Magh Mela Festival India
The Magh Mela is one of the most sacred Hindu festivals, which takes place annually. Millions (up to 30) of devotees make their way to the confluence of three sacred rivers (the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) with the belief that the holy waters will wash away their sins. Every 12 years, the positions of stars and constellations make the rivers all the more sacred, enabling them to cure illnesses and purifying the devotees’ inner-selves – and that is when Kumph Mela takes place.
When: 2 January – 13 February 2018
Where: Triveni Sangam, India
Snow and Ice Festival
China’s coldest city plays host to the annual Harbin Snow & Ice Festival, which showcases jaw-dropping works of art, sculpted with ice from the Songhua River. This ephemeral art show is the ultimate Winter Wonderland and will delight kids just as much as adults. But make sure to bundle up, as temperatures in this northeast Chinese city can fall as low as minus 30 degrees centigrade!
When: opens January 5 2018
Where: Harbin, China
Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan
Celebrating the Lantern Festival doesn’t get any better than in Pingxi. Every year, this city located north of Taipei, welcomes throngs of tourists and locals, inviting them to release lanterns into the sky, each inscribed with the owner’s wishes for the upcoming year. Thousands of lanterns floating into the night sky make for some pretty stunning photographs!
When: 2 March 2018
Where: Pingxi, Taiwan
Another Hindu festival not to be missed is the Holi Festival (aka Festival of Colors), which celebrates the end of winter and beginning of spring. Prior to the street dancing and colour water fights, a Holika bonfire takes place the night before, symbolising the burning of the devil (Holika). From there begins a day-long carnival of colours. Don’t forget to bring your own dye to partake in the festivities!
When: 1 March 2018
Where: India, Nepal and popular in many parts of South Asia.
An important date in the Buddhist calendar, Songkran marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. Locals celebrate by soaking anyone in the vicinity by any means possible (buckets of water and water guns are often the weapons of choice). Processions of Buddhas also take place on the first day of the festival (Songkran Day), followed by Wan Nao (Buddhists going to the temple) on the second day. On the third and last day (the Thai New year), offerings are left at temples.
When: 13 to 16 April 2018
Where: celebrated all over Thailand, but the most reputed Songkran festivity takes place in Chiang Mai
An off the beaten track alternative to Songkran, is Thingyan, the Burmese New Year Water Festival, which takes place over 4 to 5 days. The sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl marks the washing away of sins from the previous year. Everyone is fair game – with the exception of monks and pregnant women – and you can expect to be soaked to the bone!
When: 13 to 16 April 2018
Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival
If there was an Olympic medal for World’s Greatest Temple Festival, the Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival would win hands down. Every year, 30 or so elephants dressed to the nines, parade in the streets of Kerala and head to Vadakkunnathan temple, where Hindus then pay their respects to Shiva.
When: 26 April 2018
Where: Thrissur, Kerala, India