Festivals are one of the most popular ways to experience different cultures around the world. Every destination has it’s own unique festival, with visitors traveling from near and far for film festivals, music festivals, food, and more. Each of these festivals has its own history, from brand new music festivals to traditions that have been going on generations.
We have created a list of the best festivals around the world by month for 2021, so whether you like music festivals, carnivals, or film festivals, this list has a festival for everyone!
Sundance Film Festival
Date – January 23rd to February 2nd, 2021
Location – Park City, Utah, USA
Website – SunDance.org
Sundance is an institute that helps provide and support artists from film, film composing, and digital marketing to create new pieces and showcase them to the world. The first Sundance Film Festival was in 1981 where ten up and coming filmmakers were invited to showcase their work.
Every year since then the Sundance Film Festival has taken place in Park City Utah, showcasing documentary and dramatic short and feature films from emerging filmmakers. The festival also has filmmaker talks, panel discussions, and live music.
This is one of the more exclusive festivals, so be sure to start planning your trip early to secure the best accommodation!
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Harbin Ice Festival, China
Date – December 25th, 2019 to February 25th, 2021
Location – Harbin, China
Website – IceFestivalHarbin.com
This festival that runs from December through to February in Harbin, China is the world’s largest ice festival! You can visit and enjoy a variety of winter travel experiences including an international snow sculpture art expo, ice lantern art fair, ice and snow amusement park, ice bar & restaurant, winter swimming watching, skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling.
There is something for everyone at this unique festival and it’s the perfect place to visit in the winter months.
Related Post: 7 Unforgettable Things To Do In China
International Kite Festival, India
Date – January 7th to 14th, 2021
Location – Gujarat, Uttarayan India
Website – GujaratTourism.com
The festival of Uttarayan in India marks the day that winter turns into summer. It is known as Makara Sankranti/Mahasankranti, a sign for farmers that harvest season is approaching. The day is thought to be the most important harvest day in the Indian calendar.
To celebrate and mark this time, many cities in Gujarat organize a kite competition for the local residents. This is a huge celebration and is now a 2-day public holiday.
Related Post: A Quick Guide To India’s Golden Triangle
Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan
Date – February 8th to 23rd, 2021
Location – Shifen, Pingxi District, New Taipei
Since 1990, the Pingxi Lantern Festival has taken place during the first full moon of the Chinese New Year (which changes each year). Between 100,00 and 200,000 rice paper lanterns are let out into the night’s sky.
Lanterns were released historically to let others know that the town was safe. Today, people use the lanterns to attach wishes and decorations to before letting them into the sky.
The main night for the festival is the 8th February 2021 but night markets and lanterns will appear for up to two weeks after.
Related Post: 8 Reasons Why Taiwan Will Surprise You
Venice Carnival, Italy
Date – February 8th to 25th, 2021
Location – Venice, Italy
Website – Carnevale.Venezia.it
The Venice Carnival is held every year and ends on Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
The carnival dates back to 1162 as a celebration of victory. It was not celebrated for hundreds of years until 1979 when the carnival returned to the city as part of the cities history and tradition.
The carnival is famous for its masks, with contests for the best masks. The carnival has masquerade balls, carnival shows, events around the city, music, and much more.
Related Post: The 5 Most Romantic Things To Do In Venice
Rio Carnival, Brazil
Date – February 21st to February 26th, 2021
Location – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Website – Rio.com
The Rio Carnival is the world’s most well known and biggest carnival, with celebrations all over the city. The carnival and festival take place every year beginning on the Friday before Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent.
The carnival dates back to the 1640s, and now attracts visitors from all over the world. The city of Rio de Janeiro is 6 full days of parades, floats, street parties, masquerade balls, and the city is filled with music, dancing and brightly coloured costumes.
Bring your best costume and dancing shoes because the Rio Carnival is one of the most fun festivals in the world!
