50 of the most unique festivals worth travelling across the world for

Image | Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan, Thailand by: myprdiaries.com

A festival is a simple concept of bringing people together to have a good time. There are tens of thousands of them around the world, but if you had to create a 2020 festival bucket list what would it look like? Besides just stacking your list with your top favourite music festivals to attend, Big 7 Travel has listed fifty of the top festivals across the world for you to consider.

These are the festivals that are worth turning into a vacation. From food and music to snow, comedy, tomatoes and film these are the world’s best festivals in 2020 according to the Big 7 Travel community.

Source | Big 7 Travel

1. Hogmanay – Edinburgh, Scotland

New Year’s Eve is celebrated in many different ways around the world, but few places are quite as spectacular as Edinburgh.

The festival features live music (ring in 2020 with Mark Ronson this year), street parties, fireworks and a torchlight procession. A festival experience you are never going to forget.

2020 festival bucket list

2. Snowbombing – Mayrhofen, Austria

The best live bands and DJs from across the globe convene on the Austrian slopes for a snow party that takes things to a whole new level.

2020 will feature six headline venues, four mountain stages, forest parties, butchers shop bashes and their infamous igloo raves. Being on a mountain party has never been this much fun.

3. Just For Laughs – Montreal, Canada

The world’s largest comedy festival is spread across Canadian cities and now the globe as they focus on their mission to “Make people happy”.

Multiple venues, 100s of great acts and spin-off events that make this the premium comedy event in the world.

2020 festival bucket list

4. National Buffalo Wing Festival – Buffalo, New York, USA

The festival happens over the two days of Labor Day Weekend and is a homage to all things chicken wings.

They’ve been running it for 18 years and it features lots of sampling of wings, eating competitions and awards for the best restaurants. The one thing we will say is to make sure you come with a serious appetite because you will be polishing off lots of chicken wings and beer.

2020 festival bucket list

5. The Colour Run – Orlando, Florida, USA

The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5k on the Planet, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality.

The run is held in over dozens of cities around the world but there is nowhere quite as vibrant and as exciting to experience it than this great city. Prepare yourself for a joyous outpouring of joy and lots of amazing brightly coloured photo opportunities.

2020 festival bucket list

6. Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain

When you are using the tapestry of this wonderful city and the proximity to the beach for a music festival you know it is going to be something good.

Amazing live acts, lots of chill areas to spend time with friends as well as a city packed full of great food. The festival has a wonderful vibe because so many nationalities visit the city, especially for the event. One for the 2020 festival bucket list.

7. Parklife – Manchester, England

In a city that is famous around the world for music, they’ve managed to create a brilliant festival that is packed every single year.

It’s big enough to have the huge acts, but also close to the city with an intimate feel to ensure it doesn’t feel too big. If the sun is shining in Manchester in June, a day at Park Life is one of the best festival experiences in the world.

8. Meatopia – London, UK

Founded in the US by the late great Josh Ozersky and brought to the UK by chef Richard H Turner, Meatopia is a festival of high quality, ethically sourced meat.

Everything is cooked with either wood or charcoal by some of the world’s leading chefs. Add in some great beers and cocktails and there are few better places to spend time with friends.

Sitting by the fire eating and drinking has always been one of life’s great pleasures, but this takes things to a whole new level. Outstanding.

2020 festival bucket list

9. Comic-Con – San Diego, California

The festival began in 1970 when a group of comics, movie, and science fiction fans came together to pay homage to their favourite characters. It’s become an iconic festival for fans all over the world, and there are now over 700 events to enjoy.

Highlights include Comic Industry Awards, the “Oscars” of the comics industry; a Masquerade costume competition with prizes and trophies; an Autograph Area; an Art Show; and Portfolio Reviews.

10. Albuquerque International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

For nine days in October, Albuquerque is transformed into a colourful fiesta with balloon rodeos, twilight balloon glows, and vibrant balloon-filled skies. For ballooning fans worldwide, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a must-visit.

When the dawn patrol gives the green light, balloons from all over the world rise together in a harmonious lift-off. The sight of 500 balloons in the sky is as breathtaking for first-time visitors as it is for veteran visitors.  There’s also a stellar line up of music acts performing.

11. Fuji Rock Festival – Niigata, Japan

Fuji Rock is the biggest music festival in the country – an annual three-day rock festival at Naeba Ski Resort with more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. It’s just a 90-minute train ride from Tokyo and there’s so much more than music to enjoy.

Think, hot springs to soak off that festival tiredness and nature walks in beautiful Japanese scenery.2020 festival bucket list

12. Boryeong Mud Festival – South Korea

This unique festival is one of Korea’s most popular summer festivals, and for good reason. The entire festival revolves around nutrient-rich mud, with plenty of mud themed events. Head to the Giant Mud Bath at the Mud Square and take part in recreational activities perfect for friends and families or pamper yourself with a mud massage or mud facial pack.

You can also enjoy creative activities like painting with coloured mud or take the challenge to pass through a mud maze as fast as you can. The festival mood is made even better by the EDM music pumping out at the Mud-M event!

13. King’s Day – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

King’s Day is when the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their king. King Willem Alexander was born on 27 April and so there are many parties, flea markets and boat cruises all across the city. Basically, the entire city turns into one giant festival, with everyone wearing orange and making toasts to the Royal family!

Your best bet is to rent a BYOB boat for the full party experience.

14. La Tomatina – Valencia, Spain

A Tomato Festival might sound a little odd, but this is one of the best festivals in the world. In a nutshell, it’s a huge food fight! For one hour of completely controlled chaos, you will be able to launch tomatoes in every nook and cranny of special “Tomatina zones” and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

La Tomatina takes place every August in Buñol, a little village near Valencia, Spain.

15. Fringe Festival – Edinburgh, Scotland

The world’s largest arts festival transforms Scotland’s capital every August and is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. There’s theatre, dance, cabaret, comedy, exhibitions, events, musicals, opera, children’s shows, music and more! Put it this way – the brochure is over 400 pages long, is on A4 paper, and has fairly small type. What we’re trying to say is that it’s huge. Really huge.

One thing that makes it so special is that the Fringe festival is open to anyone, so every year up-and-coming artists flock to Edinburgh to try out new material. There are also famous performers, of course.

16. Vegas Uncork’d – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit is a hugely popular food festival, held in hotels and restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip every May. The festival revolves around celebrity chef’s restaurants in Vegas, with Master Series restaurant dinners, tastings and the highlight: the Grand Tasting, a glamorous dining and drinking gala.

Mingle with famous chefs such as Michael Voltaggio, Roy Choi, Christina Tosi and Gordon Ramsay. And of course, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit throws great parties – an essential part of any trip to Sin City.

17. Meadows In The Mountains – Bulgaria

Meadows in the Mountains is one of the world’s most unique music festivals, taking place 850m above sea level in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains. The music line up is super alternative, with something for everyone. There are also Bulgarian folklore classes, storytelling, open mic sessions and all sorts of activities and events.

There’s no better festival sight than watching the sunrise over a mountain.

2020 festival bucket list

18. Mardi Gras – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Mardi Gras is about a month or so of parties named for just one day, Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent in February. The biggest celebrations and parades begin the Wednesday before Fat Tuesday. Colourful floats pass along the streets, there are parades, costume balls and parties.

Each parade krewe decides on its own theme each year, which is often kept secret until the parade. Their costumes, floats, some of their throws, and their “official” Mardi Gras poster (if they have one) reflect this theme. You’ll be covered in beads and have the time of your life.

19. Tasting – Adelaide, Australia

Tasting Australia is all about showcasing South Australian food and is one of the country’s longest-running food and wine festivals. Expect exclusive dinners, farm tours, tastings, masterclasses and market demos, all led by some of the country’s best home-grown heroes.

Head to Town Hall for the festival hub: there’s local food vendors cooking up a storm, plus several bars offering up boutique beers, Australian wines and locally produced spirits.

20. Bergenfest – Bergen, Norway

What began as a blues and Americana festival under the name OleBlues, Bergenfest has since evolved into an amazing music festival, with everything from rock to pop, hip hop, and beyond. Bergenfest is a four-day open-air festival held in the city centre of Bergen. The festival takes place on the grounds of a medieval fortress and castle, located on the quayside in the city’s historic centre.

Previous acts at the festival include Robert Plant, John Mayer, ZZ Top, Biffy Clyro, Imagine Dragons and Lana Del Rey to name a few.

