Where are the best festivals in 2017 and when is festival season?
That expression, festival season, is actually a bit of an oxymoron. No matter the year—anywhere in the world, at any given time, there can be a festival going on. Regardless of your current location, if you make it to at least one of the following festivals in 2017 then you’re in for a treat!
When: January 19th (or 20th in a leap year).
Where: All throughout Gondar, Ethiopia.
Why: It is a celebration of the Epiphany in the most colorful fashion. Although people observe this holiday nationwide, the pilgrimage to Fasiledas Bath in Gondar is truly a site to see. The empty grounds pictured above are filled with both water and people and the ceremony culminates with many attendees symbolically submerging themselves in water to replicate the baptism of Jesus.
Where to sleep: There aren’t a lot of options in Gondar, but I found the centrally-located Taye Belay Hotel to be quite comfortable during my time there. At a similar price point, Goha Hotel was highly recommended by my cab driver. Although I didn’t stay there overnight, I dined on my first Ethiopian meal at the Goha Hotel restaurant while enjoying sweeping views of the entire city.
When: Annually, mid-January until early-February, with the 2017 dates being January 14—February 05.
Where: Hwacheon county of Gangwon Province in South Korea.
Why: With events ranging from ice fishing to bare-handed fishing to snow sledding and more…instead of getting caught in the crowds of people at either the Harbin Ice Festival in China or Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, this festival offers the same supply of frigid fun on a smaller scale.
Where to stay: My advice would be to take a day trip from Seoul. Buses are inexpensive and by staying in the capital city there are a wider variety of accommodation options—suitable for any budget.
When: March. Exact dates vary each year, but in 2017 the main day is March 13th.
Where: All across India.
Why: It’s one of the major festivals of India but, in recent years, it is often celebrated in various locations worldwide.
Love is truly in the air during this festival as participants fling colored power on one another and share smiles even brighter than the colors at play.
Where to sleep: Holi celebrations differ between various cities, so this largely depends on where you to decide to celebrate the festival. If you celebrate in Delhi; however, like Seoul, there will be numerous accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. I opted for the Prime Balaji Deluxe Hotel, where a spacious, deluxe room (with airport pickup included) was about $32/night.
When: April 13th.
Why: Songkran is the Thai new year celebration—and they know how to make a splash! Celebrants quite literally engage in what just might be the world’s coolest water fight.
Where to sleep: For the biggest bang, head to Chiang—Chiang Mai that is. James Munley, former long-term resident of Thailand and author of Ethical Elephant Tourism, recommends Chiang Mai as the best city for Songkran (because it lasts a lot longer there compared to other cities).
His go-to place to stay??? The Royal Guest House. Why? Affordability: rooms as low as $10/night. Fun: a great place for both solo travelers and group travelers to meet people. Location: only a 5 minute walk to Thapae Gate—where the heart of the festival celebration goes down!
Where: Goa, India.
Why: India’s sunshine state offers more than just beaches and raves. Before heading out to set the dance floor ablaze, attendees to this festival will see some fancy footwork of another kind as they watch devotees of the Goddess Lairaya walk across a pit of burning coal.
Where to sleep: The festival takes place in the region of Bicholim, but there are a greater number of lodging options in the relatively nearby state capital of Panaji.
When: Annually in June (June 9-11 this year)
Where: Grant Park—Chicago, Illinois
Why: Lake Michigan. The city of wind. Summertime Chi. Any reason is a good reason to check out a festival in Chicago— but if you’re going to do so, it may as well be the city’s largest music festival.
Where to stay: Since the festival itself is free, you may as well go all out and treat yourself by staying at the W Chicago-City Center…beautiful hotel, great location, and less than a kilometer away from Grant Park.
Are you planning to go to any of these festivals, or others not listed, during the first six months of this year? If so, comment below and let us know!