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Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia
Date – February 22nd to February 25th 2021
Location – Barranquilla, Colombia
Website – Colombia Travel
Barranquilla Carnival is the second largest carnival in South America after Rio, Brazil. The Barranquilla Carnival takes place in the Colombian port city of Barranquilla, every year over four days before Ash Wednesday on Saturday and finishes on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
The Barranquilla Carnival dates back to the 1880s, today it is much different from it was then, with parades, street dancing, colourful costumes, and parties throughout the city.
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Mardi Gras, New Orleans, USA
Date – Tuesday, February 25th, 2021 (Parades every weekend from January 4th, 2021. Major parades every day from February 19th to February 25th, 2021)
Location – New Orleans, Lousiana, USA
Website – MardiGrasNewOrleans.com
Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows they don’t do anything by halves, and Mardi Gras is no different! It’s the biggest event in the city’s calendar.
While the origins of the festival are unknown, they date back centuries. Mardi Gras typically begins from the last night of Christmas and stretches to Ash Wednesday. Every weekend in January there are parades throughout the city leading up to the week before Ash Wednesday when they occur daily.
Mardi Gras is filled with beautiful floats, parades, dancing in the street, partying, masquerade balls, and is a full family event with the streets lined with families having BBQs and enjoying time spent together. In Lousiana, the week of Ash Wednesday the Monday to Wednesday are holidays known as Mardi Gras break, so everyone can celebrate together and enjoy family time.
Related Post: 7 Things To Do On Your First Trip To New Orleans
Holi Festival, India
Date – March 9th & 10th, 2021
Location – Rajasthan, India – Jaipur & Udaipur
Holi is a popular Hindu festival celebrated in India. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘festival of colours’, ‘festival of spring’, or ‘festival of love’, signifying the beginning of spring. The festival begins on the evening of a full moon and lasts the night and following day.
People gather on the night of the full moon and perform religious rituals with a bonfire and the next day is the colour festival. During the festival people throw colours over each other, where everyone joins in the streets at parks and participates in the colour and paint festival.
Water guns and water balloons are used to smear the paint around. Coloured powders tend to be used and music is played. It’s one of the more unique and colorful festivals in the world!
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South By Southwest (SXSW)
Date – March 13th to 22nd, 2021
Location – Austin, Texas, USA
Website – SXSW.com
Since 1987 South by Southwest (SXSW) has been held annually in Austin, Texas. This festival is a celebration of both the film and music industry, with conferences and screenings.
The 10-day event showcases sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and networking events. This event has music performances by major artists, film screenings, awards, and pitches.
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Coachella, California, USA
Date – April 10th – 12th & April 17th – 19th 2021
Location – Empire Polo Club, Indio, California, USA
Website – Coachella.com
Coachella is a music festival that takes place over two weekends in April in Indio California. The music festival began in 1999 as a single weekend event and in 2012 was changed to two weekends.
Coachella has artists both well known and up and coming, with multiple stages and groundbreaking performances and comebacks.
Be sure to pack your finest boho desert style attire because part of the fun of Coachella is seeing the outfits that everyone wears!
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Date – April 13th to 18th, 2021
Location – Mayrhofen, Austria
Website – Snowbombing.com
Snowbombing is an alpine music festival which is a week-long festival of live bands, DJs, apres ski, and much more.
Snowbombing combines a traditional ski holiday with a music festival with events and activities on the slopes such as races, paragliding, sledding, exploring an ice cave and more. There is live music from big-name artists in stages across the town from forests, to an igloo rave.
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Songkran Water Festival, Thailand
Date – April 13th to 15th, 2021
Location – Thailand
Celebrated every year from April 13th to 15th, Songkran Water Festival is an annual ‘water fight’. Dating back centuries the festival historically was on the date when the sun changes position in the zodiac.
The people of Thailand believe water is purifying and cleans away bad luck from the past year and cleanses bringing fortune to the new year. This festival happens throughout Thailand with the biggest celebrations taking place in Chiang Mai, Khao San Road in Bangkok, and many other cities throughout the country.
