Culture is a term that refers to a large and diverse set of mostly intangible aspects of social life. It is distinct from social structure and economic aspects of society, but it is connected to them—both continuously informing them and being informed by them. The celebration of culture is a fairly common thing all over the world, as there are countless cultures spread through numerous countries.
The idea behind these celebrations was primarily to provide members of a community with opportunities to engage in socialisation, entertainment and the establishment of social networks, as well as to foster respect and open-mindedness for other cultures. The purposes of these celebrations of cultures were and still are to simply provide people with a time to forget all the chaos of life and to embrace new hopes.
Celebration of Culture in Asia
Tanabata Festival or the Star Festival, Japan
The Tanabata Festival, or the star festival, is held on the 7th day of the 7th month, depending on the calendar used, which could be July or August. It is held in several different areas in Japan.
The festival celebrates the ancient Chinese legend of star-crossed lovers, Altair and Vega. However, they are known as two stars named Orihime and Hikoboshi in Japan. As the legend goes, both the lovers were having fun in one another’s presence and stopped working on their royal duties. As it angered the king, he separated both the lovers by the entire Milky Way galaxy. However, they were allowed to meet once a year across the Milky Way in the night, which is now celebrated as the Star Festival.
On that day, Japanese people display bamboo grass with a strip of paper, as well as other ornaments to celebrate their reunion. During the festival, shopping arcades and houses are decorated with brightly coloured homemade decorations and streamers. People also wear vivid yukatas, which are summer kimonos.
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is an annual winter festival held in Harbin, Heilongjiang in Northeast China. The festival is the result of the harsh weather conditions in Harbin during winters, as frigid winds blow in this place all the way from Siberia. The month-long festival exhibits many ice sculptures that are some of the largest in the world; however, there are two main exhibits. One of them is Sun Island, situated along the Songhua River. It is a recreational area and features an expo of enormous snow sculptures. The other one is the Ice and Snow World, which generally opens at night to reveal full-sized buildings made of ice blocks illuminated by colourful computer-controlled LED lights. During the festival, there are also other activities, which include the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden, Yabuli alpine skiing, winter-swimming in the Songhua River etc.
Jambay Lhakhang Festival, Bhutan
The Jambay Lhakhang Festival is held in the town of Jakar, also known as Bumthang, Bhutan, and is celebrated over the course of 5 days. The festival features unique dance forms, which include Terachham or the Naked Dance, which is held at midnight inside the premises of Jambay Lhakhang Temple. The spectacular midnight sacred dance is supposedly done to purify sins and predict a good harvest. Locals and tourists, however, are not permitted to witness the dance form, but they can enjoy watching the Mask or Cham dance, which is common to all events, fairs and festivals in Bhutan. The festival is also complemented by an extravagant fire ritual, and includes a number of cultural dances during the day with significant cultural stories and meaning behind them.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Thailand
The Yi Peng Lantern festival is a Lanna festival with the largest celebrations held in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The highlight of the festival is the numerous sky lanterns which are propelled by flames at their base and released as they float up into the sky. These floating lanterns light up the sky, creating a surreal view.
Deeply rooted in Buddhism, it is commonly believed that the Yi Peng festival originated in India with the legend of the bird that was carrying a candle visiting the Gautam Buddha. According to lore, it spoke to him about its merits. During the festival, people launch the lanterns into the sky as if launching their own bad luck. It is commonly believed that if the lantern disappears into the dark before the light goes out, it will be a good year. However, if the lantern crashes, it will be a year of bad luck.
Kandy Esala Perahera, Sri Lanka
The Kandy Esala Perahera, also known as the Festival of the Tooth, is held in Kandy, Sri Lanka during the months of July and August. It is a 15-day long festival that venerates Lord Buddha’s tooth which symbolizes the introduction of Buddhism to the country nearly 2000 years ago. During the festival, there are parades hosted with elephants accompanied by Kandyan performers and musicians. Each elephant is dressed in a silk embroidered robe complete with a lighted head mask. There are also acrobats, musicians, drummers and dancers in the parade.
Naadam Festival, Mongolia
The Naadam Festival is a combination of arts and sports, held in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in early July. The festival is believed to date back to the era of the Qing Dynasty and features events that were popular during the great Genghis Khaan’s era in the 13th century. During the festival, three types of sports are primarily featured, which are wrestling, archery, and horse racing. There is an opening ceremony performance which includes dancers, musicians, horseback riders, and other athletes, before the main events begin.
Lampung Krakatau Festival, Indonesia
The Lampung Krakatau Festival, held in the Lampung province, Indonesia, is a week-long festival that takes place usually in the month of August, but also occasionally in July. This festival mainly commemorates the volcanic eruption of Mount Krakatau in the year 1883, which caused the death of over 35,000 people. The festival began in 1991 as a way to celebrate the island and Lampung Province came to life during that life. During the festival, various events and activities are hosted, such as boat races, snorkelling and kite competitions. The festival also features art exhibitions to showcase the talent of local artists, as well as ceremonies and artistic performances. The highlight of the festival is, however, the Tapis Carnaval, where local performers wear colourful, traditional clothing called Tapis.
More Asian Cultural Celebrations
Saga Dawa Festival, Tibet
From May to June, this ancient festival generates activity in Tibet. It is a festival that celebrates the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha. During this festival, the holy kora is performed around Mount Kailash.
Timpupo Fruit Festival, Philippines
The festival is held in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, Philippines, during the month of August. It is a celebration of harvest and starts off with a Fruit Float Parade. The festival also features its Fruit Galore, wherein attendees earn given the chance to eat all the fruits they can consume. The celebration includes dance and film competitions, fruit design making, and cultural presentations.
Durga Puja Festival, India
The festival is held in West Bengal, India in the month of October. The 5-day long festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. The celebration, however, is in part a harvest festival that marks the goddess as mother and creator of life. During the festival, the idol of Goddess Durga and her four children are worshipped for 5 straight days and on the final day, the idols are immersed in water.
Celebration of Culture in Europe
The Oktoberfest, held in Germany during the month of September, is the world’s largest Volksfest. The celebration marks its beginning back in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of the crown Prince of Bavaria and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and is an important part of Bavarian culture and history. To this day, it is celebrated with the same joyous spirit as people enjoy tons of different activities, amusement rides, games, and plenty of music and dancing. The attendees dress in traditional Bavarian clothing– such as dirndls and lederhosen. The highlight of the celebration, however, are the food and beverages, which include Bretzn’ or chewy pretzels, Weisswurst, or white veal sausages, Lebkuchen or heart-shaped gingerbread cookies, and beer. There are special parades in traditional costumes held by restaurateurs and riflemen, where breweries are also represented by beer wagons and floats along with people in folk costumes.
August Moon Festival, Greece
The August Full Moon Festival falls in August and is a special celebration of Ancient Greek culture preserved in Athens, Greece. During this festival, over a hundred of the city’s historical landmarks, archaeological sites, and museums offer free admission, and many are the venues for concerts, plays, and other performances. The highlights of the celebration include musical performances at the Acropolis Museum, concerts in Elefsina, exhibitions in the Archaeological Museum of Athens, and entertainment on the open air stage of Filopappou Hill.
The Long Way to the Merry Cemetery, Romania
The Long Way to the Merry Cemetery festival is celebrated at the end of July in the Maramures region by Peter Hurley, an Irishman who decided to settle in Romania. The Long Way to the Merry Cemetery is not only a festival but a national campaign that aims to promote the traditional Romanian village as a universal heritage. The 2-week-long festival is celebrated in two different locations. The first week is celebrated in Tara Lapusului and the second week is celebrated in Tara Maramuresului, ending the celebration in Sapanta, at the Merry Cemetery. The activities involve craft workshops and folk music concerts, even the elders of the villages share their life stories with the younger people. Each day of the celebration ends with a party with local dances.
Marriage of the Sea, Italy
The Marriage of the Sea Ceremony is the oldest festival that still takes part to this day in Venice, Italy. The rite of the Wedding with the Sea used to take place on the occasion of the Ascension Day Festival. It commemorates two important events in the life of Venice; one being 9 May in the year 1000, when Doge Pietro Orseolo II came to the rescue of the inhabitants of Dalmatia, who were under the Slav menace. The second one was in 1177, when, in the reign of Doge Sebastiano Ziani, Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa signed the peace treaty in Venice and put an end to the century-long diatribe between the Papacy and the Empire. During the ceremony, a consecrated ring is dropped into the sea, and with the Latin words “Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii”, which means “We wed thee, sea, as a sign of true and everlasting domination”, Venice and the sea is declared to be indissolubly one.
