April 16, 2024 | Kaddy Gibson

10 Of The World’s Coolest Spring Festivals


Hello, Spring

The arrival of spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year, and each country has their own special way of welcoming the new season. 

When it comes to must-see springtime celebrations for your travel list, these are ten of the most brilliant and bizarre. 

World’s Coolest Spring Festivals

1. Holi Festival, India and Nepal

Lasting for just one day and one night, Holi is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant spring festivals

Also known as the Festival of Colors, it is a beautiful celebration of the new season and fertility.

Holi  IndiaNarender9, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Colors Everywhere

During the festival, people toss brightly colored powders and water balloons, covering everyone in bright shades of pink, blue, orange, and green.

Holi festival of colors in Nepal or IndiaKristin F. Ruhs, Shutterstock

Mythical Origins

Holi is usually takes place in late February or early March, but the specific timing depends on the lunar calendar. 

The festival has origins in ancient Hindu Mythology, especially the tale of Prahlada and Holika.

Holi FestivalAP News

Faithful Prahlada

Legend has it that Prahlada was the son of a cruel king, Hiranyakashipu. 

The king wanted to be worshipped as a god, but Prahlada refused because he was devoted to the god Vishnu. 

So his father tried to kill him.

Prahlada, Son Of HiranyakashipuUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Divine Protection

Miraculously, Vishnu protected Prahlada against his father’s deadly schemes. 

So, the king’s sister, Holika, tried her hand at taking Prahlada’s life.

Holika DhanSain9arun, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Holika's Folly

Holika was immune to fire, so she invited Prahlada to sit on her lap, thinking it would burn him. 

Sadly for her, she was only immune when she entered the flames alone. Holika burned while Prahlada lived to tell the tale.

People celebrating Holi festivalIndianFaces, Shutterstock

Good Vs Evil

Associated with Prahlada and Holika, Holi is a celebration of good winning over evil. 

On the eve of the festival, a large fire called Holika Dahan (meaning “Burning of Holika”) is lit in honor of the legend.

Holi FestivalAP News

2. Merrie Monarch Festival, Hawaii

Every spring, the city of Hilo becomes home to Hawaii’s most important hula competition

It’s held during Easter, drawing in tourists and local hula schools for an exciting week-long celebration.

Merrie Monarch FestivalAllanbcool, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Long Live The King

The festival started in 1964 as a way of showcasing Hawaiian culture and keeping the traditional art of hula alive. 

It honors the work of King David Kalakua, who earned the nickname “Merrie Monarch” for his love of music, hula, and the arts.

King David KalakauaJames J. Williams, Wikimedia Commons

Keeping It Alive

More than just enjoying the arts, King Kalakaua fought to preserve Hawaiian traditions in a time when such cultural practices were being suppressed. 

After his passing in 1891, hula went on the decline. Many years later, it was revived by hula masters and dancers who had kept the art form alive.

Ke’elikolani factsPixabay

The First Festival

In the early 1960s, hula dancers George Na’ope and Dottie Thompson teamed up with community leaders to create a festival that would honor King Kalakua and reignite people’s interest in hula.

In 1964, they put on the first Merrie Monarch Festival, and it’s remained one of the coolest spring festivals ever since.

George Na’opeAlvis Upitis, Getty Images

3. Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland

Taking place every March 17th, this famous Irish holiday has become of the world’s favorite springtime celebrations. 

The festival started in the early 17th century, to celebrate the life of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.

St Patrick's Day 2015, Dublin, IrelandGiuseppe Milo, CC BY 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Harsh Beginnings

Saint Patrick was born in Britain, under Roman rule. When he was a teenager, he was taken as a slave and brought to Ireland, where he fell in love with the Irish culture and people. 

After he escaped slavery, he became a missionary and took up the holy task of spreading Christianity in Ireland.

Saint Patrick Catholic ChurchNheyob, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons

The Shamrock

In one of the most famous stories about Saint Patrick, he uses a three-leafed shamrock to help Irish people understand the concept of the Holy Trinity. 

Since then, shamrocks have become symbols of luck and a common motif during Saint Patrick’s Day festivities.

Saint Patrick’s Day, IrelandGiuseppe Milo, Flickr

Remembrance 

Originally, Saint Patrick’s Day was a somber event that commemorated the death of the beloved saint. 

People used to mark the occasion with fasting and church services.

Saint Patrick’s Day, IrelandAnthony Cronin, Flickr

New Meaning

Saint Patrick’s Day was transformed in the early 20th century when Irish immigrants in the U.S. turned it into a fun celebration of Irish culture. 

Now, the day is celebrated all over the world with parades, green decorations, Irish music and dance, and of course, green beer.

couple in pub at Saint Patrick’s DayRDNE Stock project, Pexels

4. Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee, California

Every year on the third weekend in May, people flock to Angels Camp, California to witness trained frogs compete in a jumping contest. 

The rules are simple: the frog that makes the three farthest successive leaps wins the title of Jumping Frog Champion.

Frog Jumping ContestFrank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Inspiration 

This bizarre celebration was inspired by one of Mark Twain’s short stories, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The story was published in 1865 and tells the tale of the fictional Jim Smiley and his jumping frog named Dan’l Webster.

Frog Jumping ContestFrank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Everyone Loves It

In 1928, a local businessman named Don Pedro Breschi teamed up with the Angels Booster Club to host the first frog jumping competition. 

Over the next few years, people took a liking to the competition, and it’s been an annual festival since 1938. 

In addition to the frog jumping contest, people also have fun with the carnival, parade, and live music.

Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee, Californiamikluha_maklai, Shutterstock

5. Valencia Fallas, Spain

This incredible display of art and music takes place every year in Valencia, Spain. 

