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Culture and traditions are one of the most attractive aspects of visiting a new country and what better way to dive deep into tradition than taking part in the country wide festivals that occur every year.
Every year around the world, there are hundreds of different cultural festivals that celebrate a range of beliefs and historic traditions. From celebrating good over evil to reconnecting with passed loved ones, there is always a interesting backstory that sets up an incredible and unforgettable experience for the whole family.
So, whether you’re looking to book a holiday and delve in to a cultural experience or you simply want to learn about annual traditions, here is a list of family friendly festivals from around the world that are enjoyable for both kids and adults.
Date: April 13th-15th 2023
Songkran, arguably the most famous festival in Thailand, is an important event on the Buddhist calendar and marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. To kick off tradition, it is customary to wash all Buddha images in the temples to prepare for the new year. You may be wondering why they call it the water festival… well, this is due to the celebration side of the festival. Let’s just say if you are thinking about visiting Thailand during the festivities, be prepared to get well and truly soaked as a country-wide water fight is a big part of the celebrations which both kids and adults alike get involved in.
Crowds of people from across the country roam around throwing buckets of water and shooting water pistols at each other, so if you are planning to go it may be worth investing in a water proof phone case!
Another important part of the Songkran water festival is the appreciation for ‘family’. Many people from around the country will make their way back to their home town to spend time with their family and relatives. Overall Songkran is a great festival to celebrate with the family and a great time to visit the beautiful country of Thailand.
Money saving tip: Don’t pay for water! Most locals will offer to fill your buckets and refill your water guns for free. So be mindful of people who are charging you for it.
Date: March 8th 2023
Holi (also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love) is one of the most renowned and celebrated festivals in India and is celebrated in almost every part of the country. Holi is a celebration of good over evil and commemorates the story of Vishnu and Prahlad who defeated the evil king Hiranyakashipu.
Holi is celebrated for a day and a night and starts on the evening of the full moon day known as “Holika Dahan” or “Chotti Holi”. The ritual starts with a gathering of people around huge bonfires that symbolize the cleansing and forgiveness of the past. Celebrations erupt the following day where people fill the streets of India soaking each other with coloured water balloons and smearing each other with vibrant coloured powders/paint. This day is known as “Holi”.
The festival is about joy and love and is very family friendly and also a great way to experience the Hindu culture. However, it is advised that you don’t wear your best clothes as you will end the day covered in water and vibrant colours.
Date: November 2nd 2023
Dia De Los Muertos also commonly known as “Day of the Dead” is one of the most renowned and important celebrations in Mexico. On the Day of the Dead it is believed that the border between the spirit world and the living world disappears and it’s the one day of the year where the spirits of those who have passed can return to the living world for a reunion with their loved ones. To honour lost relatives, people will build private altars (also known as “ofrendas”) and decorate them with photos of lost ones along with food, candles, Aztec Marigolds and sugar skulls.
The celebrations are far from somber, crowds of people will gather around public alters with offerings in celebration followed by singing, storytelling and feasting. In some regions of Mexico, the streets are filled with parades and mariachi bands bringing everyone together in celebration.
Day of the Dead is an incredibly uplifting and celebratory experience for visitors and has recently become very popular with children after the recent release of Disney film “Coco” in 2017, making it an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Date: February 21st 2023
Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday) is celebrated across the world but is famously celebrated in New Orleans. Mardi Gras traditions date back thousands of years and was originally the Pagan celebration of spring and fertility. When Christianity arrived in Rome, the religious leaders made the decision to incorporate the local traditions becoming a celebrational prelude to Lent. Traditionally Mardi Gras was the time where people would over indulge and let loose before the fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
Mardi Gras is a two-week celebration leading up to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. In the two weeks leading up, there are masked balls and big fancy dinners but the main attraction of Mardi Gras is the raucous street parades which includes marching bands, large floats and extravagant costumes.
Although the crowds can get loud, Mardi Gras is for families and kids often get on ladders to catch beads thrown by the parade leading to a fun and extravagant experience for the family.
Date: November 12th 2023
Bringing it back to India is the celebration of Diwali also known as the festival of lights. Diwali is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alike and represents good over evil and light over dark.
There are a variety of stories behind Diwali coming from the different religions. The Hindus celebrate Lord Rama, his wife Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana for their return to their homeland after 14 years in exile after defeating the Demon King Ravana. Another Hindu Diwali story is to celebrate the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura freeing his people and declaring the day as a national festivity. People also celebrate the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi who was the goddess of wealth and fertility. In Sikhism, Diwali honours the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment and in Jainism Diwali celebrates the nirvana and spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira.
As for the celebrations, households across India will celebrate by decorating their space with small clay lamps called “diyas” and colourful lights. Throughout the streets buildings will be covered in lights and people will sing and dance. Extravagant fireworks will be set off as a spectacle of light to scare away the evil spirts in a victory of a good over evil. The celebrations last five days, the main day of Diwali is the third day and the last day is reserved by brothers and sisters to spend time together.
Money saving tip: Book in advance! During Diwali people around the country often go back to their hometown so hotels can get fully booked quickly meaning remaining options are often more expensive.
Traditional festivals are a great way to experience different cultures and learn about their histories and experiencing at least one of these will leave you with an unforgettable experience! But whether you are going to Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos or to India for Holi you should always book in advance as hotels do tend to fill up quick. Which is why that we recommend that get covered with travel insurance so that you can have the peace of mind knowing that you are protected in the case of cancellations, luggage loss or any accidents that would leave you with a hefty medical bill.
So whatever festival you decide to take part in this year we have got you covered and we hope you enjoy!
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