16 Unique Festivals You’ve Never Heard Of From Around the World 

How many international festivals have you been to? Cultural celebrations are so diverse and fun. It doesn't matter if it's the celebration of life, death, or gods, or entertainment. Several festivals hold special meaning to their country. The following are sixteen festivals from around the world that you may never heard of.

1. Diwali, India

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The Indian festival of lights celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. It's celebrated for five days between mid-October and mid-November by religions across India and beyond, including Hindu, Sikh, and Jain. This festival is celebrated by placing lit earthenware lamps (diyas) and flower displays around houses, shops, and other public places throughout the cities and towns. During Diwali, people enjoy the parades, live music, and fireworks and exchange gifts and sweets. 

2. AgitÁgueda, Portugal

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Every year since 2006, the streets of Águeda are transformed into a hub of art and culture. The city streets are covered in a colorful umbrella canopy from July 7th to July 29th. During this festival, people can enjoy street art, performances, art installations, and incredible music performances. 

3. Mount Hagen Cultural Show, Papua New Guinea

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The Mount Hagen Cultural Show started in 1964 to ease tension between tribes in Papa New Guinea and has since become one of the country's most popular events. This vibrant and unifying cultural festival brings together different tribes to celebrate diversity and display the region's traditional dances, music, and cultural wear. 

4. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

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The usually quiet city of Boryeong is brought to life every summer for the Boryeong Mud Festival. Held annually at Daecheon Beach since 1998, this festival attracts millions of locals and tourists of all ages. People are covered with grey mud and enjoy shows with street parades, bands, dancers, and jugglers. Once the sun sets, there's an incredible fireworks display. 

5. Dia de los Muertos, Mexico

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Dia de los Muertos (‘Day of the Dead') is a beautiful Mexican festival that honors loved ones who have passed away. It's held between October 31st and November 2nd in Mexico. Families construct altars (ofredas) in both public spaces and private homes and decorate them with pumpkins, candles, sugar skulls, and flowers. The altars are a way of saying ‘welcome home' to the spirits of loved ones. When the sun sets, families gather at gravesides to tell stories, eat, sing, and play music. 

6. Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Thailand 

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Like a scene straight out of a fairytale, every year, the skies of Chiang Mai in Thailand glow with the light of thousands of lanterns during the Yi Peng Lantern Festival. It typically takes place in November, on the night of a full moon in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. To celebrate, people gather throughout the city to release lanterns. It symbolizes cleansing and releasing your deepest fears and desires.

7. Hermanus Whale Festival, South Africa

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 Hermanus is known as the whale-watching capital of South Africa for its deep waters, which are home to several humpback whales. Unsurprisingly, it's home to the only eco-marine festival in South Africa. Every year, at the end of September, the town hosts a whale-themed festival with interactive exhibits, parades, music performances, and delicious food. 

8. Holi Festival of Color, India

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The Hindu festival Holi, held every year in March, marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It has significant cultural and religious significance and celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the letting go of negative energy. People celebrate by offering prayers and smearing bright-colored powder on their friends and family.

9. Songkran, Thailand

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During one of the hottest months of the year, Thailand has an exciting way to kickstart the lunisolar Theravada Buddhist calendar. Songkran, also known as the Thai New Year, is a three-day water festival. Held from the first full moon in April, this festival is celebrated by throwing buckets of water, water balloons, or shooting water guns at one another. In the temples, images of Buddha are washed with water. It symbolizes washing away any misfortunes and welcoming prosperity in the new year. 

10. La Tomatina, Spain

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If you find yourself in Buñol, Spain, during the last Wednesday of August, you might get hit with a flying tomato. La Tomatina is a tomato-throwing festival held in Spain since 1945. Thousands of people participate in a massive food fight every year, throwing and smashing tomatoes at one another purely for fun. This festival has become so popular that the number of participants has been limited to 20,000 people to avoid an uncontrollable crowd. 

11. Jaisalmer Desert Festival, India

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The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is an exciting combination of fun, culture, and sand. It takes place over three days before the first full moon in February every year. The desert comes to life with folk music, art, puppet shows, and dancing. There are also exciting games like camel racing, tug of war, and camel polo. This festival aims to bring together people of different backgrounds to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of the desert. 

12. Aomori Nebuta, Japan

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The Aomori Nebuta festival is one of the Japanese summer festivals that is held in Aomori City, which is the capital of Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan. This festival is known for its massive lantern floats called “nebula.” These floats would depict historical figures, mythological creatures, and scenes from Japanese folklore. Just like any other festival, there are musicians and dancers in cool costumes or outfits.

13. Up Helly Aa, Scotland

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Up Helly Aa is an exciting fire festival that takes place in Lerwick, Shetland. It’s held on the last Tuesday of January every year to celebrate Shetland’s Viking history. The people dress up in Viking costumes, complete with helmets, and march through the streets carrying torches. The main event of this festival is the burning of a Viking longship to symbolize the end of the Yule season. 

14. Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong

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The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is an annual, traditional Chinese festival held on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese calendar. During the festival, people celebrate with a tower covered in buns and take part in a bun-scrambling competition, where participants climb the bun tower and try to collect as many buns as possible. 

15. Monkey Buffet Festival, Lopburi, Thailand

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In Thailand, it’s believed that monkeys bring good luck. The Monkey Buffet Festival is an annual ceremony held on the last Sunday of November in Lopburi to honor the macaques who live in the area. The festival begins with an opening ceremony featuring performances and dancers in monkey costumes. Then, locals and tourists serve the monkeys a banquet of fruits, vegetables, and other treats.


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