Harvest Festival, Czech Republic
The Harvest Festival in the Czech Republic is held during the month of October. This festival is essentially divided into two events. The first one called Posviceni, is a spiritual merriment where tribute gets offered to God for providing a fruitful harvest. The other one is called Obzinky, which is celebrated when the harvest is over. The festival hosts a feast that gathers farm-workers and land-owners along with Czech locals and tourists all together.
Korčula Sword Dance Festival, Croatia
The Korčula Sword Dance Festival is held during the month of June on the island of Korčula, Croatia. The traditional Moreska Sword Dance, which was originally performed to protest Moorish occupation, is a proud tradition for the people of the island. That is why every year the groups gather from across Korčula and other islands to participate in the annual Sword Dance Festival. During the festival, participants dress in traditional costumes, parading through the streets of Korčula Town to Reconciliation Square, where they perform the dance in all its splendid glory, recounting tales of great victories over their conquerors.
Východná Folklore Festival, Slovakia
The Východná Folklore Festival is hosted during the first weekend of July, in the village Východná, located near High and Low Tatras, Slovakia. It is the oldest and most acclaimed festival of the traditional folk culture in Slovakia. The festival is a celebration of the traditional Slovak folklore and its existence greatly contributes to the revival, preservation, creative development and public presentation of the rich values of the culture. The festival hosts traditional folk craftsmen, producers and artists, as well as numerous interactive and entertainment programs, which include dancing, singing and musical programs, singing workshops, creative craftsmanship programs and also programs for children.
More European Cultural Celebrations
La Tomatina, Spain
Held in the town of Buñol, Spain, La Tomatina is one of the biggest and most well-known European food festivals. It is mostly a huge food fight which includes tomatoes. Tons of over-ripe tomatoes are used in the streets of the town to be smashed at each other, which people enjoy from all over the world.
During the month of July, Águeda’s streets get a bright uplift with all the colourful umbrella canopies. The festival is also celebrated with various art installations, performances and tons of street art.
This festival is held during the commemoration of the beginning of Lent, which is a period in which Christians don’t indulge in revelry and also don’t consume meat and Easter in Italy. It is a pagan festival and its origin dates back to the 12th century. During the festival, numerous towns in Italy are decorated with great extravagance and splendour, and parties, parades and masquerade balls are organized to keep the people entertained.
Glastonbury Festival, England
Held in Somerset, England, this festival is one of the famous European music festivals of all time, as well as a major part of British culture. The festival brings in infrastructure, campsites, roads, water, electricity, security and so much more to create a pop-up city for a long weekend of epic entertainment.
Northern Lights Festival, Norway
Also known as the Nordlysfestivalen, the festival is celebrated during the last week of January in the city of Tromsø Norway. The festival is celebrated with top musicians across genres from opera and jazz to classical and modern styles. There are also live performances among an array of outdoor events and exhibitions, and also the Northern Lights cruise.
Celebration of Culture in Africa
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco is a 10-day celebration held in mid-summer, in late May or early June that takes place in the imperial city of Fes. It was founded in 1994 by the Moroccan scholar and philanthropist Faouzi Skali and began to showcase major musical traditions of sacred, spiritual music and world music. The festival celebrates artists from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and other faiths performing together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration. The festival features a four-day Forum called Rencontres de Fes, where politicians, social activists, academics and religious leaders come together to discuss the urgent issues of our times, which includes conflict resolution, climate change, urban renewal, social justice and much more. There are intimate afternoon concerts, art and film exhibitions, and poetry readings at the Dar Bartha Museum. During the festival, a one-day excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis is organized with the Arc of Triumph as a backdrop setting for a musical performance. The highlight of the Festival, however, is the Sufi nights, which are Sufi music rituals concerts that begin at midnight in the Dar Tazi gardens.
