What’s the best way to experience a new destination or even one that you’ve already traveled to? A festival. It’s a completely different way to experience a country to city, making that destination feel more alive. The streets are full of energy and crowds are friendly. There’s good food, live music, unique art and much happiness…festivals tend to bring all these things together. Whether it’s Spain, Louisiana, Canada, or France, pack your bags; it’s time to head outdoors and join the locals in celebration. Here’s a look at our pick for the best festivals around the world.
New Orleans- Mardi Gras
Over 1.2 million people attend what is known as one of the largest, hottest free parties of the year in the country: Mardi Gras. And with the community and food, you won’t want to leave. People are kind welcoming and make you feel like you belong. If that isn’t enough, the food gives you even more of a reason to stay. Gumbo, friend shrimp po boy, king cake and boiled crawfish… New Orleans is famous for its cuisine. Whether you’re looking for fine or casual dining, you won’t be disappointed.
Many people camp out for hours along the St. Charles Avenue to see various parades, but the infamous Bourbon Street is known as the spot to be. If you’re looking for a convenient place close to the action, Royal Sonesta New Orleans is your hotel. Combining sophistication and southern refinement, the Royal is located in the heart of the French Quarter and right on Bourbon Street.
Montreal International Jazz Festival- Montreal
If you want to switch it up and go a more classical route, the annual Montreal Jazz Festival is the place to be. One of Montreal’s largest events, the festival attracts crowds in the millions. In fact, it even holds the 2004 Guinness World Record as the largest jazz festival. It may have to do with its convenience – Montreal is within driving distance of most of the Northeastern U.S. and also easily accessible by air, train and bus.
While Jazz is played, the festival also features other genres such as blues, Latin jazz, soul, Brazilian, Cuban, African, R ‘n’ B, reggae and electronica. Although you do have to pay for each indoor venue performance, plenty of concerts outside are free. Surprisingly, most people who go to the festival enjoy the free outdoor shows at the seven stages. When the streets shut down, buy a beer, food or enjoy a glass or wine and walk around to check out unique bars and musicians.
Christmas Markets- Strasbourg
Looking to celebrate Christmas tradition and spirit? Strasbourg has been home to the famous Christmas market every year since 1570. In 2014 and 2015, the market was even voted “Europe’s Best Christmas Market.” Many town squares host wooden huts of the Christmas markets, and each are unique and different. From decorations, local products, Christmas cakes, gingerbread and biscuits, its no wonder that Strasbourg proclaimed itself the “Capital of Christmas.” It is now so large that is spread throughout the old town in separate themed locations.
While vacation-goers go to Tenerife for its sunny beaches and variety of active adventures, there’s so much more to discover. Rhythm, color, luxury and fun, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands Tenerife is widely known for hosting some of the worlds most colorful fiestas and carnivals.
Every year, crowds of people come to experience Carnival: the biggest fiesta bash of the year in Tenerife. The Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the most “Brazilian” of all the Spanish Carnivals, and it is known around the world for its popular ambience.
Carnival takes place in towns all over Tenerife during February and March, but the biggest celebrations take place in Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz. For 15 days, thousands in fancy dresses, wigs and face paint fill the city with sequins, feathers, music, sand art, and non-stop fun. Here’s the key to experiencing an unforgettable Carnival: put on your costume, dive in and party all night. Visit their website to learn more about Tenerife and the Carnival.
Sergio Barros represents Tenerife Tourism in the United States. He is based in Boston