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Travel experiences

Festivals of the world

3rd May, 2019

Despite the diversity of the many countries and cultures around the globe, there is a powerful quality that transcends them all, and that is the love of celebrating an occasion. Whether it be a celebration of life, of death, of music, art or religion, that collective effervescence is something we all understand.

Festivals foster fun and community spirit, bringing people together to commemorate something of powerful significance. They can take the form of carnivals, fiestas, fetes, fairs, galas, jamborees and ceremonies and they become part of our cultural identity.

Well-known festivals can attract thousands of people, from all over the world. Others are intimate and more low-key, enticing those who perhaps want a sentimental experience.

If you’re keen to coincide a festival with your travels, it does take some planning, but it’s a great way to enrich your holiday.

Here’s a helpful list of festivals you can visit on Saga’s holidays:

1. Madeira Flower Festival

Where: Funchal, Madeira

When: May

A flower display with woven musical instruments at the Madeira Flower Festival

This beautiful festival takes place in the spring, when the flowers are at their best. Dozens of floats decorated with the island’s most typical flowers parade the streets of Funchal. At the same time, to mark the occasion, Madeiran artists devote their time to building unforgettable floral carpets, strategically exhibited in the streets at different points, whilst competitions are also organised to find the best decorated shop windows.

How: Enotel Quinta do Sol - April to May departures only.

2. Festivos Santoña

Where: Cantabria  Spain

When: September

An explosion of fireworks

The Santoña Festival is held in honour of Our Lady of the Port. It’s a week of regattas, live music, sport competitions, fireworks and processions featuring humorous floats, the most important being the Sea Procession. Be sure to try the delicious ‘marmitada’ (stew) which is served everywhere during the festival.

How: Juan de la Cosa - September departures.

3. Corpus Christi

Where: La Orotava, Tenerife

When: May or June

Flowers in La Orotava for the Corpus Christi Festival

Corpus Christi is a Catholic celebration that takes place in May or June - 9 weeks after Easter, depending on when it falls. It’s a one-day holiday in honour of the presence of the body of Christ in the holy water and it’s celebrated widely across Spain, with city streets decorated with colourful flowers and plants.

How: Best Hotel Semiramis – May or June dates.

4. Gastronomy Week

Where: Trentino, Italy

When: First week of October

A traditional Trentino lunch overlooking the Flemme Valley

If you visit Trentino during Gastronomy Week, you’ll be introduced to the typical cuisine of this region of northern Italy, learn to cook traditional dishes and enjoy an introduction to the art of choosing the best wine to accompany different foods. Look forward to a glass of wine with dinner and take home a souvenir apron.

How: Alle Dolomiti - October departures.

5. Wine Tasting Week

Where: Trentino, Italy

When: Second week of October

A couple walking in a vineyard

Stay at the Alle Dolomiti family hotel and you can visit a local vineyard to learn more about wine from the Dolomites region. Sample a different 'taster' of specially selected wine with dinner each evening presented by a sommelier. You can also look forward to a special south Tyrolean dinner during your stay.

How: Alle Dolomiti - October departures.

6. Fallas

Where: Valencia, Spain

When: March

Spectacular sculptures on a float at the Fallas Festival

Las Fallas is one of Spain’s biggest festivals and is dedicated to San Jose (Saint Joseph). It runs for just over two weeks and features live music from bands performing in the streets, “mascletaes” (firecrackers) and fireworks, traditional music, and the lighting on bonfires "plantà". There is also a floral offering parade to Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken).

How: Hotel Port Denia - March dates.

7. Jazz Heritage Festival

Where: New Orleans,Louisiana, USA

When: April

A close up of a saxophone

Regarded as the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans is the perfect place to enjoy this lively genre of music. If visiting in April, you can coincide your trip with the Jazz Heritage Festival. Alternatively, join our February 16, 2020 departure, which is timed so that you can enjoy watching the extravagant Mardi Gras celebrations, featuring lots of jazz music.

How: Taste of the Deep South - February and April Departures only.

8. Cherry Blossom Festival

Where: All over Japan

When: last week of March, first two weeks of April

Beautiful cherry blossom

During the last week of March and first two weeks of April, Japan's Cherry Blossom blooms, turning the landscapes a beautiful shade of pink. Cherry blossom can be seen all over Japan, including cities such as Toyko and Kyoto, but the Japanese Alps are a truly picturesque way to see this natural phenomenon.

How: Japan : Land of the Rising Sun – March and April departures.

9. Hoi An Lantern Festival

Where: Vietnam

When: February

Lanterns on the water in Vietnam

Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrates the full moon. It’s a monthly festival that has become a tradition in Hoi An, along with the eating of a local dish called Cao Lau. Revellers celebrate by placing candles inside paper lanterns at nightfall and then floating them down the river.

How: Vietnam Highlights – November departures only.

10. Holi Festival

Where: All over India

When: March

A woman at the Holi Festival in India

Holi is a traditional Hindu festival which falls on the March full moon. It celebrates the beginning of spring and marks the rekindling of the spirit of life. People all over celebrate this lively festival by smearing each other with various colours and drenching each other in coloured water. Singing and dancing add to the gaiety of the occasion and it involves the enjoyment of traditional Indian food.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.