Festivals, done differently

There are festivals – featuring hyped-up bands, overpriced food and hour-long lines for the bathrooms – and then there are festivals. We’re talking dancing in the streets at Morocco’s colourful Gnaoua Festival, getting creepy alongside thousands of revellers in New York City’s Halloween parade and shaking what your mama gave you at Cuba’s Carnival. Hit up the party or check out our special event departures below to get your spot at some of the world’s coolest events with Geckos.

Trip Name Days From NZD
India's Diwali Festival

8

$1,140

Day of the Dead Oaxaca

9

$2,125

Halloween in America

7

$2,125

Canada Winter Festivals

14

$4,275

Meet our festival line-up

Day of the Dead – Oaxaca

Dia de los Muertos is a serious, spiritual festival in Mexico, a chance to go to cemeteries with loved ones and welcome recently departed family members. Experience the celebrations like the locals do in Oaxaca. Papier-mâché skeletons shimmy down the streets, women paint their faces up like Catrina (the female skeleton symbol of Dia de los Muertos), street vendors serve piping hot cochinita pibil tacos and craft stalls pop up all over the place. It’s the rave from beyond the grave.

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Gnaoua Festival – Morocco

If you haven’t heard of Gnawa music, you’re not alone. Indigenous to Northern Africa, it’s a mystical, religious chant, with tunes often lasting several hours (not all that Top 40-friendly). Each year in Essaouira, Gnawa players gather, along with jazz, pop, rock and soul musicians, to celebrate music, culture and tradition. Thousands of punters cram the port city and dance in the streets, as markets pop up and musicians of all styles jam together to create strange musical fusion. Glastonbury this is not.

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Halloween - Salem & New York

Thanks to its part in the witch trials of the 1600s, Salem has become America’s unofficial Halloween capital. So really, where else would you spend October (apart from New York for their famous Village Halloween Parade, but we’ll get to that)? There are ghost tours, something called Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, live music venues, markets, street food and a recreation of a famous witch trial (you even get to be on the Puritan jury). But wait, there’s more. Swing by spooky Sleepy Hollow for a ghost story or two, then dress up in your creepiest costume for Manhattan’s Village Halloween Parade.

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Diwali Festival - India

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights is a classic celebration of good triumphing over evil (although in a slightly sparklier fashion than Batman and the Joker). And when you picture millions of lights shining over the top of Indian households and buildings, you can start to understand the feelings of joy and hope this five-day festival brings. Be prepared to dress to the nines, light candles, lanterns and whatever other shining lights you can get your hands on, before joining us for celebrations and sweet treats with the locals.

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Carnival – Cuba

Rio may be the booty-shakin’ Carnival capital, but it’s fair to say the secret’s out on that one. Rock up to the Samba Drome expecting a boutique, personal experience and you’ll probably have an aneurism. Off-the-beaten-track it is not. But one Carnival that no-one talks about is Santiago de Cuba, the time-warp island’s biggest celebration. Big carnival bands called comparsas take to the streets (along with thousands of locals, some still in hair curlers and carpet slippers) to form massive conga lines. At night, the big floats come out, and everyone gets silly on cheap rum and salsa music. It’s Cuba at its most colourful. And that’s saying a lot. 

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Winter Festivals - Canada

Oh Canada, the home of maple syrup, hockey, grizzly bears, the Biebs and the stunning Rocky Mountains. There’s a lot to love, and even more to celebrate about this great land – no wonder the locals throw so many shindigs all year round. Join us on a trip taking in not one, but five major winter festivals! Dance up a storm celebrating diversity at Whistler’s Pride Festival, catch the pros spinning tricks on the slopes in Banff and check out ice dragons on the shores of Lake Louise. With included walks through the magical Maligne Canyon, a behind-the-scenes visit to the Canmore Hockey Club, and even toasted s’mores around the fire, this is a Canadian winter with all the trimmings.

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or check out our special event departures

Witness the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan 

Get soaked at Thailand's Songkran Water Festival 

Attend a Dawn Service at the site of the Gallipoli, Turkey

Jump on our Buenos Aires to Rio trip, arriving into Brazil for the biggest party in Latin America - Rio Carnival!

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