Thinking of heading overseas this month? Discover some of the best events taking place around the world this March!
Holi (Festival of Colours), South Asia
Also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’, Holi is a Hindu festival observed in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil (in particular, the burning of the demoness Holika), which is why the preceding evening (Holika Dahan) sees prayers and religious rituals performed in front of a large bonfire. Rangwali Holi takes place the very next day, and is the event for which Holi is famous. On this day, people drench each other with bright colours—both by throwing fistfuls of coloured powder (gulal) at one other, and by mixing gulal with water to create colourful ammunition for water guns and balloons. As both a celebration of spring and a time to forgive old grievances, Holi sees paint-splattered people of all ages singing and dancing in the streets, in parks, and in temples across the region.
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Australia
When? 3 March, 2018
Where? Sydney, Australia
On a winter night in 1978, roughly 500 people marched on Oxford Street in a call to end anti-homosexuality laws and widespread discrimination. Urged on by cries of “Out of the bars and into the streets!”, this gathering swelled to around 2,000 people—dozens of whom were arrested by police. Today, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest celebrations of LGBTI+ pride in the world, incorporating everything from performance art, film screenings and discussion panels to its world-famous street parade. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of this historic event, with more than 12,000 participants and 400,000 spectators set to transform Oxford Street into a playground of queer culture and pride.
Las Fallas, Spain
When? 1–19 March, 2018
Where? València, València, Spain
Las Fallas dates back to the Middle Ages when, at the start of spring, tradesmen and vendors in Valencia would burn all the wooden candle-holders used throughout winter. Over time, these structures evolved into doll-like effigies (ninot) and huge, cartoonish sculptures (fallas) standing up to 30 metres tall. Every day during Las Fallas, citizens awake at 8am to the sound of brass bands marching through the streets playing La Despertà (a wake-up call). Then at 2pm, explosions echo throughout the city as different districts compete to put on the best display of fireworks and firecrackers (Mascletà)—and ultimately win the honour of performing the Mascletà on the final night of the festival. While each night is a bedlam of music, dancing, and explosions, La Crema is something else. On this night, every fallas is ceremoniously engulfed in flames, with fire-fighting crews dousing nearby buildings and onlookers cheering as each masterpiece tumbles to the ground.
St Patrick’s Day, Ireland
When? 15–19 March, 2018
Where? Dublin, Ireland
Although St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, there’s no better place to get into the spirit than in Dublin. Head to the Irish capital in March for five days of music and street performances, workshops, music, funfairs, walking tours, Irish dancing, and a spectacular street parade. Various landmarks, such as St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Natural History Museum, will also be ‘greened up’ specially for the occasion.
Note: Anyone seeking an Irish extravaganza could also consider spending St Patrick’s Day in New York. First emerging way back in 1762, New York City now boasts the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world. Join two million spectators as marching bands, Irish dancers, military troops and bagpipers take over Fifth Avenue in an incredible street parade lasting around 5 hours.
Hōnen Matsuri (Harvest Festival), Japan
When? 15 March, 2018
Although Hōnen Matsuri literally translates to “prosperous year festival”, it’s known to many delighted Westerners as “the Penis Festival”. For around 1,500 years, participants have combined symbols of male genitalia with hopes for a bountiful harvest in the lead up to the rice-planting season. Hōnen Matsuri invokes all kinds of fertility, with unmarried people praying for spouses, couples praying for children, and farmers praying for a good yield of crops. The most famous instance of this festival takes place in Komaki, roughly 2 hours east of Kyoto. Here, Shinto priests play musical instruments, free cups of sake are distributed to the masses, and a parade of men carry a 300 kilogram, 2.5-metre wooden penis to Tagata Jinja, a shrine filled with hundreds of penis-shaped items, both man-made and natural.
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