2020 festival bucket list

21. SXSW – Austin, Texas, USA

Austin’s famous South by Southwest festival is an essential bucket list festival for any true music fan. Austin Convention Center and more than 50 venues host noted filmmakers, musicians and multimedia artists from around the world converge to showcase music, film and interactive media.

It’s now the largest music festival in the world and is well worth the $1,000+ price tag for access to all events. The music line up includes over 2,000 artists from more than 60 countries, and there’s plenty of movie premiers and tech and gaming events.

22. Melbourne Cup – Melbourne, Australia

The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most famous annual Thoroughbred horse race. The Melbourne Cup Carnival isn’t just about a single race – festivities overrun the city for more than a week, with four unique race days taking place. Watch the Melbourne Cup Parade, where the day before the race, tens of thousands of people head to the city centre for a parade of thoroughbreds, jockeys, trainers and celebrity guests.

As for the races themselves? Dress up, sip your champagne and hope that you pick a winner.

23. Brighton Festival – Brighton, England

Brighton Festival is an annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events – taking place in venues across Brighton & Hove for three weeks every May. Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme.

The schedule features over 130 events with artists and performers from more than 20 countries all encouraging audiences to meet, listen and pass on their experiences. The seaside city comes alive for one whole month of artistic madness.

24. Oktoberfest — Munich, Germany

Drink beer by the litre and eat traditional Bavarian food such as giant pretzels at this world-famous festival which brings more than six million people to the southern German city. Oktoberfest fans have 16 days to enjoy the world’s largest folk festival. It kicks off when the Mayor of Munich, exclaims “O’zapft is!” (“The barrel is tapped!”)

The 17 beer tents seat 120,000 people in total and serve beers produced specially for the Oktoberfest by Munich’s six major breweries. There’s also traditional Bavarian folk music and dancing, as well as amusement rides. It’s no wonder it’s now in its 186th year.

2020 festival bucket list

25. Defqon.1 Weekend Festival – Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands

Defqon.1 Weekend Festival is a hard dance festival that’s a dream come true for hardstyle, hard house and hard techno fans. With 14 stages, a lineup of over 250 artists and upwards of 80,000 attendees, the festival is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world.

The theme is ‘One Tribe’, with fans from all over the world uniting in their passion for the harder styles of music during the ultimate weekend of madness.

26. Carnival – Venice, Italy

This famous festival is a great excuse to don a mask and costume, parade around the city and enjoy live music in the main squares of the city. It was first held in Venice in the 11th century as a huge two-month party but fell into decline in the 18th century. The Venice Tourism Board brought it back in the 1970s and it’s since gone from strength to strength.

As in the past, private parties and masquerade balls still happen behind the scenes today, inside Venice’s grand noble palaces. You can rent historical and elaborate costumes from lots of places in the city, so you’ve no excuse not to dress up!

27. The Great Food Festival – Singapore

This tasty food festival at Resorts World™ Sentosa has some of the world’s best food. There’s great wines, masterclasses by the world’s top wine critics, festival-exclusive dishes created by acclaimed celebrity chefs, as well as exciting pop-up dining concepts.

The festival is split into different zones, with a Rollin’ Sweet Times section – an entire area for desserts and pastries. Get ready to gain 10kg and pig out on some of the best food in Asia.

28. La Batalla de Vino – Rioja, Spain

This famous wine throwing festival sees thousands of thirsty locals and a handful of lucky (wine addicted) tourists climb a mountain in La Rioja, Spain, and throw the sweet red liquid all over each other. The annual Haro Wine Festival is a hedonistic celebration of wine, grapes, people and drinking.

Make sure to Wine-proof your phone with a zip-lock bag or waterproof case. This is a festival you’re going to want to share all over social media!

29. Songkran – Thailand (Nationwide)

Thais celebrate the New Year festival with a four-day-long holiday every April that turns into a nationwide water fight. Across the country, there’s friendly water fights and street parties that last nearly a week. It’s also about the act of cleansing and has become one of the wildest water fights in the world.

Khao San Road in Bangkok is one of the craziest places for Songkran. We suggest you should visit this at least once. Prepare to get wet – very, very wet.

