Carnivals & Festivals

(Last update December 2021)

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

World Expos

Dubai 2020 (in 2021)
Milano 2015
Shanghai 2010
Shangai 2010
Aichi 2005
Hanover 2000
Lisboa 1998
Sevilla 1992
Spokane 1974
Montréal 1967

Other events

Belgium
Waterloo : Bicentennial Waterloo Battle : reenactment of the battle (June 2015)

France
Argenteuil : Exceptional exhibit of Christ’s Holy Tunic (March 2016)
Golfe-Juan : Bicentennial Napoleon landing from Elba at Golfe-Juan (start of 'les 100 jours') : reenactment of the landing (March 2015)

North Korea
Pyongyang : Kim Il Sung 100th birthday celebration (Pyongyang & other cities) (April 2015)

Germany
Iena (Cospeda) : Bicentennial Iena Battle : reenactment of the battle (October 2006)

Czech Republic
Slavkov : Bicentennial Austerlitz Battle : reenactment of the battle (December 2005)

Former USSR
Moscow : May 1st, 1990 celebrations on Red Square ; last May 1st celebration of the  Soviet October Revolution of the communist regime ... (1990)

 

 

CARNIVALS

(Only the year is specified, except for carnivals held at a different time than the days around Fat Tuesday)

Up to now, I have attended 63 carnivals.

My top 15

Binche (Belgium) 
Ebensee (Austria)
Jacmel (Haiti)
La Vega (Dominican Republic)
Liestal (Switzerland)
Mindelo (Cabo Verde)
Mohacs (Hungary)
Oruro (Bolivia)
Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago)
Ptuj (Slovenia)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Rottweil (Germany)
Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands)
Tramin (Italy) 
Venice (Italy)

 

 

Americas

Bolivia
Oruro : all carnival (a fascinating carnival with Aymara and Quechua influences) (2003)

Brazil
Rio de Janeiro (2nd time) : all carnival (2006)
Rio de Janeiro (1st time) : all carnival (1988)

Canada
Quebec : main parade (1974)

Colombia
Barranquilla : Batalla de Flores, Gran Parada de Tradición, Gran Parada de Fantasia, Desfile Joselito, Danzas de Relación (2010)

USA
New Orleans : all carnival (2009)

 

Atlantic Ocean

Cabo Verde
Mindelo (São Vicente) : all carnival (a carnival with a strong brazilian flavor) (2016)

Canary Islands
Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Tenerife) : all carnival (Cabalgata Anunciadora, its main event  'Corso Apoteosis del Carnaval'  & Entiero de la Sardina) (2011)

 

Caribbean

Aruba (The Netherlands)
Oranjestad & Sint Nicholaas : all carnival (2015)

Dominican Republic
La Vega : main parade (best carnival in Dominican Republic ; its main character is the 'Diablo Cojuelo'  =  Limping Devil) (2012)
Santiago : main parade (2012)

Haiti
Jacmel : main parade (best carnival in Haiti, famous for its masks) (2017)
Port-au-Prince : a very noisy carnival featuring 'rara' bands' (2017)

St Kitts & Nevis
Basseterre (St Kitts) : a small carnival (January 2014)

Trinidad & Tobago
Port of Spain (Trinidad) : all carnival (1998)

 

Europe

Austria
Nassereith (Tyrol) : carnival held once every 3 years, 'Schellerlaufen' (February 2001) 
Telfs (Tyrol) : carnival held once every 5 years, 'Schleicherlaufen' (February 2000)
Ebensee (Salzkammergut) : "Fetzenfasching" (carnival of rags) ("Fetzenzug" - parade of rags - & "Brieftaschlwaschen" - washing wallets -) (February 2018)

Belgium
Alost (Flanders): main parade (2000)
Eupen (Wallonia) : main parade (2000)
Binche (Wallonia) : main parades (with the 'Gilles') (1999)
Stavelot (Wallonia) : 'Blancs-Moussis' parade (1999)
Malmédy (Wallonia) : Danse des Haguettes (1997)
La Louvière (Wallonia) : 'les Gilles' parade & 'Brûlage des Bosses' (March 1997)

France
Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) : last part of carnival  (Lou Queernaval & 'Corso carnavalesque illuminé') (2015) 
Limoux (Aude) : main parade (2002)
Cournonterral (Hérault) : a very wild carnival ('fête des Pailhasses', from 14th century, people rub up in wine lees against each other) (2002)
Pézenas (Hérault) : main parade (2001)
Hazebrouk (Nord) : main parade (April 2000)
Dunkerque (Malo-les-Bains) (Nord) : 'Grand Rigodon' (2000)
Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire) : main parade (approx 1960)

