Discover the Top Festivals Hosted in Cities Around the World.

 SUMMARY   In recent decades, urban festivals have emerged as true gems of tourism, offering a unique chance to experience the essence of a country without leaving the comfort of city infrastructure.

Forget about the hustle of searching for your tent among countless others, as you might do at music festivals. No need to wander in boots with a lantern searching for your accommodation. Our journeys aren’t always about exploring wild nature or embarking on extreme adventures. Urban streets sometimes provide cozier and culturally enriched atmospheres. Urban festivals worldwide are vibrant highlights in the event calendar, where art, culture, and traditions blend into unforgettable experiences.

Prepare for an exhilarating journey into the world of urban festivals, where culture and comfort go hand in hand, creating unforgettable memories and inspiring new adventures.

Day of the Dead. Oaxaca

Location: *Oaxaca, Mexico.
Date: November 1-2.

The Day of the Dead, or “Día de los Muertos,” is one of Mexico’s most iconic and culturally rich celebrations. Oaxaca (map), in particular, is renowned for its vibrant and elaborate observance of this holiday. Immerse yourself in the vibrant and heartfelt celebration of the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca for an unforgettable cultural experience. Don’t forget to explore the beautiful city and its rich traditions while you’re there.

The Day of the Dead is a multi-day celebration that honors deceased loved ones and allows the living to connect with their spirits. It’s a unique blend of indigenous Mesoamerican beliefs and Catholicism. In Oaxaca, families create elaborate altars and ofrendas (offerings) in their homes, adorned with marigold flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and the favorite foods and drinks of the departed. These altars are meant to welcome the souls back to the world of the living.

Throughout the city, there are parades and processions featuring people dressed as skeletons and in traditional costumes. These lively events are a feast for the eyes and offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Oaxaca.

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Diwali — Festival of Lights. Mumbai

Location: *Mumbai, India.
Date: Diwali is a multi-day festival, and the dates vary each year according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Typically, it falls in October or November.

Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” is one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals in India, and Mumbai, being one of the country’s largest and most vibrant cities, hosts grand Diwali celebrations. Diwali symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

Mumbai’s streets, buildings, and markets come alive with stunning decorations and dazzling lights. The cityscape is transformed into a mesmerizing display of colors and designs. Iconic landmarks like the Gateway of India and Marine Drive are beautifully lit up.

Many neighborhoods organize community events, cultural programs, and competitions during Diwali. It’s an excellent opportunity to interact with locals and experience the spirit of togetherness. Mumbai households often create intricate rangoli designs (colorful patterns made from colored powders or flower petals) at their doorsteps, adding to the festive atmosphere.

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Fallas. Valencia

Location: Valencia, Spain.
Date: March 15 – 19.

Fallas is a spectacular and unique festival celebrated in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is known for its intricate and massive sculptures, colorful parades, and a vibrant atmosphere. Fallas is a traditional celebration that marks the arrival of spring. The festival’s name comes from the Spanish word “falla,” which means “torch.” It is a festival of fire, art, and music. (wiki)

The heart of Fallas is the creation of enormous sculptures called “ninots.” These sculptures are made from a variety of materials, including wood, papier-mâché, and other combustible materials. They often satirize political figures, celebrities, or current events. The sculptures can reach heights of several stories and are incredibly detailed.

The festival culminates on the night of March 19th with the “Crema,” where all the ninots are set ablaze in a spectacular display of flames and fireworks. This symbolizes the cleansing of the old year and the beginning of a new one. Throughout Fallas, the streets of Valencia are filled with music, dancing, and people enjoying the festive atmosphere. You’ll find street vendors, food stalls, and a lively atmosphere everywhere you go.

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Festa de São João do Porto. Porto

Location: Porto, Portugal.
Date: June 23-24.

The Festa de São João, also known as St. John’s Festival or São João Festival, is one of the most exuberant and unique celebrations in Porto, Portugal. It’s a joyful and lively event that combines traditional customs with modern festivities.

A beloved tradition during the festival involves people playfully “hammering” each other on the head with plastic hammers. Another custom is to hit each other lightly with garlic flowers, which are believed to bring good luck and protection from evil spirits.

The streets of Porto come alive with music, dance, and street parties. People gather to celebrate, and you can expect to hear traditional Portuguese music, as well as contemporary music from DJs and live bands. Festa de São João is a time of great joy and unity in Porto. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience Portuguese culture, join in the celebrations, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.

