All over the world people like to celebrate their own cultures, this can be in the form of a music festival, perhaps an arts & crafts fair, or a food and drink extravaganza. Perhaps it is some sort of celebration of the time of the year, such as a Harvest Festival. We have traveled the globe in search of some of the more unusual festivals, fetes, and fairs to bring you the best of the best.
Celebrated mainly in Thailand but also in other parts of Southeast Asia is an event called Songkran. In a way it is one big New Year party, in respect to the Lunar New Year. The event takes place in April but the actual dates do change.
The original celebrations of Songkran were mainly by children to their elders, children would bathe their parents and other family elder’s feet with water as a mark of respect. But today commercialism has taken hold and it is one big water party.
Songkran can easily last a week, and different parts of Thailand celebrate it on different days. So you can start off in Chiang Mai in the north throwing and spraying water at anything that moves, and finish off in the south a week later.
It is an amazing festival, and the whole nation takes a three day public holiday to celebrate it. People generally travel back home to enjoy the event with their families, so the roads and flights are packed with the migration of the population.
The Palio di Siena
And as they say, it is now time for something completely different. And we travel to Europe and the beautiful Italian city of Sienna. Buried in the stunning Tuscan countryside Sienna is a jewel of a city, its narrow streets and atmospheric crumbling buildings paint a typical Italian scene.
And at its heart is the magnificent medieval square the Piazza del Campo, and the Palio di Sienna is a fantastic horse race like no other. It features ten riders and their mounts and no saddles are allowed, the skill of the rider is to stay on the horse during this frenetic race.
The riders all wear medieval clothes, and the colors represent ten contrades or wards of the city. So each rider is representing his own district. The real reason for the race is to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, but it is also for local honor.
Three laps of the piazza are undertaken, and it is common to see riders being hurled off their mounts as they try to turn in the hectic circle. The whole thing is over in about one and a half minutes but it is truly a great spectacle to see. With large crowds waving flags and cheering loudly you are almost taken back to medieval times.
These two great festivals show the diversity of the world, and how different cultures celebrate differently and in their own way. That is the beauty of festivals such as this, it brings communities together to uphold tradition and culture.