Top 5 Cultural Festivals for 2017


Everyone loves a good festival – whether it be food and wine, wellness, film or cultural. To combine a cultural festival with your travels, is the ultimate travel experience and we share with you the best festivals to experience in 2017!

Tibetan Horse Racing Festival – China

In the isolated and mysterious village of  Shangri-la, the Tibetan region of the Yunnan Province, a horse racing festival takes place each year on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, at the foot of Wufeng Mountain. Horse racing in Shangri-la dates back to 770 B.C. This folk festival is one of the most important in the area, acting as a grand springtime rally for local Tibetans. Not only is the festival a sporting competition for showcasing horsemanship, but it also serves a celebration of different folk traditions, including local singing and dancing. Amongst the spring flowers blooming on the warm Yunnan grasslands, this colourful festival of youthful passion and equine exuberance brings idyllic Shangri-La to life.

Shangri-La's Tibetan Horse racing Festival
Shangri-La’s Tibetan Horse racing Festival

Durga Puja Festival – India

For five days every year in October, the city of Kolkata takes on a new visage as the city celebrates Durgapuja, the largest and most vibrant festival of Bengal. Despite being a modern city, the underlying tempo of life is set by a cultural heritage dating back to ancient times. The cult of Goddess Kali or Durga dominates the lives of people. The lanes and parks of Kolkata transform into an open art exhibition as various groups compete to set up lavish and innovative pandals (makeshift prayer arrangements), each displaying an interpretation of the Goddess Durga. The ten-armed Goddess saved the world from evil when she slayed the demon, Mahishasur. Durga is a symbol of woman power. In her modern incarnation, she brings a message of destroying evil in its many forms -hunger, poverty, gender discrimination, ecological change and even terrorism.

Ambunti Crocodile Festival – Papua New Guinea

A cultural and environmental celebration, the Sepik River Crocodile Festival takes place over three days in August, highlighting the importance of the crocodile and its cultural significance amongst Sepik River communities. In the Sepik culture, man and crocodile share a special bond, as the crocodile symbolises strength, power and manhood. This festival features live crocodile encounters, traditional dancing, colourful costumes and visits the sacred spirit houses where men undergo intensive initiation rituals.

Hornbill Festival – Nagaland, India

Nagaland tribes traditionally organised and fought each other but came together during World War II to fight against the invading Japanese army. The week long annual fest is named after the colourful bird, Hornbill, which is widely respected and depicted in Naga folklore. Elaborate red head-gear, an exquisite warrior ornament fashioned out of feathers of this bird and multi-coloured beads can be seen during the festivities. With the longing to revive, protect and promote the rich Naga heritage, all tribes dress in their traditional battle-gear and bring alive the age-old traditions. You will witness remarkable cultural dances, indigenous sports, paintings and sculptures expressing headhunting, decoration of morungs or unmarried men’s communal houses.

Timket Festival – Ethiopia

Timket is a religious festival celebrated with much zeal throughout Ethiopia. The festival is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany and venerates Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. Although the festival is observed by orthodox Christians all over the world, in Ethiopia it takes on a special significance as it is the most colourful event of the year in the country. The most relevant symbol of the festival is colourful embroidered umbrellas that protect the sacred Tabot and the priests carrying the Tabot.

For more exciting festivals, check out our festival range of small group tours!