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Fantasy Fest in Key West

Location: Key West, Florida, US.
Date: last week of October.

Fantasy Fest is an extravagant and one-of-a-kind celebration held in the beautiful coastal city of Key West, Florida. It’s a week-long festival known for its elaborate costumes, vibrant parades, and a lively atmosphere. Duval Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, is a focal point for festivities.

The highlight of Fantasy Fest is the Saturday night parade, which features colorful floats, marching bands, and thousands of costumed participants. The Key West Masquerade March and the Goombay Festival Parade are other notable processions during the week.

Fantasy Fest is famous for its body painting contests, where artists transform participants into living works of art. The Key West Art & Historical Society hosts a popular contest that showcases incredible body art. Fantasy Fest is a celebration of freedom, art, and diversity, making it a must-visit event for anyone looking to experience Key West’s vibrant culture and the spirit of uninhibited self-expression.

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Festival Fringe. Edinburgh

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Date: August

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, often referred to as simply the “Fringe,” is the world’s largest and most renowned arts festival. It is an annual celebration of performing arts, encompassing a wide range of performances, from theater and comedy to dance, music, and more.

Edinburgh’s streets come alive with street performers, including musicians, magicians, acrobats, and actors. The Royal Mile (map), in particular, becomes a bustling hub of activity during the festival. The Festival Fringe attracts artists and audiences from all corners of the globe, creating a truly international atmosphere. It’s an opportunity to experience the world’s cultures and artistic expressions in one place.

Shows take place in traditional theaters, pubs, makeshift venues, and even unconventional spaces like parks and empty warehouses. The city’s historic architecture provides a stunning backdrop for many performances.

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Gentse Feesten. Ghent

Location: Ghent, Belgium.
Date: 10 days in July.

The Gentse Feesten, or Ghent Festival, is one of Belgium’s largest and most renowned cultural festivals. It’s a vibrant and lively celebration of music, arts, culture, and the city’s rich heritage. The Gentse Feesten is a massive open-air festival that transforms Ghent into a bustling hub of entertainment and creativity. It is a celebration of both traditional Flemish culture and contemporary artistic expressions.

The Gentse Feesten is an excellent opportunity to savor Belgian cuisine, including waffles, chocolates, fries, and a wide variety of Belgian beers. Food stalls and outdoor cafes are abundant.

One of the remarkable aspects of the Gentse Feesten is that most of the events and activities are free and open to the public, which makes it accessible to a wide range of people.

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Harbin Ice & Snow sculpture festival

Location: Harbin, China.
Date: December / January

The Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is a winter wonderland that transforms the city into a magical icy landscape. It is the largest ice and snow festival in the world and has become a major tourist attraction.

The festival showcases enormous and intricately carved ice sculptures. The sculptures range from replicas of famous landmarks to mythical creatures and elaborate ice castles. The level of artistry and craftsmanship is truly astounding.

The Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival offers a magical and immersive winter experience that captivates the imagination of visitors. Whether you’re marveling at the artistic ice creations, participating in winter sports, or savoring local cuisine, this festival provides a unique and unforgettable winter adventure in the heart of northeastern China.

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Holi. Mathura

Location: *Mathura, India.
Date: March. The specific date varies each year based on the Hindu lunar calendar.

Holi, the “Festival of Colors,” is one of the most vibrant and widely celebrated festivals in India. Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, holds a special significance during Holi due to its association with the playful and colorful traditions of Lord Krishna’s childhood.

In Mathura (map), the Holi celebrations are steeped in tradition. Devotees and tourists alike gather to witness various rituals, including the “Lathmar Holi,” where women playfully beat men with sticks, and the “Phoolon wali Holi,” where flower petals are showered on the deities. The Banke Bihari Temple in Mathura is a major pilgrimage site during Holi. Devotees throng to the temple to offer prayers and witness the deity being showered with colors.

While Holi is a joyful and colorful celebration, it’s important to practice it with respect for others. Consent should be sought before applying colors to strangers, and participants should be mindful of safety.

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King’s day. Amsterdam

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Date: April 27 / or 26

King’s Day in Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands’ most festive and colorful celebrations, marked by lively street parties, music, markets, and a sea of orange. It’s a nationwide event that honors the Dutch monarch’s birthday and is known for its exuberant atmosphere.

King’s Day in Amsterdam is a joyful and unforgettable experience, offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Dutch culture and join in the festivities with the friendly and welcoming locals. Whether you’re exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, dancing to live music, or browsing street markets, King’s Day is a celebration of Dutch spirit and unity.

