With winter slowly slipping away and the much longed-for spring getting ever closer, cultures around the world are ready to welcome the warmer season with open arms. Whether you prefer a festival with historical (if somewhat a little scary) ties or you just want to have fun and get a bit messy while attending it, there’s definitely an awesome March festival out there for you somewhere. Here are three of the best March festivals since there’s not enough time in the world to go into detail about every March festival there is.
Best March Festivals in the World
Noche de Brujas in Mexico
A frightening blend of ancient indigenous beliefs, West African voodoo practices and Spanish medieval traditions, witchcraft culture goes a long way back in the city of Catemaco, Mexico. In 1970, a local shaman held the city’s first ever witchcraft convention and the custom has been repeated every year since. On the first Friday of each March, hundreds of shamans, witches and healers from every part of Mexico descend on Catemaco to act out a mass cleansing ceremony that will rid them of the negative energy of the previous year.
Tourism has had a fairly large impact on the event, so Noche de Brujas (Night of the Witches) now includes a stage for song and dance performances, food and drink kiosks, stalls selling magical amulets and tarot card readings. This is also what makes it one of the best March festivals. Think of it as a more intense Day of the Dead with a bit of black magic thrown into the mix.
Holi in India
Hindu festivals are known for being loud, colourful and exciting, but Holi is arguably the most of all those three things. This bright celebration waves goodbye to winter and welcomes in spring with what is essentially a massive paint fight. Adults and children alike across northern India run through the streets, playfully throwing colourful powder over each other. Water pistols and balloons are also loaded up with coloured water for impromptu water fights.
These harmless shenanigans go on for three days around the full moon in March, but the essence of Holi really is condensed into the mad final day. Huge bonfires are lit at major crossroads the night before to burn effigies of the demon Holika before the biggest paint and water fights are held the next day. Tourists are always a target, so expect to be scrubbing off paint for the next few days.
Las Fallas in Spain
Spain has some pretty wacky festivals, but Las Fallas in Valencia really is one of the most bizarre. Held around the second week of March, this four-day festival is essentially a puppet show that’s got out of hand. Hundreds of giant papier mache sculptures of celebrities and other famous faces in the local news and politics are constructed by teams of local artists and then displayed throughout the region’s neighbourhoods. These puppets can measure a whopping 15 metres in height and can cost up to an amazing €350,000 each to build.
The huge puppets are left up for four days for people to enjoy along with an around-the-clock programme of street parties, paella competitions, open-air concerts and parades. Fireworks that literally shake the city’s street are set off each day at 2 pm before the grand finale takes place at midnight on the final day when every giant puppet is set on fire, saving the winning puppet to be burned last.