours of northern India.
Women celebrating Holi festival
March – April: Cherry Blossom, Japan
The annual viewing of the blossoming sakura – Japanese cherry blossom – is an absolute must. As the Japanese cherry trees come to life, symbolising renewal, vitality and beauty, parks across the country are pink in bloom. Hanami is the traditional custom of viewing the flowers and is usually best between March and April.
Cherry blossom gardens near Mt Fuji
May – July: The White Nights Festival, Russia
The summer months in northern Russia are host to the remarkable natural phenomenon of the midnight sun. With nearly 24 hours of daylight, comes a summer filled with cultural events, entertainment and festivals across St Petersburg. At the end of June is the Scarlet Sails event, the largest event of the White Nights Festival, which includes the pirate water show alongside music and a fireworks display. In addition, the parting of the Neva Bridge for boat traffic is quite the spectacle and can be enjoyed either from the embankment or on a boat cruise.
Join one of our Classic Russia tours that depart between May and July and speak to one of the Europe experts about booking theatre tickets during your stay.
Scarlet Sails water show and fireworks
24th June: Inti Raymi, Peru
Inti Raymi – meaning ‘sun festival’ in Quechua, the language of the Incas – is held in honour of the god Inti. Attracting thousands of local and international visitors to Cusco, the modern day re-enactment is still an on-going tradition. Although they no longer sacrifice an animal, the ruins of Sacsayhuamán become a theatre where the story is told.
Join Cox & Kings’ Train to Machu Picchu tour on 12th June and visit Cusco to discover the traditions of the Incan empire.
Young woman dancing during the Inti Raymi festival
6th – 15th August 2019: Festival of the Tooth, Sri Lanka
Officially known as the Esala Perahera, this ancient Buddhist festival is held in Kandy each year. It commemorates Buddha’s first teaching after he obtained enlightenment and is celebrated with processions and ceremonies through the town throughout the festival’s 10 days. Elephants are lavishly decorated, dancers, jugglers, fire-breathers and musicians all take to the streets and a replica of the Sacred Tooth relic is paraded on top of an elephant.
Tickets to the festival can be included as part of any tailor-made holiday to Sri Lanka.
Temple of the Tooth, Kandy
27th September: Meskel Festival, Ethiopia
Meskel is an Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox religious holiday that is also known by certain churches as the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In the Gregorian calendar, this date is the Ethiopian New Year. Celebrated for over 1,600 years, the festival commemorates the finding of the true cross by Queen Helena. There is a lot of dancing and a demera – the burning of a large bonfire – which is thought to be the ultimate act in the cancellation of sins.
Cox & Kings experts can include Meskel festival on a private tour of Ethiopia.
10th October – 15th November 2019: Alba white truffle festival, Italy
The white truffle fair in Alba is one of Italy's largest. You can learn the tricks of the trade from those that scavenge for truffles in the woodlands and savour the aroma of these tasty fungi at the fair. Founded by Carlo Petrini, the Slow Food Movement aims to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages the farming of plants, seeds and livestock.
Cox & Kings' Europe experts can organise a tailor-made holiday to Italy visiting Alba's white truffle fair.
Alba's white truffles
31st October – 2nd November: Day of the Dead, Mexico
Instead of Halloween, Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead. Families come together for a meal to reflect upon and celebrate the life of their ancestors. Then, dressed in colourful costumes and with the iconic sugar skull painted on their faces, revellers participate in parades through the towns. Cities become a vibrant sea of colour as flowers and colourful outfits brighten up a day that despite sounding rather sombre, is a celebration of life.
Join Cox & Kings’ Highlights of Mexico group tour departing on 28th October to witness the festivities in Oaxaca.
Day of the Dead
7th November: Diwali, India
India’s most important and widely celebrated festival is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. The lights are symbolic and are said to help guide the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, into people’s homes. Streets and houses across the country are decorated with lights, and young girls spend time creating beautiful rangoli patterns with coloured powder, rice or flowers, illuminated at night by candles.
The 27th October departure of the Grand Tour of Northern India will coincide with the Diwali celebrations in Jodhpur and the 19th November departure will include the celebrations in Varanasi.
- Tags: Adventure, Africa, China, City Guide, Culture & History, Ethiopia, Europe, Food & Wine, India, Indian Subcontinent, Italy, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Sri Lanka, Worldwide