L’Escalade Celebration

Of all the festivals that take place in Geneva, none rival the pomp and ceremony of L’Escalade, which is one of the oldest and most popular events in the city. The festival is a patriotic celebration of the city’s independence, the Genevese equivalent of Guy Fawkes Day, and commemorates the vain attempt by the Duke of Savoy’s troops to invade the old walled city in 1602. Many legends surround the historic event, most famously the tale of Mother Royaume, who emptied her large cauldron of hot vegetable soup on the attackers below. An Escalade custom consists of selling cups of hot vegetable soup in the streets, and the windows of confectioners and sweet shops display chocolate and nougat pots decorated with the colours of Geneva and filled with marzipan vegetables. The highlight of the festival is the torchlight procession through the Old Town by participants in period costume, with musketeers, horsemen, pipers and drummers, to the accompaniment of crackers and gun salutes. Many people appear in fancy dress and the carnival atmosphere is enjoyed by all. Contact the Geneva Tourist Office for more information on +41 (0)22 909 7070, or email

Venue: Old City, Date: 12 – 14 December 2014, Website:


Havana Jazz Festival

Held every year, Havana’s feast of jazz is eagerly awaited by fans around the world, offering four days of concerts, jam sessions and workshops. It claims to be the ultimate Latin music event in the world and its popularity speaks for itself. In 2012 Havana is hosting the 28th edition of this long-standing festival. Organisers claim to ensure that prices are kept as low as possible to ensure that the festival is affordable. Many artists travel to Cuba to perform without any remuneration, the event having gained a prestigious reputation for quality and good organisation. Past jazz masters who have attended the festival include Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Haden. The star of the show is Cuba’s own famous Chucho Valdes, who usually performs with other local artists and international guests in the grand finale concert on the final night. For true jazz fanatics there is a Gold Access Havana Jazz Festival Pass, which grants the bearer access to all performances and venues. Even if you are not keen to partake in all the events, the Jazz Festival marks a good time to visit the city of Havana because there is an extra festive atmosphere and many touristic activities are discounted at this time to encourage good attendance and flaunt Havana’s many attractions.

Venue: Hotel Rivera and others, Date: 13 – 20 December 2014, Website:

Bahrain National Day

Back in 1971, the island nation of Bahrain ceased to be a British protectorate and was declared an independent emirate. This independence is celebrated each year on National Day with festive events including parades, marches, speeches and fireworks throughout the island. An annual statement is also presented on National Day, by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to honour the state of the emirate.

Date: 16 December 2014

Carols in the Domain

Woolworths’ Carols in the Domain is Australia’s largest and most loved Christmas celebration. Every year family and friends come together at this spectacular event to celebrate the magic and joy of Christmas. The Domain, in the heart of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens becomes a hive of activity as people from all over Australia join in and sing along to their favourite Christmas Carols. As the sun sets the Domain is transformed into a sea of flickering candlelight as Australia’s best talent takes to the stage in this Christmas spectacular. Woolworths’ Carols in the Domain showcases the very best of the Australian entertainment industry, from theatre, opera, and recording artists, to our most loved television personalities.

Venue: The Domain, Sydney Botanical Gardens, Date: 20 December 2014, Website:


Christmas in Bethlehem

As one would expect from the purported place of Jesus Christ’s birth, Christmas in Bethlehem is a major celebration, attracting devout pilgrims from across the globe as well as curious tourists who happen to be in the area. Not only are there a series of processions and services held by a variety of Christian denominations (including Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Ethiopian and more), but the streets of Bethlehem are festooned with Christmas lights and decorations, a Christmas market is set up, and nativity plays take place all around the city. Christmas celebrations last for three weeks in Bethlehem, as different sects celebrate the occasion on different days, but the highlight of the festive period in Bethlehem is still Christmas Eve, when a procession of Arabian horses wends through Manger Square, a plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity (a building which is said to be built on the actual site of Jesus’ birth). Behind the first wave of horseman comes one rider on a coal-black steed carrying a cross, followed by government officials and clergymen. These dignitaries place an effigy of the holy child inside the church, before visitors are led down a deep and winding stairwell to discover a silver star that marks the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Date: December and January annually