Timket Festival, Ethiopia
The Timket Festival is named after the Amharic word for “baptism” and takes place during the month of January in Ethiopia. It is an Orthodox Christian celebration of the Epiphany to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The 3-day-long celebration begins with a processional. The Models of the Ark of the Covenant, which are known as Tabots. Furthermore, they get taken from churches and wrapped in fine cloth and silk to be carried on the heads of priests to the river or bath. The water is usually blessed at dawn, and the priests sprinkle the water on the crowd. Many participants also submerge themselves in the water in order to symbolically renew their baptismal vows. On the second day of the celebration, people come out in droves, marching through the streets in an exuberant display of singing, dancing, and all-around celebration. Moreover, they dress in their finest clothes, usually white with gold crosses, while carrying beautifully coloured embroidered umbrellas. This is used to signify the presence of the Holy Spirit. On the final day of Timket, the Tabots are carried back to the churches, accompanied by a procession of priests and believers. The ceremony is known as the feast of St. Michael the Archangel.
Ouidah International Voodoo Festival, Benin
The Ouidah International Voodoo Festival is held during the month of January in the West African country of Benin. It is the largest gathering of Voodoo practitioners and devotees in the world. The country is regarded as the birthplace of the West African Vodun, which was an ancient religion based around the belief that there are sacred spirits that govern the Earth. The voodoo culture was born from the ancient Vodun religion. The festival begins with the ritualistic slaughter of a goat in honor of the spirits, which is accompanied by the sound of ceremonial drums, which develops into an upbeat gathering with traditional dances. Devotees who participate often decorate themselves with local powder and palm oil, and women often dress in vibrant colours. During the festival, markets fill themselves with wood carvings, masks, fetishes, and other objects. Moreover, they are believed to be inhabited by spirits that posess healing and spiritually significant properties.
Osun Festival, Nigeria
The Osun Festival, better known as the Osun Osogbo International Festival, is held in the month of August, in Nigeria, West Africa. It is an annual celebration in honor of Osun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility. The festival is usually twelve days long and brings together locals, as well as thousands of visitors from different parts of the world. The festival usually takes place in the Osun Sacred Grove, a dense forest which houses sanctuaries, shrines, sculptures and artworks in honour of Osun and other deities. The Osun River, which runs through the forest, gains attention to possesing possible healing powers as the godess dwells there. The festival features various masquerades and dances by several groups of devotees in different attire. The highlight of the event, however, is when the Arugba, who is the Carrier of the Calabash, carries the sacrifices and offerings of the people, which are usually food items, from the Oba’s palace to the Osun Riverbank in the presence of the people.
Gerewol Festival, Chad
The Gerewol festival, held in the southwest of Chad, takes place at the end of the rainy season around the last week of September. It is a festival that is centuries old during which men put on makeup, dress up and perform a series of enigmatic dances to attract a new wife – or at the very least, score a night of passion. During this week-long festival each year, the nomadic Wodaabe tribes’ people gather on foot, via camel or donkey to come together to dance, feast, and most importantly attract a lover or mate. The festival involves feasting, socialising and camel racing, but it culminates with a final dance display. Soon after, three winners are chosen by three women of marriageable age who have closely observed the dances over the previous few days. The process of selection is tense, with the young women walking down the line of dancers, poker faced in accordance with the Wodaabe pulaku, or code of behaviour. Then they each tap their favourite man and while everyone rushes in to celebrate and congratulate the winners. Furthermore, becoming selected signifies a huge honor. The women then return to their camps and wait. If the chosen men like them, they follow.
International Festival of Masks and the Arts, Burkina Faso
The International Festival of Masks and the Arts, or the Festival International des Masques et des Arts, also known as FESTIMA, is a cultural festival held in Dédougou, Burkina Faso. It is a festival celebrating traditional African masks, which have been an important part of traditional animist beliefs in many African cultures for thousands of years. According to traditional beliefs, during the ceremony, the frantic music and dancing transform the entranced mask wearer into a spirit which communicates with ancestors. A wise man or translator sometimes accompanies the wearer of the mask during the ritual, helping to interpret the ancestors’ message.
More African Cultural Celebrations
Sphinx Festival, Egypt
Usually held in the month of June in El Gouna, a Red Sea town, this is one of the most important festivals in Egypt. This 5-day festival aims to bring its ancient past to life and looks to educate people and help them celebrate their rich and grand heritage. The festival features workshops in various Egyptian arts by famous artists, preservation of Egyptian folklore, performances of folk dances, traditional songs, modern and classical songs etc.
Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival, Eswatini
This is the best known cultural event in Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland. During this 8-day long ceremony, young girls cut reeds, present them to the Queen Mother ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence and then dance in celebration, dressed up in brightly coloured-attired.
Celebration of Culture in Latin America
Rio Carnival, Brazil
The Rio Carnival, held every year before Lent, is considered the biggest carnival in the world. The origin of the festival dates back to the 1650s, when elaborate feasts was organized to give honour to the Greek wine gods. The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revellers, floats, and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio. During the event, streets remain filled with large crowds dancing to the tune of Samba.
Inti Raymi, Peru
The Inti Raymi Festival, held on the Southern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice, June 24th, is a traditional religious ceremony dating back to the Inca Empire in Peru. The ceremony was established by the Inca Pachacútec, back in 1412 and honors the most esteemed deity in the Inca religion– Inti, the God of the Sun. The celebrations begin in the morning in front of the Inca Temple of the Sun. The representatives and performers from the four provinces of the former Inca Empire make their way to the large opening in front of the temple before invoking praise to the Sun God. After a processional through the centre of Cusco and a few more rituals, the final part of the ceremony begins at the ancient archaeological site of Sacsahuamán. There, the Inca leader says his final words before the ritualistic sacrifice of a llama. At the end of the rituals, the sound of horns, panpipes, and drums fill the air, with dances and performances representative of the four provinces.
Fiesta de la Tirana, Chile
The Fiesta de la Tirana is an annual festival held in the locality of La Tirana in the Tarapacá Region of northern Chile during the month of July. The festival commemorates honour of Virgen Del Carmen, the patron saint of the city. The origins of this festival date back to the mid-19th century. The festival features well- choreographed parades and both Incan and Christian offerings. The people who celebrate the festival pray, give thanks for it, and offer money to their patron saint, who protects the armed forces, navy, and police of the area.
Corpus Christi Festival, Ecuador
The Corpus Christi Festival initiates celebrations in the second week of June, in Ecuador. Translated as “The Body of Christ,” Corpus Christi is a day on which Catholics celebrate the presence of the body and blood of Christ. However, this festival blends the commemoration of both the harvest to the Incan Sun God and Holy Communion, as like many Catholic festivals in Ecuador, Corpus Christi is a celebration that combines Spanish-Catholicism with Andean culture. The festival is celebrated with food, art, music, and regional dances. The day-long fiesta features the El Danzante parade, which is accompanied by colourful traditional clothing and costumes, fireworks, and amazing sights.
More Latin American Cultural Celebrations
Semana Santa, Peru
This festival begins the week before Palm Sunday. Also known as Holy Week, the Semana Santa features elaborate parades, traditional dishes, and extravagant celebrations. On the Thursday, people experience the feast of 12 dishes, symbolizing Jesus’ last supper. By Friday, a parade is organized in honour of La Virgen de Los Dolores, also known as ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’. Here, those in the parade slingshot small pebbles at spectators which symbolize sorrows for onlookers. This religious celebration of Semana Santa highlights the importance Catholicism has in Peru.
Medellin Flower Festival, Colombia
In late July and early August, the city of Medellín hosts one of Colombia’s most important regional cultural events, the Medellín Flower Festival. During the festival, the city blooms with a vast array of vibrant and unique flowers across every balcony, terrace, and garden throughout the city. The festival hosts over 150 events, which include various flower competitions, folkloric performances, a horse fair, an orchestra festival, a classic car parade, live music shows, and more. The highlight of the festival, however, is the Desfile de Silleteros or “Flower Grower’s Parade.”
Palmares Civic Fiestas, Costa Rica
The festival is an annual 2-week-long festival, held during the month of January in the city of Palmares, Costa Rica. The festival features concerts, comedy shows, fireworks, sports, scrambles with adult bulls, and a traditional horse parade better known as “the tope”. During the festival, outdoor tents are set up with food and beverage stations.
