The World's Top 50 Festivals

Some of the greatest gatherings of people have either been for or resulted in a massive festival. Different cultures celebrate different things in different ways, and the webmasters have compiled a list of such events in no real particular order. There is usually something for everyone, and what better way to spend your time than with masses of people vibing to the same groove?



Coming Soon:


7) South by Southwest (SXSW)

The interactive media even has kicked things off, since one of the lead developers of Firecane now lives in Austin, there should be some good press coming the next 10 days!

12) World Cup – 2010, its only once every for years, and it's only a few months away is South Africa. The yanks have had some huge wins the past few years. Top of the list, ending a long win streak but the #1 ranked Spaniards. Do you believe in Miscalls?


"The Rankings"


1) Carnival in Rio – Top of the must see festivals before I check out of Terra Firma is Carnival in Rio. Maybe next year.

2) Mardi Gras in New Orleans – The mother off all parties in North America. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a celebration that goes on and on for weeks and weeks. The magnitude of the event is tough to describe with words, but luck for us we have footage on YouTube!

3) Burning Man - Held in the deserts of the American west, burning man is a strange place. People build elaborately large stuff, such as 30” fire breathing monsters. It’s very impressive and a little weird, so I’m told. The few years I lived in San Francisco was like a mythical journey I never got to take. Burning man was not on the radar of my I-banker buddies.

4) Running of the Bulls – One of the largest parties on earth, the Running of the Bulls attracts visitors from around the globe, much like Carnival and Mardi Gras. I have not been. But it’s near the top of my life’s to-do list.

5) Bonnaroo - A small town in Tennessee has built a huge music festival facility on an old farm. For 5 days, over 100,000 people descend on this town to watch big acts scattered over 15+ stages. There is a huge camping area that is covered with make shift tents, small windbags, and a few land yachts. The scene is very hippy. I like to stay in the Hotel, but get your room early, because there are not too many hotels available in this town. If I was a little younger, or had a land yacht, I would go camp out where the action is. The party rages all night as this fest is part music fest, part burning man part Mardi Gras.

6) Telluride Blue Grass Festival – This event takes place after the spring season of festivals in the south. The outdoor music circuit heads to the mountains of Telluride for one of the larger festivals of the year.

7) South by Southwest (SXSW) - Austin, Texas – A more diverse festival held for film, music, and movies, SXSW started as the Austin Battle of the Bands and is now one of the largest festivals in the United States. Over four days in March, more than 1,400 performers play in dozens of venues around the city.

8) Chinese New Year - Hong Kong, China – During the biggest celebration in the city, everyone emerges to decorate houses, buildings, restaurants, and parks with colorful lamps and bright flowers. Giant parades and fireworks displays ring in the New Year, as lighting up rooms and opening doors and windows are harbingers of good luck.

9) New Years Eve - New York City, New York – Everyone has seen the ball get dropped in Times Square on TV, and the millions of people lining the streets to watch in awe. The New Year’s Eve midnight run takes place immediately following the ball drop. Not to mention the numerous amounts of house parties, extravagant balls, and live performances happening all around the city.

10) Summer Olympics - The only summer games I have attended were in Atlanta in 1996. I was a junior at Emory University, and for a month the world swarmed on our city. People from all around the world come to party like rock stars for 2 weeks.

11) Winter Olympics – I am sure they are lower key than the summer games, because most of the time they are held in smaller towns as you need some serious mountains for the winter games.

12) World Cup –2010 South Africa. The largest sporting event in the world. International soccer tournament.

13) Super Bowl
- Tickets are around $1,000 which is a little high for a football game. But... someday! Unfortunately I did not live in NOLA when it held its last Superbowl, so I don’t know exactly what the mania is like.

14) NCAA National Championship Football Games - Being a long time Sooners Fan, I have been to many National Championship games. They also host it every 4 years in our home town. South Beach and New Orleans are great places to see the big game. I’m sure L.A. is nice too, but Phoenix doesn’t really have the star appeal of the other 3 cities. And except for the fact that LSU has played in the only 2 BCS games in the Sugar Bowl. Tickets to the big game are usually dirt cheap outside the stadium. Even in 2000, when OU had not been in ages, and Florida state was playing in its backyard, you could get a ticket for well under the $150 face. In 2004 when OU played USC, good tickets were going for $30 outside of the Orange Bowl.

15) Final 4 - Many of the seats in a final four game can be pretty bad, as they will often convert a football stadium into a basketball stadium so they can have more seats. But you do get fans from 4 schools that travel well and give the lucky town a festive weekend.

16) Spring Break in Cancun - Cancun supposedly got hit pretty hard by its own hurricane the same year Katrina and Rita did their damage. I have not been back since. That being said, Spring Break in Cancun is something to experience. It’s like one never ending Girls Gone Wild video. And it’s cheap, too.

