January 15, 2008 - Participate in ancient traditions and colourful celebrations around the world on a G Adventures' festival trip. These unique adventures take travellers to incredible destinations and offer true cultural immersion. Join us as we celebrate festivals around the world - you may find yourself joining in the revelry in Goa, watching athletic feats in Mongolia or celebrating the Festival of the Sun in Peru.
Semana Santa – Guatemala – March
Experience the heart and soul of Guatemala through the Semana Santa festival, one of the most vibrant and colourful celebrations in all of Central America. The Semana Santa is a unique week-long festival combining Catholic symbolism with local Mayan traditions. The usual suspects of good food, plenty to drink and the opportunity to dance the night away are all present at this festival, which culminates with a sleepless three-day march of holy statues that must be seen to be truly appreciated.
Chariot Festival – Orissa, India – July
India's largest annual chariot festival is a colourful spectacle. Hundreds of thousands of devotees haul gigantic chariots through the main street of Puri. The air is filled with the rhythmic clang of metal gongs, blowing of conch shells and trumpets, and chanting of holy men. The chariots feature images of Lord Jagannath - the Lord of the Universe - and his brother and sister and are pulled to a temple 3 km away. The devotional act is performed annually in honour of the journey of Lord Jagannath as he travelled from his temple in Puri to the countryside.
Day of the Dead – Oaxaca, Mexico – October
Against the backdrop of one of Mexico’s most beautiful colonial cities, Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s most macabre and memorable festivals – the Day of the Dead - occurs. Despite the morbid subject matter, this holiday is celebrated joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, the emphasis for The Day of the Dead is focused on celebrating and honouring the lives of the deceased. During this colourful festival, people visit local cemeteries to decorate the graves of their loved ones with flowers and candles. The cemeteries turn into veritable fairs because aside from the decorations and offerings, there are people selling local delicacies, bands play to welcoming crowds and for the adventurous, mezcal is commonly passed around.
Naadam Festival – Mongolia – June
Echoing Mongolia’s warrior past, the Naadam festival, or the "manly games", as they are otherwise known, is a festival of the three major traditional sports in Mongolia: wrestling, horse racing and archery. The chance to compete in or watch these events draws herdsmen and their families from hundreds of miles around. The celebrations begin with a giant parade down the main boulevard of the city of Ulaan Baatar, passing government buildings and monuments. Great fun for the hardy traveller is had in joining the nomadic herders who live in tent-like ‘gers’ for this remarkable festival.
Kyoto Geisha Festival – Japan – May
Authentic geisha dance performances are rare events, unless you are a member of Kyoto’s upper-class and a visitor to local Tea Houses or are lucky enough to be able to secure a seat at one of the annual public performances given in Kyoto in Spring and Autumn. Held since 1872, the Kama-gawa Odori is one of the country’s most celebrated spring geisha dances and thousands of locals turn out in the hope of witnessing the graceful movements of the Pontocho district's geishas.
Pushkar Camel Festival – India – November
Thousands of people from rural India flock to Pushkar during this annual fair to partake in everything from livestock trading to religious festivities. A true sight to see is the first half of the festival during the camel and cattle trading fair, when the locals spruce up their camels with fur and colourful adornments hoping to get the best sale. Throughout the fair around 50,000 camels are sold, decorated, shaved and raced. The religious activities dominate the latter half of the festival, culminating in thousands of devotees taking a dip in the holy lake on the full moon signalling the end of the fair.
Inti Raymi – Peru – June
While Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun celebration in Cuzco Peru runs for roughly one week, it is for the ceremony and party on June 24 that this festival is gaining increasing attention throughout Latin America. June 24 marks the actual day of Inti Raymi. On this day, blessings are called from the sun from an individual representing the Sapa Inca (the emperor) and ceremonial processions take place through flower draped streets to a heady mix of music, prayers and dancing. Huge crowds await the arrival of the procession and women sweep the streets to clear them of evil spirits following the event. In the evenings, live music from local Peruvian musicians and bands draws the crowds to the Plaza de Armas for free concerts.