9 Incredible Festivals Around the World (and How to Get There)

From Carnival in Rio to the Lantern Festival in Thailand, traveling in time to catch one of the following festivals can create one of the most memorable trips of your life. With Discover Corps launching our new Festivals Lineup, we thought we’d create a list of our favorite events from around the world. Check out our top festivals!

Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”)

Cusco, Peru: June 24, 2024

This festival is a tribute to the venerated Sun God Inti and draws thousands of local and international visitors to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. The celebrations are similar reinactmants of what occurred in Inca Times, starting in the morning in front of the Inca Temple of the Sun, Korikancha, with representatives from the four suyos, or servants, of the Inca Empire praising Inti. Next you will witness a reading of the sacred coca leaf before moving to Saqsayhuman, an Inca archaeological site, for a ritual sacrifice of a llama. Horns, drums, and music fill the air to celebrate. At this festival, expect to join thousands of spectators crowded along the hills for a glimpse of the ceremony. More than just a party, this festival truly brings you back to ancient times.

Discover Corps Trip: Peru – Inti Raymi Festival

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil: February 9 – February 14, 2024

Rio de Janeiro is unmatched in its breathtaking landscapes and location, nestled between lush, green mountains and crystal-clear seas. And there is no better time to visit Rio than during Carnival, considered to be the largest in the world. Carnival is an extraordinary, boisterous five-day celebration of singing, dancing, and community. This party begins on Friday and continues through Tuesday as millions of people take to the streets for impromptu Blocos (block parties) and pack the Sambodromo, home of the famous and fiercely competitive Samba Parade.

Join our special festivals trip to Carnival to actually take part in the Parade!

Discover Corps Trip: Brazil – Rio Carnival Festival

The Lantern Festival – Loi Krathong and Yi Peng

Chiang Mai, Thailand: November 27, 2023 and November 15, 2024

Thailand’s most colorful festivals, the Loy Krathong festival of lights and Yi Peng sky lantern festival are unforgettable experiences you don’t want to miss. Considered one of the most breathtaking festivals in all the world, Yi Peng occurs on the full moon day in the second month of the Thai lunar calendar each year. Made of thin rice paper and stretched over bamboo wire, you’ll see thousands of lanterns filled with good luck wishes and prayer flock the sky.

While Yi Peng is the festival most of us have heard of, Loi Krathong is actually the second most well-known festival in Thailand (after Songkran). The festival always takes place on the evening of the full moon on the 12 month of the Thai calendar. Expect to see decorated baskets made from a slice of a banana tree trunk, or krathongs, floating along the river with a candle lit inside. Most agree that the tradition was adapted by Thai Buddhists to honor Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of one’s hatred.

Discover Corps Trip: Thailand – The Lantern Festival

The Day of the Dead

Oaxaca, Mexico: November 2, 2023 

The Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) festival is one of the most recognized celebrations in Mexico. During this time, locals believe that the gap between the world of the spirits and the living is lifted, allowing their departed loved ones to travel back for a visit. Special altars (ofrendas) are setup and decorated with photos, flowers, and things their loved ones would have enjoyed in life including their favorite food or beer. Trails of yellow marigold flowers are laid out to help the dead find their way back from the spirit world.

Discover Corps Trips: Oaxaca – Day of the Dead Festival

The Havana Jazz Festival

Havana, Cuba: January 21 – January 29, 2024

Havana Jazz

The Havana Jazz Festival is Cuba’s most well-known music event featuring some of the most popular up and coming musicians from Cuba and around the world. Each year, dozens of local and internationally renowned jazz performers gather in the Cuban capital to collaborate, improvise, and jam. The people fill the lively city of Havana with music and dance for this six-day celebration.

Discover Corps Trip: Cuba – Havana Jazz Festival

Fès World Festival of Sacred Music

Fès, Morocco: June 2024

The Fès World Festival of Sacred Music is an exciting, multi-day event showcasing the diversity of spiritual music around the world. Created in 1994, it encompasses a vast variety of musical types and features artists from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Western Europe, all committed to sharing the quest for the sacred. For several years, the festival has welcomed not only musicians, dancers, and poets but large-scale multidisciplinary performances with artists ranging in the dozens. Most festivities take place at the grandiose Bab Makina square while others are showcased across the medina (old city) in traditional locations such as riads (estates).

Discover Corps Trip: Morocco – Fès World Festival of Sacred Music

Carnival in Venice

Venice, Italy: February 3 – February 13, 2024 and February 22 – March 4, 2025

The Carnival of Venice in Italy is one of the most famous and popular carnivals in the world. It is a two-week-long celebration that takes place annually in the beautiful city of Venice. The carnival dates back to the 13th century and is known for its elaborate masks and costumes worn by the participants. The main attraction of the carnival is the various masquerade balls that take place in the historic palaces and grand hotels of Venice. These balls offer a glimpse into the glamour and elegance of the Venetian society of the past. The streets of Venice are filled with parades, music, and street performers during the carnival, creating a festive and lively atmosphere. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Italian cuisine and local delicacies, including fritelle, a sweet fried pastry, and the famous Bellini cocktail. The carnival is truly a magical and unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Venetian culture and history.

Discover Corps Trip: Coming Soon!

Fiestas de Quito

Quito, Ecuador: December 6, 2023

The mayor of the capital kicks off the celebration in the Plaza de San Francisco to celebrate the Spanish foundation, which occurred in 1534. You can expect to see nativity reenactments, bullfights, traditional dancing and carnivals in the Old Town, but the real festival occurs in the local neighborhoods around Quito. Walk the streets to find traditional music, hot canelazo (a rum and cinnamon drink), marching bands, and more. To really get a feel for the local culture in Ecuador, this festival makes it easy.

Discover Corps Trip: Galápagos Islands: Family Volunteer Adventure

Australia Day

All of Australia: January 26, 2019

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia, marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove. In more recent years, the celebration has turned into a celebration of all things Australia: the lifestyle, diversity, the democracy, and most importantly, the people. On this day you will often find citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members of the Australian community as well as the televised Australian of the Year awards and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. Wherever you are in the country, though, expect a party!

Discover Corps Trip: Australia: Beachside Wildlife Adventure

We hope you’re inspired to visit one of these iconic celebrations! With Discover Corps, you’ll always get a behind-the-scenes experience and a local guide so you’ll be able to make the most out of your trip. These are by no means a full list of festivals you can find on Discover Corps destinations. Let us know what festivals you’ve attended and recommend in the comment section below!

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