Celebration of Culture in North America
New Orleans Mardi Gras, Louisiana
Mardi Gras is a festival that is celebrated all over America. However, the New Orleans Mardi Gras is the most colourful and thrilling one out of all. It is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to ancient pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. It takes place on Fat Tuesday, which is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, before Lent. The festival features masked Mardi Gras balls and lavish dinners. However, the highlight of the festivities is the wild neighbourhood street parades, which include marching bands and large floats with people decked out in extravagant costumes tossing beads into the crowd. During the festival, there is a “King Cake” tradition, where cakes with purple, green, and gold icing are baked. Moreover, this symbolizes justice, faith, and power, and a plastic baby is placed inside, representing the baby Jesus. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby on it gets the responsibility of buying the next King Cake.
Dia De Los Muertos, Mexico
The festival of Dia De Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is a 2-day long holiday held during the month of November in Mexico. The origin of the festival dates back to around 3,000 years, to rituals that practiced in honour of the dead in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica. It is believed that on the Day of the Dead, the border between the spirit world and the physical world dissolves, and during this time, the souls of the dead can return to the living world for a reunion with their loved ones. Traditionally, the festival is divided into two major parts. Dia de los Angelitos or Day of the little angels, which commerates a celebration begins at midnight on November 1st. This is believed to be the day when the spirits of all deceased children reunite with their families for 24 hours. During this day, families construct an altar, known as an ofrenda, with the departed child’s favourite snacks, candies, toys, and photographs to encourage a visit from their departed children. The following day gains prominence as Día de los Difuntos, when the celebration shifts to honour the lives of the departed adults, and the celebration begins at midnight as well. The night is filled with laughter and fun memories, much like the night before. However, the Ofrendas take on a more adult-like theme with tequila, pan de muerto, mezcal, pulque and jars of Atole. Families also play games together, reminisce about their loved ones, and dance while the village band plays in their town. The next day is recognized as the celebration of Dia de Muertos, where people come together in their cities, dressed up with Calavera painted faces (Skeletons) and have parades in the streets. On this day, cemetery visits are also common, where families decorate the grave sites with Marigold flowers, gifts, and sugar skulls with the name of the departed on them. It is also customary to clean the gravestone and restore the colour.
Burning Man Festival, Nevada
The Burning Man Festival is an annual festival that takes place in the black rock city of Nevada, usually from the end of August to early September. The 8-day-long festival celebrates art and personal expression, creating space for small creative installations for anyone who has a project, theatre performances, concerts, yoga classes, exhibitions, music and dj-sets. This celebration has been a tradition in Black Rock since 1991. The first event, however, took place in 1986, when about 30 people got together to celebrate the summer solstice, burning a 3 meter-high stuffed puppet on the beaches of San Francisco. The festivities end with an enormous bonfire where a huge stuffed puppet is burned, giving the name ‘burning man’ its true meaning.
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Colorado
The Frozen Dead Guy Days is an annual celebration held in the town of Nederland, Colorado on the second weekend of March. This event started when the corpse of Bredo Morstoel went missing. The event features coffin races, a hearse parade, and “Frozen Dead Guy” lookalike contests. Other events include a tour of the Tuff Shed where Grandpa is still frozen; a “polar plunge” for those who are brave enough to go swimming in Colorado in early March; a dance, called “Grandpa’s Blue Ball”; pancake breakfasts; Poetry Slam; a market showcasing local artists; Snowy Human Foosball, Fix-A-Frozen-Flat and frozen t-shirt competitions, and snow sculpture contests.
Renaissance Festival, Minnesota
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is held for seven consecutive weekends, from mid-August until the final week in September, on a site near the Minnesota River in Shakopee, a suburb of the Twin Cities. It is an interactive outdoor event which focuses on recreating the look and feel of a fictional 16th Century “England-like” fantasy kingdom. The festival is celebrated in the form of a Renaissance fair, where artists and vendors sell everything from turkey legs, to jewellery, and locally produced wine. The festival also features live music and jousting. However, one of the highlights of the festival is the Feast of Fantasy.