30. Ice and Snow Festival – Harbin, China

This incredible winter festival is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. It takes place from December until February, so you’ve no excuse not to visit! The Ice and Snow World is the main venue of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. This has the most beautiful ice sculptures during the festival and there will be more than 2,000 displayed.

As well as amazing ice sculptures, there’s also skiing, sledging, ice golf, ice archery winter swimming, fishing and more. Past sculptures include a teeth-chattering sculpture of The Great Wall (doubling as an ice slide)2020 festival bucket list

31. Easter Egg Festival – Bessieres, France

Every Easter, the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette gathers in Bessières, France, to crack more than 15,000 eggs, cook a giant omelette, and pass out portions to people in the crowd. The tradition is said to date back to the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. He and his soldiers stayed overnight nearby and asked locals to make a huge omelette for the entire army.

It takes around 90 minutes to break all of the eggs and around 30 minutes to cook it, with 50 people helping out! There’s also fun parades and live music. But let’s be honest – you’re here to eat the world’s biggest omelette

32. Coachella Music & Arts Festival – California, USA

The iconic Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival has become something of a cultural phenomenon. Expect fantastic food and celebrities showing up in their best desert boho outfits. There are all sorts of musical styles like Hip Hop, alternative rock and electronic music as well as large scale art installations.

Don’t manage to score tickets (they sell out in a flash!) but still want in on the festival atmosphere? There are plenty of events throughout the Greater Palm Springs area during both Coachella weekends.

33. Glastonbury – Planton, England

Glastonbury Festival is one of the world’s most famous music and performing arts festivals. Every year around 175,000 people flocks to this country farm to spend the weekend listening to the biggest names in music.

What began as a small, local event on a family farm in 1970 is now the largest green space open-air festival in the world. Tickets famously fly out quickly, but the BBC streams most of the main stage sets for live TV.  But honestly? You should do everything you can to get your hands on a ticket for this bucket list festival.

34. St Patrick’s Day Festival – Ireland

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but nowhere does it quite like Ireland, the home of the festival. The St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin is a five-day event of outstanding Irish and international entertainment, with a huge street carnival held on the 17th March.

City landmarks turn green, it’s a national holiday for the entire country and Guinness flows faster than it does all year. As well as parades, you can take part in the world’s largest outdoor céilí. St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish.

35. Carnaval — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Quite possibly the world’s greatest street celebration, Rio’s Carnival also gathers people in many city spots in the Carnival block parties, where foliose dance on the streets, with or without costumes.

This is a non-stop party that includes free street festivities, balls, the Samba Parade, and major off-Carnaval parties with the best DJ’s from all around the world. A top choice to put on your 2020 festival bucket list.

2020 festival bucket list

36. Sky Lantern Festival – Pingxi, Taiwan

This unique Taiwanese lantern festival is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see, as thousands of lanterns float into the sky carrying the prayers and vows of locals and tourists alike. Every year, thousands flock to the village of Pingxi for its annual Lantern Festival.

There’s also folk performances, lantern riddle contests, and street folk carnivals.

37. Roskilde – Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Festival is more than music, art, food and parties. Much more. It’s also a week-long celebration of togetherness and community and a true once in a lifetime experience.

They place a huge emphasis on sustainability, as well as education and what they call “creative kinship”. It’s a must-experience bucket list festival for 2020.

38. Montreux Jazz Festival – Montreux, Switzerland

You don’t need a huge love of jazz to enjoy this incredible gathering of people in a stunning setting. Without doubt one for your 2020 festival bucket list.

You will, of course, find some of the world’s biggest jazz stars here, but it is so much more about the chilled ambience and the socialising. You’ll feel right at home on the shore of Lake Geneva at what is the world’s second-biggest jazz festival and which is about to enter its 54th year.

39. AFROPUNK – Various

They have festivals in Atlanta, Johannesburg, London, Paris and of course Brooklyn, where it all began.

AFROPUNK is an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more. Originating with the 2003 documentary that highlighted a Black presence in the American punk scene, it is a platform for the alternative and experimental.

40. Sundance Film Festival – Utah, USA

The largest independent film festival in the United States that is an absolute paradise for movie lovers as well as being a serious industry-shaping event.