Related Post: A Complete Guide To Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans, USA
Date – April 23rd to 26th & April 30th to May 3rd
Location – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Website – NOJazzFest.com
New Orleans is the unofficial home of Jazz music and from 1970 to today the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival has been attracting visitors from all around the world. The festival runs over two weekends (often the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May) from Thursday to Sunday.
Each day has a different line up of big-name artists from around the world in all genres of music. Rock artists, pop, and jazz musicians all take to the multiple stages around the park. Jazz Fest is a day event with bands performing all throughout the day and during the evening.
Related Post: 7 Things To Do On Your First Trip To New Orleans
Stagecoach, California, USA
Date – 24th – 26th April 2021
Location – Empire Polo Club, Indio, California, USA
Website – StagecoachFestival.com
Stagecoach is a popular country music festival held every year in April (usually the last weekend in April) in Indio, Calfornia. The festival began in 2007 and has grown into a true country music family event, showcasing the best country music stars over a three day weekend.
If the setting looks familiar, it’s because it takes place at the same venue as Coachella. However, the experience is more geared towards country music so bring your best Cowboy boots and hat!
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King’s Day Or Koningsdag, Amsterdam
Date – April 27th, 2021
Location – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website – iAmsterdam.com
King’s Day, or Koningsdag, is a national holiday in The Netherlands and is celebrated every year on the April 27th (or on the 26th if the 27th falls on a Sunday). Dating back to 1885, this holiday was previously called Queen’s Day when there was a Queen in power until 2013.
The day is celebrated with street markets, and large scale celebrations. In Amsterdam, there are large outdoor concerts and the city centre is closed to vehicles for the day. It is popular for visitors and party-goers to wear orange on this day to honour their countries colours and orange drinks are often served.
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Cannes Film Festival
Date – May 12th to 23rd, 2021
Location – Cannes, France
Website – Festival-Cannes.com
Previously known as the International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France. The festival is famous worldwide and previews new films of all genres, including documentaries from all around the world.
This glitzy event is attended by A-List celebrities but it is also possible to visit the city at the same time in the hope of getting into some of the screenings. All the major screenings take place at The Palais which has 18 auditoriums.
The Lumière Theatre is where you see the stars photographed on the red carpet steps before their movie screenings on its famous red steps. If you put on your best outfit there is a chance you can gain access to the theatre as badge holders who do not show up forfeit their seat and these are resold to the public.
There is also an open-air cinema screening at Mace Beach where you can enjoy the movies under the stars.
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Hay Festival, Wales
Date – May 21st – 31st, 2021
Location – Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales
Website – HayFestival.com
The Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales is an annual literature festival. The festival runs for ten days typically at the end of May and was dubbed “The Woodstock of the mind” by Bill Clinton in 2001.
The town became affectionately known as the town of books after so many book stores opened following the first one opened by Richard Booth in 1962. The festival celebrates all things literature and is a must-do on the calendar of any great reader!
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Date – June 24-28th, 2021
Location – Pilton, Somerset
Website – GlastonburyFestivals.co.uk
Started by Michael Eavis in the 1970’s, Glastonbury is one of the most famous music festivals in the UK and around the world. The festival now welcomes 200,000 people each year (with fallow years every 5 years) and hosts some of the most famous faces in music at the Pyramid and other stages.
There are several music stages as well as other performance art areas. You can bring your own camping gear, or rent a luxury tepee.
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Tomorrowland, Brussels, Belgium
Date – July 17th – 19th & July 24th – 26th 2021
Location – Boom, Belgium
Website – Tomorrowland.com
First held in 2005, Tomorrowland is an electronic dance music festival held 25 minutes outside of Brussels in Belgium. The festival takes place over two weekends in July and each year there is a different theme and it attracts big names in electronic and dance music to perform across multiple stages over the two long weekends.
The production value is very high, with intricate stages, dressed performers, and luxury camping and catering options. Tomorrowland also puts together some of the best Aftermovies to get you in the spirit of planning your trip!
