Make your holiday snaps extra instagrammable with these colourful festivals

Vivid Sydney

Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney, Australia.
Sydney Opera House during Vivid Sydney, Australia. Photo by Adam.J.W.C

Combining art, music and ideas, Vivid Sydney is a citywide festival and the biggest of its kind in Australia. The main attractions are light installations all over the city. Some are hidden gems tucked away in the city streets, while others are literally unmissable. Using thousands of lights controlled by a purpose-build model skyline, “The Bridge” is the largest interactive light display in the world. Visitors to the control centre on Circular Quay are invited to play with lighting effects and colours on buildings around the Quay, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Add in a flotilla of specially illuminated boats and projections turning the Opera House in to tropical birds and exotic sea creatures for a totally magical experience.

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Concurs de Castells, Tarragona, Spain

Recognised by UNESCO as a unique cultural event, the Concurs de Castells takes place every other year. It’s essentially a dance competition supplemented by street performances, fireworks and concerts. However this is not the sort of dancing you might expect. Each of the colour coordinated teams use the ‘dance’ to organise themselves in to a human tower, up to 9 storeys high. In order to keep the tower as light as possible the final layer is often a small child – luckily these days they wear crash helmets and other team members crowd round to catch any fallers. The towers are judged not only on height but the difficulty of the tower style and how well the team followed the dance style and protocols. Get tickets to the final to see the best castell teams in action.

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Holi – Festival of Colour

Holi - Festival of Colour.
Holi – Festival of Colour. Photo by Steven Gerner

Each spring, Hindu followers around world celebrate Holi. The festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil and is often seen as a type of “new year” party as it marks the end of winter and the start of spring. After ceremonial bonfires, revellers take to the streets the next day armed with coloured powder or water. The tradition supposedly comes from Krishna fearing his blue skin would prevent him finding love so he threw paint at Radha, successfully wooing her in the process. Love and friendship is a theme of the festival so anyone and everyone is included in the friendly fight; by the end of the party everyone looks the same with no obvious divisions.

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, USA.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, USA. Photo by a4gpa

Billed as the most photographed event on Earth, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta makes the most of the fine weather New Mexico has in October. Around 500 balloons of all shapes and sizes attend the festival launching at dawn and dusk everyday for the week of the fiesta. There are special events for novelty shaped balloons, balloon races and even balloon golf. Attend an evening “Glow” event to see the balloons floating above the field while illuminated; the bright colours of the balloons against the dusky sky creates a beautiful gemstone-like effect.

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La Tomatina, Valencia, Spain

La Tomatina Festival, Spain.
La Tomatina Festival, Spain. Photo by flydime

Ever since 1945 the town of Buñol in eastern Spain has hosted La Tomatina on the last Wednesday of August. Originally a political protest and banned for several years under the Franco regime, the festival sees participants from all over the world gather to hurl squashed tomatoes at each other. After the food fight is over, the local fire brigade hose down the town square and the revellers. In recent years the event has been ticketed to keep numbers under control, tickets also include a locker for clean clothes and a huge paella dinner to keep the party going well in to the night.

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Hanami, Cherry Blossom

Sakura - Cherry Blossom, Japan.
Sakura – Cherry Blossom, Japan. Photo by coniferconifer

Not strictly an organised festival, hanami means ‘flower viewing’; the annual gathering of friends and families to walk and socialise under cherry blossom trees across Japan. TV weather forecasts attempt to predict the optimum time to view the blossoms as the spring weather becomes warmer. Trees in Tokyo usually bloom in April, but the season can last from February in the extreme south up to May in the colder north of Japan. Grab a picnic blanket and some snacks to hanami in style.

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Harbin International Ice Festival

Harbin Ice Festival, China.
Harbin Ice Festival, China. Photo by marcmooney

The largest snow and ice festival in the world takes place in Harbin every January. Featuring huge snow sculptures, winter swimming contests, mass weddings and concerts, the festival attracts artists and visitors from all over the globe. In the evenings head to Ice and Snow World to see the entire ice buildings lit up in a rainbow of colours. Temperatures hover around -16c with lows of -35c so don’t forget your thermals.

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Inspire Flyer | Colour Season – Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more on our colour season. More colour themed articles in coming weeks.

Read our first article of our colour season on Cities and Towns – The World’s Most Colourful

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