Let’s all agree on one thing: the world is overflowing with wonders. From its people, cultures, and multi-dimensional ways of life – there seems to be an endless realm of possibilities and adventures to experience in the temporary space and time that exists. Which poses the question: where can we begin to completely immerse ourselves, expand our horizons and make a thousand unforgettable memories?
Well, attending a festival on every continent is a great way to start.
That’s right! Each continent on humble planet Earth hosts incredibly unique events to offer its visitors, and guarantee an astounded whisper of “wow” both during the experience and thoughts afterward. However, the number of festivals that can be explored is overwhelming beyond belief! But to make your bucket list a bit more specific with direction, we broke it down for you in the form of a top seven recommendation list to kick-start a journey for what’s out there!
Here Are 7 Must Attend Festivals In Every Continent:
1. Africa – Lake Of Stars Festival, Lake Malawi
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Have you ever thought about how whenever we look up into the stars, we’re staring into infinity? Just some food for thought when standing on the Lake of Stars in Malawi, the “warm heart of Africa”. It isn’t just the fantastic beer and fire warming your spirit!
This festival is internationally renowned for transporting its visitors to a wonderful day of music and artistic celebration of not only the Malawi people but Africa itself. To get here, you journey through breezy palm trees and fill your shoes with warm sand that decorate Lake Malawi and its beaches. The tropical atmosphere guarantees all your troubles will drift away. If a word can describe this festival, it would be “happiness” from the vibe and smiles all around.
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The birth of the Lake of Stars festival has a nostalgic and brilliant beginning. Its founder, Wildlife Society volunteer William Jameson, began a 2003 project called the “Lake of Stars” to promote international tourism. In addition, the delightful souvenir of “an empty carton of Chibuku Shake Shake” from his Zimbabwe trip (which Jameson brought back with him to England) served as the inspiring catalyst for what was once a club night with friends, into an international, full-blown festival phenomenon that we know as Lake of Stars today.
Besides being immersed in the music and art of Malawi, attendees (which seem to multiply by the thousands each year) are able to hear inspirational talks and conferences, sit with groups of friends to laugh over home-made theatre productions, watch intricate dance performances, and enjoy the rich diversity of culture that exists on the land.
These acts and people constantly take the stage through the festival days to give you an opportunity to discover music from around the continent, engage with the locals and speakers about the culture and current issues, and quite frankly, immerse yourself into an incredible celebration of the creative and humble human spirit in wonderful comradery.
2. Antarctica – IceStock, McMurdo Station On The South Tip Of Ross Islan
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You will be shivering over how amazing the opening acts sounds – it’s all local talent! Those goosebumps aren’t simply an effect of the freezing weather. Throw on all the thermal layers and the snow jacket that enraptures you in satisfying warmth, because we’re moving on from sunny, bright beaches. Temporarily, of course.
Every year in January since 1990, Antarctica hosts a tradition rockin’ music festival of multiple diversities of music to please whoever visits the icy stages for a day. Love rock and roll? Check. Blues and country? Check. You will definitely traverse back home humming a new favorite song. What makes IceStock more adventurous than other festivals on the list is the fact that you take a mini-expedition through Ross Island to find Antarctica’s largest city and community hosting this outdoor music festival.
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IceStock has been a tradition in Antarctica since 1990 and was surprising, created by scientists at the McMurdo Research Center. Think of a smaller, less temperate Woodstock – with barbecue and occasional cook-offs! Back in 2004, a chili cook-off was acclaimed as a cherished event. As mentioned before, every band that performs in IceStock comes from McMurdo, which when you think about it is pretty awesome and impressive considering these bands prepare for their debuts or continue their legacy at the festival.
This festival is perhaps the smallest on the list, but it definitely brings you a sense of home with the cozy but open space and food stalls. Each year, the number of attendees slowly grow, but the enjoyment of the tundra’s music escalates.
Perhaps over time, the number of musical performance and food stalls can multiply. Knock on ice!
3. Asia – Taiwan Lantern Festival, Taiwan; Locations In Taiwan Vary Year To Year
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First, there is absolute darkness and excited murmurs. But slowly, one by one lanterns float into the sky in a spectacle of light and manifested wishes reminiscent of fireflies and fireworks. As an homage to traditional folklore from the Yanshui District and a bond of tradition, the Lantern Festival remains of Taiwan’s – and one of the world’s – most beloved events of the year. You can’t really explain it, but this festival in particular transcends.
What originated as a form of communication and outlet to ward off evils between villages, soon became an acclaimed and emotionally moving experience for the eyes and soul in the humble form of releasing one paper lantern that harbors your prayers, wishes, desires, and even secrets – into the sky. Some people even write the names of those who have died in their lifetime for closure and further homage. What would you write?
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We recommend you go with a group of those you love most and dress warmly. Take the time to think about the things festering and living in your heart that can be forgiven or silenced. In the soft glow of the Lantern Festival’s crowd, you can’t help but feel so utterly present and in sync with your surroundings. The awareness in such a close space really makes a person hone in on what their feelings are in that specific moment. This festival is truly that simple: a gathering of human beings write what matters to them most on a paper lantern, lights the fire that delivers it up, and let’s go.
