There are so many events going on around the world it’s impossible to have a top 10. Traditional well known festivals such as San Fermin and Oktoberfest will keep your party spirits up but there are some weird and wonderful things to experience as well such as nomad marriage festivals, camel wrestling and cockroach championships.
- San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain
For a real Hemmingway experience of Spain this bull running festival in July is the ultimate and probably the most internationally renowned Spanish fiesta. Run before the bulls on the famed dash or join in the celebrations that rage all day and night. Sangria and Kalimotxo flow as freely here as the fun.
- Cannes film festival, France
The ultimate experience of the Cote d’Azur is this regal event in May; bristling with stars and wannabes, better dressed tourists, photographers and yacht owners. You don’t need a media pass or celebrity status to join in the fun. There are plenty of free movies, aperitifs, sunshine and fine-living experiences for all.
- Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For the ultimate party head to Rio where the King of the Carnival festivals takes place. The Carnival is a wild four-day celebration prior to Lent, which has a religious and cultural significance. Essentially though it’s a time of euphoria where people dance, sing, party and have lots of fun. Some parties last all day and night and they take place everywhere in the streets and squares, bars, clubs and take over the entire city culminating in the Rio Carnival Parade. It’s easy to join in, get a samba costume, learn the moves and swing your hips.
- New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, USA
Top bands play year round in the clubs of New Orleans but it’s hard to beat those of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, held April/May. Any time of year you’re guaranteed easy-going rhythms and the colorful culture of the Deep South.
- Calgary Stampede, Canada
Pack your hat and boots for the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” that takes place every year in July. This 10 day event is a feast of rodeo, concerts, chuck wagon races, agricultural competitions, pancake breakfasts and many other events that transform Calgary into a cowboy heaven.
- Cure Salée festival, Ingal, Niger
If you saw Michael Palin’s Sahara journey you’ll be familiar with this marriage festival among the Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads in September. In this festival young girls choose the man they would like to “try out”, while the men stand in a line dancing and rolling their eyes with lots of makeup. Parades of camel riders, music, races, songs, dances and storytelling take place over the three days but nomadic groups often remain in the area for weeks.
- Cockroach racing world championships, Brisbane
Only in Australia would they celebrate their national vacation by racing cockroaches. On a day when most countries raise flags and parade the streets, Aussies in Brisbane head to the Story Bridge Hotel. During much beer drinking, uproar and a lot of fun, stewards bring out the roaches and race them across a short course while their owners cheer them on.
- Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, New South Wales
Queens, frocks, feathers, the weird and wonderful are set against the backdrop of one of the world’s great cities at this annual event in Sydney. The appeal of the Mardi Gras now extends beyond Sydney’s gay community and close supporters, despite an often controversial history. Despite it’s name it has no connection to the Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras and covers a broad spectrum of activities including the famed parade with exotic costumes and dance music and floats often with a political edge. There are also art exhibitions and a film festival.
- Abu Simbel festival, Egypt
In an event that inspired a moment in Indiana Jones, the inner sanctum of the famed temple of Abu Simbel lights up twice a year: on the anniversary of Ramses II’s rise to the throne and on his birthday. Crowds pack into the temple before sunrise on February 22 and October 22 to watch the shafts of light slowly creeping through the stone and over the statues. Once it’s over celebrations continue outside, including a fair and a lot of music.
- Camel Wrestling Championship, Selcuk, Turkey
This hugely popular sport with championships held in January is more comedy than gory. Bull camels head butt and wrestle for precedence over a young cow that is paraded around to get them excited. The most entertaining moments come when one gives way and the conquering bull chases in pursuit while spectators scramble hurriedly out of the way.