HomeTravel21 Best Seasonal Holidays Around the World Worth Visiting

    21 Best Seasonal Holidays Around the World Worth Visiting

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    Best seasonal holidays around the world: As an avid traveler and professional travel blogger, I’m constantly on the hunt for the most unique, authentic and photo-worthy holiday celebrations around the globe. From riotous festivals to spiritual observances, many cultures have their own way of commemorating certain seasons or events.

    After years of first-hand experience and research, I’ve compiled this list of my 21 favorite seasonal holidays and festivals around the world that are worth scheduling a visit around. As you read through, you’ll notice I’ve organized them by season and highlighted key details like the location, background, traditions, and reasons to attend. I’ve also included some pro tips to help you make the most of these one-of-a-kind events. Get ready for some serious wanderlust!

    Table of Contents

    Spring Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    The earth comes alive in the spring, making it one of my favorite times to travel. From flowers and parades to cleansing rituals, here are 6 springtime holidays worth experiencing.

    1. Songkran Water Festival in Thailand

    When: April 13-15

    Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    Celebrated as the Thai New Year, Songkran revolves around the world’s largest water fight! Locals and tourists splash water (sometimes mixed with chalk or talc powder) on each other to symbolize washing away the sins of the prior year. I’d recommend wearing a GoPro to capture all the action!

    Why Go: To join in the world’s biggest water fight and experience Thai culture Pro-Tip: Protect cell phones in waterproof cases but dress to get soaked

    2. Holi Festival in India

    When: March/April (depends on the moon cycle)

    Holi Festival Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    Paint powders of all colors fill the air during this Hindu holiday that celebrates spring, love, and the triumph of good over evil.Known as the “festival of colors”, locals light bonfires and cover each other in brightly hued powders.

    Why Go: Witness the vibrant colors and joyful atmosphere Pro Tip: Wear white clothing and prepare to be covered in color

    3. Cherry Blossom Season in Japan and Washington, D.C.

    When: March-May (Japan), March-April (Washington, D.C.)

    Cherry Blossom Season in Japan and Washington

    Few natural wonders can match the beauty of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Both Japan and Washington, D.C hold annual Cherry Blossom Festivals to celebrate the flowering trees. Japan’s includes tea ceremonies and dance performances while Washington’s features a parade, cultural exhibits and concerts.

    Why Go: Appreciate the glorious blooming landscape
    Pro Tip: Book accommodations early since both festivals draw big crowds

    4. St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

    When: March 17

    St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

    While St. Patrick’s Day parades take place worldwide, Dublin, Ireland hosts the holiday’s most authentic festivities. Expect shamrocks, Irish dancing, drinking and tons of green everywhere!

    Why Go: Drink beer, see historic sites and embrace Irish culture Pro Tip: Pub crawl on Temple Bar early to avoid long queues

    5. Easter in Italy

    When: March/April

    Easter in Italy

    In the week building up to Easter Sunday, you’ll find elaborate religious processions and mass celebrations across Italy. One of the most remarkable takes place in Trapani, Sicily where 20 life-size wooden sculptures depicting Christ and his disciples are paraded through the streets.

    Why Go: Witness historic sculpture processions

    Pro Tip: Book well in advance since Easter is peak season

    6. Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

    When: March 20-21

    Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

    The ruins of the ancient Mayan city Chichen Itza draw crowds on the Spring (and Fall) Equinox who come to see an incredible calendar-related phenomenon. At the temple of El Castillo, the setting sun casts a shadow that forms the body of a feathered serpent down the side of the northern staircase.

    Why Go: Experience this solar illumination spectacle
    Pro Tip: Arrive early to reserve a good spot

    Summer Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    Summer sizzles with lively cultural celebrations of faith, ethnic pride and historical milestones. You’ll find people dancing in the streets at these 5 vibrant summer holiday festivals!

    7. Haro Wine Festival in Spain

    When: June 29

    Haro Wine Festival in Spain

    Dating back to the early 17th century, this famous Spanish wine fight originated as a way to celebrate St. Peter and the region’s abundant wine production. Today, thousands of participants dress in white and throw wine (not water!) at each other amidst music, food and pure revelry.

    Why Go: Party with locals during this iconic mess fest! Pro Tip: Wear eye protection like goggles (and prepare to be permanently purple!)

    8. Gay Pride in San Francisco

    When: June

    Gay Pride in San Francisco
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 26: People march with the Pride flag during the 52nd annual San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Thousands of people came out to the annual SF Pride Parade after a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Arun Nevader/Getty Images)

    San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ celebration welcomes over 1 million attendees making it the world’s largest Gay Pride event. The Grand Parade features flamboyantly-dressed dancers, musicians and activists while the festival includes concerts, exhibits and family-friendly activities.