17) St Patty’s Day – Boston, Massachusetts – St. Patrick’s Day in Boston is more than just drinks, green, and a parade. Festivities are planned throughout the weeks leading up to the holiday, which draws more than 500,000 visitors to the city. Beer, music, art, and gourmet foods are highlights of the occasion, along with crazy green decorations and a live atmosphere of people.

18) Las Fallas - Valencia, Spain (March 12-19) – This festival is geared for pyromaniacs of all ages. Las Fallas translates from Valencian as “the fires.” Giant structures featuring satirical scenes/current events made from cardboard, wood, and any other sturdy but material are set ablaze around the city to feature a fiery fiesta.

19) The Fetish & Fantasy Ball - Las Vegas (October) 
An adult themed Halloween event in Las Vegas, this festival features erotic stage performances, live music with a large laser and lights display, costume contests, stilt walkers, and giant monsters are just the beginning of this celebration.

20) Love Parade - Germany (July) – Originating in Germany in 1989, Love Parade is now hosted in many international cities all over the world. First held as a peace demonstration, the festival is predominated by dance music, such as Trance, House, Techno, and Schranz (European hard techno).

21) Oktoberfest - Munich, Bavaria, Germany (September 16 - October 2) – With some six million people attending every year, Oktoberfest claims to be one of, if not the largest fair in the world. Every festival begins with the Mayor of Munich tapping the first keg and declaring O’zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”)

22) Fantasy Fest - Key West, USA (October 20-29) – A street party held in the last week of October, this festival started as a party meant to simply liven up October. The festivities now include costume balls, including costume competitions, AIDS fundraisers, body painting, drag queen contests, pet and neighborhood parades for all patrons, as well as a huge array of parties.

23) 10,000 Lakes Festival - Detroit Lakes, Minnesota – These four days of music started in 2003 and typically host bluegrass and jam bands. A smaller festival, the event has only four stages, with just over 18,000 people attending in 2006.

24) All Good Music Festival - Preston County, West Virginia – A jam band festival loaded with good artists. 2008 will mark the 12th year the shows have been going on.

25) High Sierra Music Festival - Quincy, California – Held annually the weekend of July 4th, High Sierra features a wide variety of genres from jazz to electronica to hip-hop to jam bands. Started in 1991, the event is held about 80 miles north of Reno, Nevada.

26) Lollapalooza – A well established festival, Lollapalooza was created by lead singer of Jane’s Addiction Perry Farrell, as a farewell tour for the band. It died in 1997, but was revived again in 2003, and can be seen as a sort of ‘Woodstock’ for the youth culture of the 90’s. The festival typically garners the more headlining acts of pop culture, and has had many impressive lineups in the past.

27) Langerado Music Festival - Seminole Big Cypress Indian Reservation in the Everglades, South Florida – This festival mainly features jam bands, but also has a smaller section of diverse of genres. Slowly growing into a three day festival from a single day fest in 2003, Langerado also allows opportunities to catch some great late night shows.

28) All-Star Fiesta/Cancun Jumpoff- Cancun, Mexico – This mostly hip-hop oriented festival is set around fashion shows, record-releases and and celebrity basketball. The main downside to this is the availability of rooms runs out very quickly.

29) Voodoo Music Experience - New Orleans, Louisiana – A three day music festival held over Halloween weekend in City Park. Although the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina put the shows in different cities in 2005, the festival returned to City Park in 2006, boasting attendance of over 100,000 people.

30) Wakarusa Music Festival - Lawrence, Kansas – Held annually since 2004, Wakarusa is a smaller festival with more opportunity and diversity in genres. Other than music, campers can enjoy disc golf, yoga, hiking, and swimming in Clinton Lake.

31) Great American Beer Festival - Denver, Colorado - Hosted by the Brewers Association, visitors from around the world are invited to Denver for three days to try more than 2,300 American beers entered by more than 450 domestic breweries.

32) Songkran - Thai New Year – From April 13-15, the hottest time of the year in Thailand, people roam the streets with water pistols waiting to soak each other and passersby. This ritual originated as a way to cleanse all the bad away.

33) Bastille Day – France – Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, marking the French Revolution. Seen as the ‘French July 4th,’ festivities begin with parades, colorful arts festivals, and street parties.

34) Sydney Festival – Sydney, Australia – Started in 1976 and running for more than 3 weeks, this is the largest and most attended annual cultural event in Australia. The program features more than 50 events, from classical to contemporary music, dance, circus, drama, and visual arts. With indoor and outdoor presentations, the festival attracts an estimated 1 million people per year.