Winter Festival

Celebrated over the Western Christmas and New Year period, the Russian Winter Festival combines different celebrations and holidays and is an opportunity for visitors to enjoy Russian customs and festivities, such as traditional folk music, troika (sleigh) rides and games, Russian food and lots of vodka. There are also musical and dance performances, and characters dressed as popular Russian mythological figures are there to greet the crowds. For more information contact the Russian Federation Tourism Department on +7 (8) 095 208 2937 or email

Venue: Izmailovo Park, Date: 25 December 2014 to 5 January 2015

Sunburn Music Festival

The MTV-sponsored Sunburn Music Festival is one of the fastest-growing trance music festivals in the world. In 2008, the event drew 5,000 electro heads to beautiful Candolim Beach in Goa; in 2009, 18,000 people were there; and in 2010, the crowd was in excess of 30,000. Featuring heavyweight performers, such as Avicii, Paul van Dyk, Funkagenda and Ferry Corsten, and blessed with an ideal location on the shores of the Arabian Sea, ‘South Asia’s first electronic music festival’ is bound to keep growing in international status. There are about seven stages at each festival, allowing for a lot of variety, and other fun activities and entertainment to enjoy. The festival’s organisers work closely with the Goan police department to make sure that the revelry stays safe and legal, which has gone a long way toward appeasing the local community, who initially opposed the event. The Sunburn Festival is streamed live on MTV India every year, prompting scores of celebrities to turn up and join the party. Sunburn music festivals are now held in many cities in India and even some other countries, but the Goan festival remains the most famous and popular.

Venue: Candolim Beach, Goa, Date: 27 – 29 December 2014, Website:

King Mango Strut

Not to be missed! Calling itself the ‘Weirdest Parade in the Universe’, and boldly claiming to ‘put the NUT back in Coconut Grove’, the King Mango Strut is a wild and irreverent parade, that draws vast crowds of fun-loving spectators from all over Miami and its surrounding areas. The spirit of the King Mango Strut is significantly tongue-in-cheek. Parody is the order of the day, and participants are willing to poke fun at anything and everything. Nothing is off-limits, and in the name of good satire, the boundaries of good taste are often pushed. Visitors to Miami in December would be ill-advised to miss this spectacle; described by the official website as ‘the wackiest event in South Florida (not counting the elections)’.

Venue: Coconut Grove, Miami, Date: 28 December 2014, Website:

Peach Drop

Peach Drop, first held in 1989, takes place on New Year’s Eve at Underground Atlanta. This is an all-day event with a variety of live entertainment, food stalls and activities to occupy the whole family, imaginatively culminating in a splendid fireworks display and the fantastic 58-second descent of a giant peach.

Venue: Underground Atlanta, Date: 31 December annually, Website:

First Night Boston

Said to be the oldest and largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the country, First Night Boston features performances and entertainment at more than 40 indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city. Highlights include ice sculptures, glittering fireworks displays, a Family Festival and the First Night Grand Procession, as well as a variety of theatre, dance, music, film and storytelling. Of course, First Night is also a big party! Boston becomes a kind of friendly winter wonderland with fireworks, street parties, live music and performance art.

Venue: Various, Date: 31 December annually, Website:

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular

The splendid setting of Sydney Harbour becomes the stage for one of the most fabulous and largest annual fireworks displays in the world, watched by millions of people around the globe. The 9pm display offers an opportunity for families with young children to enjoy the celebrations. The midnight spectacular covers a four-mile (7km) stretch of the harbour and the fireworks are fired from barges on either side of the Harbour Bridge and from the bridge itself. Other activities take place throughout the evening including the traditional Tall Ships Parade decorated with lighting effects, and various carnival attractions. There are often musical concerts and shows included in the evening’s entertainment, as well as sound effects to accompany the fireworks display.