It originated with ancient carpenters who used to burn wooden structures called “parots” during the spring equinox to mark the coming of the new season.

Valencia Fallas, Spainkeith ellwood, Flickr

Ancient Traditions 

During the winter, the carpenters hung candles on the parots, so they could work in the dark afternoons. 

Come springtime, with longer days, they didn’t need the candles and would burn the parots. Over time, the tradition became associated with Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Valencia Fallas, SpainXurxo15, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Fallas

Now, the sculptures are called “fallas”, and they’re made with papier mâché or wood. Local neighborhoods compete to make the biggest and most breathtaking fallas.

valencia fallas, spainDina Mukhutdinova, Shutterstock

Celebrate

During this five-day festival, people celebrate with traditional music and dance, and colorful parades. There are also fireworks displays every afternoon.

valencia fallas, spainRizar el pixel, Shutterstock

The Burning Night

The festival ends with Noche de La Cremà, meaning “the burning night”. At midnight, the city turns into a blazing spectacle as the fallas are lit on fire. 

The destruction of the beautiful structures symbolizes rebirth and reminds people to let go of the past and embrace the future.

Valencia Fallas, SpainMiniMoon Photo, Shutterstock

6. Songkran Water Festival, Thailand

Taking place every April 13th, Songkran used to be celebrated as the Thailand’s official New Year. Now it marks the arrival of spring.

Songkran Water Festival, ThailandJJ Harrison, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Astrological Link

Songkran comes from a Sanskrit words that means “astrological passage”. The celebration involves paying respects at a Buddhist monastery, visiting elders, and throwing lots of water.

Songkran festival in Chiang Mai, ThailandTakeaway, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lots Of Water

While April 13th is the official day of Songkran, festivities take place for up to six days. During this time, people take to the streets to drench each other with huge water guns, hoses, and buckets.

Songkran (Thailand)Takeaway, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Fun For Everyone

Everyone takes part in the festival, including kids and the elderly. The city of Chiang Mai hosts the largest Songkran celebration, attracting hundreds of locals and tourists alike.

songkran (thailand)Jacktamrong, Shutterstock

7. Nowruz, Iran

Meaning “new day”, Nowruz marks the beginning of the Iranian calendar and usually takes place on March 21st with the spring equinox. 

While it is a secular in most countries, Nowruz is a holy day for Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and some Muslims.

NowruzAl Jazeera

Work Hard, Play Hard

Nowruz festivities last for 13 days and the details of the celebrations can differ from place to place. 

However, the festival usually starts with everyone spending some time cleaning their homes before it escalates into days of bonfires, bright costumes, and moments to honor departed family members.

NowruzLastElement, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

8. Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, England

Every year, during England’s Spring Bank Holiday, Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester becomes the stage for the famous cheese-rolling event. 

Despite its seemingly harmless name, this tradition is far from safe.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, EnglandMusa GÜLEÇ, Flickr

The Chase

Participants eagerly chase a wheel of cheese down the incredibly steep hill, risking bruises, scrapes, and even broken bones in the process. 

It's a wild, adrenaline-pumping spectacle that draws both locals and newcomers alike.

Cheese Rolling - Staying on your feet.. - 2009ninjawil, Flickr

The Prize

The cheese rolls down 200 yards of steep terrain, and is a round of Double Gloucester that weighs 7-9 pounds. 

The first person to make it to the bottom of the hill claims the cheese as their prize.

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and WakeUnknown Author, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Pagan Origins

Some historians think the cheese-rolling tradition has pagan origins. 

It is thought that some pagans used to roll bundles of burning brushwood down the hill to signify the end of winter and the coming of the new year.

England factsWikimedia Commons, Dave Farrance

Older Than We Think

Annual cheese-rolling has been happening in Gloucester for at least 200 years. The first written records of the event date back to 1826, but there’s also evidence that the event was an old tradition. 

Most historians believe people have been cheese-rolling for at least 600 years.

A View Down Cooper's HillPete Verdon, Wikimedia Commons

9. White House Easter Egg Roll, United States

Since 1878, American presidents and their families have marked Easter Monday with a festive egg roll celebration at the White House. 

Held on the South Lawn, the event has fun for the whole family—but you’ll have to apply via an online lottery if you want to join in on the action.

Eastern Roll Eggs White HouseUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Who Started It? 

Some say First Lady Dolley Madison came up with the idea for the event. Others say that informal egg-rolling celebrations took place around the country during Lincoln’s time.

Dolley Madison in whiteGilbert Stuart, Wikimedia Commons

A Presidential Celebration 

During the celebration, kids use wooden spoons to roll painted hard-boiled eggs down the White House lawn. 

They compete to win prizes and Easter eggs while the Presidential family oversee the event alongside a giant Easter bunny.

Reagan At Wh Easter Egg Roll 1982Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

10. Floriade, Australia

In 1988, Floriade sprouted from an idea by parks manager Peter Sutton and landscape designer Chris Slotemaker De Bruine. 

They wanted to celebrate Australia's 200th and Canberra's 75th birthday and came up with the perfect way to do so.

Floriade Canberra 2013Ashishlohorung, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Flower Power 

Sutton and De Bruine designed the event to be a massive display of beautiful flora, sculptures, and live music. While it was supposed to be a one-off, Floriade was so popular that it became an annual springtime celebration.

Floriade, Canberra, AustraliaStephen Dann, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

When To See It

Every year, thousands of people flock to Commonwealth Park to see more than a million flowers in full bloom. Floriade lasts for a month, from mid-September to mid-October.

Floriade (Canberra)Maksym Kozlenko, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


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