Festivals often mark the beginning or end of a season and in Japan one of the most popular festivals is the Hanami, the arrival of the cherry blossom. People gather in public gardens and share picnics under the trees and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
For a festival on a large scale visit North Korea’s Mass Games. Held each year throughout August and September the displays feature more than 100000 participants performing a synchronised combination of dance, gymnastics and acrobatics. There is truly nothing else like the Mass Games anywhere in the world.
India is home to numerous festivals include the messy festival of colours, Holi, and the pretty festival of light, Diwali, where twinkling fairy lights decorate buildings and candles flicker outside homes to signify good conquering evil. Both China and South Korea hold annual lantern festivals which have a similar vibe and are a photographers paradise.
Nestled in the Himalaya both Ladakh and Bhutan are host to spectacular festivals featuring masked dancers portraying traditional stories. These festivals are as much a social event as a religious gathering and locals wear their best dress and catch up on news from neighbouring towns.
For those willing to brave the cold China’s Snow and Ice Festival in Harbin and Japan’s Sapporo Snow festival are a must. Enormous, ornately carved ice sculptures are displayed throughout both cities for as long as the weather allows. They are particularly impressive at night when tiny lights built into the sculptures are lit up.
Whichever country you decide to travel to it is worth consulting their calendar when making your plans to experience a festival. You will be welcomed with open arms and are sure to enjoy a true taste of the country’s culture.