Germany
Köln (North Rhine-Westphalia) : Rosenmontag (2008)
Laufenburg (Baden-Württemberg) : Narren Umzug, Narrenlaufen & night parade (2008)
Offenburg (Baden-Württemberg) : Narren Umzug (2001)
Wolfach (Baden-Württemberg) : Elfemess & Narren Umzug (2000)
Villingen (Baden-Württemberg) : Narros Umzug & 'Strohverbrennen' (2000)
Elzach (Baden-Württemberg) : 'Bengelreiten' parade, held once every 7 years (1999)
Rottweil (Baden-Württemberg) : Narren Umzug (perhaps the most traditional carnival in Germany) (1997) 

Hungary
Mohacs : Busojaras ('Busos' parade) & Jankele (very traditional carnival with extraordinary 'Busos' & 'Jankele' masks) (2007)

Italy
Ivrea (Alps) : nearly all carnival (very specific due to its links with the French Revolution and its oranges battles) (2014)
Schignano (Alps) : main parade (2014)
Bagolino (Alps) : main parade (2014)
St Oyen (Alps) : main parade (2001)
Oristano (Sardinia) : Sartiglia d'Oristano (equestrian carnival from the Middle Ages) (2004)
Mamoiada (Sardinia) : Sartiglia de Mamoiada (equestrian carnival from the Middle Ages) (2004)
Tramin (Termezzo) (Alps - Alto Adige) : Egetman Parade (main parade) (2019)
Viareggio (Tuscany) : main parade (2001)
Venice : Volo dell’Angelo ('flight of the angel') & masks show (2006)

Slovenia
Ptuj :" Kurentovanje" (2018) 

Spain
Lanz (Navarra): main parade (2002)
Cadiz (Cadiz) : 'Los Carnavales', a carnival climaxing the week after Fat Tuesday & famous for its 'comparsas' (satiric groups) (March 2002)

Switzerland
Basel (Basel) : all carnival ('Morgenstreich', parades) (February 1997)
Liestal (Basel) : Kienbesen Umzug (fire wagons parade : spectacular !) (February 1997)
Luzern (Luzern) : main parade (2001)
Monthey (Valais) : main parade (2019)
Schwytz (Schwytz) : 'brulage de Blätz' (2013), main parade (2001)
Solothurn (Solothurn) : Fasnachtsumzug & Zapfenstreich (2007)
Altstätten (St Gallen) : 'Röllelibutzen' parade (2013)
Bellinzona (Tessin) : main parade (March 2014)
Altdorf (Uri) : 'Drapoling' parade (2013)
Wiler (Valais) : tiny carnival with absolutely stunning masks ('Roitschäggättä' : frightful figures) (2000)
Zug (Zug) : 'Greth-Schell' parade (2013)

The Netherlands
Maastricht (Limburg) : opening parade & main parade (2008)

United Kingdom
London : Notting Hill carnival (a Caribbean carnival) (August 2008)

 

 

OTHER FESTIVALS

Up to now I have attended 110 festivals (excluding carnivals) (traditional festivals mainly)

My top 15

Esala Perahera (Sri Lanka) : at Kandy, huge night procession with adorned elephants, honoring the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha.
Fallas (Spain) : held in Valencia ;  huge elaborate constructions, often as high as 5 storeys, composed of fanciful figures, often caricatures, are produced. They are burnt during the last night.
Festa dei Serpari (Italy) : amazing procession of the snake-catchers celebrating San Domenico.
Guerewol (Niger) : a yearly fascinating and enigmatic courtship ritual competition made by young men dressed in elaborate ornamentation and made up in traditional face painting.
Holy week in Sicily (Italy) : Good Friday processions with hooded penitents carrying the Christ & the Virgin ; Easter Sunday processions …
Hornbill festival (India) : yearly gathering of Nagaland tribes, held in Kohima.
Indra Jatra (Nepal) : most important festival in Nepal ; processions of chariots carrying god images (Ganesh ..) & the living goddess Kumari for her only yearly outing.
Joshi (Pakistan) : spring festival of the Kalash (a colorful ethny practising a form of animism) : 'Milk Day' & chanting and dancing 
Pasola (Indonesia) : in Sumba Island, this is a fearsome reenactment of fights between local tribes ; all  riders throwing spears. Quite wild !
Qoyllur Ri'ti (Peru) : the largest pilgrimage in Latin America ; up a sanctuary and glaciers, with strong Quechua & Aymara influences (dances, adoration of the sun ..).

Sing Sing (Papua Niugini) : at Goroka ; a yearly gathering of some 100 tribes, a riot of colour, singing, dancing, and feathers  ... 
Thousand Camels festival (Mongolia) : at Bulgan ; a winter festival celebrating the lunar new year with camel races, dances ...
Timkat (Ethiopia) : at Lalibela ; Coptic Orthodox Tewahedo Church celebration of Epiphany and reenactment of Baptism.
Tsechus (Bhutan) : at Thimphu & other places ; 'tsechu' is a buddhist festival with masked dances (autumn & spring).

 

Africa

Ethiopia
Lalibela : Timkat (Coptic Orthodox Tewahedo Church celebration of Epiphany and reenactment of Baptism) (January 2005)

Mauritania
Between Ouadane & Chingetti : Yearly camel races festival (March 2003)

Niger 
Iferouane : Yearly Touareg festival (camel races …) (October 2004)
Agadez region : 'Guerewol',  Wodaabe Fula (Peuls Bororo) annual courtship ritual competition (magic & exceptional) (October 2004)

 

Americas

Argentina
Tilcara (Jujuy) : Pachamama Festival (July 2010)

Canada
Calgary (Alberta) : Calgary Stampede (rodeo, greatest outdoor show in the world) (July 1974)

Costa Rica
San Jose : El Tope (equestrian & carts parade) (December 2000)

Peru
Cuzco & Sacsayhuaman : Inti Raymi (Sun festival) (June 24, 2017)
Cuzco : Desfile Civico (a huge parade with Quechua dances and traditional costumes (June 2017)
Cuzco : Corpus Christi (2nd most important day of this 10 days Catholic celebration ; procession of statues of Saints carried on men shoulders) (June 2017)
Sinakra high valley & Cruz'Qasa (Ausangate region) : Qoyllur R'iti (largest pilgrimage in Latin America), largely influenced by Quechua & Aymara traditions (June 2017)
Yearly reconstruction of Q'eswachaca inca bridge : 4 days to rebuild this bridge using vegetal fibers (a ritual unchanged and observed since the Inca empire) (June 2017)
Sihuas : Fiesta de la Virgen de las Nieves (Aug. 2013)                                                                                                                                           Paucartambo : Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (July 1979)

 

Asia

Bangladesh
Dhaka : Ashoura (Shiite muslims mourning procession) (January 2009)

Bhutan
Wangdu Phodrang : Tsechu (buddhist festival with masked dances) (September 2015)
Thimphu : Tsechu (buddhist festival with masked dances) (September 2015)
Paro : Tsechu (buddhist festival with masked dances) (April 1987)

China
Tarboche (near Mt Kailash) (Tibet) : Sakadawa (Tibetan Buddhism most important festival, 4th month full moon of Tibetan calendar) (May 2002)

India
Ahmedabad (Gujrat) : Makar Sankranti (traditional kite festival) (January 2013)
Udupi (Karnataka) : Paryarya Festival (January 2008)
Kohima (Nagaland) : Hornbill festival (December 2015)
Bhubaneswar (Odisha) : Adivasi Mela (Odisha tribes festival) (January February 2014)

Indonesia
Madura (Java) : Karapan sapi (traditional bull racing festival) (October 1982) 
Bumi Siliwangi (Java) : Ram fighting (1982)
Pelabuhan Ratu (Java) : Pesta Nelayan (Sea Festival) (1982)
Prambanan (Java) : Ramayana ballet (4 nights at full moon mid year in javanese) (1983)
Ponorogo (Java) : Reyog (dance drama) (approx 1982)
Borobodur Temple (Java) : Waiçak Day (approx 1982)
Rantepao region (Sulawesi) : 2 death rituals festivals (August 2004), 1 death ritual festival (August 1976)
Sumba Island : Pasola (At dawn 'marapu' collect sea worms, then 2 opposed teams of horse riders play a bloody 'game' by throwing spears) (February 1984)  
Kabupaten Sumedang : Kuda Renggong (Dancing Horses Festival) (October 1983)

