The Christmas and New Year celebrations may be well and truly behind us, but in other parts of the world, people are just starting to prepare for their major festivals. If you could do with a bit of a winter pick-me-up, consider bagging a cheap flight and visiting one of these four must-see February festivals across the world.
World’s Best February Festivals
International Ice and Snow Festival in Hāěrbīn, China
The northern part of China, where this festival takes place, has one of the coldest climates in Asia. And while this is a major negative point for sun worshippers, it’s a total advantage for travellers who want to admire incomprehensively beautiful ice sculptures that mimic famous buildings and structures lit up with multi-coloured lights. For a more interactive experience, hang around until the end of the festival when you can join in with the inevitable destroying of the structures.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Arguably February’s biggest and most popular festival is the carnival in Rio de Janeiro which takes place each February in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. A heady mix of intoxicating street parties, vibrant dances, energized performances and dynamic parades, all done in flamboyant outfits unlike anything you see anywhere else are just a few things that makes this city’s carnival the iconic festival it is. The unforgettable samba parade, with all the very best samba schools in the country following a carefully-crafted choreography performance to their own incredible song on a larger than life float is undoubtedly the festival’s highlight.
Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
If you can’t make it to Rio, the February carnival in Tenerife’s capital city, Santa Cruz, is said to be the second best in the world. The celebrations at this small coastal town go on for two weeks and also include carnival queen pageants, street theatre, comedy sketches and all kinds of entertaining competitions, as well as the usual parades, parties and dances. Although the highlight is the main parade that takes place toward the end of the festivities, the more unusual ‘Burial of the Sardine’ parade, during which thousands of people dress in black and mourn over the death of a handmade sardine is a lot more fun to watch.
Thaipusam in the Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
One of the most sensational Hindu February festivals on Malaysia’s calendar, Thaipusam marks the day when Lord Shiva’s son, Murugan, received a powerful lance to destroy three evil demons. In celebration of this event, people from the Tamil community pierce every conceivable part of their body with spear-like needles adorned with fish hooks, huge religious symbols and other equally impressive decorations. Fires are lit spontaneously in the streets, groups chant together and fall into trances while drum processions provide constant background noise. Thaipusam is easily louder and more intense than the Brazil and Tenerife carnival put together and is definitely not for the faint hearted.