It’s getting to the point where it’s hard to think of events that haven’t been cancelled, let alone list all the ones that have.
But even in these uncertain times, we need something to look forward to. These fabulous festivals around the globe could be options for a future trip-of-a-lifetime, once Covid chaos eventually subsides…
1. Day of the Dead
When: November 2 2020
The Day of the Dead has been around for centuries but, thanks partly to a certain James Bond scene, it’s been catapulted into public consciousness over the last few years. Just as joyous and vibrant as Halloween is dark and brooding (and with very different roots), the festival celebrates the departed with elaborate costumes, singing, dancing and distinctive, skeletal face paint.
Oaxaca has long been the festival’s spiritual home, and come early November, the southern state is swamped with revellers, pop-up markets, and altars heavy with candles and intricate figurines.
When: December 5 2020
The bad cop to Santa’s good cop, Krampus is a malevolent, horned goat demon from Germanic folklore who punishes children on the naughty list.
A classic bogeyman – “Eat your vegetables, or Krampus will get you” – his methods vary from mischievous to murderous, depending on the tale.
Not wholly in keeping with the Christmas spirit – despite literally being a Christmas spirit – Krampus is kept alive mostly in Alpine Austria, where Krampusnacht is marked by gruesome masks and merrymaking. Probably not one for small children, or adults who struggle with scary movies.
3. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
When: January 5 2021
Elaborate ice palaces, exhilarating snow slides, and a giant sculpture of the Great Wall of China – these were just a few frozen fruits from the Harbin Ice Festival 2020.
The tallest structure soared 46 metres into the sky, and come nightfall the entire snowscape was illuminated with a deceptively warm glow.
This year’s creations were crafted from 220,000 cubic metres of ice drawn entirely from the frozen Songhua River, while the 10-15 million visitors enjoyed wintry activities such as “ice soccer” and skating. The only drawback – it gets a little chilly, but the cold never bothers us anyway.
4. New Orleans Mardi Gras
When: Parades from January to February 2021
A carnival to rival Rio, a party to rival St Paddy’s Day, and a parade to rival New York Pride, New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras is an unfettered bacchanal of green, yellow and purple excess. Revellers fill the streets for two solid weeks, though momentum builds in the final few days, amid an avalanche of feathered masques, aluminium doubloons and strings of plastic beads.
After Hurricane Katrina, the city’s parade krewes partied twice as hard to defy the devastation. You can bet that post-coronavirus they’ll be doing the same.
5. Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
When: Early February
Exactly what it sounds like, the Taiwan Lantern Festival sees even the dourest city streets illuminated by countless paper lamps.
The flagship event occurs in the otherwise ordinary Taipei district of Pingxi, where thousands of sky lanterns are released into the night, each bearing the written wishes of its owner.
It’s staggeringly beautiful, if not particularly eco friendly.
When: March 28-29
Nearly as joyful as it is photogenic, the Hindu Holi festival is known informally as the “festival of love” and represents the triumph of good over evil.
Following an ancient custom, attendees drench each other in as much colour as possible, and we defy anyone not to feel better about the world after taking a faceful of fluorescent paint.
If you can’t make it overseas, the festival is celebrated all over the world – partly because of the large Indian and Nepali diaspora, and partly because it’s really good fun.
And that’s something we all definitely need at this time.