The word “festival” is perhaps one of the biggest open to interpretation words in the whole of the English language.
You can have film festivals, music festivals, beer festivals, religious festivals; in fact, you name something, and there is probably some sort of festival attached to it in some way or other.
While festivals vary in their content, the purpose of them is usually the same: to celebrate something. A celebration inevitably also means other certain things will happen, such as people eating and perhaps drinking too much and perhaps even an awe-inspiring fireworks display at the beginning, the end, or both.
Whatever happens, people will usually leave happy and have some great memories of what has happened over the past few days. Even those who are perplexed by festivals usually have something to remember through their cynical exterior.
What are the top five festivals, in any category, across the world?
1. Cannes Film Festival
Cannes is still going more out of tradition than anything else. While the great and the good of Hollywood still assembles here on an annual basis, more modern film festivals take place all around the world throughout the year.
Winning an award in Cannes from perhaps the toughest industry crowd will help you stand out, however, and the nightly parties are a remarkable sight, too.
2. South by Southwest
Held in Austin, Texas, every year, South by Southwest is a massive celebration of film and music, and contains everything you would expect a festival to. As well as the film and music, there are plenty of fireworks, both literally and figuratively, as well as copious amounts of food and alcohol to be enjoyed by all attendees.
3. Festival of San Fermin
You may know this better as that thing in Spain when people who should really know better allow wild bulls to run loose through the streets of Pamplona. If the organisers should know better, we’re not sure what that says about the people who actually willingly get involved with it!
This tradition is just a smaller part of the grand spectacle, however, which is a huge folk festival bringing people together from across the country.
4. New Orleans Mardi Gras
After taking a sabbatical due to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Mardi Gras is back on the agenda for the city’s population.
Originally a Catholic festival, the modern Mardi Gras is an all-inclusive, everyone is invited bonanza of fireworks, street parties, wild carnivals, and all manner of celebrations.
5. International Jazz Festival
In many ways, this is Canada’s answer to the UK Proms festivals, although jazz is clearly a much better musical offering that what its counterpart offers for those who attend.
This massive celebration of music takes over Montreal for two weeks every July and attracts up to half a million visitors on a daily basis.