Japan
Furano (Hokkaidō) : Hokkai Heso Matsuri (July 2008)
Osaka (Honshu) : Tenjin Matsuri (July 2008)
Yamaguchi (Honshu) : Gion Matsuri (July 2008)
Aomori (Honshu) : Aomori Neputa Matsuri (August 2008)
Hirosaki (Honshu) : Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri (August 2008)
Goshogawera (Honshu) : Tachineputa Matsuri (August 2008)
Akita (Honshu) : Kanto Matsuri (August 2008)
Sendai (Honshu) : Tanabata Matsuri (August 2008)
Shimoda (Honshu) : Taiko Matsuri (August 2008)
Kyoto (Honshu) : Daimonji Matsuri (August 2008)
Takayama (Honshu) :  Yamatsuri (Lantern festival) (April 2005)
Aso (Kyushu) : Hifuri Matsuri (March 2011)
Miyazaki (Kyushu) : Yabusame Festival (traditional horseback archery) (April 2011)
Ooki (Kyushu) : Juhachiya Matsuri (August 2008)
Kochi (Shikoku) : Yasakoi Matsuri (August 2008)
Tokushima (Shikoku) : Awa Odori Matsuri (August 2008)

Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) : Kaamatan (or Pesta Menuai) ; a harvest festival, ending by a traditional beauty pageant (Unduk Ngadau) (May 1983)

Mongolia
Bulgan : 1000 camels festival (Tsagaan Sar - White Moon Festival) in winter close to Gobi desert (camel races …) ; an excellent festival (February 2006)
Tsetserleg : Naadam (National festival held everywhere in Mongolia, including horse races, wrestling …) (July 1998)

Nepal
Kathmandu : Chhath Festival (Teraï festival) (October 2011)
Kathmandu : Indrajatra (biggest Nepalese religious festival including chariot procession of the living goddess Kumari) (September 2005)

Pakistan
Kalash Valleys : Joshi Festival (spring festival of Kalash people) (Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, near Afghanistan) (May 2018)

Philippines
Marinduque Island. Holy week in Marinduque : 'Moriones' festival (reenactment of the Passion of the Christ) (April 1982)
San Fernando (Luzon) : Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival) (December 1981)

Russia (Asia)
Topolinoe, Sakha Republic (Iakutia) : Even Reindeer herders Festival (reindeer races, …) (April 2014)
Yar Sale (Yamalo-Nenets Okrug) : Nenets Reindeer Herding Festival  (April 2008)

Sri Lanka
Kandy : Esala Perahera (elephant parade, carrying a Buddha sacred tooth) (one of the oldest Buddhist festivals)  (August 1981)

Taiwan
Taipeh : National day ("Double Ten") (Military march & other) (October 1983)

 

Atlantic Ocean

Azores
Angra do Heroismo, Porto Judeu (Terceira Island) : San Joaninas (Desfile de Aberdura, 'Tourada a corda', Desfile de Marchas) (June 2016)

Bahamas
Nassau (New Providence Island) : Junkanoo (a kind of carnival with parades) (December 2013)

 

Caribbean

Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo : Dia de la Bandeira (February 2012)

 

Europe

Austria
Bad Mitterndorf (Tyrol) : Nikolospiel (a very traditional masked parade) (December 2001)

Belgium
Ieper (Ypres) (Flanders) : 'Kattenstoet' (Cat parade, culminating with throwing cats from the belfry -nowadays just mock cats!-) (every 3 years)  (May 2000)
Ghent (Gand) (Flanders) : Procession of the Holy Blood ('Procession du St Sang' on Ascension day) (June 2000)
Mons (Wallonia) : Lumeçon (May 2005)
Thuin (Wallonia) : St Roch Procession (June 2001)
Holy week (Easter) in Lessines (Wallonia) : 'Procession des Pénitents' (procession of penitents) (Good Friday) (April 1998)

Czech Republic
Plzen : Liberation Festival (a kind of reenactment of the liberation of Plzen by the US in 1944) (March 2016)

France
Holy week (Easter) in Corte (Corsica) : 'Procession du Christ Mort' (Holy Thursday) (March 2013)
Holy week (Easter) in Erbalunga (Corsica) : 'Procession La Cerca' (Good Friday) (March 2013)
Holy week (Easter) in Sartène (Corsica) : 'Procession du Catenacciu' (Good Friday night) (March 2013)
Lyon : 'Fête des Lumières' (Lights Festival) (December 2013)
Paris : Fête de Ganesh (a tamoul festival : procession with Ganesh)
Paris : 'Défilé du 14 Juillet' (French Bastille Day) (many times)
Perpignan : 'La Sanch' (Good Friday) (April 2019)
Concarneau (Finistère) : 'Fête des Filets Bleus' (a typically Breton-flavoured costumed parade) (August 1962)