Amsterdam’s iconic canals become the stage for vibrant boat parades, with boats decked out in elaborate decorations and revelers enjoying the festivities along the waterways. The city is dotted with flea markets and street vendors selling all sorts of goods, including clothing, antiques, and crafts. It’s a great opportunity for shopping and finding unique souvenirs.

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Krampusnacht. Klagenfurt

Location: Klagenfurt, Austria.
Date: December 5.

Krampusnacht is a centuries-old Alpine tradition that involves the frightening figure of Krampus, a horned and demonic creature, who is said to accompany St. Nicholas during the holiday season.

The main attraction of Krampusnacht in Klagenfurt (map) is the Krampus parade (Krampuslauf), where participants dress up as Krampus and other mythical creatures. They wear elaborate and terrifying costumes with masks, fur, horns, and bells. The parade typically includes various Krampus groups marching through the streets, accompanied by loud and eerie music.

Krampusnacht in Klagenfurt offers a unique and thrilling experience for those interested in witnessing a centuries-old Austrian tradition. It’s a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture, enjoy the festive atmosphere, and witness the intriguing juxtaposition of frightful Krampus figures with the holiday spirit of St. Nicholas.

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La Merce. Barcelona

Location: Barcelona, Spain.
Date: September 21 – 24

La Mercè is Barcelona’s largest and most important annual festival, celebrated in honor of Mare de Déu de la Mercè, the city’s patron saint.

One of the highlights of La Mercè is the parade of “Gegants i Capgrossos” (Giants and Big Heads), where enormous papier-mâché figures, representing various characters and historical figures, are paraded through the streets of Barcelona. The “Correfoc” (Fire Run) is another exciting tradition, featuring fire-breathing dragons and devils dancing through the streets, accompanied by fireworks and music.

La Mercè is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Catalan culture, witness incredible performances, and enjoy the festive and inclusive atmosphere of Barcelona. You can savor authentic Catalan cuisine at food stalls and outdoor markets throughout the festival. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties and delicious tapas.

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La Tomatina. Bunol

Location: Buñol, Valencia, Spain.
Date: Last Wednesday of August.

La Tomatina is one of Spain’s most famous and unique festivals, celebrated with a massive tomato fight that draws visitors from all over the world. It’s a playful and messy event that takes place in the small town of Buñol near Valencia.

After the tomato battle, the streets of Buñol are covered in tomato pulp, and participants often head to local fountains and rivers to wash off the tomato mess. Many also enjoy traditional Spanish paella and refreshments at local restaurants.

La Tomatina is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a unique way to embrace the festive spirit of Spain. It’s an opportunity to let loose, have fun, and join thousands of fellow revelers in an unforgettable tomato battle that is both messy and exhilarating. Just be prepared to get drenched in tomato juice and enjoy the playful chaos of this extraordinary festival.

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Mardi Gras. New Orleans

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
Date: any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is synonymous with elaborate parades organized by various “krewes” (social organizations). Each krewe hosts its own parade with themed floats, costumed riders, and vibrant throws, including colorful beads, doubloons, and trinkets. The most famous parades include those organized by the Krewe of Rex and the Krewe of Zulu.

The streets of New Orleans come alive with street parties, live music, and dancing during Mardi Gras. The French Quarter (map) and Bourbon Street (map) are particularly lively areas during this time.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a festive and exuberant celebration that captures the spirit of the city. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the lively culture, music, and traditions of New Orleans while indulging in the revelry and joyful chaos of this world-famous carnival. Just remember to embrace the festive spirit, enjoy the parades, and savor the rich flavors of Creole and Cajun cuisine.

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Oktoberfest. Munich

Location: Munich, Germany.
Date: begins in late September and runs through the first weekend in October, lasting for approximately 16 to 18 days.

Oktoberfest in Munich is the world’s largest and most famous beer festival, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe. It’s a celebration of Bavarian culture, food, music, and, of course, beer.

The heart of Oktoberfest is the series of large beer tents set up on the festival grounds. Each tent is hosted by a different Munich brewery and features live music, traditional Bavarian food, and, of course, a wide variety of beers, including the famous *Märzen lager.

Oktoberfest in Munich offers a lively and culturally rich experience, combining the best of Bavarian hospitality, food, music, and beer. It’s a festive and joyful celebration where you can join people from all walks of life in celebrating the traditions and spirit of Germany.

