5 Amazing Spring Festivals To Visit

Queen's Day

In many people’s minds, fall is festival season. Indeed, it’s when many of the world’s finest music, food, drink, and harvest festivals take place, so the reputation is justified. But for any traveler looking to attend the most unique and enjoyable festival events in the world, the spring season has a lot to offer as well, and now’s about the time to start making arrangements! With that in mind, here’s a look at five spectacular spring festivals around the world.

Mardi Gras (New Orleans, USA – February)

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

Mardi Gras isn’t for the faint of heart and it’s not a destination for family travel. But aside from those concerns, it’s one of the best celebrations on the planet. Originally meant as a final party before Lent—a time when one is supposed to give up sinful activity—you can imagine it has a wild side. But it also has its parade-like elements. Basically, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long party on some of the most famous streets of New Orleans. People take in all the traditional food, dress up in quirky costumes, and shower one another with beads and ceremonial necklaces (and, yes, do a good bit of drinking). The official Mardi Gras website has a number of pictures and videos that can give you a good idea of just what the atmosphere can be like. 

Las Fallas (Valencia, Spain – March)

Las Fallas, Valencia
Spain is actually better known for two other festivals—the Running of the Bulls, and La Tomatina—but Las Fallas represents a strange custom and makes for an enjoyable festival worth attending earlier in the year. Don Quijote, a Spanish language and culture site, teases the festival by asking, “Does the smell of gunpowder excite you? Does the sight of flames make you smile?” That alone ought to tell you you’re in for a wild time at Las Fallas! Basically, the festival involves the elaborate creation of human-esque dolls (some of which are as tall as buildings) called ninots. Then, naturally, you watch their destruction by way of flame and firework. The result is a four-day reverie of celebration and fire. 

St. Patrick’s Day Festival (Dublin, Ireland – March)

St. Patrick's Day, Dublin
These days, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in much of the world, but the Dublin festival still stands as the center of it all. It stands to reason, really, that if the rest of the world is going to celebrate Irish customs and heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin should have the wildest celebration of all. Most who have been there for the holiday will tell you that’s exactly the case,  and it’s more than just downing pints of Guinness. In Dublin, it turns into a full-on parade and festival, consisting of everything from walking tours, to costumed processions, to the traditional greening of the city.

The Grand National (Aintree, England – April)

The Grand National, Aintree

It may not be a festival in the traditional sense of the word, but The Grand National—a three-day horse racing event that brings the best jumpers in Europe to Aintree—is every bit a festive gathering. The races take center stage, but it is filled with additional elements of entertainment, from restaurants and bars on site, to a crowd of spectators who are always in good spirits. Fashion is of great importance at this event as well. The middle day is even designated specifically as “Ladies Day,” which is when people are meant to wear their brightest and boldest attire. But again, it’s the races that matter most, and the 40-horse Grand National race on the final day can be breathtaking, particularly with much of the crowd having bet on the outcomes. Betfair Betting will have updated odds on the race along with tips and analysis from experts as the Grand National draws closer. While there’s no need to study in-depth unless you’re going to place a bet, the event is all the more enjoyable if you know the horses and favourites!

Queen’s Day (Netherlands – April)

Queen's Day, the Netherlands
When you think of the word “festival,” Queen’s Day may be the closest approximation of what comes to mind, in that it has pretty much every element of a scheduled, festive gathering. Throughout the Netherlands (and particularly in Amsterdam), Queen’s Day amounts to an outdoor frenzy of musical concerts, artistic performances, street fairs, and parties that even extend out onto boats that sit on the canals. Go Amsterdam has more information on the histories and traditions of the festival, but for travel planning purposes you can just think of it as a city-wide celebration. It’s also worth noting that some have begun to call Queen’s Day “King’s Day” (in recognition of the new King as of April 2013).

This article was written by Samantha Merritt

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