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10 unmissable festivals to celebrate in 2021

Festivals are the best way to celebrate life in all its variety, and what better way to do this than to join in some of the biggest parties around the world. Here are 10 top festivals to join in 2021.
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Thimphu Festival - Bhutan

One of the largest events in the Bhutanese calendar, due to it taking place in the capital, Thimphu Festival draws locals and tourists alike. Before the festival itself, there are days and nights of rituals and prayers to invoke the gods. These are then followed by street dances in which performers wear masks and enact stories and myths. It's a mesmerising spectacle and the atmosphere is electric.
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Timkat - Ethiopia

Celebrated throughout Ethiopia, Timkat is the Ethiopian Epiphany, marking Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. In Axum, the home of the fabled Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant, local worshippers jump into pools of water, blessed by the priests. In Lalibela, the former capital, the rock-hewn churches are the start and end points, with pilgrims following the rhythm of drums behind the priests and their anointed tabots. It's truly a sight to behold.
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Day of the Dead - Mexico

El dia de los muertos, as the festival is known in Spanish, has been around for nearly 3,000 years; though the festivities have changed over time. Nowadays the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 2 in Mexico, with street parades, fancy dress (the skull faces are a vibrant display here and an iconic symbol of the festival worldwide); and offerings of food and drink are made, for the dead and living to enjoy together on this special day.
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Naadam Festival - Mongolia

Centred around Ulaan Baatar, the 'Three Games of Mongolia' display the prowess of these nomadic peoples. The games of Naadam comprise horse-racing, wrestling and archery; as well as the sports there is also singing, dancing and performing. Naadam has a festival atmosphere akin to Glastonbury, with many of the groups gathering into herds and camping out together.
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Medellin Flower Festival - Colombia

Colombia's La Feria de las Flores is a vibrant flower festival celebrated during July and August each year. The fair began as a way to celebrate and showcase the work of the local farmers. Now the final day of the celebrations is dedicated to them. Colourful homemade silleteros (chairs covered with floral displays) are carried on the farmers backs in the hopes of winning the accolade of best design. This lively show is is well worth a look.
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Sapporo Ice Festival - Japan

The Sapporo Ice Festival is the perfect way to dispel the winter blues. Based in the northernmost city in Japan, this city is covered in snow between January and March and it is transformed into a winter wonderland. Sculptures are carved into ice - some of them huge - depicting wildlife, famous historical scenes, myths and even anime characters. The sight becomes truly magical at night when the statues are lit by candles and coloured lights. After all this, you can head to the ice bar to refresh yourselves with tasty Japanese drinks.
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Voodoo Ceremony - Benin

Watch the incredible Voodoo ceremony in Benin. Dancers fall into deep trances at the rhythm of the drums ,while a Voodoo priest watches over the proceedings. There are some indications that the Voodoo religion comes from ancient animism, these days the mysticism that surrounds these ceremonies only increases the thrill of watching them take place.
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Hemis Festival - Tibet

The festival of Hemis in the Ladakh region of Tibet, celebrates the birth of Guru Padamsambhav and the victory of good over evil. The main event of the festival depicts this battle with a masked dance-performance called a cham. This vibrant, colourful dance follows the slow rhythms of drum beats and the exuberant dancing is greeted with great enthusiasm by the crowd. It's hard not to be drawn into this magnificent display.
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Semana Santa, Holy Week - Guatemala

This week-long festival follows the last week of lent, with reenactments of pivotal scenes from the Bible held at various points in the city throughout the week. The most spectacular, and often most moving, of which are on Good Friday, when the procession follows the bright and intricately-patterned flower and sawdust carpets through the streets of Antigua for all to observe and pay homage.
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Pushkar Fair - India

The Pushkar Camel Fair brings together large numbers of people to marvel at the highly decorated camels and wander among the food and handicraft stalls to the sounds of instruments played by local musicians. It's a fantastic experience simply to soak up the ambience and chat to the locals who are more than willing to share their time and stories with visitors.
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Want to discover more festival trips?


Check out all of our festival trips around the world for 2021.
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