35) Glastonbury Festival – Southwest England – The largest Greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world. The program features everything from music to dance, comedy, theatre, a circus, cabaret and much, much more. In 2005, the festival took place over 900 acres of land with and had over 385 live performances.

36) Puck Fair – Ireland – A three day fair held in Killorglin, Ireland. Beginning with the Puck goat, a wild goat captured by a group of people in the mountains, the festival opens after the animal has been crowned, labeled “King Puck,” and put in a cage atop a stand in the middle of town. More than 100,000 people join the celebration of drinking, singing, and dancing, and most pubs stay open (and packed) until at least 3 AM. The festival concludes with a funfair and major fireworks display.

37) Monterey Jazz Festival – Monterey, California – One of the longest running jazz festivals; premiering in 1958. Nine stages host more than 500 top jazz artists on the third full week of September, with more than 50 concert performances. Funding jazz education programs throughout the U.S., MJF is actually a non-profit organization.

38) Budapest Autumn Festival – Budapest, Hungary – The Autumn Festival focuses on all types of contemporary art, such as music, dance, film, photography, computer graphics, and more, all based with various annual themes, such as “Present Tense.” Talent comes from more than 12 countries. The festival typically opens with a sculpture exhibition.

39) Istanbul International Music Festival – Istanbul, Turkey – This festival features eclectic selections of European classical music, ballet, opera and traditional music performances from artists all over the world. The event is held every June and July.

40) Fiesta San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas – To celebrate the city’s diversity, for 10 days in April “Fiesta” offers over 100 events. From a carnival to fancy balls, to delicious food or music of all types, the city offers a little something for people of all ages.

41) Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling – Brockworth, U.K. – Traditionally for the locals, this event has been gaining popularity since Dave Allen visited during the 1970’s series, Dave Allen at Large. The objective is to roll a large round of Double Gloucester cheese down Cooper’s Hill (it’s pretty steep), and participants chase down attempting to catch it, or be the first to cross the finish line at the bottom. This rarely happens, however, due to the fact that the round of cheese can reach speeds up to 70 mph and not sustain injuries, unlike the individuals pursuing it.

42) Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race – Isle of Man, England – This motorcycle racing event has been here held since 1907. “Mad Sunday” is a chance for any member of the public to ride the mountain section of the course, although this is incredibly dangerous due to narrow, twisting roads and lanes guarded by stone walls and buildings. Between 1907 and 2007, there have been 224 deaths related to the race or practices of the Snaefell Mountain Course.

43) Chicago Blues Festival – Chicago, Illinois – This annual event features four days of performances by top blues musicians. It’s hosted by the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events, and takes place in Grant Park. In 2007, six stages brought a crowd of around 750,000 patrons for the four day festival, because… admission is free.

44) Summer Solstice at Stonehenge – Salisbury, Wiltshire – Thousands of people descend on this world monument to view the sunrise inside the monument on the longest day of the year. Recently, the authorities have opened up the monument, allowing patrons to stand inside the stones as the sun begins to peak.

45) Smithsonian Folklife Festival – Washington, D.C. – An international festival of cultural heritage outside the National Mall of the U.S. The event is hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, and takes place for two weeks every summer. Free to the public, over one million people usually visit the Folklife Festival, which presents over 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftsman, cooks, and much, much more.

46) Galway Arts Festival – Galway, Ireland – Every July since 1978, one of the biggest festivals in Europe takes place in Galway. It features many different types of international artists and an array of parades, street performances, plays, music, and comedy acts.

47) Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, Wyoming – The largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the world. During 10 days, night concerts, comedy acts, a midway, a large fair, wild west shows, food vendors, an Indian village, and a giant nationally sanctioned rodeo help fill up hotels all along east Wyoming, and even in Colorado and Nebraska with nearly 300,000 people. The event also features free pancake breakfasts. In one week, over 100,000 pancakes are served, along with 3,000 pounds of ham. 5,000 pounds of pancake batter are mixed in cement trucks.

48) The Los Angeles County Fair – Pomona, California – Held every September, the L.A. County Fair is the largest in the U.S., and has things to do for people of all ages. Livestock shows, technology exhibits, wine-making, arts and crafts, street performers, carnival rides, museums, a “winter wonderland,” grand stage concerts and many other special events are just the beginning of the list.

49) Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico – A nine day event, this occasion presents spectators with around 750 giant hot air balloons. It is the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, and widely considered the most photographed event in the world. (You probably have a background image pre-loaded with your operating system on your computer from the event)

50) Edmonton Fringe Festival – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – This festival has an emphasis on theatre, but performers do almost every form of art and entertainment. From magicians to actors to street performers, the festival hosts over 1,500 performers annually.