Drums, Buskers, and a Circus Festival
January 1, get initiated into the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club by diving into the frigid English Bay. The swim dates back to the 1920s. The coldest recorded water temperature? 38 F in 1928.
Not into spending New Year’s Day shivering and wet? Junkaroo kicks off on the 1st, too. Held in streets throughout the Bahamas, this raucous festival—featuring dancing parades of men and women in bizarre costumes that would make a peacock blush—celebrates the abolishment of slavery. Head to Nassau for the best high-energy, Mardi Gras-style party on the island.
Colombians in Pasto celebrate Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (Blacks and Whites’ Carnival) on January 5 and 6. The festival has its roots in colonial times, when slaves were allowed to party once a year. On that day, Spanish slave owners consented to the festivity by donning black-face paint. The next day, the slaves wore white-face paint. And thus the tradition was born. Today, attendees douse each other in flour, talc, grease, paint, and anything else they can get their hands on to continue the tradition. Don’t forget to buy your antifaz, a mask designed to keep your face flour-free!
Bikaner Camel Festival runs from January 14 to 15 in the Indian desert. This event pays homage to the “ships of the desert” through races, parades, acrobatics, and even camel beauty contests. The Jaipur Kite Festival, where kite masters compete to slice each other’s kites out of the sky, starts the same day.
January 16 to 21 the Panama Jazz Festival takes place in Panama City. This year’s event honors one of the country’s greatest saxophonists, Carlos Garnett.
In San Sebastián, Spain’s culinary capital, La Tamborrada (The Drum Festival) gets beating on January 20. At midnight, the drummers begin their march through the city and don’t stop until the next day. Bring your earplugs.
Got talent? Forget American Idol. Head to the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand, to strut your stuff. January 19 to 29 the city swarms with performers of all stripes and nationalities. If Oceania’s out of reach, then maybe the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo from January 19 to the 29 is a better bet for your star ambitions.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year and welcome spring during Chūn Jié. Held in Chinatowns the world over, the main cities in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan put on particularly fun parades, firework displays, and other odd traditions. Vietnam has a similar festivity called Tet Nguyen Dan (Festival of the First Day). Both events begin January 23 and run well into February.
February 10 Reykjavik, Iceland, hosts a Museum Night. All museums are free and open past midnight. Plus there’s a shuttle that takes you from cultural hot-spot to hot-spot throughout the night.
The northern Italian city of Ivrea hosts the largest food fight in Italy, called the Battle of the Oranges. Around 3,000 people participate by hurling oranges at each other over three days. Begins February 18.
Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. To get full access to all past and future articles and to receive the magazine in the mail or online each month, simply click on the below button to subscribe to International Living magazine at the special introductory price of $49. You will get instant access to the current issue of the magazine as well 10 years of back issues. As an added bonus, we will also send you a FREE report – How to Retire in Paradise on $30 a Day. (You can cancel your subscription at any time.)