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Rio Carnival. Rio de Janeiro

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Date: officially lasts for five days, starting on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and concluding on Ash Wednesday itself.

The Rio Carnival is one of the most iconic and exuberant carnival celebrations in the world. It’s a spectacular event known for its elaborate parades, samba music, colorful costumes, and vibrant street parties.

The centerpiece of the Rio Carnival is the samba parade, which takes place in the Sambadrome, a specially designed stadium for the event. Samba schools from various neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro compete in the parade, with each school presenting a unique theme, elaborate floats, and thousands of costumed dancers and musicians. The parades are a dazzling display of creativity, choreography, and rhythm.

The Rio Carnival is a vibrant and exhilarating celebration that provides an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in Brazilian culture, music, and dance. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that captures the spirit and passion of Rio de Janeiro, making it a must-visit event for those who love festive and colorful celebrations.

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San Fermin Festival, Pamplona

Location: Pamplona, Spain.
Date: July 6 – 14.

The San Fermín Festival in Pamplona (map), Spain, is internationally renowned for the Running of the Bulls (encierro) and is celebrated in honor of Saint Fermín, the patron saint of the city.

The festival kicks off with the “Chupinazo,” a massive party in Pamplona’s main square. At noon on July 6th, a rocket is launched, signaling the official start of the festivities. Revelers dress in white with red scarves, and the atmosphere is electric as people come together to celebrate.

The daily encierro takes place at 8:00 AM from July 7th to July 14th. Participants, known as “mozos,” run ahead of the bulls along a designated route that leads to the bullring. It’s a thrilling and dangerous tradition, and only those with experience and courage should attempt to run.

The San Fermín Festival in Pamplona offers an exhilarating and culturally rich experience, combining religious traditions with thrilling events and a lively party atmosphere. It’s a celebration of courage, camaraderie, and tradition that attracts people from all over the world, making it an unforgettable event for those who want to witness one of Spain’s most iconic festivals.

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Semana Santa. Seville

Location: Seville, Spain.
Date: late March or early April.

Semana Santa is a week-long religious observance leading up to Easter Sunday, during which Seville’s streets come alive with processions organized by different brotherhoods (hermandades) representing various churches and neighborhoods.

The heart of Semana Santa in Seville is the daily procession of pasos (floats) that depict scenes from the Passion of Christ, as well as images of the Virgin Mary. These pasos are carried on the shoulders of costaleros (bearers) and are often accompanied by penitents in robes, bands playing somber music, and incense.

Semana Santa in Seville is a profoundly moving and culturally rich experience, offering a glimpse into the deep religious traditions and devotion of the local population. It’s an opportunity to witness centuries-old rituals and immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of this iconic Spanish celebration.

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St. Patrick’s festival. Dublin

Location: Dublin, Ireland.
Date: March 17.

The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin is a joyful and culturally rich celebration that offers a warm welcome to visitors from around the world. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish traditions, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the heart of Ireland’s capital city.

The centerpiece of the festival is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which winds its way through the streets of Dublin. The parade features colorful floats, marching bands, community groups, and performers, all celebrating Irish heritage and traditions. It’s a family-friendly event that draws large crowds.

Dublin’s landmarks and buildings are illuminated in green light during the festival, giving the city a festive and vibrant atmosphere. Iconic sites like Trinity College (map), Dublin Castle (map), and the Ha’penny Bridge (map) are among those that participate in the “greening.”

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Summerfest. Milwaukee

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US.
Date: 11 days, including the final weekend of June and the first weekend of July.

Summerfest is a massive and diverse music festival that features a wide range of musical genres, performances by renowned artists, food vendors, interactive activities, and entertainment for all ages.

The festival typically attracts some of the biggest names in the music industry as headliners. Past performers have included renowned artists like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, and many others.

Summerfest in Milwaukee offers a vibrant and diverse music and cultural experience that celebrates the spirit of summer and the joy of live music. It’s an opportunity to see your favorite artists, discover new ones, and enjoy a festive atmosphere along the beautiful Lake Michigan (map) shoreline. Whether you’re a music enthusiast or looking for a fun summer getaway, Summerfest is a must-visit event in Wisconsin.

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Fallas de Valencia 2023

Du 4 février au 19 mars, Valencia est bouleversée par les Fallas, une fête qui allie tradition, satire et art et qu’il ne faut manquer pour rien au monde.

video source: Visit Valencia /youtube.com/