3 National Festivals Around the World

A national festival is a day for the people of a country to come together and share a pride and passion for their home and its traditions. The beautiful thing about having so many countries and cultures around the world is that there is so much to see and explore, and visiting somewhere during a national festival is an amazing way to see what a country is truly all about. The question is, where to go? National festivals celebrate a vast array of concepts, from traditional ones such as the Obon Festival in Japan, which involves families pushing floating lanterns onto water to represent their ancestors’ spirits being sent off, to the Gay Pride Parade in Amsterdam, a more recently celebrated festival that commemorates the devotion of equality towards gay and lesbian communities.

We have put together some festivals that a certainly worth experiencing on your luxury holiday, and we have chosen our favourite picks of hotels for you to stay in when you go away!

La Tomatina

The Fetsival of throwing tomatoes. Yes, it really is that simple! La Tomatina is a huge food fight held in Bunol, a town near Valencia in Spain, where the population is around 9,000. In 2012, it was reported that 50,000 people crammed into Bunol to take part in the world’s biggest food fight, and since it has been requested that you buy a ticket in order to enter the event, narrowing the attendance down to a lucky 20,000 people. Shopkeepers cover their shopfronts with huge plastic covers to protect them from the huge mess that takes place.

What actually happens?

The trucks haul the tomatoes at 11am. The tradition is that someone in the crowd must climb up a two-storey high, greasy wooden pole and retrieve a piece of coveted ham at the top, which they can keep for themselves. Sometimes this is achieved, and sometimes it isn’t, but this does not stop the tomato fight taking place! The start of the fight is signalled by the shooting of water cannons, and then it is every man for himself! The fight ends after an hour, when the people and the roads are then hosed down.

How did it begin?

La Tomatina has been tradition since around 1944. There are lots of theories how it may have begun, such as a food fight among local friends, a juvenile class war, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a practical joke on a bad musician, and the anarchic aftermath of an accidental lorry spillage. Although there is great uncertainty about how it all began, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the year after, and so on. It was banned during the Spanish State period when Francisco Franco declared it banned as it had no religious meaning, but after his demise it returned.

Where to Stay?

The Westin Valencia

3 National Festivals Around the World - La tomato

Primus Valencia

3 National Festivals Around the World - Spain

Yi Peng

Yi Peng is the Thai festival whereby monks perform chants during an on-stage ceremony, creating a joyful setting before thousands of people release khom loi (lit lanterns) into the night sky. This is only half of the Thai Festival of Lights, with the other key part being when people let go of krathong, small floating vessels into lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of water. The vessels are made of banana stalks, bread and other natural materials and are decorated with incense, offerings, flowers and candles. Music performances, beauty pageants, bright parades, traditional dances, lantern contests, fireworks and lots of food also come together to make this festival a truly mesmerising experience.

Why does it happen?

Yi Peng and Loy Krathong light festival began as Brahmanic tradition, which was later adopted by Buddhists as a way of honouring the Buddha. The flickering light in the lanterns reflects the peoples’ respect and reverence for the Buddha, and participating in these acts serves as time to let go of negativity and personal demons. Many people also use this time to honour their Hindu water goddess.

Want to get involved?

There is normally a re-run of the festival about a week after the official one just for westerners and tourists. Admission and a lantern can be bought from about 100$. The biggest of celebrations is found in the north of Thailand, in a town called Chiang Mai. English translation makes this even more appealing to tourists. You don’t have to be in Chiang Mai to take part. You will see acts take place all over Thailand and in its surrounding countries.

Where to Stay?

Anantara Chiang Mai

 3-National-Festivals-Around-the-World-Chiang-Mai

Oktoberfest

The world’s largest beer festival is held annually around the end of Septemeber into the beginning of October and is around 16 days long. For these 16 days, around 6 million people travel to Munich in Germany where it is held, and several other cities around the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations. It is folk festival and has been a huge part of Bavarian culture since it began in 1810. 7.7 million litres of beer were served in this 16-day festival in 2013, and visitors can enjoy lots of other attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls, games, traditional food and there are lots and lots of street food vendors scattered around with delicious cuisine to try.

How did it start?

Citizens were invited to attend the festivities of the marriage of Prince Ludwing and Princess Therese of Saxony on 12th October 1810 in Munich. The fields where these were held were named Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Fields) in the princess’ honour, which has now been abbreviated by locals to “Wies’n”. This event is now celebrated as a festival by the whole of Bavaria, and it was repetition of the closing horse races in further years that made Oktoberfest a tradition.

Oktoberfacts

  • Only six breweries are allowed to participate in Oktoberfest, all brewing within the Munich city limits: Hofbräuhaus München, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Paulaner Bräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr Bräu and Augustiner Bräu. Each brewery has a tent where only their beer is served.
  • It wasn’t until 1892 that beer was served in glass mugs. Traditional beer steins were made of stone, followed by metal, and then eventually glass.
  • Oktoberfest has been cancelled 24 times due to disease and war. In 1854 and 1873, cholera epidemics forced postponement, and it was cancelled during the Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII.
  • More than 100 children were reported lost in Oktoberfest 2012 (we are guessing they were found the same night)
  • The festival halls in Munich can seat 94,000 people.

Where to Stay?

Ritz-Carlton Berlin

 3 National Festivals Around the World - Ritz Carlton Berlin

The Westin Grand Berlin

3 National Festivals Around the World - The Westin Grand

If you are interested in visiting any of these national festivals, then call us 0n 0121 446 4932 or leave us an online enquiry so we can arrange a stay in the perfect accommodation for you.

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