There are so many reasons for travelling, and so many places to see, how are you ever supposed to choose? These nine traditional events give you the perfect excuse to book a holiday and will be the highlight of a very memorable holiday. How many of these incredible festivals have you been to and how many would you like to see?
There is no grander way to experience the history, culture and talent of the UK than with the Edinburgh Tattoo. The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo is a series of military tattoos performed by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands at the beautiful Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. Since 1950, the significant event has grown into a ‘global gathering’ showcasing musicians and performers from around the world, with an audience of around 217,000 each year.
Travellers looking for a culturally significant occasion to mark the new year while on holiday, have to experience the extravaganza of Hogmanay. Hogmanay is Scotland’s colourful New Year festival, also celebrated in Edinburgh. The 3-day festival includes street parties, candlelit concerts, torchlight processions, film screenings and parading as well as the biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the planet.
For travellers of the North American continent, New Year’s Day can also be celebrated through another iconic cultural event – The Rose Parade. The Rose Parade is celebrated on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. Festivities involve flower-covered floats, marching bands and equestrian units, followed by a traditional Rose Bowl college football game. The Rose Parade is a must-visit event for travellers spending the holiday season in the USA, as it is a display of California’s blooming flora and beauty regardless of being in the peak of winter.
Chelsea Flower Show
The embodiment of classical British culture is The Chelsea Flower Show, drawing spectators from all over the world including celebrities and royalty. Held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, it is the most famous flower show in the world and attracts visitors from around the globe. New plants can be launched at the five-day festival that showcases the best products of the horticultural world. The Chelsea Flower Show has been likened to the equivalent of a catwalk for garden, rather than fashion and design.
Brussels Flower Carpet
Enthusiasts of floral art and culture must also experience the stunning Brussels Flower Carpet while travelling in Europe in 2016. Every two years, 600,000 fresh flowers are woven into a beautiful tapestry covering the cobbles of Brussels’ Grand Place. Every second year, organisers choose a new theme for the carpet and with the assistance of landscape architects, graphic designers and 120 volunteers, the carpet is carefully produced with colourful begonias. 2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the show-stopping 75-metre long display, and therefore it is expected to be grander than ever.
International Balloon Fiesta
The largest hot air balloon festival in the world, The International Balloon Fiesta, takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is a nine-day event featuring over 500 hot air balloons of multi-coloured variations. Special events include the stunning Mass Ascensions, where all the participating balloons launch in two waves, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons at once. The Special Shape Rodeo is also one not-to-be-missed, with the launch of uniquely shaped balloons such as the milk cow and soda can amusing the thousands of spectators gathered at the event. The Balloon Glow moonlight event is a spectacular sight followed by a magnificent fireworks display, as are the entertaining competitions, balloon races and national launches of balloons featuring flags from each participating nation.
Mardi Gras Parade
The infamous New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade is the grandest celebration of Mardi Gras around the world. The carnival consists of parades, balls and krewes where float riders throw colourful plastic toys, doubloons, cups and moonpies out into the crowd. The major parade takes place in the French Quarter, predominantly on Bourbon Street and is a must-visit event for travellers looking for a true insight into the fusion between modern and traditional New Orleans culture. Trafalgar’s 10-day Tastes and Sounds of the South itinerary include tickets to the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, where travellers can partake in the famous cultural extravaganza and perhaps come across the notorious Zulu coconut – traditionally deemed the best throw of the Mardi Gras.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
This one’s for the soul, food and music-loving traveller. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival delves into the heart and history of Louisiana, featuring 12 stages of soul-stirring music from jazz to gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk and much more. The highly cultural festival also reflects Louisiana culture with food booths of Southern cuisine, and arts and crafts. Deemed as the ‘country’s best music festival’, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a must-see.
The Calgary Stampede
On the opposite end of the continent in Alberta, Canada is a must-experience insight into Canadian cowboy culture. The Calgary Stampede is a ten-day exhibition and festival held in Calgary featuring one of the world’s largest rodeos, parades, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions and chuckwagon racing. Stampede Park is home to agricultural and livestock exhibits, live bands and an amusement park. The event is culminated with a singing and dancing musical extravaganza and a fireworks display.
You can visit all these fabulous events under your own steam, or leave the organising up to someone else – Trafalgar tours offers tours that include all these festivals and more. For information, visit the Trafalgar website.