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Exotic World Festivals
2016 Calendar January



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

2015 - 2016 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.
January or February depending on the year.


English Speaking  European Festivals  Art Festivals  


Music Festivals  Festival Videos


What are Exotic World Festivals?

These are bizarre, colourful, lively heritage events taking place in superb, exotic foreign locations that may include a variety of possible activities but mostly focus on local people in local dress doing traditionally loco things. We do not include Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand in these listings. For those check English Speaking or European Festivals.
Exotic World Festivals are often crowded, noisy and require considerable 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, starts 6/7 June 2016 depending on location and runs through July. There's often a lively feast day, Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan on 7 July, though the celebration/holiday begins at sunset of the previous day.

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


January 2016white 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


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
8 February


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 MapHarbin Festival Pictures



8 - 17 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.


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.


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.


2015 it was held in Morocco and
various venues
in Mali during
Jan and Feb.


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. More info and for 2016 go to the official website, the above. Mali Pictures


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

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.


17 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


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.


22 - 24 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


23 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


23 January
On the full moon
in the month of
Thai (Jan/Feb). The procession starts the night before.
9 Feb 2017


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


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.


26 January
the last Tuesday in January

SCOTLAND, Shetland Islands, 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. Islands Pictures


27 January
(Full moon in late Jan) TBC

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.


30 Jan - 7 Feb
(40 days before Easter)



BOLIVIA, Carnaval de Oruro - Bolivia's largest annual event with a blend of Andean tradition and Christianity, highlighted by a massive parade lasting 20 hours and the famous 'La Diablada' or Dance of the Devils. Now a UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity.


31 January and
2, 7, 8 February

PERU, Candelaria Festival (Virgen de la Candelaria) in Puno, not a pretty city but with amazing surroundings such as Lake Titicaca and the Altiplano. This colourful, local event offers vigorous dancing, music, masks and insane fireworks. And Cusco's not far by splendid train ride.


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

2015 - 2016 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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