Plan Your Group Around an International Festival, Celebration or Anniversary

Every country has its annual festivals and celebrations that attract visitors from all over the world. In some years there may even be an extra special one-time anniversary, marking a unique historical event that is worth honoring or celebrating. Here are some of our favorite annual events that bring the ‘wow factor’ to your group’s itinerary…

St. Patrick’s Day Festival
Ireland
(Annually March 17)

St Patrick’s Day is a National Holiday in Ireland and a festival not to be missed if you are planning a group trip to the Emerald Isle in March. On this day, the whole city turns ‘green,’ and the energy, excitement and overall joyous atmosphere is infectious. To really get a taste of St. Paddy’s Day be sure to watch the Grand Parade on the Saturday and visit the historic pubs for some good ol’ Craic with the locals. Make sure to try all the Irish delicacies as well: fresh baked soda bread, hearty Irish stew and, of course, a few pints of Guinness to wash it all down.

Sample tour:  Ireland Cultural Immersion

Pushkar Camel Fair
Pushkar, India
November (Annual event)

Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences. This epic spectacle attracts more than 11,000 camels, horses, and cattle and is visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around 14 days. For visitors, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour and carnival-like atmosphere of one of the last great traditional melas, one that brings livestock, farmers, traders and villagers together from all over Rajasthan.

Your group can even sleep in deluxe tents on site to get an in-depth cultural immersion into this historic festival.

Oberammergau
Oberammergau, Germany
May-October, 2020 (every 10 years)

When the Black Plague swept through Europe in the 1600’s, the small town of Oberammergau was spared. The residents of the town believe their vow to God to perform the Passion of Christ every 10 years if they were spared was the reason and henceforth every generation since then has kept the promise to perform the Passion Play, re-enacting the Crucifixion of Christ. Performed every 10 years, you have to be a native or have lived in the town for at least 20 years to take part in the play. With that said, over half the town is involved in the performance, either acting, singing in the choir, playing in the orchestra, or designing costumes and sets. 2020 will be the play’s 42nd performance. From May to October, the 7-hour play is performed 5 days per week starting at 2:30pm and ending at 10:30pm with a 3 hour dinner break in between. The play takes place outdoors where the sky and mountains become the dramatic backdrop. Since it only takes place every 10 years, the global interest is huge, so early booking of your group is essential!

 

Melbourne Cup Festival
Melbourne, Australia
November (Annual Event)

Australians are passionate about all their national sports –rugby, football, cricket, Aussie Rules – and on the second Tuesday every November, horseracing is the sports obsession of the day! The Melbourne Cup is the race that ‘stops a nation’! Run over 3,200 metres at Flemington Racecourse, it includes no more than 24 horses that must be over three years old. On the day, it can difficult to tell event is about a horse race, or the hats and fashion. High society mixes with everyone else, and the full-day event has become known as an urban fashion parade.

Since 1861, the Melbourne Cup has been an official race day and since 1877, a public holiday in the state of Victoria. Around the nation, most of the population stops to bet on the race and watch it on TV.

Although only Victoria takes the day off, around the country most businesses stop for the 3pm race and share ‘office sweepstakes,’ champagne and lunch. Many people who don’t normally bet get into the spirit of the day and buy a two-dollar office sweepstakes ticket on a random horse. In towns and cities across Australia, restaurants are filled with social and family groups taking the opportunity to celebrate the culture and a mid-week break.

On the track, tension is high between owners, trainers, jockeys, and punters. Many foreign horses now enter the race. Prize money is over 6-million dollars with the first ten past the post receiving winnings but, no matter the outcome, the atmosphere on Melbourne Cup Day in Australia is always electric. If your group is keen, we can arrange for entrance tickets to the general viewing area where they can mix with the locals and really get a sense of the passion and pride Melbourne Cup is to the nation. November is getting into peak travel time for North Americans, so be sure to book early.

Christmas in Israel
Jerusalem & Bethlehem
December (Annual Event)

For anyone wanting the ultimate Christian pilgrimage, or even to just embrace the historical magnificence of the region, there is no better place to be than in Jerusalem and Bethlehem during the Christmas season. As the birthplace of Jesus, Christmas celebrations in Israel and Palestine are extensive with Christmas lights decorating the streets, nativity scenes, and Christmas plays being performed. On Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, the main procession to the Church of The Nativity is led by a group of horsemen on Arabian horses, and followed by a lone rider on a black steed bearing a cross. Following him are clergymen and government officials. The procession enters the Church and places an image of the Holy Child inside. They continue from there down to the grotto of the Church to the spot where Jesus was born, which is marked by a silver star. Thousands of locals and visitors gather around the doorway of the Church and on the rooftop to watch this striking procession. To experience the wonders of the Holy Land at Christmas, be sure to book your group early to ensure availability.

Sample tour: Celebrate Your Faith in Israel

Rio Carnival
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
February (Annual Event)

Rio Carnival is a wild 4 -ay celebration held 40 days before Easter. The main event officially starts on Saturday and finishes on Fat Tuesday, with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Carnival with all its excesses, celebrated as a profane event, can be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. It usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak. There are carnival celebrations in virtually every corner of Brazil, the best-known ones taking place in Recife, together with neighbouring Olinda (in the North of Brazil), and Salvador. But the biggest and most famous carnival is undoubtedly the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

Mt. Hagen Sing Sing
Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea
August (Annual Event)

Each year in August, Mount Hagen hosts the Mount Hagen Cultural Show, one of the largest cultural events in Papua New Guinea. Various regional, provincial, and even national tribal dance groups gather to celebrate their cultural heritage in the form of sing-sing. The colours, the headdresses, the face paintings and the sheer amazing spectacle of it all will take your breath away. Mount Hagen is third largest city in Papua New Guinea located in the lush Wahgi Valley and is the capital of the Western Highlands Province. It is accessible by scheduled daily flights from Port Moresby.

Check out this fascinating PNG sample itinerary

Goway can tailor group itineraries matched to a wide range of festivals and annual events, suitable for a wide range of interests. Here are just some of the great events held across the globe for you to consider:

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