    Why Go: Join in the world’s biggest LGBTQ celebration in its birthplace
    Pro Tip: Reserve rooms early since hotels sell out months in advance

    9. Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain

    When: July 7-14

    Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain

    Part of the weeklong San Fermin Festival, the Running of the Bulls gained fame from Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”. On each morning of the festival, brave (or crazy?!) participants test their speed and agility against a dozen aggressive bulls let loose on the streets.

    Why Go: Experience this iconic adrenaline-pumping spectacle
    Pro Tip: Wear proper footwear and know exit points if attempting to run

    10. Bastille Day in France

    When: July 14

    Bastille Day in France

    Bastille Day commemorates the turning point during the French Revolution when citizens stormed the Bastille medieval fortress and prison. Today the holiday celebrates French culture with military parades, fireworks feasts and parties across the country.

    Why Go: Witness military regalia and pride for French independence
    Pro Tip: Watch fireworks above the Eiffel Tower from the lawns of Champs de Mars

    11. Mardi Gras in New Orleans

    When: February/March

    Mardi Gras in New Orleans

    While Brazil may hold the world’s biggest Mardi Gras bash, the holiday originated in 1699 at New Orleans. Today, rows of colorful floats, outrageously dressed krewe members, and flying beads and coins attract over 1 million attendees. Bourbon Street becomes the scene of absolute mayhem!

    Why Go: Party with amazing live jazz amid contagious festive energy Pro Tip: Bring a costume and beads to fully join the frenzy

    Fall Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    From symbolic rituals to celebrations of bountiful harvests, Fall hosts cultural holidays marked by tradition, superstition, feasting and community. Bundle up and get ready for some serious sights at these 5 festive autumn events!

    12. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

    When: September 17 to October 3 (dates vary per the calendar)

    Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

    In 1810, King Ludwig I hosted a grand festival to celebrate his marriage featuring horse races, games and lots of beer. Over 200 years later, Oktoberfest continues today as the world’s largest Volksfest attracting over 6 million attendees. With giant beer tents, women dressed in dirndls, oompah bands and plenty brews, this epic 16-day festival screams cultural tradition!

    Why Go: Drink liters wearing lederhosen alongside other festival fanatics Pro Tip: Make reservations up to a year out for hotel rooms

    13. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

    When: October

    Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

    Imagine a sky filled with over 700 colorful hot air balloons floating in every direction. That’s exactly what draws nearly 1 million people to Albuquerque’s annual balloon fest. From special shape balloons to the mesmerizing unique glowdeo night show, this is definitely a bucket list event for any traveler.

    Why Go: Capture incredible photos against of balloons set off by the surrounding Sandia mountains
    Pro Tip: Bundle up before sunrise balloon mass ascensions

    14. Day of the Dead in Mexico

    When: October 31 to November 2

    Day of the Dead in Mexico

    The Day of the Dead mixes Catholic rituals with Aztec tradition as Mexican families gather in cemeteries to pay respect to deceased loved ones. Altars decorated with marigolds and skeletal figurines give a festive vibe while parades feature creepy masks and face paint. Oaxaca hosts the liveliest multi-day holiday celebrations.

    Why Go: Appreciate this indigenous cultural holiday
    Pro Tip: Sample seasonal pan de muertos sweet bread

    15. Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

    When: Fourth Thursday in November

    Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

    There’s no more iconic sight than the three-hour Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade filling the Manhattan skyline each year with giant character balloons, clowns, marching bands and celebrity performers. Over 3 million attendees and 50 million television viewers make this the world’s largest parade.

    Why Go: Cross an item off your bucket list at this historic NYC tradition
    Pro Tip: Bundle up! With no fixed route or seats, you’ll need to arrive early stake out a spot

    16. Lantern Festival in China

    When: Fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month

    Lantern Festival in China

    The illuminated Lantern Festival marks the grand finale festivities for Chinese New Year. Thousands of glowing lanterns transform temples, parks and bridges into stunning photography scenes. Experience incredible lantern art, solve riddles on the lanterns and munch on sticky rice balls!

    Why Go: See elaborate displays of traditional Chinese lantern art
    Pro Tip: View lanterns reflecting across still waters

    Winter Seasonal Holidays Around the World

    Twinkling lights, steaming mugs of cocoa, building snowmen…the magic of the winter season brings out some of most enchanting holiday celebrations across snow-covered destinations. Wrap yourself in layers to fully experience these 5 winter wonderlands!

    17. Christmas Market at Nuremberg, Germany

    When: Advent season (December)

    Christmas Market at Nuremberg, Germany

    Germany hosts some of Europe’s best traditional Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets), but Nuremburg’s reigns supreme as one of the world’s largest and most famous. Under the glow of Christmas lights, you can browse over 200 wood carved stalls selling handmade ornaments, nutcrackers and authentic German treats like bratwurst, roasted nuts, mulled wine and stollen fruitcake. Bundled shoppers roam amidst festive music, sweet smells and holiday cheer!

    Why Go: Shop for handmade crafts and ornaments during the picturesque opening ceremony Pro Tip: Take an old-timey carriage ride then warm up with a mug of gühwein mulled wine

    18. New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia

    When: December 31

    New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia

    Spectacular bursts of fireworks explode around Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House during one of the world’s first and grandest New Year’s Eve parties. Over 1 million gather around the water and in boats to count down to midnight as the Australian city’s skyline provides a stunning backdrop.

    Why Go: Countdown to the New Year at one of the world’s best fireworks shows
    Pro Tip: Book a cruise, waterfront restaurant or hotel far in advance for a front row seat

    19. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    When: Starts 40 days before Easter

    Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Rio’s world-famous bacchanal Carnival needs little description. Around 1.5 million join in this annual 5 day non-stop dance party celebrated with parades featuring elaborate floats and scantily-dressed drum queen dancers, plus street parties, and competitions between musical samba groups.

    Why Go: Experience the world’s biggest Carnival celebrations
    Pro Tip: Bring costumes and prepare to dance the samba!

    20. Holiday Season in New York City

    When: November to January

    Holiday Season in New York City

    From the gigantic Norway spruce Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center to the unbelievable department store window displays along Fifth Avenue and holiday concerts at Carnegie Hall, New York City becomes a truly magical wonderland after Thanksgiving. The intoxicating atmosphere and lights provide the perfect backdrop for romantic winter strolls or horse carriage rides in Central Park.

    Why Go: Soak up Christmas spirit in this iconic metropolis covered in twinkling lights Pro Tip: Ice skate at Rockefeller Center before checking out storefronts and the famous evergreen tree

    21. Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

    When: Late January/Early February (per lunar calendar)

    Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

    Ushering in the Year of Rabbit for 2023, vivacious Hong Kong hosts tremendous cultural festivities for Chinese New Year like vibrant parades with lion dancers, Chinese acrobatic performances, and sensational fireworks over Victoria Harbour. Wander flower markets as families purchase auspicious red and gold holiday plants like cherry blossoms kumquat trees.

    Why Go: Experience authentic and exciting Chinese New Year traditions
    Pro Tip: Don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day or you’ll wash away your good luck!

    Frequently Asked Questions About Seasonal Holidays

    What is the best way to travel between seasonal holiday destinations?

    Booking flights, trains and hotels months in advance secures availability and budget rates allowing you to maximize experiences at each holiday celebration versus overspending on travel logistics.

    How early should someone arrive in order to properly experience a holiday?

    I recommend arriving to the festival city at least 2 days prior. This allows you time to recuperate from jet lag, familiarize yourself with the area, talk to locals for insider tips, scout photography hotspots and purchase necessary gear (costumes/accessories) for your full participation.

    What fashion tips or etiquette should travelers follow while attending holidays abroad?

    Research and respect customs that dictate appropriate attire or behavior. When in doubt, err on the side of modesty. While some holidays encourage flashy costumes or drink-sloshing rowdiness, be extremely conscientious and avoid cultural appropriation. Ask permission before photographing locals partaking in spiritual rituals or solemn remembrances.

    How can travelers and bloggers respectfully capture diverse holiday traditions on camera?

    First, educate yourself on behaviors considered offensive like wearing folk garb in disrespectful ways or taking unauthorized photos during formal ceremonies. Always ask for consent before photographing individuals, rituals or private moments. Disabling camera sounds shows extra courtesy. To gain fresh perspectives, connect with international photographers or travelers from the local community willing to provide insider access.

    What role can travelers play to ensure sustainable tourism such that seasonal holiday traditions continue?

    While joining in the revelry, remember overtourism stresses limited local resources, infrastructure and the population’s way of life. Consider lower-impact destinations, travel during off-peak dates, use public transport instead of taxis, choose small locally-owned businesses over big chains, and follow Leave No Trace principles. Let’s protect these precious cultural traditions and communities!

    In Summary

    Seasonal holidays give travelers like us bloggers an incredible opportunity to temporarily embed ourselves within foreign cultures during their most precious observances and jubilant community celebrations. I hope reviewing this global list of 21 remarkable seasonal festivals ignites some wanderlust inspiration for your next big adventure! Let me know in the comments which holiday you’re adding to the bucket list!


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