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Festivals engage all your senses, with their noise, colours, smells and tastes – the variety, the fun and the sheer spontaneity are part of the whole experience. You can simply enjoy people-watching, or find yourself being drawn into all the festivities and immersing yourself in local life.
At Explore we have a wide range of fabulous festival tours. Some are planned specifically around a certain festival, for example the Harbin Ice Festival tour in China which takes place every February. Others are tours that run all year round but with certain departures arranged to coincide with an annual festival, for example the Nadaam Festival in Mongolia or the Pushkar Camel Fair in India, which we visit in July and November respectively.
Festivals abound in India. You can enjoy religious dances and music at the festivals of Hemis and Phyang in Ladakh, the Pushkar Camel Fair or the traditional cattle fair of Sonepur Mela. In addition Holi, sometimes called the Festival of Colours, takes place over two days each year, celebrating the victory of good over evil - and covering everyone and everything in wet paint along the way!
Elsewhere in Asia you could experience the three traditional sports of Mongolia (wrestling, archery and horse riding) at the annual Nadaam Festival, or witness the spectacular colours and centuries-old religious customs of Bhutan’s Thimpu Festival, or immerse yourself in the little-known mountain festivals of south-west China’s Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.
Africa is also rich in tradition and festivals abound, perhaps the most famous being Timkat in Ethiopia, celebrating Epiphany and re-enacting the ritual of Baptism. In the Americas you can take part in Brazil’s most spectacular extravaganza, the Rio Carnival, or witness the ancient Inca Inti Raymi festival in Peru.
To visit a country and meet its people during a festival can be an experience second to none: you will bring home not just life-long memories of colour, music, dancing and fun but also a richer understanding of the traditions and beliefs that make the country what it is.