40 Unique Holidays Around the World to Celebrate

40 Unique Holidays Around the World to Celebrate

While we’re sure you’re familiar with the usual Western holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, have you ever wondered what the rest of the world celebrates? There are so many culturally different and unique countries around the world, each with its own set of exciting traditions and holidays. Let’s go on a journey to explore 40 of these amazing holidays, maybe even adding somewhere new to your travel bucket list!

1. La Tomatina - Spain

Every last Wednesday of August, the streets of Buñol in Spain turn completely red. For what reason, you may ask? It’s for La Tomatina! What initially began as a street brawl in the 1940s has evolved into the world’s most massive tomato fight. Yes, you read that right. Thousands gather on the streets to pelt each other with ripe tomatoes, just for the fun of it! But don’t worry, it’s not all chaos - the festivities also include music, parades, and dancing. 

1024Px-La Tomatina (25.08.2010) - Spain, Buñol 08flydime on Wikimedia Commons

2. Holi - India

Dubbed the “Festival of Colours”, Holi is an Indian holiday that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As winter subsides, streets across India (and now, even other places worldwide) get painted in beautiful vibrant colours. Friends and strangers alike will hurl coloured powders and water at each other, all while dancing and singing. Apart from the happy chaos, it’s also a time for sweet delicacies and delicious warm beverages.

Sandra-Seitamaa-7-3Cgwyqlv0-UnsplashPhoto by Sandra Seitamaa on Unsplash

3. Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) - Mexico

While the title of this holiday may seem like a downer, it’s actually far from being a gloomy occasion. The Day of the Dead is a delightful, bright, and joyous remembrance of loved ones who’ve passed on. Families create altars adorned with marigolds, candles, and the favourite foods of the departed.


You’ll find that Skull motifs and face paintings are quite prominent, and the air is full of good fun thanks to plenty of music, parades, and laughter. 

Nick-Fewings-I3C Eojfvqy-UnsplashPhoto by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

4. Songkran - Thailand

Songkran is essentially the Thai New Year; but instead of just popping champagne, Thais engage in a massive, country-wide water fight! Dating back centuries, this tradition symbolizes washing away the past year’s misfortunes, which is why water is such an important part of this holiday. Armed with water guns, buckets, and hoses, everything is fair game! So if you’re in Thailand during Songkran, prepare to be drenched. 

Arisa-Chattasa-T32Cnwfw Ew-UnsplashPhoto by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

5. Inti Raymi - Peru

Inti Raymi, also known as the “Festival of the Sun”, harks back to the time of the Incas. Held annually on June 24th, it’s a day to respect Inti, the sun god. In Cusco, the ancient Incan capital, there’s a grand reenactment of the traditional ceremonies, complete with vibrant costumes, music, and dance. 

Alexander-Schimmeck-Mrafxv3V7Ts-UnsplashPhoto by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

6. Night of the Radishes - Mexico

Confused? In Oaxaca, Mexico, they host an unusual holiday every December 23rd: the Night of the Radishes. On this day, competitors carve out intricate scenes out of radishes, which are then displayed in the town’s main square. This tradition, dating all the way back to the colonial period, adds an unexpectedly strange twist to Christmas festivities.


But hey, if we carve pumpkins, who says you can’t carve radishes too? 

Dim-Hou-Cmiekcbv5Wm-UnsplashPhoto by Dim Hou on Unsplash

7. Up Helly Aa - Scotland

In January, Shetland, Scotland witnesses a Viking-themed fire festival called Up Helly Aa. During this epic holiday, participants dress up as Vikings and march with torches, eventually setting a galley ship ablaze. It’s a nod to Shetland’s Norse heritage, but it’s also a fiery spectacle that lights up and warms the winter night.

Bjorn-Snelders-Cd3Ek7Rnxsk-UnsplashPhoto by Bjorn Snelders on Unsplash

8. Monkey Buffet Festival - Thailand

Held in front of the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi, this quirky event is essentially a feast for monkeys. Over 2,000 monkeys are treated to fruits, candies, and other treats, all laid out in intricate designs. It’s both a Thanksgiving for the town’s beloved inhabitants and a tourist attraction. 

Shashank-Hudkar-Grmnkpys2Ro-UnsplashPhoto by Shashank Hudkar on Unsplash

9. Air Guitar World Championships - Finland

Oulu, Finland might seem like a quiet country, but come August, it’s weirdly a haven for air guitar enthusiasts. Who knew there was a country out there that would dedicate an entire day to such an activity? Participants from all around the globe flock to Oulu to perform their best air guitar routines, proving that you don’t need an actual instrument to be a rock star.Chad-Kirchoff-Ivqgyyltbi8-UnsplashPhoto by Chad Kirchoff on Unsplash

10. Wife Carrying World Championships - Finland

That’s right, we’re putting two weird Finnish holidays back to back on this list. In the town of Sonkajärvi, couples race through a challenging obstacle course, all while the husbands carry their wives. Originating from a 19th-century legend, it’s now become an amusing and surprisingly competitive global event. 

Shwa-Hall-6Qculjqvlt4-UnsplashPhoto by Shwa Hall on Unsplash

11. Seto Folk - Estonia

Deep within Estonia’s Setomaa region, the Seto Folk Festival is an immersive experience that throws you into the country’s rich, cultural tapestry. Here, you’ll encounter traditional Seto singing known as Leelo, recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Apart from the beautiful melodies, the festival also showcases folk dances, handcrafts, and authentic Seto cuisine.


Wander amidst the old villages and meet the indigenous Seto People, whose culture remains beautifully preserved despite the passing of time. 

Edward-Eyer-Hnyvjzrgbuy-UnsplashPhoto by Edward Eyer on Unsplash

12. Diwali - India

This popular five-day Festival of Lights celebrates once again, the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. You’ll find homes adorned with oil lamps, candles, and colourful rangoli (patterns made with coloured rice or powder). Firework displays light up the sky, and families come together to exchange gifts and share massive feasts. Each day has its significance, rituals, and legends, making it a multifaceted celebration.

Udayaditya-Barua-Xispxjqwqka-UnsplashPhoto by Udayaditya Barua on Unsplash

13. Yi Peng and Loy Krathong - Thailand

These two festivals occur concurrently in Chiang Mai, creating a dazzling spectacle of floating lights. During Yi Peng, thousands release lanterns into the sky, symbolizing letting go of all ills and stressors. Simultaneously, Loy Krathong sees handcrafted floats, adorned with candles and flowers, released into rivers. The combined effect is ethereal and truly mesmerizing.

Ryan-Franco-Tnqbjuuzf9U-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

14. Tapati - Easter Island

Beyond its iconic moai statues, Easter Island boasts a vibrant annual celebration called Tapati. Held in February, it’s a two-week festival where clans compete in traditional sports, dance, and song. It’s a rare insight into the Rapa Nui culture, complete with body paint, banana trunk sliding, and intriguing ancestral rituals.

Sophie-Laurent-Bndjmu-Wlfk-UnsplashPhoto by Sophie Laurent on Unsplash

15. Festa de São João - Brazil

Porto Alegre explodes with colour and music every June during the Festa de São João. Here you can find bonfires lighting up the streets while people dance around and launch colourful balloons into the night sky.


Traditional foods, folk dances, and games are also essential parts of the festivities, echoing the European midsummer celebrations from which they evolved. 

Rafaela-Biazi-0Mfj0Jjt0Dy-UnsplashPhoto by Rafaela Biazi on Unsplash

16. White Nights Festival - Russia

Saint Petersburg, during summer, experiences near-continuous daylight that’s called the “White Nights”. During this phenomenon, the city is alive with concerts, ballets, operas, and fun all-night art festivals. The Scarlet Sails, a massive public event featuring a ship with red sails cruising the Neva River, is the festival’s highlight, symbolizing dream fulfillment and hope.

Michael-Afonso-Nzu76Qwy-T8-UnsplashPhoto by Michael Afonso on Unsplash

17. J’ouvert - Trinidad and Tobago

Kicking off the renowned Carnival in Trinidad, J’ouvert is a pre-dawn celebration root in emancipation. Participants, or “Jab Jabs”, cover themselves in mud, oil, and paint as they dance through the streets to the rhythm of steel pans and soca music. It’s a beautiful experience that represents freedom, transformation, and euphoria.

Karl-Callwood-Ctcmgjalumm-UnsplashPhoto by Karl Callwood on Unsplash

18. Naadam - Mongolia

Termed the “Three Games of Men,” Naadam showcases Mongolia’s best in wrestling, horse racing, and archery. It’s an exciting celebration that occurs in July, highlighting the country’s nomadic spirit. Folk songs, dance, and the vibrant attire of participants make this a cultural spectacle that provides a deep dive into Mongolian heritage. It’s the perfect combination of excitement and education!

Julia-Joppien-Iojcpq2Rwe8-UnsplashPhoto by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

19. Panafest - Ghana

Held every two years in Ghana, Panafest is a cultural event that draws people of African descent from all over the globe.


It celebrates the best of African arts, music, and dance while simultaneously confronting the painful past of the transatlantic slave trade. It’s both a jubilant celebration of African unity and a solemn remembrance of their history.

Emmanuel-Offei-Rebd3 2M-Fu-UnsplashPhoto by Emmanuel Offei on Unsplash

20. Cherry Blossom Festival - Japan

Hanami, or “flower viewing”, is an age-old Japanese tradition centered around the stunning beauty of cherry blossoms. Every spring, parks, temples, and castles across Japan are awash in varying hues of pink thanks to the blossoming of cherry blossoms. Families and friends gather for picnics beneath these beautiful canopies, savoring the moment. Travelers from all around the world time their visits to Japan in hopes of getting a glimpse of this magical experience.

Mos-Design-Hruzjemskmy-UnsplashPhoto by mos design on Unsplash

21. Carnival of Venice - Italy

Imagine drifting through Venice’s canals and alleyways, surrounded by an array of ornate masks and elegant costumes. The Carnival of Venice, dating way back to the 12th century, transforms this City of Canals into a dreamlike stage. For a total of ten days, participants don elaborate masks and costumes, a tradition that once allowed the nobility and peasants to mingle anonymously. Masquerade balls, gondola parades, and theatrical performances make this grand feast one for the senses.

Joshua-Stannard-Yxzne1Jfdfo-UnsplashPhoto by Joshua Stannard on Unsplash

22. Midsummer’s Eve - Sweden

Marking the summer solstice, Sweden’s Midsummer’s Eve is a joyous occasion, celebrating light during the longest day of the year. Celebrants dance around a maypole adorned with flowers and greenery while singing traditional songs.


Families and friends alike gather for a feast of herring, new potatoes, and the famous Swedish schnapps. As night comes along, it’s filled with laughter, tales of folklore, and some even believe it’s a magical time when supernatural beings roam to their pleasing.

Sofia-Holmberg-Hizxrw5Vppy-UnsplashPhoto by Sofia Holmberg on Unsplash

23. Pflasterspektakel - Austria

Linz, Austria transforms into a massive street performance arena during Pflasterspektakel (try saying that five times fast)!. Over three days, artists from all over the world bring the city to life with music, acrobatics, pantomime, and improvisational theatre. The name, translating to “Pavement Spectacle”, perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere. As spectators wander around, they’ll encounter both spontaneous and scheduled performances, making the city an exciting adventure at every turn.

Alex-Kotliarskyi-Cqzlo0Aahk8-UnsplashPhoto by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

24. Sapporo Snow Festival - Japan

For one week in February, Sapporo on Japan’s Hokkaido island becomes a winter wonderland. Gigantic snow sculptures, some as high as multi-story buildings, dot the landscapes. Artists come to carve intricate designs, ranging from historical figures to entire city landscapes. By night, these icy marvels are illuminated, creating a mesmerizing glow all throughout the city. Beyond sculptures, visitors can also enjoy fun snow slides, local foods, and live entertainment.