This festival is truly that simple: a gathering of human beings write what matters to them most on a paper lantern, lights the fire that delivers it up, and let’s go.
The simple act of releasing a harmless paper lantern into the sky makes your chest feel lighter, doesn’t it? It makes you drift back to the memories when you had as a child where the thought of releasing balloons into the sky felt so satisfying but sad at the same time. Maybe, it’s gravity of something weightless carrying something very heavy.
4. Australia/Oceania – Wanderlust Festival, Australian Beaches, And Forests As Well As The United States And Canada
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Never forget to nurture the space in your chest that fosters a beating heart. To all the travelers, adventurers, and even those who feel lost in the chaotic dimensions of life – journey in the summer to Australia (or the United States and Canada) to the beloved and soul-renewing Wanderlust Festival.
Wanderlust’s founders Jeff Krasno, Sean Hoess, and Schuyler Grant, a group of friends (Jeff and Schuyler are married by the way) were always known for throwing a memorable party and living a mindfully sound lifestyle, which definitely hasn’t changed since the inception of Wanderlust. Rather, the appetite to share positive vibes has only increased!
Featuring live music, nature as your stomping ground, group activities that suddenly make strangers your dearest friends, inspirational speakers, delicious food, and an atmosphere that soothes – there is nothing better to lose yourself in! In the words of the festival itself, “find your true north”. We wonder what yours will be! The Wanderlust Festival is famous for encouraging the celebration of the imperfections of human life and the discoveries we make along the way, whether that be in the form of meditating and self-reflection, or learning we are so much more capable than the physical and emotional boundaries we put on ourselves.
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To be more specific with group activities, you are given the opportunity to choose which classes and activities to participate in. For example, you can take a meditative hike into the forest (depending on your location) to connect with nature and the people around you, and even learn from an informative lesson about how massaging your mind contributes to your yoga practice by increasing blood flow and assisting with the depletion of toxins in your body!
In addition, it is known that aerial yoga performances and tips from aged yogis can even offer a new perspective on how yoga can be practiced. It isn’t just simply finding your quiet space on a yoga mat – exploration and open-mindedness is key! Furthermore, there are even hula-hoop yogis finding balance in the sway of their hips who welcome you to join the party.
One last fun note: the food at Wanderlust cleanses you! Mostly everything served there is vegan/vegetarian-friendly and even gluten-free! It isn’t just the emotional nourishment of our bodies, it’s the physical too! Hooray to cleansing juices and endless activities!
5. Europe – Carnevale; Venice And Multiple Cities Within Italy
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Who will you become when the sun rises into Shrove Tuesday?
The Carnevale (Carnival) Festival in Venice (and other cities), Italy would quite frankly be one of the most extravagant days of your life. Fun fact: “Carnevale” in Italian means “farewell to meat” as a reference to those who practice Christianity’s tradition of Lent.
Imagine walking through the cobble-stone pavements of Italy, seeing meticulously crafted costumes of all histories donning masked patrons, with explosions of color and fabric from every corner, archway, and shadow. It is always a part of the experience to get lost in feathers, velvet, and armor. This is Carnevale, the most elegant evening in The Floating City of masked Italy. The event dates back all the way to the 11th century, as a celebration of victory against the “Serenissima Repubblica” where the people danced all night in the San Marco Square laughing and drinking.
This translated into becoming an event that always occurred in the Square, as years went by: the people celebrating freedom. But throughout time, Carnevale as a general celebration of dancing and disguises has been shunned and resurrected through hierarchies. Several kings adoring the masked parades while others despised it for its encouragement of debauchery and pleasure. Who could blame them? Culprits and mischievous characters could never be found. Today, Carnevale acts as an international event to welcome visitors of all ages to take part into an elegant escape that preserves a rich and lush history.
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This translated into becoming an event that always occurred in the Square, as years went by the people celebrating freedom. But throughout time, Carnevale as a general celebration of dancing and disguises has been shunned and resurrected through hierarchies. Several kings adoring the masked parades while others despised it for its encouragement of debauchery and pleasure. Who could blame them? Culprits and mischievous characters could never be found. Today, Carnevale acts as an international event to welcome visitors of all ages to take part into an elegant escape that preserves a rich and lush history.
If you are at a loss for how to begin your marvelous façade, the street artists of Venice create anything your heart desires. For those who love any history fact, some of the Venetian masks you see during Carnevale are handcrafted with centuries-old practices and apprentices. There were even positions and statuses for mask makers in Italy – they were practically their own society of people!
You can expect to be both equally mesmerized and haunted by the characters portrayed by the individuals who carefully craft their costumes and personas. But don’t gaze for too long into those glass eyes, it will enrapture you and ask you for a dance as if the Phantom of the Opera was there!