Venue: Sydney Harbour, Date: 31 December annually, Website:

Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Times Square boasts one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world and the biggest party in New York. The famous lowering of the New Year’s Eve Ball signifies the 60-second countdown to midnight and the tradition has become a worldwide symbol of welcoming in the New Year, viewed by millions across the globe. The festivities include the raising and lighting of the Ball, music, an hourly big screen video countdown, the lowering of the ball and a spectacular burst of fireworks. Revellers are showered with colourful confetti and are given celebratory hats, pom-poms and balloons to welcome in the New Year.

Venue: Times Square, Date: 31 December 2014, Website:

Tournament of Roses Parade

This festival has been a Pasadena tradition for over a century and is one of the most colourful events in the world. The New Year’s Day celebrations feature the Rose Parade, which is a breathtaking spectacle of marching bands, equestrian units and magnificent floats, completely covered in flowers and petals. Float construction takes about a year to complete and the Post Parade is an opportunity for the public to admire the fantastic workmanship and the floral creativity from close up. After the parade the Rose Bowl Game takes place between two college champions and is renowned as the ‘Superbowl’ of college football.

Venue: Rose Parade: Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. Rose Bowl Game: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena

Date: 1 January annually, Website:

International Finals Rodeo and Miss Rodeo USA Pageant

For almost 40 years, the International Professional Rodeo Association has held this championship event, testing modern-day cowboys in bronc riding, tie-down calf roping and other skills. In conjunction, it holds the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant, with the winner crowned on the final day of the rodeo.

Venue: Oklahoma State Fair Arena, Date: January 2015, Website:

Mummer’s Parade

With its origins in the 1800s, the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade is the traditional celebration of the New Year and one of the country’s oldest folk customs. Mummery in America is as unique to Philadelphia as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, and various groups of mummers (masked or costumed merrymakers) compete for originality, themes and costumes in a colourful extravaganza of feathers, sequins, elaborate floats, music and dance. The parade consists of three divisions, the Comics, who are an unstructured division of dancing clowns and satirical performers; the outrageously dressed Fancy Costume Brigade; and the String Bands with marching musicians and precision drills.

Venue: Broad Street, Date: 1 January 2015, Website:

New Year’s Day Concert

Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the annual New Year’s Day concert is seen by millions of viewers worldwide and is a glorious, traditional start to the New Year. The orchestra is considered to be one of the finest in the world and this most famous of concerts features some of the most popular waltzes by the celebrated composer Johann Strauss. The concert is loved the world over and is now broadcast in about 90 countries. For more information, one can contact the ticket and ball office of the Vienna Philharmonic on +43 (0)1 505 6525 or consult their website.

Venue: Vienna Musikverein, Date: 1 January 2015, Website:

Sydney Festival

This huge extravaganza is one of the largest and most prestigious cultural events in Australia, presenting the finest international artists and most acclaimed local talent in the performing and visual arts. Every summer the city’s concert venues, theatres, galleries, streets and various outdoor venues are taken over by the creative arts, featuring a wide range of music, dance and drama, exhibitions, circuses and free outdoor entertainment in a celebration of artistic innovation unmatched anywhere else in the country. A free outdoor programme, including the enormously popular symphony and jazz concerts in the Domain, complements the ticketed events, and takes place in venues such as the Rocks, Darling Harbour and in front of the Sydney Opera House.

