Festive frenzy

Festive frenzy

Joanna Lobo lists out a calendar of the upcoming festivals from across the globe that you can add to your bucket list

Vivid Sydney

It is possible to plan a year-long vacation by just festival-hopping from one country to another. There are more than enough festivals happening to keep you happy all year long, from the religious to the cultural, from the weird to the slightly spooky. Start the year by seeking out snow sculptures and enjoying the brisk cold during the winter festivals. Get your music fix at Tomorrowland, Coachella or Copenhell. Indulge in your love for food (though it comes with wastage) at wine-throwing, orange and tomato-based festivals. Or just soak in some culture and tradition at a religious festival. There’s much to choose from.

Joanna Lobo curates a list of upcoming festivals to add to your festival bucket list.

For lights: Vivid Sydney, Australia
May 24 to June 15

The annual outdoor festival is best known for its dazzling display of lights, especially those illuminating the Sydney Opera House. But there’s much more to the festival than just vivid lights. The upcoming (11th) edition will have industry forums, concerts, talks and discussions, and a guest appearance by Spike Lee. The festival is divided into lights, ideas and music.
Beyond the sails of the Opera House, catch clever installations like Watch your Chips, which examines the collective behaviour of birds, and the interactive light-sound installation I Hear You (But Do You Hear Me?) that aims to question inequality in the digital era. There will be daily day and night performances by Aussie stars like Teyana Taylor, Renee Geyer, composer-performer collective Konzertprojekt, in collaboration with St Stephen’s Uniting Church, and new music by pianist and composer Barney McAll. Under Ideas, learn about next-gen female innovators, the growing sex-tech industry, a panel discussion on the future of food (think micro-algae, plant-based diets and artificial meat) or a Podcast Festival.
The festival is accessible: events have accessible areas, text to talk, audio description, interactive experiences, and accessibility maps.
Visit https://www.vividsydney.com/

White Night Festival, Russia
White Night Festival, Russia


For natural wonderS: White Night Festival, Russia
May 22 to July 16

Due to St Petersburg’s northerly location, the sun never fully sets in St Petersburg between May and mid-June. It is twilight from dusk to dawn — a walk at midnight reveals the sun on the horizon. It is during this season of the midnight sun that an annual arts festival with music and dance is held. The focus is the Mariinsky Theatre, which has operas, ballets and classical concerts. A series of carnivals take place during the festival, a popular one being at Peterhof where actors dress in period costumes and reproduce important historic events.
An important event is Scarlet Sails, a theatrical concert at the Palace Square and a music multimedia show on the Neva water area ending with a ship with scarlet sails going along the embankments.
As a bonus to visitors, many museums and art galleries are open through the night and offer free entry.
Visit http://wnfestival.com/

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland.


For Comedy: Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland
August 2 – 26

The world’s largest arts festival has theatre, music, musicals, film, comedy, dance, spoken word, street performances, and exhibitions. Scotland’s capital is host to a 70-year-old tradition that is open to everyone. There are over 3,000 events to choose from, many of which are discounted or free (The Free Fringe). One of the hottest acts of this year is by iconic 90s comedian Frank Skinner. Other big-ticket names include Ed Byrne, Al Murray ad Adam Kay. In the theatre department, there will be the premiere of political reimagining of Oedipus, a Cruel Intentions musical, a Faulty Towers Experience. Stephen Fry will also present a trilogy of plays adapted from his best-selling book Mythos, and Ian McKellen will stop by as part of his national tour. The shows aren’t restricted to just local talent. There will be productions from around the world (look for Indian comedian Sumit Anand).
The festival aims to be accessible and environment-friendly.
Visit https://www.edfringe.com/

For wildlife: The Hermanus Whale Festival, South Africa
September 27–29

The only eco-marine festival in South Africa is in its 28th year and is the oldest and largest festival on the Cape Whale Coast. September is peak whale-watching season in this coastal village. It is the time Southern Right whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer Cape waters. The migrating are the star performers of the festival but you can also catch African penguins, seals, and dolphins.
On land, the celebrations include music, food, exhibitions, and games with an emphasis on environmentally responsible adventures. A big attraction is the Eco Marine Tent, which informs visitors about these endangered creatures. There will be eco-talks about whales, penguins and white sharks, treasure hunts for the kids, a street parade, and a beach clean-up.
Visit http://hermanuswhalefestival.co.za/

Día de los Muertos, Mexico
Día de los Muertos, Mexico.


For a celebration of life: Día de los Muertos, Mexico
November 1-2

The Day of the Dead celebration may feature parades, costumes and parties but it is no Halloween. The festival is about showing love and respect for deceased family members, and it celebrates life.
The origins of the festival go back a thousand years: it is believed to be the day the dead temporarily returned to Earth. Today’s celebrations are a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. Families decorate altars (to welcome spirits) and grave sites, loading them with offerings — food, toys, marigolds and sugar skulls. Some families spend the whole night in a cemetery, turning it into a picnic with games, food and music. People colour their faces, dress up as skeletons or don suits and fancy dresses. For visitors, there are many public displays and street parades to attend, graveyards to visit (respectfully), and food to eat. Mexico City held its first-ever parade for the holiday in 2016, inspired by a similar parade in the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre.