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Exotic World Festivals
2014 Calendar



This page publishes only January festivals and event dates. Click below for other months.

2014 World Festival dates and information

January    February    March    April    May    June    July


August    September    October    November    December


Festivals    Exotic Festivals

Thaipusam Hindu Festival, in and around Batu Caves, Malaysia

Thaipusam Hindu Festival, in and around Batu Caves, Malaysia. 17 January.


English Speaking    European Festivals    Art Festivals   


Music Festivals    Festival Videos


World Festivals (exotic, colourful heritage events) are wild, lively events in superb, exotic locations that usually include a variety of activities but mostly focus on local people in local dress doing traditionally loco things.

These events are usually crowded, noisy and require lots of walking.

Festivals in Asian and Islamic countries are often based on either moon cycles or a different calendar so dates can change dramatically year by year. Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, (dates depend on full moon so can differ by one day depending on location. 28 or 29 June - 27 or 28 July 2014. There's always a lively feast day, Idd al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan.

Events Calendar Dates are sometimes unconfirmed and occasionally unreliable, so check before booking. TBA/C = To Be Announced/Confirmed



January 2014white line separator 1

During January

MALI, Mask Festival in Tireli, Dogon Country, with local masked antelope dancers. Spooky and crude animist event in spectacular, surreal surroundings. Mali Travel Guide


1 January to 23 February
Main parade starts at mid day on 2 January


SOUTH AFRICA, Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, Kaapse Klopse - a brilliant collection of parades and parties harking back to slave days, with singing, dancing, colourful costumes and competitions.


2 - 7 January
(same date each year)

COLOMBIA, Pasto, Black and Whites' Carnival (Carnaval de Negros y Blancos) - a manic and messy tradition marking slave culture; dating back to 1912 this is one of South America's oldest and most vivid celebrations. People go crazy painting themselves black one day and white the next, with a Grand Parade somewhere down the line.


5 January - mid February and beyond Chinese
New Year
31 January
19 February 2015
8 February 2016


CHINA, Harbin Ice Festival & Chinese New Year - including magnificent, monstrous illuminated ice sculptures and icy sports. Beware extreme cold, averaging -16C and possibly down to -38C! China Map    Harbin Festival Pictures    Harbin Festival Video


9 - 11 January

JAPAN, Toka Ebisu nationwide, but especially shrines in Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka - a grand shinto festival which has been running since the Edo Period (17th - 19th Century) to pray for business success with parades and lots of peculiar rituals. The most popular event takes place in Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Osaka.


9 January
(every year)

PHILIPPINES, Manila, Quiapo, Black Nazarene - a 400 year-old Catholic procession with a black life-sized wooden statue of Jesus Christ, held annually since the 17th century and dedicated to Padre Jesus Nazareno de Quiapo, Father Jesus Nazarene of Quiapo.



9 - 11 January

MALI, Festival au Desert, usually held at Essakane, in the dunes 40 miles outside Timbuktu (Tombouctou) in Mali. A fantasy mix of traditional north African desert music, international musicians, camels, dance and sword play in stunning surroundings. The most remote music festival in the world. Mali Pictures

10 January (annually)

BENIN, Voodoo Festival in seaside town of Ouidah, located 42 km west of Cotonou city - a spiritual gathering at a beach to honour slave ancestors, with colourful costumes, chanting, dancing, drinking gin and religious ceremonies.


10 - 19 January (ends 3rd Sunday)

PHILIPPINES, Ati-Atihan Festival, Aklan, Kalibo, Panay Island - a 2 week-long vivid religious carnival/feast annually held since 13th century in honour of the Santo NiƱo (Baby Jesus). If you missed the event try Dinagyang in Iloilo City a week later.


14 January every year

INDIA, International Kite Festival. A zillion kites and fights in the lovely but busy cities of Jaipur or Ahmedabad, Rajasthan state.


