Traveling the world is not just about seeing a destination, it’s also about experiencing the culture. One of the best ways to experience a place is by attending a local festival or event. 2016 is full of international events, both large and small. From high profile events like the Olympics Games, to lesser known festivals like the International Festival in the Sahara, we’ve compiled our favorite events and destinations to experience for 2016.
So get your bags packed and cameras ready, here are the seven can’t miss destinations for 2016 travel.
By far, one of the more playful festivals to experience this year is the Songkran Water Festival, which takes place all over Thailand in April. Songkran marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand, and is also the start of the summer season. Revelers traditionally celebrate the festival by splashing water on each other as a way to wish each other a year full of blessings. Bangkok has one of the largest celebrations of Songkran, but other cities such as Chiang Mai also have pretty big celebrations.
France has always been a destination on many travelers’ list. This year, it’s also the destination for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament, also known as the Euro Cup, which will take place in June. In addition to Paris, matches will take place in cities like Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, and Marseille. Even if you’re not planning on attending any of the football matches, there’s always a good reason to visit France and explore this beautiful country.
Every year in July, the city of Pamplona comes together for the eight day festival of Saint Fermin. Although the most famous event of festival is the Running of the Bulls, the festival of Saint Fermin has plenty of other events worth checking out. The city of Pamplona itself is also worth exploring, as it has several Roman ruins as well as ruins dating back to the early Middle Ages.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Besides being the site of this year’s Olympic Games in August, Rio de Janeiro has always been known for its beaches, music scene, and Carnival, the city-wide celebration just before Lent. This seaside city in Brazil has a lot to offer its visitors, from high end upscale resorts to down-to-earth hotels. These days, Rio has also become a gathering point for LGBT travelers, who number over one million each year.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The annual International Balloon Fiesta is a perfect excuse to visit the city of Albuquerque. Held every year in early October, the balloon fiesta showcases hot air balloons from all over the world, and provides a colorful addition to the already stunning background of the area’s mountainous landscape. Albuquerque itself is rich with Southwestern culture, and some of the nearby cities like Santa Fe or Taos are also worth visiting.
For a deeper taste of Mexican culture, head south of the border to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead. Considered a national holiday in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a day to honor the deceased. This holiday is celebrated around the days of October 31 to November 2, and is characterized by the colorful sugar skulls and bountiful food that is served during this time.
The final event to cap off the year is the International Festival of the Sahara, which takes place in November in Douz, Tunisia. This festival began in 1910 and is a four day celebration of Bedouin culture. The event attracts over 50,000 people, with more and more Westerners attending each year. The highlight of the festival is the camel race, but there are also music and dancing, as well as a Bedouin marriage ceremony, all set within the backdrop of the desert sand dunes.
These are our top 2016 travel destinations and events to check out. To see what LeafCanoers have to say about these destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.