This past weekend nearly 200,000 revellers descended on a field in Somerset, flowers in hair, wellies on feet and tents in tow. There was mud, there was body paint, there was tie-dye and, oh yes, a spot of music too. You guessed it - Glastonbury. And once we'd heartily discussed (read: all got a bit shouty at each other) the pros and cons of a certain Kanye West being the headline act (the greatest rock star on the planet? Really?) we got to thinking about festivals in general. They do, after all, take you straight to the heart of a place, be it through music, culture, history, food or myriad other forms. So after much debate (there's a lot of festivals out there) we've compiled the Original Travel Ultimate Guide to Festivals Around the Globe. Revel away…
Sea worms, spear-wielding horsemen and ritual battle are the key to this festival on Indonesia's Sumba Island (needless to say, it's very much a spectator's sport). The timing is determined by the arrival of a certain type of sea worm in the ocean and what follows is a tournament of men galloping around on horses while throwing spears at each other in an attempt to draw blood as a sacrifice to the spirits in return for a good harvest. What's more, Sumba just so happens to be home to one of our very favourite hotels on the planet, Nihiwatu. Just sayin'.
Las Fallas, Spain
Valencia is a city that knows how to party and the pièce de résistance is Las Fallas, a bonkers festival (even by Spanish standards) in March where giant papier mache effigies lampooning politicians and celebrities are paraded through the streets before they are set alight and the mother of all fireworks displays concludes the pyromaniac proceedings. The party goes on all night and as you pass through each barrio there are local street parties round every corner, each bigger and better than the neighbours and to which outsiders are normally invited to join.
Timkat Festival, Ethiopia
Taking place in January, the Festival of Timkat in Ethiopia is a wonderfully vibrant, joyous festival typified by religious processions, music and dancing. The festival takes place in the northern region of Gondar, famed for its medieval castles and palaces. Timkat is a fascinating insight into one of our planet's most culturally rich and diverse nations - not to be missed for any culture vultures out there.
Day of the Dead, Mexico
Although Day of the Dead is celebrated across Mexico, its epicentre is in the country's culinary capital, Oaxaca. Families honour their deceased ancestors with a blend of indigenous and European Catholic traditions, with images of skulls and bones prevalent. Day of the Dead is seen as so culturally important that it's even been named on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Lake of Stars Festival, Malawi
Lake of Stars is a three day music festival held on the shores of the beautiful Lake Malawi. Set up by a British student in 2003, the festival attracts revellers from across Europe and Africa and aims to generate exposure for Malawi as a destination. There are plenty of great spots for chilling out after, such as Danforth Lodge and Kaya Mawa, or even a spot of safari at Liwonde National Park. Growing year on year, this could be the next Glastonbury…
Rajasthan International Folk Festival, India
In October RIFF descends on Mehrangarh Fort for four nights and is an eclectic mix of singers, dancers, instrumentalists, storytellers and artisans with performances by master musicians from local communities. Amelia from our culture specialist division, Simoon Travel, will be leading a trip to RIFF 2015 so if you enjoy gnawing on the bones of the world's finest cultural happenings, look no further.