Travel Hacks

Plan Your Next Trip Around Local Festivals

Katharina Busch
October 1, 2019

When abroad, there is no better way to experience the foreign culture than by immersing yourself in a colorful festival, with all its mouth-watering food stalls, traditional dances and buzzing live music.

Doing some research on local public holidays before your travel pays off. These national celebrations are a one-off chance to witness culture at its finest, with a free entrance fee leaving more money for food sampling and local bar-hopping!

What if you planned your next holiday around the best festivals around the world, jetting from one country to the next to catch as many parades as you can? 

It could end up looking something like this three-day trip around Asia...

Day 1: Children's Day - Taipei, Taiwan

April 4th

We start our journey in Taiwan, celebrating Children’s Day in the country’s capital, Taipei. Originally created to raise awareness of the wellbeing of children, many public activities centred around kids and their parents take place to strengthen the bond between the different generations.

Conveniently, Women’s Day was soon established on the same date to allow women to accompany their children to the festivities – what a sweet idea!

Taipei is one of the most underestimated holiday destinations that South-East Asia has to offer. Amazing street food will keep you fueled while you explore the vibrant street art in Ximen, home to local boutiques and young fashionistas that push Asia’s creative boundaries and make this hip area an absolute Mecca for anyone interested in youth culture and art.

Stunning graffiti on a corner in the Ximen area

During Child’s and Women’s Day, street performances make the experience of exploring the town even more exciting. Take a break at one of the many small game centres to watch kids battling out their virtual street fighting talents (and maybe dare to challenge them?) and then end off the day with a cold Taiwanese beer at a trendy bar.

Taiwan’s night life is buzzing and colourful, with many LGBTQ+-friendly bars undermining their progressive image in Asia. Make sure to check out Myst, the club that was featured in the movie Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, to dance off the many servings of beef noodle soup and steamed dumplings you had earlier.

Day 2: Qingming Festival - Hong Kong, China

April 5th

Assuming you got little sleep the night before, we are going on a quick two-hour flight to Hong Kong for Qingming festival, also known as “Sweeping Day”. Although that doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, Qingming translates as “clean and bright” and is actually an important ancestor worship ritual that requires sweeping their relative’s graves, lighting incense and offering food to the deceased.

Paper offerings and burning incenses on a grave during 清明節 (Qingming Festival)

Apart from visiting the graveyard, Qingming is an uplifting festival as it also celebrates the change of seasons, through kite flying, firecrackers, outdoor picnics and eating a festive meal with the whole family.

Going to the local temples provides unique insight into Chinese traditions, although you should be careful not to disturb anyone during their ritual – after all, this holiday is deeply personal and spiritual and should not be taken as a “tourist attraction”. Be respectful, but curious, and you will surely be rewarded with an unforgettable experience!

Day 3: Singapore - "Tomb Sweeping"

April 6th

The next day on our trip is spent in Singapore, three-and-a-half-hours south of Hong Kong, for another day of “Tomb Sweeping”. Maybe go to the local graveyard at dusk to get a different perspective, when burning paper-gifts in form of money, cars or other valuables light up the evening scenery before they transcend into the ancestor’s world.

Otherwise, take advantage of the less-crowded streets and hit Orchard Road for souvenir shopping and local food tasting. There is plenty of fast food stalls and food courts to chose from, or even several top-notch Michelin-Star restaurants if you’re feeling extra fancy.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to sample some of Singapore’s finest specialities; authentic Singapore noodles, Laksa and chili crab are everywhere and very affordable. Just make sure to fill up with as much of these very addictive, savoury dishes as you can before you head off to your next destination!

What a view! Don’t forget to explore the city over eating noodle soup

Not tired of traveling yet? You could fill every day of the year with one or the other exciting, educating, magical, one-of-a-kind festivals to experience as many cultures as possible, as authentically as possible.

Maybe spending less than 24-hours in each destination is too tiring for you, but why not think about catching a public holiday this year, wherever you might go. Whether it’s Asia next month, a mid-summer trip to South America or two weeks backpacking in Europe – make sure to get in all the street snacks, dance performances and traditional music you can!

Katharina Busch
Katharina was born in Germany but has travelled the world in search of the best street food (a never ending story!). After living and studying towards her degree in Japanese culture & language in Osaka, Japan, she travelled around most of South-East Asia before she ended up in London, where she now shares her adventures as a freelance writer.

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