Related Post: 7 Awesome Electronic Music Festivals To Attend
Splendour In The Grass
Date – July 24th to 26th, 2021
Location – Byron Bay, Australia
Website – SplendourInTheGrass.com
Splendour In The Grass is an annual Australian music festival held at the North Byron Parklands in Yelgun, New South Wales.
Each year the music event showcases both established artists, as well as emerging Australian artists. The festival has been host to artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Powderfinger, Lorde and Kanye West.
Nothing can beat a music festival with almost guaranteed good weather in the Australian sun!
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Edinburgh Fringe Festival, UK
Date – August 7th to 31st, 2021
Location – Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Website – EDFringe.com
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an annual festival which takes place in Edinburgh throughout August and has done so since 1947.
The festival is the world’s largest arts festival with over 3,500 shows spanning 25 days in over 300 venues around the city. The festival showcases talent from theatre, comedy, music, dance, physical theatre, opera, musicals, spoken words, and many exhibitions and events.
Related Post: The Ultimate Guide To Christmas In Edinburgh
La Tomatina, Spain
Date – August 26th, 2021
Location – Buñol, Spain
Website – TomatoFestivalSpain.com
La Tomatina or the Tomato Throwing Festival is held annually on the last Wednesday in August. The festival is held in a small town of Buñol close to Valencia, which began in 1945.
As you can imagine, the festival is the world’s largest tomato fight! The tomato fight lasts one hour when tomatoes are thrown throughout the village. After the hour has passed fire trucks wash down the streets and participants.
Since 2013 only participants with tickets are allowed to take part and over 145,000kg of tomatoes are thrown each year.
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Notting Hill Carnival, London, UK
Date – August 30th and 31st, 2021 (UK Bank Holiday Weekend)
Location – Notting Hill, London, UK
Website – NHCarnival.org
The Notting Hill Carnival takes place every year on the UK’s August Bank Holiday weekend. Since the 1960’s the Notting Hill Carnival has become a popular date for the London calendar, with the area of Notting Hill, London hosting live performances on multiple stages, street parades, floats, and dancing.
Burning Man, Nevada, USA
Date – August 30th to September 7th, 2021
Location – Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA
Website – BurningMan.org
Burning Man is a festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, which celebrates community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. Festival-goers come together in the middle of the desert to create Black Rock City, a community joins to create a positive spiritual change on the world.
Beginning in 1986 Burning Man has grown into a large festival for self-expression and with a different theme every year. Bring your dust mask, wildest outfits, and a free spirit and join the Burn this year! Just make sure to buy your tickets in advance and arrange all the logistics, preferably with a group that has been before.
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Lollapalooza, Chicago, USA
Date – July 30th to 2nd August 2nd, 2021
Location – Chicago, USA
Website – Lollapalooza.com
Set amongst the high rises in downtown Chicago, Lollapalooza is a music festival that attracts both locals in the city and people from around the world. The festival runs over four days and you can buy regular tickets, as well as VIP experience tickets where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy the best views.
The festival introduces you to food, drinks and sweets from some of the best restaurants around Chicago with a focus on fresh ingredients unlike the usual fast food found at festivals. This is also one of the most accessible festivals since it is right in the middle of the city!
Date – September 19th – October 4th, 2021
Location – Munich, Germany
Website – Oktoberfest.de
Held annually over a two week period finishing the first Sunday in October, Oktoberfest and is a 16 or 18-day folk festival in Munich Germany. The festival has been running since 1810 and is a major part of Bavarian culture and tradition.
Over 6 million people attend annually to experience the rides, stalls, games, and taste the beer. Typically people dress up in traditional outfits and drink beer in the beer tents while listening to live music.
Many of the tables in the tents are reserved during Oktoberfest, but there are unreserved tables available if you get there early. Get to your chosen tent when it opens (we recommend Hofbrauhaus), grab an open spot and prepare for a marathon day of beer drinking and fun!
