This post was most recently updated on June 6th, 2017
20 Festivals to Experience in Your 20s
Your 20s are your years to go on wild adventures, take risks, dance the nights away, seek out new cultures, get lost, and find out who you truly are. But there’s one little caveat: you can’t do that all in one place!
As a young, energetic human being who’s ready to see the world, here are 20 festivals to experience in your 20s!
Challenge: Send 20 Festivals to Experience in Your 20s to your favorite travel buddies. Choose at least one festival to attend together before 2017 ends. Purchase your airfare. GO!
Yi Peng (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Why Yi Peng is awesome: Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, is an ancient tradition in which thousands of Thai Buddhists pay homage to Buddha by lighting up the night sky in floating golden lanterns. Guaranteed, Yi Peng will be one of the most breathtaking spectacles you’ll ever witness.
When: Often in November, though dates vary. Check Chiang Mai’s expat groups on Facebook to determine the exact date.
Napoli Pizza Village (Naples, Italy)
Why Pizza Village is awesome: Um, hello! Why wouldn’t you want to attend a pizza festival in the birthplace of pizza? Does life actually get better than stuffing your face at Pizza Village with doughy, cheesy goodness, alongside Campania’s azure coastline? Nope; it actually doesn’t.
When: Early September, every year.
Day of the Dead (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Why Day of the Dead is awesome: With deep roots in indigenous culture, Oaxaca is home to the likes of ancient Zapotecan ruins, world-reknowned folk art, and Mexico’s greatest culinary creations. Yet a visit during Day of the Dead will lend sights of intricate altars decked in flowers, candles, and religious figures, markets bursting with altar decorations, mole sauce, chocolates, and tamales, and a sea of endless sugar skull faces. All of this, and more, is Mexico’s way of celebrating the lives of lost love ones.
When: November 2nd, every year.
Bastille Day (Paris, France)
Why Bastille Day is awesome: Whenever I think about this day, uncontrollable chills come over me. Standing beneath the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day, drinking with thousands of Parisians, and watching fireworks light up the sky into a beautiful, blazing rendition of the French flag is magical. As if Paris wasn’t enchanting enough already!
When: July 14th, every year.
Garifuna Settlement Day (Hopkins, Belize)
Why Garifuna Day is awesome: You will never find friendlier locals than in the Belizean village of Hopkins. So for Garifuna Settlement Day, head to the Caribbean and find out how the Garifuna party! Here’s a hint: joyous dancing, drumming, singing, parading, and bright-colored costumes are all involved. And on a side note, Belizean and Garifuna cuisines are to live for.
When: November 19th, every year.
Tomatina (Buñol, Spain)
Why Tomatina is awesome: Admit it. You always wanted to start a food fight when you were younger, but you never had the guts. So here’s the good news! Now you can, without a visit to the principal’s office. Tomatina is your opportunity to participate in the world’s biggest food fight, complete with 20,000 people and thousands more over-ripe tomatoes.
When: The last Wednesday of August, every year.
Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium)
Why Tomorrowland is awesome: Tomorrowland is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world. If you’re an EDM fan, or simply a fan of an epic time, you shouldn’t miss this event.
When: July, every year.
The Yacht Week (Croatia)
Why The Yacht Week is awesome: Are you a squillionaire? Didn’t think so. But that’s okay, because during The Yacht Week, you can live like one as you explore Croatia’s rocky coves, turquoise waters, and old fishing villages via luxury yacht! And the best part? This extravagant experience is 100% affordable for 20-somethings.
When: June through early September, every year.
Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)
Why Oktoberfest is awesome: Does Oktoberfest really require any sort of explanation? Lively drinking halls, German beer, traditional getups (dirndls for the ladies and lederhosen for the laddies), and Bavarian specialties like pretzels and bratwurst with sauerkraut make up this centuries-old festival.
When: Mid-September to early October, every year.
Holi (Mathura/Vrindavan, India)
Why Holi is awesome: Also called the Festival of Colors, Holi vividly commemorates good’s victory over evil. What better reason to rejoice? This festival’s concept is simple: spend the day throwing colored powder at anyone and everyone in sight, eat lots of food (which may or may not contain cannabis), and dance even more.
When: The day after March’s full moon, every year.
Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Why Carnival is awesome: Rio Carnival is the world’s largest and greatest party, so you know you need to go. From blaring samba music and exotic dancers, to endless caipirinhas and chaotic street parades, the vastness of Rio Carnival will leave you speechless.
