Famous festivals you've never heard of

They're massive in their home countries but you've probably never heard of them

20th June 2018

We all love to party and celebrate, so the eternal popularity of festivals makes total sense. Festivals have played a fundamental part of societies all over the world since long before Glasto opened its gates, and why not? They offer something for everyone. It’s not just about socialising, but also art, music and — perhaps most importantly — great food.

Whether religious or cultural, music or dance, food or wine, there’s a festival for everyone. You’re likely familiar with lots of the big-name events, so here we’re looking at some of the lesser known fests. They may not be marked globally, but they too are celebrated with full zeal and zest. So, let’s have a look:

Las Fallas — Valencia, Spain

Celebrated annually in March to mark the onset of spring, Las Fellas, meaning “the fire”, is a five-day party held to commemorate Saint Joseph, where colourful and innovative dolls — or ninots — are made and then destroyed, after the celebrations.

The celebration includes huge processions of these dolls on the streets of the city, with different themes and styles. Each procession has a different story to tell, and naturally, is accompanied with music and other performances. Apart from this, parades, paella contests and beauty pageants are also a prominent part of the festivities.

One of the major contests is the crowning of the best ninot. The winning ninot is saved from a fiery fate and entered into a museum alongside previous years’ winners.

Boryeong Mud Festival — Boryeong, South Korea

The clue is in the title for this one. Established in 1998, the festival was created by a cosmetic company as their marketing strategy to advertise the nutrients in the muds of the Boryeong mud flats, which they use to make their products.

Celebrated over ten days, this festival is most famous for the events of its final weekend. Festival goers daub themselves in the nutrient-rich muck and enjoy other attractions such as mud pools, slides, and skiing competitions. Mud wrestling is a pretty popular activity too, but the Mud Prison is perhaps the most notable attraction: attendees enter the prison clean, and leave totally encaked in, yes, you guessed it, mud.

People gather from all over the world for the Boryeong Mud Festival 📸 Hypnotica Studios Infinite

Mud aside, there’s also music, other performances and a beautiful beachside setting to entice you to Boryeong. Guests from all over the world come for a full programme of events which goes on well into the night. So many guests in fact, that Boryeong has become South Korea’s most popular festival destination for international tourists.

The Kite Flying Festival — India

Locally known as Makar Sakrant, this festival marks new beginnings in India. The festival embraces the arrival of spring and the end of winter, indicating harvest season for the farmers. It is one of the most ancient festivals and is celebrated in different parts of the country in various different ways.

In some parts of India, people decorate their households, others prepare sweets and feasts and some organise fairs and bonfires, but almost all mark the occasion by flying kites. These kites fill the skies, all different shapes and colours. There’s competition too, as teams can compete in special matches, in which the goal is to use your kite to cut your competitor’s right out of the sky.

The Kite Flying Festival is the highlight of the cultural calendar 📸 Bhavishya Goel

The day typically ends with sumptuous feasts and fire-lit lanterns, people gather on rooftops and in open areas to enjoy the festivities, in an even which truly brings people together, with great enthusiasm and joy.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta — New Mexico, USA

First celebrated in 1972, to mark 50 years of 770 KOB Radio, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a nine-day festival which takes place in October every year. It brings together balloon enthusiasts from all over the world, to display their aircraft and compete in a number of competitions. After fairly humble beginnings the number of entrants ballooned to more than 2,000 (2,000 hot air balloons!) at the festival’s peak. Recently though, organisers sought to re-focus the festival and embrace a “quality over quantity” philosophy.

At its peak there were 2,000 balloons in the festival 📸 Joe Ross

Now just over 500 of the world’s very best hot air balloons come together in New Mexico for the highlight of hot air balloon calendar.

20th June 2018