15 January (same day until 2015)
14 Jan. 2016

INDIA, Pongal Festival (Tamil Festival), a 4 day harvest celebration in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. This thanks-giving feast is one of the most important and popular Hindu Festival. It is also the month of weddings.


15 - 16 January

INDIA, Bikaner Camel Festival at Bikaner, Rajasthan - much less touristy than February's Desert Festival, but in an equally gorgeous fortified desert town location with colourful camel activities - including a beauty competition - but human fun stuff too, dancing, fireworks, music etc. India Travel Guide


15 January
4 January 2015

INDIA, Madurai Float Festival - originated in the 17th century held in Madurai, the oldest city in Tamil Nadu on the first night of the full moon. Incredible temples and spectacular floats, worshippers dressed in red and yellow dance around and spray coloured water on the crowds.


17 January
On the full moon
in the month of
Thai (Jan/Feb). The procession starts the night before.

MALAYSIA, Thaipusam (also known as Murugan Festival), photo at top, a celebration of the birth of god Murugan, to the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur over 8 hours - a massive and bizarre Hindu procession into the caves, with many penitents pierced by hooks and skewers through various body parts. Similarly in Singapore on the same day but no major piercings allowed there. Malaysia Travel Guide, Batu Caves photos and more information



19 January
(20 in leap year)

ETHIOPIA, Timkat Festival (Epiphany), an Orthodox Christian festival to celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, with strange rituals and psychedelic processions. Takes place throughout the country, but the greatest is Fasilidas’ Bath in Gonder, the former capital.


19 January
3rd Sunday of January

TURKEY, Camel Wrestling Championship - this medieval tradition takes place in Selcuk town near the ancient city of Ephesus, with 1,200 camels and thousands of spectators. The camels wrestle, not humans vs. camels! Turkey Travel Guide, Selcuk & Ephesus Pictures


25 January
4th Saturday in January

JAPAN, Yamayaki (Grass Burning on Mt. Wakakusayama), Nara. An annual New Year tradition with spectacular burning of an entire hill and attendant fireworks. Nara Pictures, Japan Map


26 - 29 January
(Same day every year)

INDIA, Republic Day (26th) celebration in Delhi - a pompous but splendid parade with marching soldiers and bands, traditional dancers, floats from different states.


28 January
the last Tuesday in January

SCOTLAND, Up Helly Aa - 'Europe's largest fire festival', a spectacular community tradition celebrating their rich Viking heritage, annually held in Lerwick, Shetland. Costume marches, torchlight parades, burning a viking boat and the parties go on and on long after the last flames fade away. Scotland Guide, Islands Pictures


New year's day- spring lantern
31 January
19 Feb. 2015
8 Feb. 2016

CHINA, New Year Holiday, Parade and Spring Festival, nationwide but especially vibrant in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui East as psychedelia hits the 'scrapers and parades hit the streets...this is the best Chinese celebration, with floats, musicians, dancers, explosions and dragons galore. Hong Kong Guide


31 January
(Each year, Tet falls between 19 Jan. and 20 Feb.)
19 Feb. 2015
8 Feb. 2016

VIETNAM Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year) Festival, nationwide - for one week, the most important annual event of the country and a wild and noisy time is had by all. Vietnam Travel Guide, Vietnam Pictures


31 January - 16 February

CANADA, Carnaval de Québec in Quebec City - a vigorous winter celebration with parades, themed parties, ice sculptures and, bien sûr, winter sports of every description in a pretty Francophile city. Quebec Travel Guide


31 January - 17 February
(weekends only)

CANADA, Winterlude Festival in Ottawa (Ontario) over 3 weekends - features parades, dances, snow races, ice sculptures, sleigh rides and more, but especially skating on the 7km Rideau Canal. If skating is your thing, then this is your festival.


This page publishes only January festivals and event dates. Click below for other months.

2014 World Festival dates and information

January    February    March    April    May    June    July


August    September    October    November    December


Exotic Countries Guides and Photos


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