From gatherings that commemorate the dead to celebrations of Irish culture and family, festivals around the world bring together people for lavish feasts, drinks and activities. These festivals can open your eyes to new cultures and perspectives and — of course — make for an exciting vacation.
Here’s a look at life-changing trips around the world you can take and how much they’ll cost you.
Where: New Delhi, India
Symbolizing the victory of good over evil, India’s Holi Festival is an event brimming with positivity and goodwill. The festivities include bonfires, singing, traditional food and celebrations where people dress in white and throw colored powder at one another.
Holi is celebrated across India on March 13 this year, and you’ll find some of the most enthusiastic celebrations in the capital city of New Delhi. Book a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to New Delhi for $796 and a hotel for as little as $63. While there, take an adrenaline-filled tour around India.
Where: Valencia, Spain
Valencia’s Las Fallas festival celebrates St. Joseph and the arrival of spring. Outdoor festivities include fireworks, music and ample food and drink.
This festival is most famous for its fallas or monuments. Locals work together to erect monuments in time for the festival and later parade them through the streets before ceremoniously setting them ablaze at the end of the festivities.
Las Fallas takes place from March 15-19. Round-trip airfare from New York City to Valencia costs around $530, but you can find low-cost fares to Spain through Air Canada and Royal Air Maroc. A hotel will cost you around $130 per night.
Saint Patrick’s Day Festival
Where: Dublin, Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in American cities like Chicago may seem like some of the best festivals, but they have nothing on their Irish counterpart. The Saint Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin spans four days and includes dozens of events, from a parade and 5k road race to live music and historical tours. And yes, there are plenty of opportunities to throw back a celebratory pint.
Head to Dublin from March 16-19 to celebrate. A round-trip plane ticket from New York City goes for around $580, and hotel accommodations near the festival will cost close to $190 per night, though you can save on your hotel cost by booking in a neighboring area.
Songkran Water Festival
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand celebrates the start of summer and a new solar year with the Songkran Water Festival. The celebrations are essentially a nationwide water fight in which friends, families and even total strangers splash one other with water as a blessing for a fulfilling new year.
Though it’s celebrated in cities and villages across Thailand, you’ll find some of the biggest and most accessible celebrations of the Songkran Water Festival in Bangkok. The event takes place from April 13-15. Round-trip airfare to Bangkok from Los Angeles is approximately $690, with your hotel stay costing under $20 per night.
White Nights Festival
Where: St. Petersburg, Russia
Something special happens around the summer solstice in Saint Petersburg. Because of the city’s extreme latitude, there is a period of time in late spring and early summer when the sun scarcely sets, leaving the city illuminated with a ghostly light all through the night. This period of time — roughly between June 11 and July 2 — is known as White Nights.
St. Petersburg’s White Night Festival coincides with this event, and it’s one of Russia’s biggest celebrations. It is marked by ballet and classical music performances, fireworks displays, all-night parties and a mock pirate battle on the Neva River.
Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg can be pricey in the summer, easily hitting $930 or more. Hotels during the festival are more reasonable, costing about $73 per night depending on when you stay.
Festival of the Sun
Where: Cusco, Peru
The country famous for Machu Picchu — ancient ruins that are disappearing — is also home to one of the world’s best festivals. Peru’s Festival of the Sun, known as Inti Raymi, dates back to Incan times, when thousands would gather for parades of cloth-wrapped ancestral mummies and sacrifices to sun god Inti.
Today’s version of the Festival of the Sun features colorful reenactments of ancient customs. The center of Cusco is closed to traffic for the day, making way for street vendors, performers and partygoers.
Festival of the Sun takes place on June 24 each year. Book a round-trip flight from Los Angeles for $646 and a hotel for as low as $86.
Fiesta of San Fermin
Where: Pamplona, Spain
The Fiesta of San Fermin originally celebrated St. Fermin, but these days the religious aspect of the event takes a backseat to the simple joy people get from celebrating for no reason in particular. Of all the events associated with this festival, by far the most well known is the running of the bulls, which lasts less than 10 minutes but is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Fiesta of San Fermin takes place July 6-14 each year. It’s one of the more expensive festivals to attend, with round-trip airfare from New York City to Pamplona costing close to $1,000 and a hotel room going for $200 or more per night.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
Arguably the largest celebration of arts and culture in the world, Edinburgh Festival Fringe descends on Scotland every summer. The festivities attract performers and artists around the globe, and lasts several weeks, from Aug. 4-28 this year.
If you want to attend, round-trip airfare from New York City will cost you upwards of $880. But you can expect to save on hotel costs. A room will cost you only about $80 per night.
Where: Tokyo, Japan
One of the the best countries to visit in the spring, Japan is home to the Obon Festival, which commemorates ancestors who are believed to return to visit relatives once a year.
Locals celebrate by hanging lanterns to guide spirits home and setting out offerings of food at altars and temples. The Japanese mark the occasion with music, food, drinking and traditional dances. On the final day of the event, lanterns are set adrift on lakes, rivers and the open sea to guide spirits back to their world.
