The World’s Most Incredible Holidays and Celebrations


If the village fete just doesn’t do it for you anymore, and the traditional cake stalls and largest vegetable competitions no longer get you excited – it may be time to explore some of the most unique and unusual festivals found around the world. Rather than traipsing the globe for a festival to join, we’ve simplified the process by listing some of our favourite celebrations the world over (and then linked to the best cruise ship transfer, because we’re sneaky).

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Perhaps the perfect festival for cruise fans; the Cheung Chau Bun Festival is located in Hong Kong – the very epicentre of the booming Chinese cruise industry – and celebrates Pak Tai, the deity with the ability to confer smooth sailing for ships.

The festival lands on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese calendar and started off as a ritual for local communities to pray for protection against pirates. It has since evolved to become a showcase and celebration of traditional Chinese culture.

For visitors, perhaps the most awe-inspiring sight will be the parade of floats, complete with a selection of traditional lion dances and dragon dances. The name of the festival is derived from the bun-snatching tradition – in which young men race up bun-covered towers to try and get hold of the buns. The higher the snatched bun, the better the luck received by the snatcher’s family over the year.

Celebrate Cheung Chau Bun: Grand Asia

Day of the Dead

Dia De Los Muertes

Mexico’s traditional festival which celebrates the lives of the sadly deceased, Dia de Muertos, has grown beyond the borders of the Central American country, with people celebrating the occasion all around the world. However, for the grandest celebration of this event, you still need to visit Mexico, particularly the central or southern regions of the country.

The celebration is thought to be as old as 3,000 years and has evolved into a festival full of marigolds, sugar skulls, cardboard skeletons, fruits and nuts, and incense.

Perhaps the most symbolic image of the festival is Catrina, a 100 year old cartoon representing a female skeleton wearing upper class clothing. Her visage is recreated in a series of models and sculptures, as well as being placed on clothing, cartoons and more.

Celebrate Day of the Dead: Mexican Riviera

La Tomatina

El Tomatino

Unlike most festivals and celebrations found around the world, La Tomatina has no deeper meaning – it is simply a chance for some good, silly, harmless fun. Held on the last Wednesday of August every year, La Tomatina gives visitors to the small Spanish town of Bunol chance to participate in the world’s largest and most famous food fight.

Thousands of people gather in the town for an hour of chucking tomatoes at one another until everyone is covered in food. After the fight, many participants will go to wash in the local pool of los penones and fire trucks hose down the cobbled streets.

Celebrate La Tomatina: Spain, France, Italy



The Rio de Janeiro Carnival has become so famous that it can simply go by the name ‘Carnival’ and be recognised the whole world over. With more than 2 million people attending the party every year, the Brazilian city is awash with colours, lights and incredible costumes.

The samba beat provides a constant backing to the carnival, giving the participants a rhythm to shake and dance to. Dating back to 1723, the carnival will soon be celebrating its 300th anniversary and continues to grow.

Alongside the traditional parade path, small festivals seem to spontaneously erupt out of neighbourhoods and a huge party is held on Copacabana Beach. Held just before Lent, the festival is a celebration of indulgence and enjoyment.

Celebrate Carnival: South America & Rio Carnival

If none of these celebrations get you in the mood for festivities, Cruise1st stock a huge selection of fantastic deals aboard the world’s best-loved vessels. For a comprehensive list, visit the Cruise1st homepage, or call our dedicated team on 0808 2746 777.

Book a Festival Cruise

 Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Laszlo Ilyes, David Sorich, MikeJamieson(1950), nateClicks.


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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