From wherever you might hail from, whatever education you have received, one thing remains forever. Learning is constant. And when you learn about different cultures from all around the world, you get to appreciate the human race so much. You stay away from bigotry and you learn to accept and welcome new ideas. And what better times to observe those cultures when they are at their full swing which is often when they celebrate their festivals. Personally speaking, I cannot ask for anything more when the beauty of their cities and countries are combined with the beauty of their cultures. Together, they prove that human life is indeed worth living and there is no greater joy than living your life to the fullest. 1.Burning the Clocks, Brighton – 21 December: The festival is celebrated to mark the shortest day of the year together with the winter solstice in Brighton. People from all over the city carry willow and paper lanterns and parade all around the city. An approximate 2000 people attend the parade with 20,000 people showing up to witness the spectacular display, making the whole festival a sight to behold.
2. Venice Carnival, Italy: Everyone knows about the Venice Carnival. The annual festival especially famous for its masks is attended by millions from all around the world. The most awaited moment of the whole carnival is the “the most beautiful mask” moment which is paneled by international judges and costume designers. If the name Venice isn’t enough to attract you (and that’s impossible) then the Venetian carnival should be.
3. Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, Bruges, Belgium: Possibly the most beautiful sculptures are displayed in this festival in Belgium. The sheer amount of delicacy, subtleness in art, attention to detail, and overall exquisiteness is enough to strike you dumb with awe. Held in Bruges, Belgium, this festival is attended by millions just to view these amazing sculptures.
4.Cologne Carnival, Germany: On 11th of November, at 11:11 starts the wildest and biggest festival of Germany. It is temporarily halted during Advent and Christmas and is continued after with an even greater zeal. Celebrations range from concerts, balls, processions, you name it. The highlight of the whole carnival is the Rose Monday Parade, containing more than 140 floats and thousands of people parading down the streets of Cologne.
5.New Year’s Dive, The Netherlands: No one celebrates the New Year more crazily then the Dutch. A New Year celebration in Netherlands isn’t your normal festival like in most other countries. That’s because only the Dutch are willing enough and brave enough to start of their new year “fresh” by jumping into the freezing waters of the North Sea. In more than 60 locations, these dives occur, the greatest one being at the beach of Scheveningen. Even the thought of it is chilly.
6. Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil): How often can you claim you were tempted by the Devil? Now meet the Guatemalans who are known for their burning of the Devil on the 7th of December (how can you even burn the ruler of Hell???). Guatemalans are slaying it with their culture of defeating the devil which involves throwing the effigy of Satan in trash, and firing up rockets and fireworks at Satan’s behind. There is no better way to tell Satan to get lost than this.
7. Festival of the Sahara:
Surely you didn’t think the festivals are only limited for the “civilized” world only? We have been telling you about carnivals held all over the cities around the world, but here we have a Desert Festival. The Saharan nomads gather to Douz, Tunisia’s portal to the great Sahara Desert to celebrate their own culture. It is like entering into a different reality, completely separate from the rest of the world. There are camel races, rabbit hunts, dances, poetry and so much more of their traditional culture. It is indeed a beautiful testimony to how diverse the human race is.
8. Chaumos: a guide to festivities in the Kalasha valleys of Pakistan:
Pakistan is a country ravaged by severe problems. Yet it is not lacking in culture and beauty despite what the general populace might think. Its mountainous scenery is staggeringly beautiful especially at the northern side. Yet here we would like to mention a particular festival among the Kalasha people. A time of feasting, dancing, visiting each other, where women sing songs dedicated to their demigod Balomain. It is a very festive and cheery time in the region and is sure to leave you with memorable moments if you ever decide to visit Pakistan 10 days before the winter solstice.
9. Mevlâna Festival: a guide to the festival of whirling dervishes :
Location: Sports stadium, Konya, Turkey
Dates: 10–17 December
Level of participation: 1 – be mesmerised as the dervishes whirl. The most celebrated poet in Islamic history is of course none other than Rumi whose mystic and poetic writings are adored throughout the world. Rumi is often said to be the biggest selling poet in USA itself. In honor of the great Sufi mystic, the sports stadium in Konya, Turkey holds a festival celebrating Rumi from 10th December to 17th December. Dervishes dance their famous whirl throughout the festival. But the truly amazing sight is the dance on the final night. In their long, swishing white robes and black cloaks, their dance is mesmerizing to say the least. It is definitely one to attend, especially if you are a fan of Maulana Rumi.