Various festivals are held across the world almost daily celebrating different cultures, lifestyle and traditions. One of the best ways to understand a country is by the various events that are held there, whether it is highlighting their music, culture or even a monumental food fight. Today we will look at top festivals for the month of February.
Chūn Jié (Spring Festival/Chinese New Year)
This festival is held in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong between the Lunar New Year from between January 19 and February 20. The Chinese New Year is celebrated around most of the world where there is a Chinatown.
Tet Nguyen Dan (Festival of The First Day)
This is held throughout Vietnam between January 19 and February 20. Tet ushers in the New Year and is one of the biggest days on the national calendar. Rites leading up to the festival begin three days before New Year’s Day and in addition, the first three days of the New Year are official holidays.
International Ice & Snow Festival
The festivities are held at the Zhaolin Park and the Sun Island Park in Hāěrbīn, China. China’s northern Hēilóngjiāng province has one of the coldest climates in Asia, however its capital Hāěrbīn, has capitalized on this by staging an International Ice and Snow Festival held yearly between January 5 and February 29.
This festival is held at the Batu Caves outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the full moon day in the 10th Tamil month of Thai (mid January to mid February). The festival features a spectacular display of seemingly hideous body piercings marking the day when Lord Shiva’s son was given a lance to slay three demons.
Carnaval de Québec (Winter Carnival)
This takes place in Old Town, Québec City and the events are centered on Parc de I’Espalanade. The festival runs from January 27 to February 12 and bills itself as the largest winter carnival. The 17-day Carnaval de Québec was first created in 1984 as a way to beat the winter chills.
Carnevale Venezia (Venice Carnival)
Located in Venice, Italy, the Piazza San Marco is the main focus of this festival. It begins two days before Ash Wednesday and ends on Fat (Shrove) Tuesday. A High point of Venice’s social calendar, the festival is a masked affair and you will have a chance to spend 12 days looking like the Phantom of The Opera. It celebrates the approach of Spring.
Held in Sumba, Indonesia during February and March, the timing of this festival is determined by the arrival of a type of sea worm called nyale. A tournament between two teams of spear wielding ikat-clad horsemen makes Pasola one of Asia’s most extravagant and bloodiest harvest festivals.
Argungu Fishing Festival
This fishing festival takes place in Argungu, Nigeria around mid-February. However this is not your ordinary fishing with lines and tackle. In 1934, the festival was created as a peace-building contest between the people of Argungu and nearby Sokoto. The three-day festival culminates in an hour-long fishing expedition, with up to 35,000 fishermen, teamed in pairs, plunging into the Malan Fada River carrying hand nets and gourds for flotation. The pair that catches the largest fish barehanded is declared the winner.
St. Valentine’s Day
This feast takes place outside of the Basilica di San Valentino in Terni, Italy and is held throughout February but particularly on February 14. This is a festival where lovers can feast in the late Saint’s Umbrian hometown.
Saidai-ji Eyō (Naked Festival)
Naked Festivals are common throughout Japan in the early New Year, however the most extraordinary ones are held in the Kannon-in-temple outside of Okayama. Although termed a ‘Naked Festival,’ the participants wear a loin cloth. The festival may be described as one part sumo, one part scrum and one part orgy, where thousands of near-naked men fight for possession of two sacred shingi (wooden sticks), while freezing water is poured over them.
Carnaval de Binche
The parade for this festival begins in the town hall of Bunche in Belgium on Fat or Shrove Tuesday. It is listed by Unesco as a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of humanity. The festival features local men, known as Gilles who stomp around while wearing strange green-eyed masks and shacking sticks to ward off evil spirits.
Battaglia delle Arance (Battle of the Orange)
This event takes place in the main square of Ivrea in Italy and concludes on Fat or Shrove Tuesday. Similar to the orange version of Valencia’s famed La Tomatina, For three consecutive days, nine teams do battle (3500 people in all) by pounding each other with 400,000kg of oranges.
Art Deco Weekend
This is scattered around venues in Napier and Hastings New Zealand and takes place on the third weekend in February. After Hawkes Bay town of Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, Art Deco moved in. It was rebuilt almost entirely in Art Deco style now the town along with neighboring Hastings is one of the world’s best examples of Art Deco designs.
This festival is listed by Unesco as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The festival is held in Oruro, Bolivia. It is the country’s largest annual celebration and features “The Dance Of the Devils” which is an extraordinary parade showcasing demonic dancers in elaborate costumes.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
This takes place on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana on Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday.” In 2006, the Zulus were supported by dancers from South Africa and the Mardi Gras was held just six months after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Rio de Janeiro Carnaval
This takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and culminates on Fat Tuesday. Indian costumes and African beats are incorporated into the celebrations in a show of indigenous identity. A feature of the carnaval is Brazilian bandas, street parties guided by drummers and singers throughout the streets of Rio with persons tagging along behind then dancing.
Like most of the festivals mentioned above, this festival ends on Shrove or Fat Tuesday. It takes place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The steel-pan band Panorama competition is a key feature of this Carnival, as are the Calypso Monarch talent battle and the Kings and Queens Costume Competition, which feature towering creations embellished with lights and even special sound effects.
There are many more festivals and carnivals that are not mentioned here. However we are quite sure that venturing to any one of them will be equally as enjoyable as any of these listed. So when next you decide to take a trip, consider one of these countries and get a first hand view of some of these spectacular festivals.