Exploring the world through a festival’s eyes
If you weren't aware Sydney's Mardi Gras was held on the weekend. These days this festival, and many others around the world like it, are big money spinners for local economies through hotel reservations, dining out at restaurants and maybe partaking in the local night life. We know only too well here in the Clarence Valley how festivals can help, just take a look at Grafton's Jacaranda Festival and the positive impact it has on business. So with the popular Mardi Gras behind us I thought it timely that I talk about other famous festivals around the world.
Rio Carnival (February/March)
Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnival is not only the biggest carnival, it is also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the globe.
Almost everyone has heard of the Rio Carnival. Foreign visitors to it alone number around 500,000 every year. This carnival is a wild four-day celebration, 40 days before Easter. It officially starts on Saturday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
It usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak. It is a euphoric event where people dance, sing, and party all night and all day. People eagerly anticipate the start of each year's event. It begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), who is presented with a giant silver and gold key by the city's mayor. The Rio Carnival culminates with the parade.
Getting to the Rio Carnival means a bit of preparation. You should not only book ahead your flight and accommodation but buy your Rio Carnival tickets in advance, too.
When you hear the word "Oktoberfest", it's almost certain that one thing comes to mind -- Bavarian Beer Festival. This massive 16-18 day festival is held each year in Munich, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October.
It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world's largest fair, with more than five million people attending every year.
The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wies'n for short, located near Munich's centre.
Visitors eat huge amounts of traditional hearty fare and of course there are the beer tents. You can drink beer by the litre and teetotallers don't need to worry: softdrink and water are also available. While you are there you will have to try traditional Bavarian food such as pretzels with a diameter of 15 inches. You will be entertained by live brass bands playing traditional Bavarian music, and enjoy yourself with hundreds of other people from all over the world, dancing and singing the hours away.
Pamplona Bull Run (July)
The festival of San Fermin, or the Pamplona bull running as it's more commonly known officially begins at midday on July 6 every year. Thousands of people congregate in the square awaiting the mayor's official announcement that the fiestas have begun, a rocket is launched and the partying begins. The Pamplona Bull Run takes place at 8am every morning from July 7 to 14.
Runners must be in the running area by 7.30am. The actual run stretches from the corral at Santo Domingo where the bulls are kept, to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. The length of the run is 825 metres and the average time of the run from start to finish is about three minutes. Each day six fighting bulls run the route as well as two herds of bullocks. Bull fights are then held each day. Tickets for the bullfights are sold out well in advance as the arena only holds 12,500 people so get in early.
Chelsea Flower Show (May)
The Chelsea Flower Show, officially the Great Spring Show, is a garden show held each year on five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London. It is the most famous gardening event in the world and part of London's summer social season.
Popular parts of the Chelsea Flower Show include the show gardens designed by leading names and the centrepiece of the floral marquee. The show receives a lot of publicity. It is attended by 157,000 visitors each year and all tickets must be purchased in advance. The show has become an important venue for watching trends and new plants are often launched at the show and the popularity of older varieties revived under the focus of the horticultural world. It is the garden design equivalent of a catwalk at an international fashion show.
If you wanted to and were able to, attending festivals is a great way to see and experience the world. You could almost travel for 12 months enjoying a different festival each month.
If you would like to know more on any international festivals please call into the office and talk to one of our friendly staff.