There are those precious moments on our travels when we stumble across an amazing local festival. For Angela Greco that powerful experience remains one of her fondest memories…
“The most unforgettable festival experience I have had was Maha Shivaratri Festival in Nepal. A Kathmandu friend took us southwest of Boudhanath to the great Pashupatinath Temple, where devotees flock from all over Nepal and India. They come to celebrate Shiva’s birthday, which falls in February or March on the new-moon of the month of Falgun. The festival is filled with surprises, beauty, spirituality, depth and peace, and one feels the deep devotion that the Hindu people have for their faith.
Barcelona’s biggest festival reaches its crescendo on 24 September, which is a public holiday to coincide with the pre-eminent annual event. In the preceding 3 or 4 days the city celebrates its regional culture, traditions and arts and you can expect there to be over 600 events and 2000 performers taking part. So you can see why Intrepid’s Jacqueline Donaldson was so excited to be amongst it all in Spain…
“I arrived in Barcelona in late September and immediately fell for this remarkable city. Its mixture of historical and modern, city and coast, tradition and avant garde and its energy and beauty captured me completely. That and the amazing 4-day festival I happened across.
When your visit coincides with a festival, not only do you get to join in the fun, but as Intrepid’s Paul Chea explains, it’s a special opportunity to enjoy a real taste of local life…
“I would like to invite you to my home – Cambodia – in October for one of the most important festivals in the Khmer calendar. We call this celebration Pchum Ben, and its literal translation is “gathering and offering of food”. This is when we spend time with our families preparing food and offering it to the spirits of our ancestors, and the hungry ghosts who walk the earth during this time.
In an unusual religious twist, the 12th month of the Hindu Brahmin lunar calendar heralds a time of celebration in Thai Buddhist culture. Although its roots lie in India’s Diwali ritual, the practice has evolved over time to become the Thai’s annual festival of Loy Krathong.
Every year, under the glow of the full moon, Thai people carefully place lights, flickering candles and ornate lanterns on lotus and swan-shaped krathongs (floats or rafts), and release them in the canals of Bangkok. These beautiful offerings to the Thai Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, drift throughout Bangkok’s waterways evoking an extraordinary atmosphere in this usually chaotic city.
Have you ever experienced a visual overload? Something so different to anything else you’ve ever seen (or heard for that matter) that five years on you’re still unable to believe you were there? That was Rio Carnival for Intrepid’s Eliza Anderson…
“It was a sight so out of this world that I’m still getting flashes of the colour and vibrancy of the most amazing four hours of my life. Flashbacks of the fireworks exploding from the back of our float and wow, I’d almost forgotten about the transvestite ballerinas! For anyone who travels to Rio during Carnival I can promise you that the experience will be unforgettable.
My experience was somewhat unique, in that I really shook my tail feather, literally, on a float!
Taking part in a local festival is very ‘Intrepid’. It embodies everything we love about embracing other cultures and enjoying real life experiences, though as Rachel Nowell discovered, sometimes local celebrations also pose some puzzling questions…
“The sight of a Hindu man with a skewer piercing through his cheek and tongue and bells hanging from skin hooks on his back certainly makes one cringe. But at the same time one is unable to look away for sheer curiosity and amazement. How do they endure the pain? Why do men do this to themselves?
Whether boiled, steamed or shallowed fried, you can expect to eat jiaozi year-round in China, but come New Year you’ll see that these delicious dumplings are a big part of the celebrations. It’s believed that eating jiaozi can bring wealth and prosperity, but sadly for Lucy Hordern, overindulging in one of her favourite Chinese foods didn’t seem to bring her good luck…
“Yes, I indulged in a local festival in China. The annual jiaozi eating competition. It was great fun, but I lost miserably.
From sausages to sea snails, in Italy you name the food and it probably has its own festival! Good food and good fun are all part of the country’s la dolce vita lifestyle and Casey Wallen enjoyed getting a fresh taste of the local celebrations…
“I love arriving somewhere and being lucky enough to find a local festival happening. On a trip to Sorrento it was the annual fish festival. It’s when all the restaurants who are vying for supremacy in the field of preparing fresh fish dishes, make their kitchens mobile, relocate to the beach and cook up a feast for the locals.
There are many festivals around the world that celebrate seasonal fruit and others that focus on beer, but in the scenic kingdom of Swaziland the two come together in a special celebration – the Marula Festival.
The Marula Festival is one of Swaziland’s most exciting traditional ceremonies. The harvest festivities coincide with marula season, which begins in mid-February and runs through to May. The fruit is distilled into a beer, known as Buganu or Marula beer, and the entire nation joins in on this celebration.