Around 50,000 people from all walks of life attend every year. Their awards are seen as a serious badge of honour for upcoming movies. It started out in 1978 as a way of attracting more filmmakers to Utah but is now known globally as one of the world’s best movie festivals. One for the 2020 festival bucket list.

2020 festival bucket list

41. Tompkins Square Park Halloween Parade – New York City, New York, USA

Halloween is a fun time of year for so many reasons, and one of those is getting dressed up and wearing unique costumes.

Why should that just be limited to humans though? This festival has been running in New York for 25 years and features a parade of the best-dressed dogs. There are even cash prizes for the winners. It’s too cute not to see at least once in your lifetime!

42. Tomorrowland – Boon, Belgium

The Tomorrowland brand now straddles the world, with multiple global events but the original was in Belgium is still the place to go.

The world’s best DJs play to huge crowds with special aeroplanes jetting in, as party-goers arrive from all over the world. The spirit of the festival is very much focused on youth with an ambition to lead and inspire the next generation. Tickets sell out fast, but if you manage to get one you’ll never forget this festival.

2020 festival bucket list

43. Burning Man – Nevada, USA

The event takes place in the most unlikely of places: the middle of the Nevada desert, where an entire city is built from scratch.

70,000 people come to the festival for a week, paying just shy of $500 for a ticket and have been doing so for 33 years now.

The event is very much an experiment in counter-culture with bartering instead of cash used for goods, and people getting around the huge site using bikes. The name comes from the huge wooden structure which is at the centre of the “city”. It’s set on fire at the end of the festival in an awe-inspiring scene.

44. Alba White Truffle Fair – Piedmont, Italy

If you are a foodie and want to experience what many consider to be one of the world’s great (and most expensive!) delicacies then this is the place to do it.

People come to see demonstrations, to trade white truffles and mostly to eat dishes created by master chefs and street traders.

The old town is the perfect backdrop for this glorious celebration of all things white truffle. If you love food this is definitely one for the 2020 festival bucket list.

2020 festival bucket list

45. Notting Hill Carnival – London, England

Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world’s largest street carnivals, that has a Caribbean spirit at its heart.

Celebrations include costume-clad Caribbeans dancing to traditional reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba, and zouk music, and street vendors selling foods like seasoned jerk chicken, callaloo, and traditional goat stew.

The festival is free so just find yourself the perfect vantage point and enjoy this wonderful collision of colour, joy and merriment.

46. Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan, Thailand

This is one of the most famous parties in the world and is a must-visit for anybody travelling around South East Asia.

What until only a decade ago was a small gathering has sprouted into a huge event with 1,000s of people flocking to the beach?

You’ll find lots of music, the famous buckets of alcohol and lots of creative performers from fire throwers to jugglers. The best bit? It takes place every single month!

47. Women in Comedy Festival – Boston, USA

The comedy world has a reputation for being dominated by men, so this festival aims to bridge the diversity gap in the best possible way…with lots of laughs.

This will be the 11th year of WICF. It brings together individuals from all walks of comedy, giving comedy audiences a chance to see work from both local and nationally known comedians, and enabling industry a chance to scout terrific talent.

2020 festival bucket list

48. Pride – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This is a city that truly knows how to express itself and throw a good party.

There are dozens of cities that throw a great Pride event, but when people spill into the streets and canals of Amsterdam it is a truly magical experience.

Join in the parades or simply come and watch the explosion of the colour, raucous fund and most of all pride shown by people from all walks of life. If you’ve never been then it’s a must for your 2020 festival bucket list. Without doubt one for your 2020 festival bucket list.

49. Fashion Week – London, England

While there are four truly great fashion weeks (Milan, Paris and New York complete the quartet) London is a city that comes alive during the event like no other.

You’ll find dozens of different designer catwalks, creative Installations, talks, creative labs and of course the legendary evening parties. If you love fashion and want to feel inspired – or find a way into the industry – then September in London is the only place to be.

2020 festival bucket list

50. New Year’s Eve – Sydney, Australia

What better way to round off 2020 (or indeed start the year) than to head “Down Under” to one of the most recognisable spectacles in the world.

Attend one of the parties, or if you are really lucky, find yourself a spot on a boat and watch the fireworks. The whole event is watched by over a million people in person with an electric atmosphere and everybody in great spirits. A great way to finish your 2020 festival bucket list.

2020 festival bucket list

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