Venue: Sydney CBD, Date: 8 – 26 January 2015, Website:


Thorrablot, also known as the Mid-Winter Feast, sees the capital of Reykjavic and her restaurants open up to crowds of thousands, turning out menus surely concocted by the Addams Family’s Lurch, or possibly, the witches from Macbeth. If the vikings have been historically misconstrued as hairy savages who drank too much, this traditional feast might not help this reputation, but it will provide a novel experience to anybody visiting Iceland. The fare includes Hákarl (putrefied shark), Hrútspungur (ram’s scrotum with testicles) and Svið (jellied sheep’s head). Over dinner, your host might share a riveting viking tale while you sample the foods that the empire once enjoyed. After the meal, take a swig or two of Brennivin (a very potent Icelandic Schnapps), and revel the night away with traditional dances, music and games.

Venue: All around the city, Date: Mid-January to mid-February 2015

Milan Fashion Weeks

Milan has a well-deserved reputation for being the haute couture fashion centre of Europe, and a stroll around the downtown ‘fashion block’ bounded by Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia will have fashion fundis drooling over the collections of Italian and international designers concentrated here. The top designers’ Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer collections are showcased on the catwalk during Milan’s famed Fashion Weeks, which are hosted twice a year usually in January or February and September. During Fashion Week the big names of fashion come to town, and celebrity spotting is a favourite occupation during the week, but the fashion shows themselves are unfortunately reserved for invitation only. There are many peripheral events in which visitors can be involved as the entire city celebrates fashion in high style; just putting on a high fashion outfit and strutting around the area is fun, as the always fashionable population of Milan becomes even more stylish during this period – the streets are catwalks!

Venue: Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre and various historical venues throughout Milan

Date: 17 – 20 January 2015, Website:

Monte Carlo Rally

The Monte Carlo Rally takes place annually along the winding, scenic roads and passes of the French Riviera culminating at the finish line in Monte Carlo. Since its inception in 1911 the rally has grown to become one of the most famous and prestigious races on the circuit. Each event attracts the top racers and the finest cars, and hoards of spectators that line the road in often alarming proximity to the vehicles racing by at speeds of up to 160 mph (240km). Many of the cars can be viewed prior to the event at a special exhibition in the Town Hall. The 2011 event will be the Centenary and various special events are planned to celebrate the occasion.

Date: 19 – 25 January 2015, Website:

Dubai Shopping Festival

The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) was started in 1996 by the government to promote retail trade in the city, and has since grown into the foremost shopping event in the world, an annual extravaganza of shopping and entertainment that promotes tourism and attracts millions of people from around the world to Dubai every year. The city is already known as a shopping paradise, but for a whole month thousands of retail outlets offer further specials, with hotels, travel companies and airlines also extending special discounts to visitors during this period. Besides the shopping malls and souks, one of the most popular shopping spots is the Carpet Oasis, showcasing thousands of exclusive carpets from around the world. Other events include nightly fireworks, laser/light shows, international fashion shows, street performances, music concerts and many cultural events. Daily raffle draws offer very attractive prizes of money, gold, cars and 4x4s. The festival also coincides with the richest horse race in the world, the Dubai World Cup (US$15,250,000 in prize money).

Venue: Throughout the city, but the main focal point of the festival is the Global Village, Emirates Road

Date: January and February every year, Website:

The Qatar Masters

The Qatar Masters golf tournament is held annually at the Doha Golf Club as part of the European and Asian PGA tours, attracting golfers and fans from around the world. The competition takes place on the unique and challenging desert-style course designed by Peter Harradine, one of the most acclaimed golf course designers in the world today.

Venue: Doha Golf Club, West Bay, Date: 21 – 24 January 2015, Website:

St Paul Winter Carnival

Back in 1886 a New York journalist described St Paul as being ‘unfit for human habitation in the winter’. Locals were not going to take this insult lying down and decided to turn the snowiest spot in the States into a winter wonderland. Since then the tradition of building an ice palace – nowadays a spectacular walk-through castle of ice – has become entrenched, along with the huge party that goes along with it. Each year the crowning of King Boreas and the Queen of Snows heralds the start of three weeks of frozen fun with events like ice sculpture contests and a torchlight parade.