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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico, USA
Date – October 3rd to 11th, 2021
Location – Balloon Fiesta Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Website – BalloonFiesta.com
The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival takes place over nine days in October with over 500 hot air balloons. The festival began in 1972 and has been growing ever since, attracting families from all over the country.
Hundreds of balloons take to the skies throughout the day from dawn to dusk at the largest hot air balloon event in the world. The event has hundreds of balloons taking off at the same time, balloon races, balloon glows, balloon competitions, and live music.
Related Post: Top 5 Things To Do In New Mexico
Austin City Limits
Date – October 2nd to 4th and 9th to 11th, 2021
Location – Austin, Texas
Website – ACLFestival.com
The Austin City Limits festival is an annual music festival held in October in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The festival runs over two consecutive three-day weekends and offers a variety of musical genres to enjoy, from hip hop to rock, indie, folk and electronic.
The festival has been running since 2002 with its popularity increased so much that in 2012 they expanded to run it over two weekends. In addition to the great music, the festival offers a variety of food, an art market, a mini-fest for children and fun photogenic spaces where you can get your Instagram game on.
Yee Peng Lantern Festival
Date – October 31st and November 1st, 2021
Location – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Website – TourismThailand.org
The Yee Peng (also known as Yi Peng) is a festival in northern Thailand that celebrates the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai Lunar calendar or Lanna calendar. Typically this falls in November but the official date is not known until the beginning of October.
The festival is famous for the thousands of lanterns that are sent up into the sky. If you visit the city during this period you will also find candles lining the little sois (lanes), special parades and Krathong, or floating flower offerings released on the Ping River.
The main locations to view the celebrations in the city are the Three Kings Monument, Thapae Gate, the Old Town moat area and the Ping River. The significance of making or donating khom loy and Krathong (the lanterns) is the representation of moving away from darkness and into the light in Buddhist culture, and celebrated at the end of the rainy season and symbolises a new beginning.
Related Post: 3 Days In Chiang Mai, Thailand
Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico
Date – November 1st and 2nd, 2021
Location – South and Central Regions of Mexico
Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is held on the 1st and 2nd of November (All Saints Day and All Souls Day). Dating back thousands of years, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life and death.
In towns throughout Mexico, locals dress up in makeup and costumes, hold family parties, sing, dance, make offerings to their loved ones, and take to the streets to celebrate.
Related Post: A Local’s Guide To Oaxaca City, Mexico
Date – November 12th to 16th, 2021
Location – Throughout India (Except Kerala)
Diwali or Deepavali is a Hindu festival of lights. The festival lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar (mid-October and Mid-November).
The festival honours victory for good over evil and brightness over darkness. Each of the five days has a different meaning, including wealth, burning of demons, the festival of lights, prayers fro the new year, and celebrating siblings. During the festival there are fireworks, food, celebrations, exchanging of gifts, new clothes, and many other events.
Related Post: An Instagram Guide To India
Date – December 30th, 2021 – January 1st, 2021
Location – Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Website – EdinburghHogmanay.com
Hogmanay is a New Year’s Eve event that takes place between December 30th and January 1st every year since 1993. The three-day festival has live music, street parties, parades, street vendors, and entertainment. Each day has something different to offer all over the city day and night. For more information, be sure to read our Complete Guide to New Year’s at Hogmany!
Full Moon Party, Thailand
Date – Once a Month on a Full Moon
Location – Koh Phangan, Thailand
Website – FullMoonPartyThailand.com
A Full Moon Party is a festival that takes place every full moon, in Koh Phangan, on the Haad Rin beach. The party has live music from dance, reggae, techno, drum and bass, trance, and much more.
The theme of these parties is neon, with a neon outfit and paint the norm. The beach has stages, fire dancers, drink buckets, and tourists from all around the world.
Related Post: 10 Insider Tips For Thailand’s Full Moon Party
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit a festival in 2021. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Founder Becky van Dijk of BeckyvanDijk.com
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