25. Day of Silence (Nyepi) - Bali

Contrasting the noise and bustle of most festivals, Nyepi is the complete opposite - it’s a day of silence, reflection, and fasting. For 24 hours, the entire island of Bali comes to a standstill.


No work is done, lights are kept off, and no one even ventures outside - even tourists are encouraged to be respectful and observe the quiet. The serene atmosphere allows individuals to meditate on the past year, cleansing their spirits for the future.

ries-bosch-TYAXeq8TU4M-unsplash-1024x682.jpgPhoto by Ries Bosch on Unsplash

26. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - USA

Every October, the skies of Albuquerque, New Mexico burst into colour. The International Balloon Fiesta is the world’s largest gathering of hot air balloons. Over nine days, nearly 600 balloons take to the skies! Special shape rodeos, evening “glows”, and coordinated mass ascensions create a visual spectacle against the rugged beauty of the American Southwest.

Edgar-Chaparro-Mukx5Ixlece-UnsplashPhoto by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

27. Battle of the Oranges - Italy

Historic Ivrea in Italy hosts one of the largest food fights in the world: The Battle of the Oranges. This massive three-day event sees teams on foot and horse-drawn carriages pelt each other with, you guessed it, oranges. It commemorates a medieval town rebellion against tyranny, symbolized by these citrus missiles. Despite its aggressive nature, it ends with shared meals and wine, celebrating community spirit.

Philippe-Gauthier-Eaojez8746K-UnsplashPhoto by Philippe Gauthier on Unsplash

28. The Festival of Near-Death Experiences (Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme) - Spain

In the small Spanish town of Las Nieves, there’s a unique celebration of life. Those who’ve experienced a near-death event in the past year are paraded around in coffins, accompanied by relatives. It’s a strange but profound display of gratitude for a second chance at life, marked by solemn processions. It’s all followed by fireworks and grand celebration though!

Jorge-Fernandez-Salas-Chszetoal-I-UnsplashPhoto by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unspl

29. Cow Parade - Worldwide

An unusual global public art event, the Cow Parade sees life-sized cow sculptures transformed by local artists.


Each city adds its flair, making each parade unique. These cow artworks, often whimsical and satirical, are displayed in public spaces before being auctioned off for charity. From New York to Tokyo, it’s a delightful fusion of art, humour, and community spirit. 

Patrick-Baum-Hb9Vo06O9Z8-UnsplashPhoto by Patrick Baum on Unsplash

30. Camel Wrestling Championship - Turkey

Every year in Selcuk, Turkey, a unique tournament draws crowds in: camel wrestling. Male camels, enticed by a nearby female, wrestle one another. Though it sounds quite fierce and violent, it’s mostly just a display of might with minimal aggression. Accompanied by traditional music, dances, and a picnic-like atmosphere, it’s an interesting deep dive into regional customs. 

Wolfgang-Hasselmann-Yaigmqv4Dfc-UnsplashPhoto by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

31. Boryeong Mud Festival - South Korea

In July, South Korea’s Boryeong becomes a mud haven. The Boryeong Mud Festival was originally created to promote the celebration of the cosmetic benefits of the region’s mineral-rich mud. But today, it’s transformed into a messy extravaganza complete with mud slides, mud pools, and even mud prisons. Visitors immerse themselves, quite literally, in festivities, ending up coated from head to toe.

Vidar-Nordli-Mathisen-Zzvsfoidr5G-UnsplashPhoto by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

32. Night of the Witches - Mexico 

Celebrated in the mining town of Catemaco in Veracruz, the Night of the Witches draws forth spiritual healers, shamans, fortune tellers, and curious tourists every March. They gather for a ceremonial mass cleansing and then offer individuals cleansings, love potions, and rituals throughout the night.


It’s a fusion of ancient traditions with modern practices, showcasing Mexico’s rich and mystical heritage. 

