One of the great things about travel is the chance to immerse yourself in another culture. And what better way to see that fantastic culture on display than during a festival?
Whether its' religious, musical, artistic, commemorative or just for the heck of it, festivals have a way of bringing people together. There's usually some delicious traditional food on offer, music and a chance to get to know people while they are at their most relaxed.
Throughout June there are some great festivals happening around the world. Take a look at what's on offer and if you can't make it this year, then book something in for 2013!
Dragon Boat Festival: Húnán province, China
You'll know it by the procession of drums, as locals gather to commemorate the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan (Chu Yuan). Dragon Boat Races take place, with the winning team having to hang from the Dragon Head on their boat to grab the victory flag. Food is an important part of the celebrations, with zongzi dumplings and local wine (hsiung huang) on offer. Celebrations go late into the night with fireworks and traditional Chinese dancing.
Date: Fifth day of the fifth lunar month
El Colacho (Baby-jumping Festival): Castrillo de Murcia, Burgos, Spain
In a nutshell - grown men dress up in red and yellow costumes and leap over babies. The little-known ritual has taken place in the province of Castilla y León in northwest Spain since 1620. The idea behind El Colacho is that the jumpers, with their devil costumes, whips and truncheons, are meant to signify evil. When they leap, evil follows them and the babies’ souls are cleansed.
Date: Sunday following Corpus Christi
Festas dos Santos Populares (Feast Days of the Popular Saints): Lisbon, Portugal
June marks the start of the summer festivals in Lisbon, and the nights are filled with lively festivities, parades and music. There is a party spirit in the air as tables are put in the streets, cafes are full, the smell of grilled sardines fills the air and music surrounds the city. The party goes on all night, spilling from bars into the streets and peoples backyards. The main Saints’ days are for Antonio (June 12-13), John (June 23-24) and Peter (June 28-29).
Dates: 12-14 June
Baroque Music Festival: Montreal
Montral is one of North America’s most charming big cities, and it positively sparkles with music during the 10th annual Baroque Music Festival. This year's theme is taken from the Mayan calendar,“Apocalypse: Transformations & Revelations.” Highlights include the “Parade of Transformations & Revelations,” an equestrian ballet set to Lully’s “Le Carrousel du Roy” and a grand finale of Telemann’s “The Day of Judgment” held in the historic Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.
Dates: June 21-24
Summer Solstice: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England
Summer solstice is a subject of much controversy. Having inspired ancient druids to perform rituals at stone circles and Burning Man founder Larry Harvey to incinerate an effigy, its very name causes discord. The solar event, when the sun is directly above the northern hemisphere, indicates that hemisphere’s midsummer. However, because the same moment is midwinter in the southern hemisphere, it could more neutrally be called the northern solstice.
Date: 21 June
Regatta of St Ranieri: Palazzo Medici, Pisa, Italy
Venice may be famous for its gondolas, but across the country, Pisa stages this 1500m dash up the River Arno, a tradition dating to the 1290s. The four narrow rowboats, differently coloured to represent the city’s four districts, each contain a steersman, a climber, and eight oarsmen struggling against the current.
Date: 17 June
Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun): Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru
Each winter solstice, the residents of Cusco, Peru, celebrate Inti Raymi, an ancient Incan festival honouring the rebirth of the sun. Participants in ceremonial dress parade through the city playing traditional Incan instruments, and lead a procession up to the huge fortress of Sacsayhuaman for more ritual dancing and music.
Date: June 24
Battala dos Vinos (Battle of the Wines): Biliblio, Haro, La Rioja, Spain
Wine flows in the streets during this century-old “battle”. It has its origins in a dispute between Haro and neighboring Miranda de Ebro over ownership of some hills. Nowadays, there are no sides or teams; people gather at the hilltop with full wineskins and water guns and joyously squirt anyone they can.
Date: June 29
Lajkonik Festival: Rynek Glówny, Krakow, Poland
According to Polish legend, when the head of Krakow’s defensive raftsmen defeated a Tatar marauder in the 13th century, he slipped into the Mongolian’s robes and triumphantly rode into the city.
Date: Thursday after Corpus Christi
If you'd like to head overseas and soak up the festive atmosphere, take a look through all our trips and find one that suits you.