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Are you a fan of festivals and are trying to decide where to go on your next vacation? You might want to consider one of these fantastic spring events that are well worth the effort to travel to. From grape harvest season in South America to floral displays in Washington State and a music festival in Austin, you’re spoiled for choice in spring with fun festival activities.
Held in mid-March, Las Fallas, or the “Fire Festival,” is considered to be Europe’s most insane spring party. Taking place in Valencia, this annual fireworks and sculpture festival celebrates spring with massive puppets that are created and erected throughout the city by artists and volunteers as a massive art competition. A popular theme is poking fun at corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities. The real fun begins after they’re set up, offering the chance to not only view some 350 sculptures but to participate in non-stop parties. The whole thing culminates in an extremely impressive fireworks show right before all the sculptures go up in flames.
If you’re a wine enthusiast who likes to party, this festival is a must. A multi-day cultural event, it celebrates the beginning of the grape harvest season in Argentina’s premier wine region of Mendoza and dates back to 1936. It includes a parade and crowning of a harvest queen, attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers from near and afar. It officially kicks off with a religious blessing of the crops and then continues with the colorful La Via Blanca and El Carrusel parades, which feature 18 elected beauty queens that represent the departments of Mendoza, floating through the streets on emblematic chariots tossing fruit to the animated crowds. More than a thousand performers use music, movement and elaborate costumes to artfully explain the history of the region, and the relationship between humans and nature when harvesting grapes into wine. Every evening culminates with an impressive firework finale.
During the vernal equinox, the El Castillo pyramid of Chichén Itza is flooded with those looking to experience a natural wonder meets a man-made attraction. This is the day the angle of sunlight produces the illusion that a stone serpent is slithering along the side of the pyramid’s staircase, an incredible spectacle people travel from all corners of the globe to see. While you’re here, be sure to visit Cenote Ik Kil, a magnificent watering hole that opens up to the sky. It was formed by the collapse of a cave and was sacred to the ancient Mayans, who frequently conducted religious services here. The cenote, sitting about 82 feet beneath the surface, makes a perfect spot on the way to this ancient Mayan city and includes a stairway that’s beautifully lit up and carved into the limestone rock, reaching the swimming platform.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival celebrates the Skagit Valley’s most colorful crop and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to this agricultural region located about 60 miles north of Seattle, Washington. Visitors are treated to acres and acres of brilliantly colored tulips in an array of hues nearly as far as the eye can see. Held during the entire month of April, with much of it designed as a driving tour, visitors can also enjoy boat tours, art shows featuring local, regional and international artists as well as entertainment and wine tasting. Nearby, check out Deception Pass, one of the state’s most visited and most scenic destinations, with awe-inspiring scenery that can rival the best on the planet. It features a saltwater shoreline with rugged cliffs dropping down to meet emerald-green waters as well as a historic bridge that provides amazing views of the pass.
South by Southwest, or SXSW as its often referred to, is one of Austin’s biggest events of the year. It offers the latest and greatest in the music, film and interactive industries, along with performances by over 2,000 bands from around the world. It takes place over 10 days in mid-March at multiple venues across over 100 stages throughout central Austin, including the Austin Convention Center. In the “Live Music Capital of the World,” there are more live music venues per capita than even famed music spots like L.A., Nashville and New York City. The Texas capital established itself nationally years ago with the television show “Austin City Limits,” followed by this ultra-hip annual festival.
Held in late April, this festival celebrates the over three million blooms, of all varieties, that turn Nantucket bright yellow every spring. It seems that just about everyone on the island gets into the spirit. There’s an antique car parade, a pageant to showcase an array of daffodil hats, kids’ activities and a massive tailgate picnic. You can also look forward to art shows, exhibitions, contests and lectures.
Just before the busy season really kicks in, this popular Great Lakes summer destination celebrates the lilac. Held in summer, it features everything from a 10K race to a highly-anticipated dog parade to the crowning of the year’s Lilac Queen. After enjoying it, you can relax on the world’s largest front porch at the iconic Grand Hotel. But if you’ve got the energy to burn, there are lots of other things to do too. Take a leisurely carriage ride, hike one of Michigan’s prettiest state parks with its network of 71 miles of trails, or ride a bike on the picture-perfect coastline while listening to the sounds of nature.
One of America’s most famous music festivals, thanks to the multitude of celebrities that attend, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held every year in Indio, just outside of Palm Springs. This festival features music from a wide variety of artists, along with a host of fabulous food trucks and more. In addition to the music, there is some of the best people-watching on the planet, as well as a wide variety of art to browse.
The Lantern Floating Hawaii is held every year on Memorial Day. Thousands come together on the beach from all over the world for this ceremony that honors those who have passed on, representing an opportunity to create a moment of remembrance. A sight to see and experience, it typically includes music and ceremonial lighting of the Light of Harmony, leading up to the floating of lanterns onto the Pacific Ocean. An outstanding opportunity for a more authentic Hawaiian experience, the Shinnyo-en and the Na Lei Aloha Foundation has nurtured the community event as a vehicle for cross-cultural cooperation, understanding, harmony, and peace.
The nation’s capital explodes with color in the springtime. Hundreds of cherry trees throughout Washington, D.C. sprout brilliant blooms, with the flowers at their peak from late March through early April. Not only is the weather especially pleasant this time of year, making it a great time to see all of the area’s popular sights and attractions, but this is when the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is held. You’ll see a series of information- and photo-filled wayside signs that bring the trees and the festival to life, enhancing the experience and bringing visitors on a self-directed guided tour. The parade is one of the largest spectator events in DC, running for ten blocks along Constitution Avenue. It features all sorts of performers and marching bands from around the nation, elaborate floats, giant helium balloons, celebrity entertainers and more.