Top Festivals Bucket List – My Top Ten

Disclaimer: These top festivals aren’t necessarily the world’s most popular but many have been on my list for years. In no particular order they are:

1) Outdoor Music Festivals – There’s something I really love about outdoor music festivals. All pretensions and bullshit slip away and with just the right amount of libations everyone feels the love. I’m never the one upfront in the crowds nor the topless female on my boyfriend’s shoulders. I am the one sitting on blankets with people I care about or dancing in the back of the crowd so I can get my groove on. TIP: For those who can afford VIP access make sure you really assess what you’re getting, often it is not what it seems. Sometimes it is fantastic so foster your connections and you’ll experience a whole different side to the festival.

  • Glastonbury (Somerset, England) – Held over 3-4 days on a large farm in Somerset, England the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts attended by more than 150,000+ people. Headliners such as David Bowie, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Jay Z, Beyonce and U2 have played as well as many smaller indie bands.
  • Coachella (California, USA) – Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is a three-day music festival showcasing rock, indie, hip hop and electronic music. It takes place in a desert and performers have included Madonna, Roger Waters, Muse, MGMT, and the Black Keys.
  • Tomorrowland (Belgium) – Surrounded by fairytale decoration this electronic music festival takes place each July in Belgium. It offers nine different areas to listen to the world’s hottest electronic DJs. My boyfriend Matt has attended and we can’t wait to return together.
Tomorrowland Festival, Belgium

Tomorrowland Festival, Belgium

  • SXSW (Austin, Texas, USA) – SXSW is actually a set of film, interactive and music conferences and lasts for ten days. It is the largest of its kind in the world with more than 2,000 performers and bands playing in 100+ venues.
  • RIP to Love Parade (Berlin, Germany) which cancelled in 2010 after 21 people suffocated in a crowd stampede. This incredible house music street festival had been held for 21 years and attended by more than 2.5 million people each year.

2) Full Moon Party (Koh Phagnan, Thailand) – In all honesty I don’t believe that the full moon party in Koh Phagnan should necessarily make a top festival list but this list isn’t a top ten of the greatest festivals, it’s about those I covet. Koh Phagnan’s full moon party lasts all night and more than 30,000 people enjoy trance, R&B, house and reggae music under the light of a full moon. From what I hear it’s not what it used to be but it still makes my list. Matt and I have booked Beach Village Backpackers for this December’s full moon party on December 17th and we’ll once again join the NYE fun on December 31st as we ring in 2014.

3) La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain) – Dubbed the world’s largest food fight this Spanish festival consumes the small village of Buñol between 10am – 11am on the last Wednesday in August each year. Over 150,000 specially grown tomatoes are shipped in from the countryside and participants throw squashed tomatoes at everything and everyone. Yep, this is right up my alley.

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

4) Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany) – Sometimes you want to experience something just because it’s a big deal and Oktoberfest is that for me. I don’t really like beer and for a long time I had no interest in visiting Germany (after reading about a hate crime against a black person when I was eight years old). But, as I have grown older my opinion has changed and I have heard wonderful things about Germany and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day festival celebrating beer. It’s the world’s biggest fair and over 6,000,000 people attend. Interestingly enough the second largest Oktoberfest takes place in the city where I was born, Kitchener, Ontario located about an hour west of Toronto. I’ve never been to either but the original Oktoberfest in Munich is where I want to go. The best part could be that my last name, Munsch, is a derivative of the word Munich so it would certainly be nice to experience some of my father’s heritage.

5) Venice Carnival (Venice, Italy) – Essentially Venice’s Carnival is the Venetian Mardi Gras ending with Lent much like many other worldwide carnival celebrations such as those in Trinidad or Brazil. What really stands out in Venice are the carnival masks which have always been a main feature. Like many top festivals and carnivals it can be celebrated whether you’re a budget or luxury traveller but I can only imagine how amazing it would be if you could invest in a top of the line costume and attend one of the more elegant balls. Added to my bucket list.

Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival

6) Cannes Film Festival (Cannes, France) – I remember the French Riviera simply exploding when the weather hit in early April and the joie de vivre is like no other. Enter Cannes’ famous film festival in May, the epitome of class. Film tickets are hard to come by and personally I think I’ll pass unless I can do it right in all its glamour. Founded in 1946 it is one of the most prestigious and publicized film festivals in the world and winning the Palme d’Or, the film’s most coveted prize is almost as important as taking a great photo on the exclusive red carpet. This year look out for American film director, Steven Spielberg as the President of the Jury.

7) Chinese New Year (Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China) – I haven’t spent enough time in Hong Kong to be able to put into words how incredible it is or why so many people fall in love with it. It is a visually stunning city surrounding a harbour and the old Chinese part of Hong Kong is separated from the modern skyscrapers that make up the “new” Hong Kong. It is a haven for expats and perhaps many love it because its British influence (it’s a former colony) mixes so well with the Chinese culture and architecture while permitting you the comforts of home. This blend of new and old, of Chinese and British makes it a welcome addition to list and even more it is a celebration I could enjoy with my entire future family a.k.a kid friendly.

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

 

8) Naghol – Land Diving (Vanuatu, South Pacific) – Naghol is the original bungee jump and it takes place on Saturdays every April and May in the tiny Republic of Vanuatu. Native men and boys tie vines to their feet and jump from a platform at heights staggered between 50′-100′. The festival is all about blessing the land where the tower is built so that the yam (sweet potato) crop will flourish. However, it is believed that if their head doesn’t graze the ground the harvest will not succeed and if the vine is even 4″ too long their jump will be their last.

Vanuatu Land Diving

Vanuatu Land Diving

9 – Burning Man (Nevada, USA) – I have many friends who have attended Burning Man or desperately want to and I even considered it but decided not to after doing some research. I thought it too new wave, too “out there”, too hippie-ish for me but today I changed my mind. Who you are with at a festival often makes a big impact and Matt and I would have a blast together. There will likely be a lot of judgement passed but I am open to new experiences and meeting people I normally would not associate with. The Burning Man Festival is a week-long annual event held at the end of August each year. It is described as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression and radical self-reliance,” and only toilets and water are provided. 50,000+ people attend each year.

10) Holi (India, Nepal, Pakistan) – Holi is a religious festival held by Hindus in the springtime in India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is believed that a farewell should be made to Winter and the colours of Spring should be celebrated. This is done so with bonfires and participants wildly throwing coloured powder at each other. Every photo I have ever seen from Holi contains a wild explosion of colour and joy and this festival makes the top of my list. I’m hoping to make it here next March 2014.

Holi Festival, India

Holi Festival, India

 

 

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