We have gone and done it.

We booked a flight and will be returning to Chiang Mai Thailand today.

Lantern Festival 2015, Chiang Mai

Why? Did we love the easy going lifestyle? YES. Did we find ourselves healthier and more productive? YES. Did we find out about the world’s biggest water fight – Songkran? YES. YES. YES.

That’s right. Like a lot of our 2-year travel around the Americas and Asia, we have timed our arrival to coincide with a festival or event. We just love them! Read on to find out why this Tripmasher duo goes chasing festivals around the globe.

This was me when I found out we would get to got to Songkran.

There aren’t a lot of reasons to travel to Buñol, Spain, but once a year over 40,000 people like to cover themselves with Solanum Lycopersicum (or tomato for us lay people). Yes, the place swells with more people than tomatoes, but the energy and buzz of the town in full flux is special. Great moments like this happen maybe once in your lifetime, so go out and experience it.

Photo Credit: “LaTomatina36” by Reno Taho CC by 2.0

Festivals open you up to new cultures and foster understanding

Festivals can educate you about a place and the people in a short period of time. Locals will generally be keen to share with you the importance of the festival, what it means and why it is special to them. Better than any guide book offering up suggestions for an ‘authentic travel experience’. Here you are living and experiencing an event standing shoulder to shoulder with local people.

Holi 2016, Jaipur India

Festivals are the best excuse to come together with your mates (no matter where you live now)

Ever start planning a trip and find out that mates you haven’t seen in ages will be there the same time? It’s happened to us quite a few times on this trip and each time it has been because a festival was taking place. Another reason why festivals are gold times to travel.

Catching up with mates in Vietnam to ring in the New Year.

Festivals highlight what’s important in your life

It was when I saw a 9 pound round of cheese roll down a hill on a wet Gloucester day that I knew it was time to head home to Oz. Not because of the event or the company of the day. It was because I saw families come together and share in a fantastic day outing creating memories and reminiscing about how it used to be back in their day. Stories, traditions, and practices are shared across generations.

Festivals showcase the city’s best features

Bagan temples in the dawn glow of a new day are beautiful, but watching novice monks set crackers off and slowly light thousand of candles around said temples is just magical. It’s like that perfect accessory to complete an outfit. That’s what I think festivals do for a city.

Festival of Light
Thadingyut (Festival of Lights) 2015, Bagan Myanmar.

Festivals are like…DUH…loads of fun

Ever been to a city and seen people walking like they’re in a sad procession? Now think of that same city during the festival? It’s like everyone watched panda cub videos for 24 hours straight. HAPPY TIMES.

Rio Carnival Guide - Sambadrome
Carnival 2015, Rio de Janiero Brazil.

Festivals give two fingers to your sightseeing list

You arrive in a UNESCO town and find yourself with a week’s of activities crammed into 2 days of time. Because you plan like you will never stop to rest, eat or sleep (this is why the Tripmasher app will be amazing when finished!!!) Festivals are a great way to free your control-crazy planning and just ease up.

During TET, jack-shit was open and it was great. We hopped on a bicycle, explored streets, wished families Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year) and had time to share meals with families and friends we met.

Hoi An, Vietnam during Tet 2016.

Festivals are integral to our identity

Festivals and celebrations have been a way to communicate and share stories over millennia. Rightly or wrongly before written language took root, we had days to share, remember and celebrate. Festivals can have all manner of meaning from religious celebrations to agricultural significance. We love them because it brings people together. You feel like you are a part of something. 

Festivals are a great time to eat (like non-stop)

As we near the Orthodox Easter based on the Julian Calendar on 1 May, the Balkans spring to mind and specifically where my family originates from – Serbia. The people are serious carnivores. To experience all there is of this meat-fest, then a trip to Serbia for Orthodox Easter is a must. Get yourself invited into someone’s home for the food-coma of festivals.

Oh how I miss Chevapi! Photo Credit: “Meats!” by Daniel Burka CC by 2.0

Festivals give you an excuse to dress up and cut-loose

It’s a great time to reinvent yourself even for one day. You never know it might just stick.

Peats Ridge New Year Festival

Festivals do not have to cost the earth

Now more than ever, the cities we live offer up mini-versions of some of these festivals. Think colour runs mimicking Holi; Chinese New Year celebrations held in your backyard Chinatown; or green-tinged St Patrick’s Day at your local Irish pub. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and usually only requires some face paint flair. 

Do you agree that festivals take your trip from tourist-tame to holiday-hero? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Chasing festivals: Great reasons to travel
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