Freestocks-Y Dcjarwthy-UnsplashPhoto by freestocks on Unsplash

33. Tunarama - Australia

Port Lincoln in South Australia hosts the fun but quirky Tunarama festival every January. Events range from music to parades, but as the title suggests, the highlight is “tuna tossing”. Competitors fling a 20lb tuna fish as far as they can, vying for the championship title. Initially using real tuna, nowadays they’ve opted for rubber replicas to conserve the fish population. Smart choice!

Kate-Estes-Brnnj6Vvndy-UnsplashPhoto by kate estes on Unsplash

34. Chinchilla Melon Festival - Australia

Every two years, the town of Chinchilla, known as Australia’s “Melon Capital,” hosts a four-day melon-themed extravaganza. From melon skiing to melon bungee, it’s a hilarious tribute to the fruit. The Chinchilla Melon Festival celebrates both the town’s agricultural heritage and the sheer, refreshing joy of summertime fun.

Elena-Mozhvilo-8Keutgmy0Xo-UnsplashPhoto by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

35. World Bog Snorkeling Championships - Wales

The Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells is the site for one of the murkiest sporting events ever; participants, armed with snorkels and flippers, navigated a 60-yard trench dug in a peat bog. The catch? No conventional swimming strokes are allowed! Every August Bank Holiday, competitors from around the world will brave the chilly, muddy waters in hopes of getting the fastest time.

Maksim-Shutov--Om-0Jtqyra-UnsplashPhoto by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

36. Whirling Dervish Festival - Turkey

In honour of the Sufi poet Rumi, the Whirling Dervish Festival in Konya, Turkey, is a spiritual celebration.


Participants, or dervishes, perform the Sema, a spinning dance meant to achieve a state of spiritual trance. Accompanied by haunting music and chants, it’s a profound experience, diving deep into mysticism and devotion.

San-Fermin-Pamplona-Navarra-0D7Wtqhe-Aq-UnsplashPhoto by San Fermin Pamplona - Navarra on Unsplash

37. Cigarrón - Spain

Held in Verín, Spain, the Cigarrón Carnival is a colorful and energetic display of tradition. Participants dress as 'Cigarróns', wearing elaborate costumes and carved wooden masks. Accompanied by the sound of cowbells tied around their waists, they run through the streets, playfully "whipping" bystanders to ward off evil spirits, blending tradition with merriment in this unique celebration.

San-Fermin-Pamplona-Navarra-2Y68Fp9Tzrq-UnsplashPhoto by San Fermin Pamplona - Navarra on Unsplash

38. Harbin Ice Festival - China

Harbin, often called "Ice City," hosts one of the world's largest ice festivals every January. Artists sculpt colossal structures from blocks of ice taken from the Songhua River, ranging from intricate statues to full-scale buildings. Illuminated by colorful lights, the icy spectacle at night resembles a fantastical frozen metropolis.

Matt-Forster-Fj4Lbppckn4-UnsplashPhoto by Matt Forster on Unsplash

39. Bastille Day - France

Commemorating the French Revolution, Bastille Day on July 14th is a nationwide celebration. Paris, in particular, dazzles with military parades down the Champs-Elysées, followed by fireworks bursting over the Eiffel Tower. It's a day of patriotic fervor, reflecting the enduring spirit of "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité".

Tom-Cl8Bucvz-Io-UnsplashPhoto by Tom on Unsplash

40. Running of the Bulls - Spain

Pamplona's San Fermin festival is world-renowned for its daring event - the Running of the Bulls.


Every July, adrenaline junkies race through the town's narrow streets ahead of a stampeding group of bulls. The run, covering 875 meters, is both thrilling and controversial but remains an iconic Spanish tradition.

San-Fermin-Pamplona-Navarra-Ljrszmj1Rjc-UnsplashPhoto by San Fermin Pamplona - Navarra on Unsplash

These global festivities are a mix of traditional and unconventional. But they’re not just events - they’re stories, symbols, and legacies of civilizations, shining a light on the incredible diversity and richness that human culture has to offer. Which holiday and celebration caught your eye the most?