Germany
Schwäbisch Hall (Baden-Württemberg): Pentecost festival ( dance 'Tanz des Großen Siedershofes' & sharing an enormous cake, on Pentecost) (May 1999)
Oberammergau (Bayern) : Passion of Christ reenactment (held every 10 years only since 1634) (July 2010)
Holy week (Easter) in Bautzen (Saxony) : Easter riding procession (Easter Sunday) (April 1998)

Italy
Festa dei Serpari in Cocullo (L'Aquila) :  procession of the snake-catchers celebrating San Domenico (May 2017)
Holy week (Easter) in Sulmona (L'Aquila) : Fiesta della Madonna che Scappa (reenactment of 'running Madonna' ) (Easter Sunday) (April 2000) 
Holy week (Easter) in Caltanissetta (Sicily) : Processione della Real Maestranza & Processione delle 'Variceddre' (Holy Wednesday) : Processione dei Grandi Gruppi Sacri 'Vare' (Holy Thursday) (April 2017)
Holy week (Easter) in Trapani (Sicily) : Processione dei Misteri (Procession of the Mysteries) (Good Friday) (April 2017)
Festa di li Schietti (an Easter festival) in Terrasini (Sicily) : 'Mangiata' & parade of Sicilian carts (Holy Saturday) (2017)
Holy week (Easter) in Prizzi (Sicily) : 'U Ballu di Diavolu' (Dance of he Devils) & 'Ncontri' (the Virgin meets Jesus) (Easter Sunday) (April 2017)
Festa di Primavera in San Martino delle Scale (Sicily) : Parade of Sicilian carts & folk dances (April 2017)
Holy week (Easter) in Enna (Sicily) : Good Friday Procession, Festa della Resurrezione (Easter Sunday afternoon & night) (March 2016)
Holy week (Easter) in Aidone (Sicily) : Giunta di Pasqua (Easter Sunday morning) (March 2016)
Easter festival in San Biagio dei Platani (Sicily) : Archi di Pasqua (March 2016)
Holy week (Easter) in Taranto (Taranto) : Processione dell’Addolorata (Holy Thursday) & Processione dei Sacri Misteri (Good Friday) (April 2000)

Lithuania
Vilnius : Saint Jonas's festival (midsummer folk festival) (2004) 

Moldavia
Chisinau : Wine festival (October 2008)

Portugal
Holy week (Easter) in Braga : Processions (April 2014)

Spain
Valencia : 'Fallas' (one of the best -if not the best- festival in Spain) (March 2012)
Holy Week (Easter) in Murcia : Processions (Holy Thursday, Easter Sunday afternoon & night) (March 2002)
Holy Week (Easter) in  Lorca : Processions (Holy Thursday night, Good Friday night, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday morning) (March 2002)
Holy Week (Easter) in Cartagena : Processions (Good Friday night) (March 2002)
Holy Week (Easter) in Sevilla : All processions (April 1990)
Holy Week (Easter) in Zamora : Processions (Holy Thursday, day & night ; Good Friday, morning) (February 2018)
Holy Week (Easter) in Bercianos de Aliste : "Descendimiento del Cristo" (February 2018) 
Tarragona (Catalunya) : Castells (Human towers) (August 2019)

Switzerland
Charmey (Fribourg) : Benichon ( 'Fête des Charrettes', barrow race) ( (October 2001)
Beromünster (Luzern) : Auffahrtsumritt (Horse procession on Ascension Day) (May 2001)
Urnasch (close to St Gallen) (St. Gallen) : Klausgruppen ('Klaus' wearing strange hats wander around & visit homes) (December 1998)

 

Pacific Ocean

Fiji
Suva (Viti Levu Island) : Hibiscus Festival (April 2015)

French Polynesia
Raivavae (Raivavae) : 'Heiva' (14th July : French National Day) (July 2006)
Papeete (Tahiti) : 5th edition of FOPA (Festival of Pacific Arts ; held every 4 years) (dances & traditional shows of all Pacific states) (July 1985)
Papeete (Tahiti) : 'Heiva' (July 14th celebrations) (Bastille Day in France) (July 1985)

Papua Niugini
Goroka : Sing Sing (huge annual gathering of tribes) (fantastic !, held every year either in Goroka or Mt Hagen) (August 1982)

 

 

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