Where: Pingxi, Taiwan – Republic of China
When: 10 February 2017
According to the elders of Pingxi, the Sky Lantern Festival originated in the Xing Dynasty, more than two thousand years ago. At that time, bands of outlaws frequently raided the lowland villages, forcing residents to seek refuge in the mountains. Village watchmen used “fire balloons” as signals to inform the residents that their houses were safe once again and when those hiding in the hills saw the celestial flares, they knew it was time to go home. Today these lanterns have two main purposes. One: they display scribbled messages of the hopes and dreams of the purchaser who then release them into the night sky by the power of fire; and Two: they represent the end of the Chinese New Year period and their release symbolizes the shedding of outdated ways and embracing the future.
The Discovery Channels ‘Fantastic Festivals of the World’ show has highlighted the Lantern Festival as one of the best festivals in the world and something everyone should try and experience once in their lifetime.
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana – USA
When: 28 February 2017 (Parades & celebrations run through 24 -28 February)
Mardi Gras is synonymous with hedonism and debauchery, and with a motto of Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll), it’s no surprise that this is probably the wildest party in the United States. It may be a surprise to some, however, that Mardi Gras is the official final celebration before the period of Lent, the Catholic period of introspection and sacrifice. But whatever your religion – everyone is welcome! So grab your purple, green and gold (the festivals official colors representing justice, faith and power) and take to the streets for one of the biggest parties of your life.
During the day, it’s fun to wander around the ancient streets of the city surrounded by people in 18th century costumes – you’ll feel as if you’ve jumped straight into Eyes Wide Shut. Just make sure you try and get away from the busy streets around San Marco Square – the Cannaregio and Dorsoduro areas offer great choices to party with locals, especially at night when most day trippers leave.
Where: Park City, Utah – USA
When: 19 January – 29 January 2017
Sundance is North America’s most famous independent film festival, appealing to the non-conformist and rebellious film directors who do not want to play by Hollywood’s rules. Located in a relatively small town, first time attendees may be surprised by the lack of glamour of where the films are shown, but there is a certain buzz about sitting in an old theater watching a mold-bursting indie film sat besides an actor about to hit super-stardom. If you love edgy, powerful films, Sundance may be just what you are looking for
Where: Nara, Japan
When: 28 January 2017 (or 29 January 2017 in case of bad weather)
The name of the festival literally translates as ‘The Mountain Roast’ and is where on the 4th Saturday in January each year, the dead grass on the hillside of Mount Wakakusayama is set ablaze – but until after one epic fireworks display. There are two theories of the evolution of the festival. The first claims that the burning of the mountainside began during boundary conflicts between Nara’s great temples (Tōdai-ji and Kōfuku-ji), while another claims the fires were used to drive away wild boars. Once set ablaze the mountain can burn for up to an hour and because of the mountains elevation it can be seen from anywhere in the city. MORE HERE
An entire hill is set ablaze in winter. A New Year event which originated in boundary disputes among temples.
Rising 342 meters above sea level, Mt. Wakakusayama, also known as Mt. Mikasayama, was formerly a volcano. Burning up the entire hill, this New Year event is held every year on the fourth Saturday of January.
The origins of this event are said to lie in a dispute over the boundaries of Kofuku-ji Temple located in Nobori Oji-cho, Nara City and Todai-ji Temple, which is famous for its Great Buddha statue in Zoshi-cho, also in Nara City. The boundary dispute got out of control and when an official acted as mediator in 1760, Mt. Wakakusayama, the very center of the conflict, was set ablaze. According to other explanations, the mountain was burned to drive away wild boars or to exterminate harmful insects.
A torch is lit with sacred fire at Kasuga Taisha Shrine. This sacred fire is carried down to a small shrine at the foot of the hill by a parade of Buddhist monks. First, the hill is ignited with the sacred fire by members of Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji and Kasuga Taisha. Then 200 fireworks are launched and the hill continues to burn for some 30 minutes. With the fire brigade standing by, there’s no need to worry about the fire spreading. This fire spectacle can be seen from the surrounding towns, but Nara City which faces the hill offers the most beautiful views. If you wish to get a fine view, you are advised to secure a spot early. As it is very cold, make sure you are warmly clothed, and don’t forget to take binoculars with you for a better view. Of course, entry to Mt. Wakakusayama is prohibited during the festival, but it is also closed for the greater part of the year to protect the grass apart from certain periods during spring and autumn.