6. North America – Festival Napa Valley, Napa
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First, it’s recommended to let all your worries and troubles float away on a hot air balloon. Shift a comfortable step to the side and let the wine bottle breathe, because Festival Napa Valley hosts a luxurious and sparkly wine-filled destination of experiences once you find your way to the ground whether it’s your first-time Napa Valley experience or you’re a frequent visitor. What could be more beautiful than the backdrop of vineyards and historical wine houses to serve as the stage for multiple creative performances?
Over 200 artists and business within the city contribute to one of the most culturally impacting and enriching days of the summer. Rested in the heart of the city, you can wine and dine with locally-harvested drinks and food of the highest quality all while watching lovingly-selected musical, dance, and cultural performances! Idea for later: a picnic on the grass would amp up the romance and experience if you’re attending with a special someone.
Festival Napa Valley commits itself to nurturing the cultivation of artists both young and old, music, and the education of the arts through unceasing discovery and passionate learning. The organization of the whole event is practically a theatre production itself, making sure that each station and performance is phenomenal and entertaining until the very end. It leaves you remembering a cheerful, family-friendly, and philanthropic occasion that will have its place in the photo albums of buzzed smiles because of wine and soft sunsets.
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The organization of the whole event is practically a theatre production itself, making sure that each station and performance is phenomenal and entertaining until the very end. It leaves you remembering a cheerful, family-friendly, and philanthropic occasion that will have its place in the photo albums of buzzed smiles because of wine and soft sunsets.
Charities are also an integral part in Festival Napa Valley each year as well. You can definitely find organizations to educate yourself about and even donate to them in support of their causes. Performances over the years include orchestras, solo singers, dancers, and bands that perfectly capture the romantic and marvelous space of the Napa-sphere. The music and performances revolves around the classics, each year dedicated itself to certain themes throughout the evening. It’s all incredibly formal, therefore, suiting up is appreciated.
With that, take a moment to settle down with that buttery glass of Prosecco and lean back into your garden chair.
7. South America – Festival De La Candelaria, Puno City, Peru
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If you listen closely, you can hear the heartbeat of every dancer and singer. It is non-stop electrifying hum of drums, feathers, threads, and music to honor the Virgin of Candelaria, or in other words, the Virgin Mother Mary of Jesus Christ, Peru’s patron saint. On the first fortnight of every February, this festival is ignited in glorious spectacles of worship and commemorations. Overwhelmingly, people attend each year by the thousands – which include both the artisans and visitors, making this one of the most highly-visited festival in a time span of just one week and a few days.
The festival follows a formal schedule, which includes beginning the festivities by attending mass, following a parade of dancers outside the church and repeating each day with more fervor until the week and its people are done feasting, celebrating, praying, and dancing. Music includes folk music from passed-down traditions and raw energy on reverberating drums, bells, and sharp instruments. Women, men, and children are all painted and consumed with the merry spirit of delving completely into South America’s dazzling culture and customs in a cocktail of colorful proportions.
The Virgin Mary’s statue is also carried throughout the city while dancer groups adorn the path it takes. Afterwards, there are dance and music competitions, entertaining and charming passers-by walking the street and taking a split second to admire the performances that unfold before their eyes. Like Carnevale, the performers also wear masks and embellished costumes, which are also hand-crafted by the artisans of the city.
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One special dance in particular called “The Dance of the Devils” is the main spectacle of the festival. Its meaning holds a treasured folklore story: a group of miners trapped beneath the ground of their work feared their lives and sent up their soul in prater to the Virgin de la Candelaria, who came to protect them when the fires of hell engulfed their souls. In interpretive dance, the miners dramatically relinquish their souls only to find themselves in the beautiful and motherly light of their patron saint in a battle between good and evil. Subsequently, another feast is held shortly afterwards to pay tribute to divine intervention and continuously send respects and love to the Virgin.
The list of festival to attend around the world can truly go on forever. There is ceaseless experience to have, people to meet, and memories to be made. But despite the fact, all festivals and celebrations have one thing in common: to endure and spread its purpose throughout time. Every yogi, dancer, music lover – whoever they may be – all created these events as a space to create appreciation for things cared about most in this world: music, art, culture, and humanity and share that with anyone who was willing to immerse themselves just like them.
Life is too short and exquisite to bind yourself to one place your whole life. No one should do themselves that disservice. Travelling the world and expanding the mind is not only a luxury, but a gift – one that will hopefully have a place every year throughout your entire life. If there are things to take away from any experience, it’s the fact you have left it a more educated person, as someone who understands others and the world in a deeper way, and maybe taken hundreds of photos to share with your loved ones.
Physical objects and photos are nostalgic and wonderful to pass on, but the memories created stay with you until the end of time, translating themselves into everyday actions that have never existed in your awareness. That’s the subtle way experiences affect each person. We become better people from them, whether we realize that or not.
One the last closing note, dear and eternally curious wanderluster – we know you’re itching to hop on the next flight out of your current town or take a spontaneous road trip with best friends. Which destination will you cross off your bucket list first – and what epic story will you tell? We’re all ears and eager blank pages.