Coming together with others in celebration is an essential part of the human experience, no matter which culture or country you come from. Observing someone else’s traditions and culture within a celebratory context is a fantastic way to really get under the skin of a country and really get a feel for the local life. We love visiting festivals around the world here in the office – here are a few we’ve been to or would love to visit!
The Golden Eagle Festival is an annual traditional festival held in the Bayan-Ulgii province of Mongolia. Each year, Kazakh eagle hunters congregate to show off the hunting skills of their magnificent eagles, by getting them to hunt down small animals such as foxes and hares. It is a celebration of the traditional Kazakh culture as much as it is about the eagles, and features parades, cultural demonstrations & exhibitions and gives spectators an insight into a world and culture completely removed from their own.
In the mountains of Papua New Guinea, this awe-inspiring and sacred ceremony takes place. Young men, coming of age, don colourful masks and headdresses to dance into and around the flames of a big bonfire. The sounds of rhythmic drumming and chanting in complete darkness, except for the bright colours of the costumes and fire tantalises all of your senses.
Up-Helly Aa is a festival held on the Shetland Islands, just off the north-east coast of Scotland, to celebrate their Viking heritage. Twelve versions of this festival take place, the largest in Lerwick, and are completely planned and organised by a dedicated council that spend all year putting the festival together. The parade starts at 8.30 and follows through town throughout the day, before culminating in a big fire and party, where they set fire to the galley and carry it around, with 1000 volunteers carrying torches. This big spectacle has been happening since the 1800s and marks the end of Yule season. Certainly a sight to behold!
The Timkat Festival in Ethiopia is one of the most spectacular religious festivals in the world. The number of tourists that attend and enjoy the spectacle grows year on year. Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. Statues, tabots and replicas of significant religious artefacts are paraded around by priests, with plenty of cheering and chanting. Many locals wear all white, along with a traditional shawl, and watch the baptism of new priests, or participate in the baptisms themselves. It’s certainly a sight to see.
The Holi Festival, celebrated by Hindus around the world, is a very colourful spectacle that marks the start of spring. Festival goers throw colourful powders and squirt each other with water guns and the like in the streets. There is plenty of music, sounds and crowds add to the ambience – everyone participates and is equal in this one.