Looking for a lively, cultural experience this winter? These six events around the globe cover all bases, from art to religion to politics. Escape the cold in Sydney or the Philippines, or brave a Norwegian winter to see the northern lights. Each of these places allow travelers to see the complex and exciting cultures of the world.
Sydney Festival, Sydney, Australia
This festival covers all forms of international and Australian art, including drama, dance, music, and visual arts. Watch a free performance in one of Sydney’s beautiful parks and the famous Sydney Opera House. In 2018, children and adults alike can view Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji’s “Jurassic Plastic,” a collection of dinosaur sculptures and landscapes made out of discarded plastic toys that criticizes mass consumerism.
Ati-Atihan, Kalibo, Philippines
On the island of Panay, locals and travelers gather in the city of Kalibo for a celebration of Santo Niño, or baby Jesus, as well as the 1210 peace treaty between two enemy tribes. The peak of Ati-Atihan is the Big Three Days of Spiritual Street Dancing, where people join together in drinking and dancing while cheering on dozens of music groups while the compete for a million peso prize. The streets of Kalibo are littered with colorful costumes as parades roll by. On the last day, a torch procession toward Kalibo Cathedral lights up the streets before the festival’s final prayer.
Northern Lights Festival, Tromsø, Norway
January 25-February 4
Cross another item off your bucket list by going to scenic Norway to see the aurora borealis. Watch the sky light up in vivid colors above the snow coated trees and mountains at the Northern Lights Festival in Tromsø. The Northern Lights Festival is held to welcome the return of the sun after two months of darkness with music crossing all genres and indoor and outdoor activities. Musicians can partake in master classes while others can gaze in wonderment at the colorful night sky on a Northern Lights cruise.
Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
Each February, an extravagant display of snow and ice sculptures fill Odori Park in downtown Sapporo. Intricate works of art made of pure snow and glistening ice are illuminated by colorful lights capture everything from Japanese folklore to pop culture to international landmarks that held significance throughout the previous year. Visitors can also sample traditional Japanese food and find their way through a frosty snow maze, all in the center of downtown Sapporo.
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy
Dating back to 12th century, Battle of the Oranges celebrates Ivrea’s freedom from the tyrannical Guido III by the hand of a miller’s daughter, Violetta. After Violetta executed Guido III, the city’s commoners stormed the castle with swords and stones against his guards. The swords and stones are replaced with oranges for the event, where locals and visitors partake in battles. Chariots charge the streets while a recently married young woman assumes the role of Violetta and throws candy to spectators. At the end of the Battle of the Oranges, peace resumes in Ivrea and the crowd gathers at city hall to join for a meal of fish and polenta.
Tet Festival, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Vietnam’s largest and most important celebration. Ring in the Year of the Dog with boat races, bamboo swing contests, and performances of the traditional dragon. Locals set off firecrackers in the streets to repel evil spirits while Buddhist and Confucian rituals take place. Tet Festival ends with a romantic exchange leading to marriage called con throwing, where a couple tosses a sacred ball through a ring. This is the perfect opportunity for travelers to see the richness of Vietnamese culture.