Best Festivals and Events 2020 Listings

Big Wheel at Burning Man Festival, Nevada, USA

A ‘Mutant Vehicle’ wheeling across the Playa at Burning Man Festival,  Black Rock desert, Nevada, USA, one of the best festivals we’ve ever been to!

Why participate in over-crowded, deafening, uncomfortable festivals?!

Festivals and indigenous culture events are a superb time to visit interesting destinations as the extra colour added by historic or peculiar costumes, portable shrines, fireworks, angry bulls, local music, excitable locals and more can’t fail to add a new dimension to an already fascinating location.

Think Italy’s Venice Carnival, Japan’s Takayama Spring Festival, America’s Burning Man and consider basing your next vacation on not just a place, but a place blazing with kaleidoscopic colour, traditional activities and marginal insanity.

What to do

These are the busiest times of the year for these locations unless it happens to be the monsoon season, so book accommodation well in advance of dates.
Ask permission before taking pictures or videos if possible, festival participants are human too, well, most of them. That being said it’s easier to take photos of locals going loco at these times than normally.

Festivals tend to be crowded and pickpockets may well be lurking, so keep valuables to a minimum and money in a zipped or buttoned pocket. Read the Travel Safety section.

Best Festivals and Events in the World

Glastonbury sunset panorama, among England's best festivals

Glastonbury Music Festival,  Somerset, England, a massive, multiple music event, with different stages featuring different music, but heavy on rock variations.

Perhaps the world’s  best, longest running music festival but always booked up early so if you’re interested plan/buy a ticket a year ahead or if you have a fat wallet comfortable yurts/Camper vans etc can be found a bit nearer to the time.

This is the closest to Woodstock most of us will ever get. Camping is fine. . . but why does it always rain?

Mantis Carnival float, Nice festivals, France

Nice Carnival in the south of France is one of our favourites – massive, varied, creative and inexpensive. Also, if you’re lucky, it’ll be blue skies, flowers and monsters during  the two weeks around February/March.

Happenings in Europe that tend to be of the Art and Music variety, though exotic flourishes of colourful expression still exist, especially around Carnival time February/March.

Apart from Nice Carnival other colourful European carnivals worth making an effort to see are:  Carnival of Venice, Italy; Ivrea Carnival, (and battle of oranges!) Turin; Cologne Carnival, Germany’s answer to Mardi Gras; Binche Carnival,  – one of Belgium‘s wildest parties and a UNESCO Heritage event. And many more…

The best musical events, big and small, central and remote.

Isle of Man TT racing, best festivals UK

Best festivals and events in the UK such as  Isle of Man TT Races in late May/early June. Original photo by Phil Long

April music festival at Coachella, best festivals

April music festival at Coachella, California, US. Photo by Alan Paone.

These may be art-oriented, colourfully odd happenings or extraordinary sporting occasions. Or motorcycles! Yes, my bucket list of best festivals definitely includes a visit to Sturgis Rally or  Florida’s Daytona Bike Week. But enough about me.

How about the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, or Burning Man in Nevada, incredible and unforgettable.

Festivals backpack checklist

(For large gatherings, day/multi-day outdoor events when the weather is iffy)

• comfortable walking shoes.
• compact cold and rain protection.
• hat, sunglasses and sun block.
• painkillers and plasters/band-aid.
• mosquito repellant?
• lightweight, large water bottle and possibly booze/energy drinks transferred to plastic bottles.
• a distinctive flag to find yourself later (! )
• wind-up or solar phone charger.
• a handkerchief for wiping sweat, dabbing mud off the camera or naff but light headgear and more.
• tissues.
• some compact protein for energy maintenance. Nuts? Beef jerky? Roll mop herrings?