Venue: Cleveland Circle, opposite the Xcel Energy Center, Date: 22 January to 1 February 2015, Website:

Republic Day Parade

The impressive Republic Day Parade is held every year in Delhi on the anniversary of the formation of the Indian Republic, and serves to showcase the country’s military might. Marching columns represent the armed forces, accompanied by armoured vehicles, military bands, decorated floats and folk dancers. Although it is primarily a military parade, the many floats showcase different cultures and territories within the hugely culturally diverse country. Highlights include a display presented by the Indian Air Force and the procession of the camel mounted Border Security Force contingent, which is the only camel mounted military force in the world. Before the parade the prime minister lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a memorial to unknown soldiers at the India Gate, which is followed by two minutes of silence in tribute to the many who died and suffered to win India’s independence. Medals and special awards are given out by the president on this day as well. The parade is the main event but the celebrations are actually marked over multiple days, beginning with the impressive pomp and ceremony of the military parade and ending on the evening of the 29th January with the Beating Retreat Ceremony that takes place in Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, next to the President’s Palace.

Venue: The parade starts at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, winds through the city, and ends at the Red Fort in Old Delhi

Date: 26 January 2015

Auckland Anniversary Regatta

Being known as the ‘City of Sails,’ Auckland is recognised as a yachtsman’s paradise, so it is no surprise to discover that its annual official Regatta is the biggest one-day Regatta in the world. This historic event was first held in September 1840 and has sailed on through turbulent years and changing social trends to become a family outing full of fun and excitement. Numerous events take place in the harbour and surrounding waterfront to complement the actual yacht regatta.

Venue: Auckland Harbour, Date: 26 January 2015, Website:

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Part of the European PGA tour, the Dubai Desert Classic takes place at what was the first grass golf course in the Middle East, which was entitled The Desert Miracle in 1988. The tournament attracts prestigious international players to compete for the trophy and US$2.5 million in prize money.

Venue: Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club, Date: 26 January to 1 February 2015, Website:

Muscat Festival

Over two million people swarm to Muscat for the month-long annual festival, celebrating a wide range of all things Omani. Theatre, music, arts and sports events are showcased alongside family activities and a carnival atmosphere. Other Arabic countries offer music and theatre performances from their cultures as well, letting visitors enjoy an eclectic mix of arts. The festival is capped with an impressive fireworks show.

Venue: Various, Date: 29 January to 27 February 2015


Dixie National Rodeo and Livestock Show

A month of festivities, in this, one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the United States, sees agriculture enthusiasts and the general public partaking in a number of exciting events including the famous hard bucking rodeo, barrel races and ropers. Instead of marvelling at these daredevil antics from your sofa, head down to Jackson Mississippi, check out the cattle and horse expos and be overwhelmed by the electrifying atmosphere.

Venue: Mississippi Coliseum and Fairgrounds, High Street, Date: 30 January to 22 February 2015

Carnival of Venice

Originating in the 12th-century, the Carnival of Venice is one of the world’s most famous festivals, and fills the whole city with musicians, acrobats, clowns, magicians, puppeteers, beautiful masks, elaborate costumes, and parades. People come from around the world to participate in masked balls and general festivities in the ancient Venetian tradition, and to enjoy theatrical and dance performances, exhibitions and concerts along the canals, squares and the magnificent palaces of the city. The Carnival begins 14 days before Ash Wednesday and culminates in Mardi Gras on Shrove Tuesday. Carnival traditions are the same, but every year the theme is different. For example, the theme for 2013 is ‘Life in Colour’, which should add extra vibrancy to the celebrations. Masks are central to the Venetian celebrations, and although the reason they were originally worn is not certain, some historians argue that being in disguise allowed class distinctions to dissolve; the thrill of anonymity still plays a big role in the mystique of carnival. One of the biggest parties in the world, Carnival is a special time in Venice and the romance of the festival never seems to fade.

Venue: Centred on San Marco’s Square, Date: 31 January to 17 February 2015, Website:

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