When: February, every year.
Spring Festival (Hong Kong)
Why Spring Festival is awesome: Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, is the most important celebration on the Chinese calendar. With traditional foods and costumes, lucky red lanterns lining every street, gift exchanges, firecrackers, and cultural dragon dances, locals celebrate family and wish for a prosperous new year. I only have one thing to say: bring on the dim sum!
When: Late January or early February, every year.
New Year’s Eve (Berlin, Germany)
Why New Year’s Eve in Berlin is awesome: For the past two years, we’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve in Berlin; and honestly, it doesn’t get any better than that. Or any more insane. Spending New Year’s Eve in Germany’s capital is like partying in a world of chaos, where you’re allowed to set off fireworks anywhere you so please. So let’s put it this way: strolling through the streets of Berlin on New Year’s Eve is more like navigating through a war zone. Drunk.
When: December 31st, every year.
King’s Day (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Why King’s Day is awesome: Take to Amsterdam’s picturesque (and traffic-jammed) canals to celebrate the Dutch King, Willem-Alexander’s, birthday with thousands of Amsterdammers and their mothers. King’s Day is Amsterdam’s biggest street party, so prepare to don your orange outfit, move to the live music, and drink more Dutch beer than you ever have – and probably ever will!
When: April 27th, every year.
Mardi Gras (New Orleans, USA)
Why Mardi Gras is awesome: Oh, Mardi Gras, the festival of permadrunk tourists, colorful beads, ridiculous costumes, grand parades, and soulful jazz music. As a 20-something, Mardi Gras is obviously a must! Need I say more?
Also, bear in mind that NOLA’s 300th birthday occurs in 2018. There will never be a greater time to attend Mardi Gras than that.
When: February or March, every year.
Galungan (Bali, Indonesia)
Why Galungan is awesome: For Balinese Hindus, the festival of Galungan celebrates the victory of good over evil, and includes a giant feast, family time, temple visits, offerings to gods, and bright, beautiful clothing. Visit Bali during Galungan, and memories of warm sunshine, bright textiles, flavors of suckling pig, and smells of burnt marigold flowers, will never leave you. As a 20-something, this cultural experience should top your list!
When: Galungan is celebrated every 210 days; dates vary.
Wine Fight (Haro, Spain)
Why Wine Fight is awesome: On a sweltering summer’s day, Wine Fight is the ultimate party! And the rules are simple. Drink lots of wine. Fill your buckets and water guns with wine. Drench everyone in sight. Turn the place into a soggy, purple mess.
When: June 29th, every year.
Coachella (Indio, USA)
Why Coachella is awesome: Coachella is your opportunity to frolic around in the desert, under the festival’s iconic ferris wheel, wearing your pretty pink flower crown. Really, what more could you ask for? But in all seriousness, this festival is an avid concert-goer’s haven, featuring performances by exciting indie, EDM, rock, and hip hop artists, all weekend long.
When: Two weekends in April, every year.
Carnival (Venice, Italy)
Why Carnival is awesome: Venice Carnival is the world’s greatest dress-up party. How can you pass up visiting Venice, while marvelously cloaked and masked figures glide through its mysterious canals. And when else will you get the chance to attend an extravagant masked ball? And when you take into account the carnival’s grand processions, jousting tournaments, and theatrical performances, you know this cultural festival is a must!
When: February, every year.
Ice and Snow Festival (Harbin, China)
Why Ice and Snow Festival is awesome: Ever wondered what a real-life winter wonderland looks like? Find out for yourself at Harbin’s Ice and Snow Festival, the world’s biggest winter festival, complete with sculptures of the Great Wall and various palaces, which are lit up in dreamy hues come nightfall.
When: January 5th to February 25th, every year.
20 Festivals to experience in your 20s
There’s something about living out your 20s in a new country every few months, twirling and singing along to the music, chugging beers with thousands of friendly strangers, and experiencing new cultures for the first time. It’s pure magic. And that, friends, is why these 20 festivals to experience in your 20s are essential.
But by the way, who’s to say that you can’t attend these festivals if your 20s are long gone (or haven’t even begun yet)? No one. That’s who!
Challenge: Send 20 Festivals to Experience in Your 20s to your favorite travel buddies. Choose at least one festival to attend together before 2016 ends. Purchase your airfare. GO!
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Have you attended any of these celebrations before? Of these 2o festivals to experience in your 20s, which are at the top of your bucket list?