Shakespeare Festival, Oregon
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival or the OSF is celebrated in Ashland, Oregon, United States. It is a regional repertory theatre, founded in 1935 by Angus L. Bowmer. The Festival offers matinee and evening performances of a wide range of classic and contemporary plays. Furthermore, it is not only limited to Shakespeare. During the Festival, between five and eleven plays are offered in daily rotation six days a week in its three theatres. The festival also features the “Green Show”, which includes a wide range of performances with performers such as a dance group from Mexico or India one night, clowns doing ballet on stilts the next, and a classical music quartet on another. The performances may include fire shows, as well as jugglers, or magicians, along with improv, metal, or rock-n-roll variations on Shakespeare. Individual performers, groups, choirs, bands, and orchestras also present Afro-Cuban, baroque, blues, classical, contemporary, cowboy, funk, gospel, hip-hop, jazz, mariachi, marimba, poetry, marionette, renaissance, or salsa, sometimes combined in unexpected ways.
More North American Cultural Celebrations
Calgary Stampede, Canada
In July, the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada holds this festival, which lasts for ten days. Also known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the festival features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuck wagon racing, and First Nations exhibitions. During the celebration, the city adapts a lively party atmosphere, where office buildings and storefronts are painted in cowboy themes. Residents don western wear. Moreover, events held across the city include hundreds of pancake breakfasts and barbecues.
Floating Lanterns Festival, Hawaii
Held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this ceremony is mirrored after Toro Nagashi; the Japanese Floating Lantern Festival. During the ceremony, the lanterns are floated out into the ocean carrying prayers or messages for deceased loved ones written on the sides. This Hawaiian ceremony takes place on Memorial Day as many Hawaiians traditionally use this day to honour both those who’ve fallen in service, as well as friends and family who have passed away.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, California
It is an annual music and arts festival held over two weekends in Indio, California. This event features many genres of music, from rock and indie to electronic dance music, a platform for all music enthusiasts. Various stages also continuously host live music across the grounds.
Fantasy Fest, Florida
Celebrated in Key West, Florida, this festival is held during the last week of October. It is a street party and an adults-only extravaganza, where people dressed in wild costumes mingle in the lively streets while drinks flow freely to get everyone into the spirit. The festival features parades, themed parties, body painting, live bands, and many more.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nevada
It is an annual event which has taken place in Elko, Nevada every year since 1984. The event welcomes cowboys, cowgirls, as well as those who have never seen a real-life cow to participate in the open-mic sessions that highlight the event.
Celebration of Culture in Oceania/Australia
Mount Hagen Culture Show, Papua New Guinea
The Mount Hagen Culture Show is a tribal event celebrated annually during the month of August in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. It was first staged in 1961 as an event to unify warring tribes before the Independence of Papua New Guinea. Over 100 different tribes are represented at the Mount Hagen festival, with each showcasing their own unique culture through elaborate costumes and traditional dancing and singing. The festival features fabulous sights of thousands of painted warriors dancing and singing to the beat of Kundu drums. The highlights of the festival involve traditional performances, such as dances, singing and rituals by local entertainers, as well as the modern music performances, and a variety of arts and crafts on display.
Bula Festival, Fiji
The Bula Festival is a week-long festival that is celebrated annually in Nadi, Fiji around July or August. The festival celebrates Fiji’s culture, especially Fijian multiculturalism, its Melanesian and Polynesian origins, as well as Indian, Chinese and European cultural influences. The events feature delicious food, traditional music, and competitions. The highlight of the festival is the performance of the indigenous Meke dance, which consists of a seasea – female fan dance and a meke wesi – male spear dance. This dance is an essential part of Fiji’s oral history, and portrays various stories about wars, historical events and personal dramas. During the festival each evening, venues hold different shows and themed nights, including a yearly beauty pageant and the election of “Miss Bula.”
More Oceania/Australian Cultural Celebrations
Victorian Fete Festival, New Zealand
This is an annual event held in early November in New Zealand. The festival celebrates the Victorian Heritage of Oamaru. The week-long festival features historical talks, dances, a garden party, penny farthing races, book binding, mask making etc.
Held during the month of April in Australia, Parrtjima is one of the most eclectic and beautiful Australian festivals. This festival centres on the Aboriginal artists of the country and aims to raise awareness about the ancient and yet unexplored art forms of the Aborigines that inhabited these lands.
The list of cultural celebrations does not end here, as there are many more which could not covered. On the global scale, there are many cultures, through which people and groups define themselves, conform to society’s shared values, and contribute to society. And thus, it is important to recognize and celebrate such cultures, as they are a strong part of people’s lives.