Obon is celebrated from Aug. 13-15, though some areas in Japan celebrate in July due to differences between the Lunar and Gregorian calendars. Some of the biggest Obon celebrations take place in Tokyo. Fly there round trip from Los Angeles for around $860, and enjoy hotel accommodations for around $110 per night.
Where: Buñol, Spain
On the last Wednesday of August, the town of Buñol hosts the world’s biggest food fight. La Tomatina brings more than 40,000 people and well over 110 tons of tomatoes to the town. Although the tomato fight is traditionally a one-day event, the days leading up to it are filled with celebrations.
Head to Buñol to catch La Tomatina on Aug. 30 this year. Expect to pay around $769 for round-trip airfare from New York City to nearby Valencia around this time. A hotel for the festival costs in the neighborhood of $114, but you’ll pay more if you plan to get there early and attend the festivities in the days leading up to the main event.
Where: Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest has made its way to the U.S. — as any festival centered around beer is likely to do — but the American version is no substitute for the real thing. Oktoberfest in Munich lasts for more than two weeks and features carnival rides, games, traditional German costumes and food, musical performances, religious ceremonies, and of course, a lot of beer.
Oktoberfest 2017 stretches from Sept. 16 to Oct. 3, with round-trip airfare from New York City coming in at around $600. Hotel costs vary based on which dates you choose to travel, but expect to pay about $150 per night for nearby accommodations.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
A spectacular hot air balloon event like no other, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta attracts thousands of spectators who come to experience competitive flying events, balloon shows, live music and laser light shows.
The highlight of the fiesta is a stunning display called the Mass Ascension, in which all of the festival’s balloons — often a thousand or more — take flight, bringing an array of shapes and colors to the desert sky.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta lasts longer than a week, stretching from Oct. 7-15 this year. Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles comes in at around $410, and a room will cost close to $150 each night.
Where: Pushkar, India
Swaths of camels, horses, herders and nomads travel from all parts of India to join in the Pushkar Fair. Held on the sand dunes around Pushkar, this livestock fair is equal parts carnival and farmers market but on a grand scale.
Herders and farmers trade and sell goods and livestock at the bazaars, while locals and tourists alike gather to bathe in a holy lake and enjoy fairground rides, camel races, food vendors and performances by traveling musicians.
The fair begins on Oct. 31 — though camels and riders often arrive as much as a week in advance — and lasts until Nov. 4. Although India is the cheapest country to live in, flying there can be pricey, costing upwards of $965 for a round-trip flight from New York City to Jaipur, an airport nearby the festival. Hotel costs are more reasonable at around $92 per night.
Day of the Dead Parade
Where: Mexico City, Mexico
Día de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — is one of the biggest events of the year in southern and central Mexico, combining the beliefs of Mexico’s indigenous people with elements of the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
The event honors the dead and is celebrated with costumes, parades and skeleton-themed artwork. More traditional celebrators will leave out gifts like flowers, sugar skulls and the favorite food or drink of the departed.
A parade celebrating the holiday is a recent addition to Mexico City — and it’s worth the trip. Mexico City held its first Day of the Dead parade in 2016. You can join in the festivities this year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Book a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City for just $222, and a hotel for as low as $42.
Where: New Orleans, La.
Though the event originated in France, no city celebrates Mardi Gras quite like New Orleans. Indulge in colorful parades and costumes, beads and plenty of booze.
Mardi Gras falls 47 days before Easter each year. In 2018, it will be held Feb. 13. Expect to pay $439 for round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, and close to $150 per night for downtown accommodations.
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio Carnival is not unlike Mardi Gras. It similarly has Catholic and European roots but with traditional African and South American influences. However, Carnival is grander in almost every way, making it one of the best festivals around the world.
Brazil’s biggest party stretches for five days, with parades, vibrant costumes, street parties, celebratory balls and live music in every corner of the country. But, nowhere is this festival bigger than in Rio de Janeiro.
Dates for this event vary year to year, though it’s typically held in February or early March. In 2018, parades will be held in the middle of February. Historical flight data for this time period puts a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro between $518 and $840. Hotel accommodations go for as little as $88 per night — and can be less if you follow these tips.
Chinese Lantern Festival
Where: Beijing, China
The Lantern Festival marks the first full moon of the Chinese calendar, the return of spring and, at least symbolically, the reunion of family. The festival is celebrated in different ways across the country but is always accompanied by beautiful displays of illuminated paper lanterns.
In Beijing, you’ll find the city awash in lanterns. Locals celebrate by watching traditional dances, setting off firecrackers and eating traditional Lantern Festival foods, like yuanxiao — a soup with stuffed dumplings that symbolizes togetherness.
The next Lantern Festival will take place March 2, 2018. To fly from Los Angeles to Beijing, expect to pay an average $785, according to historical flight data. Once there, you’ll find hotels for around $87 per night.