A gap year is about cramming as many experiences as you can into your travels. Don’t just celebrate your own independence while you’re away—take a look at what’s happening around you! How many of these global events can you fit into your trip?
March 10th – Holi Festival of Colour, India
Celebrated the day after March’s full moon, Holi isn’t just an excuse to throw paint everywhere. The rituals origins lie in the Hindu faith, symbolising the burning of Daemoness Holika. As well as this, it signifies the end of winter and the oncoming harvest season.
The evening before, people light large bonfires and gather around them to sing and dance. It’s traditional to walk around the fire three times.
The main celebration is a time to get loose. Be prepared to get really messy! People flood the streets, throwing coloured paint powder (known as gulal), water… whatever they can get their hands on really.
A little bit of advice before if you’re planning on attending: take old clothes because the die will ruin them, and it’s advisable to rub coconut oil into your hair to prevent the dye from staining.
April 10th-12th and 17th-19th – Coachella, USA
Coachella is infamous on the festival circuit. The Californian sun beats down on the Empire Polo Club location, which saw over 198,000 visitors across the two weekends last year.
Music and art fans gather from around the world to enjoy big hitters from across the music industry, such as Paul McCartney, Daft Punk and The Cure.
Tickets to Coachella sell out quickly, with limited packages available. If you’re looking to visit next year, early bird tickets go on sale later this summer and allow you to pay on an instalment plan.
May 26th – Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco
Formula One has been racing through the streets of Monaco since 1929. Considered the ultimate test of a driver’s ability, the winding street course combines tight corners, changing inclines and contrasting lighting conditions, making it one of the most difficult and dangerous in the world. If the course wasn’t already in the Grand Prix, it wouldn’t be allowed to join for safety reasons.
But, of course, it’s not just about the racing. The city of Monaco is notoriously expensive, but if you know where to look, you can soak up the race day atmosphere for a steal. Spending a day soaking up the sun in the harbour will cost you nothing, for a small fee you can tour the Princes Palace and further out of the cities centre you can grab a delicious bite to eat and a drink for a more affordable price.
June 22nd – Inti Raymi, Peru
A tribute to the sun god Inti, this Peruvian cultural display can’t be missed. The ceremony is a re-enactment of a tradition that’s over 500 years old.
During the time of the Incan empire, people gathered at the capital of Cuzco to celebrate Incan New Year and the winter solstice. During this time, days were shorter and the sun was furthest from the Incan side of the Earth, so they believed the celebration would persuade the sun god to return.
Today, the tribute takes place at the stone ruin of Sacsayhuamán. Actors take the place of the emperor and the traditional llama sacrifice is no more, but the ceremonies key practises (such as the emperor being carried on a 60kg chariot by pallbearers) remain.
July 17th – Boryeong Mudfest, Korea
The quiet beach town of Boryeong opens its muddy arms to millions of revellers for their annual Mudfest. It started up in 1998 to make people aware of the health benefits that mud from local Daecheon beach possesses. From its humble beginnings, Boryeong Mudfest has become one of the biggest global events.
Popular with the under 30s, revellers slather themselves in the restorative mud, indulge in a drink (or ten) and get messy… really quickly. There are a tonne of activities to take part in while you’re there: try your luck at mud wrestling, hop on a zip line, mudslide on your belly or get fit with a bit of Marine style training.
September 25th-6th September – Olympics/Paralympics, Tokyo
The Olympics has left Britain and landed in Japan! For the first time since the Olympics began, over 10,000 athletes will be flying over to compete in 306 events over 16 days.
Japanese touches that will be added to the opening and closing ceremony will make this year’s event extra special. The Olympics and the Paralympics are both two of the most anticipated global events.
September 19th – October 4rd: Oktoberfest, Munich
This drunken celebration began in October of 1810, with the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Five days after their wedding, on October 17th, a large feast was held in front of Sendlinger Tor, a gate that led to Munich.
Each year that followed added more to Oktoberfest, with beer pubs and performers joining by 1818 and the traditional German dress code in 1887.
The modern festival follows the same principals as it did back then: indulging in local beers, delicious German delicacies and having a good time. The only thing that has changed is the date, which eventually moved to September as the weather is more pleasant.
So, put on your lederhosen/dirndls, grab a beer and enjoy bratwurst in their cultural home!
October – Naga Fireball Festival, Thailand
This one of the most mysterious global events. The Thai fireball festival is known locally as Bung Fai Paya Na.
According to legends, the balls of fire that silently arise from the Mekong River come from a giant serpent called Naga. Buddhists believe that Naga resides in the riverbed and breathes these fireballs to mark the end of Lenten season.
Today, people from all backgrounds gather on the riverbanks to observe the spectacle. Sceptics and scientists still can’t seem to agree on a cause for this natural phenomenon, so it’s best to sit back and enjoy the legend.
December 26th – Junkanoo Parade, The Bahamas
If you aren’t a fan of cold British winters, then head for Junkanoo in The Bahamas. Streets come alive with a buzz of music, dancing, costumes and delicious street food for one of the best carnivals in the world.
The celebrations origins are a little murky, with opinions divided between whether it stemmed from the countries dark days of slavery, the story of Prince John Canoe or the French for masked people (gens inconnus).
Whatever the reason, this perfect blend of Bahamian culture and carnival atmosphere.
Take time to indulge in a local celebration or two… or three; it’s the best way to learn about the culture of your destination and maybe make a few local mates! Be sure, no matter what global events you go to, that you stay safe and to be responsible when drinking.
Are there any global events that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments.