Spring is a magical time of the year, when the cycles of birth and regrowth begin, and the world comes back to life. Countries and cultures around the world have been celebrating the emergence of spring since ancient times, each partaking in their own rites and rituals. From flower festivals to scrambled egg parties, water fights to fire rituals, these spring celebrations around the world are sure to inspire your appreciation of the season.
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Wildflower Bloom – California, USA
Spring wildflower bloom in California is spectacular and widely anticipated by visitors and residents alike. In a good bloom year, wildflowers in multiple colors carpet landscapes across the state, from the floor of the desert in Southern California to the hills of the Sierra Nevada. It’s one of the most beautiful spring events around the world.
Wildflower bloom in California starts in late February and persists into the early summer. Poppies, daisies, Indian paintbrush, and lupines can be commonly seen.
One of the best places to view wildflower bloom in California is Carrizo Plain National Monument, in the central plains. You can drive the main road through the monument to take in the stunning views of yellow and purple as far as the eye can see.
Driving is the best way to get to Carrizo Plain National Monument. You can drive up in under two hours from LA. From San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast, the drive is about an hour. Bring your camera, so you can take lots of beautiful photos!
Holi – India
No trip to India is complete without visiting and falling in love with the “colors of Rajasthan”. But Holi is an extra special day to visit Rajasthan and most of northern India. Each spring, people in India celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colors. This may very well be the most well-known spring celebration around the world.
During Holi, everyone is extremely happy and excited with the arrival of spring. People come out into streets and neighborhoods. Everyone brings loads of bright colors and a festive cheer. Everyone applies colors to each other in a fun spirit. Some people play only with dry colors but most people use with water colors. They fill water pistons with colored water and shoot at each other. Some don’t bother with pistons but dump buckets of colors, others simply dunk their friends in pools of colorful water. During Holi, many neighborhoods and group events play fun music and everyone dances as a group.
Holi is a lot of fun and laughter. It’s a must-have experience, whether in India or any other place in the world which celebrates Holi.
Maslenitsa – Russia
With the long and harsh winters in Russia, it is no surprise that locals greet the arrival of spring with much joy throughout the country. Although it is now linked to the fasting period before Orthodox Easter, its origins lie in Pagan traditions. In fact, it’s one of the oldest Slavic folk holidays celebrated today. Many elements from ancient mythology are still present in its celebration.
Maslenitsa is a major holiday in places like Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Before the fasting period starts there is one more chance to indulge oneself in delicious foods, most of all pancakes. Everywhere in the country Maslenitsa fairs are popping up. Here, you can buy fresh baked goods and play traditional games, such as sleigh riding and snow ball fights. It ends with the burning of lady Maslenitsa in a huge bonfire.
The best places to see the Maslenitsa festivities are the bigger cities like Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Saint Petersburg, with its royal and elegant architecture, is particularly scenic. Most palace gardens in and outside of the city will open up to the public with Maslenitsa fairs full of joyful activities and, of course, lots of pancakes. Maslenitsa is a beautiful spring holiday (despite all of the snow still on the ground!).
Canadian Tulip Festival – Canada
The Canadian Tulip Festival, held in the country’s capital city of Ottawa, holds the title to be the largest in the world. The festival lasts ten days in May, and events are scheduled throughout. Over 100,000 bulbs were gifted to Ottawa in 1945 by the Dutch royal family. It was their gesture of gratitude for keeping their princess and her daughters safe during the war, as well as, the role Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands. Every year thereafter, the Netherlands keeps the tradition alive by sending 20,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa. That gift is known as the ‘Tulip Legacy’ and those tulips have now increased to more than one million. The Canadian Tulip Festival has been celebrating this spring flower, an international symbol of friendship and peace, since 1953.
From downtown Ottawa, you can easily explore many of the multi-colored tulip beds on foot. The beautiful displays have been planted in and around the city’s main attractions. From Parliament Hill to Major’s Hill Park to National Gallery of Canada to Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. Head to Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rent a bike to ride along the scenic waterfront.
Commissioner’s Park is a must-see. With over 300,000 tulips, all within a one-kilometer path, there are endless varieties planted every year. Festivities at this 10-day event include entertainment, historical presentations, public art displays, fireworks and so much more. Given its size and the amount of flowers, this is one spring celebration you don’t want to miss.
Keukenhof – The Netherlands
Keukenhof is the top destination in the Netherlands to admire tulips in bloom each spring. Affectionately called ‘the Garden of Europe,’ Keukenhof is one of the most-visited cultivated gardens on Earth. Here, visitors can enjoy more than 7 million planted flowers and 32 hectares of grounds to wander.
Situated in Lisse, visiting Keukenhof is easily accessible from Amsterdam or Leiden. If taking public transit, purchase a Combiticket, which includes a ticket to the garden as well as bus tickets.
Keukenhof has impeccably landscaped gardens, serpentine paths, ponds and streams, as well as pavilions that display elaborate floral arrangements. Keukenhof has restaurants and eateries on-site, but you’ll be better off grabbing some Dutch treats and a bottle of wine or a couple of beers and finding a grassy area in the park to picnic.
To comply with COVID regulations, you must reserve your ticket to Keukenhof online. In-person purchases will not be permitted, since you will be given a designated time slot in order to prevent overcrowding. If you need, you can change your time slot in advance (at least seven days).
If you’re based in the capital of the Netherlands, be sure to check out the Amsterdam Tulip Museum while you’re there, one of the best museums in Amsterdam!
Versailles Fountain show – France
With the arrival of spring, the Versailles Estate gets ready for one of the season’s most beautiful events: the Versailles Fountains Show.
The French-style gardens of Versailles are decorated with beautiful fountains and other water games. During the winter, Versailles’ fountains do not work, and some of the groves are closed to the public. Starting on 1 April, all the groves are open, making it possible to admire the fountains of Versailles in all their splendor and marking the start of spring.
During the show, visitors can stroll around Versailles’ gardens to admire the fountains of Versailles spouting water at the sound of Baroque music. Imagine you are at one of Louis XVI lavish parties as you encounter actors wandering the grounds in period costume.
The Versailles gardens host different shows, but only the Versailles Fountain Show has the fountains working. The Versailles Fountain Show takes place on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Be sure to check the schedule beforehand. You must have an entrance ticket to access the gardens. It is possible to reach Versailles by train from Paris or on a guided tour.
Cherry Blossom festival – South Korea
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae, South Korea is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the world. Every spring, thousands of cherry trees bloom gorgeous little pink flowers. The colors and aromas that fill the town make you feel like you’re in another world. South Korea is often overlooked as a cherry blossom destination in favor of the more popular Japan. However, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae is still one of the most beautiful spring celebrations in the world.
The festival in Jinhae is the most popular festival in all of Korea. Hundreds of thousands of people come each year to enjoy the cherry trees. It actually started as a memorial service to honor a famous Korean naval admiral who defeated Japan in an invasion attempt in the 1500s. Jinhae is home to the Korean Navy so there are many different events that take place during the festival to celebrate the Korean Military.
The festival takes place over a week and has different events each night, such as fireworks, a light show, parades, and air shows. Besides the different events, you can just walk around during the day enjoying the trees, grab some delicious Korean street food, and take pictures to your heart’s content.
Depending on where you are in Korea (and if you have your own car or not) will change how you get to the festival. You can take an intercity bus from larger cities within Korea directly to Jinhae. If you’d like to explore more of Korea while you’re in the area, Busan is only an hour away from Jinhae and has many different things to do!
Feria de Abril – Spain
Contribution: Linn, Brainy Backpackers
Spain is famous for its Fiestas and celebrations around the country, especially the southern region of Andalusia. So where better to take part in the festivities than in Andalusia’s capital city, Seville.
The Feria de Abril finds place each year, two weeks after the massive Easter celebration, Semana Santa. Locals in Seville usually take the whole week of Feria celebrations off work to party into the nights, wear colorful flamenco dresses, dance Sevillana to traditional Spanish live music in the different Casetas, temporarily built houses/tents. Each Caseta is either privately owned by families or companies and you need tickets to get into most of them. These have to be bought up front and it’s pretty much just employees, friends and family of the Caseta that can buy tickets. It’s very much a local event, where it’s best to know someone.
But don’t worry, if you’re traveling and don’t know anyone, there are a few public Casetas where anyone can enter without tickets so everyone can enjoy the Feria. The whole area is made up of different streets with Casetas on one side and a huge fairground on the other. At daytime, horses with colorful carriages filled with families in Flamenco dresses will fill the Feria streets.
If you look for other things to fill your Seville itinerary with during the days, make sure you head to Plaza de España and spend time in the city center to see the cathedral, Giralda, and the Alcazar.
Chilam Joshi – Pakistan
One of the most interesting spring celebrations in the world is Chilam Joshi, which takes place in a remote valley in Northern Pakistan. Chilam Joshi is the annual spring celebration of the Kalash people, a small minority that lives in the Kalash Valleys in Pakistan’s KPK province. Though the vast majority of Pakistanis are Muslim, most Kalash practice their own ancient religion. They also speak their own language that is distinct from others in the region.
Chilam Joshi takes place each May and is one of the most interesting events that you can add to your Pakistan itinerary. The four-day festival celebrates the beginning of the harvest after a long winter, and locals offer prayers and milk before celebrating. Days are spent dancing and drinking homemade mulberry wine! The festival is also an opportunity for young people to meet a potential spouse.
The easiest way to reach Rumbur Valley (where the festival begins) is to first make your way to Chitral. Chitral is a small city that is accessible by bus from many other places in Pakistan, including the capital Islamabad. After you reach Chitral, you can find a local minivan (cheapest) to get to Rumbur. The ride is slightly bumpy and takes about 4 hours. If local transport isn’t your thing, you can also hire a private driver for a significantly more expensive fee.
Lavender Bloom – France
Spring marks the start of a wonderful event in Provence, France. It’s a time of the year that many French residents look forward to as the winter cold drifts away and the fresh, warmer air of spring takes its place. It’s also a well-known season for flora, where a variety of wildflowers in the region of Provence begin to bloom. From the brilliant colors and aromas of different types of herbs, peonies, blossoms, and of course, Provence’s biggest attraction, the lavenders – people from around the world come to witness this wonder.
There are many places to see lavender fields in France, but the best for viewing during spring are in Valensole and Luberon. The most convenient way to get to these areas would be to drive as there are literally fields and fields of these flowers all over. If driving is not possible, there are also tours available from Avignon, Nice, and Marseille.
While not a celebration or festival per se, the annual lavender bloom in Provence is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spring events in the world.
Cinco de Mayo – Mexico
Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the Battle of Puebla, and Mexico’s victory over France in the Franco-Mexican War. The Mexicans were greatly outnumbered with limited provisions, yet after a day’s worth of fighting, the French surrendered. While it wasn’t a major victory in the war, the Battle of Puebla raised spirits and strengthened the resistance.
While the holiday is not largely celebrated in Mexico outside of Puebla, there are still military parades, reenactments, and other festivities. Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday, and most businesses remain open.
It’s safe to say that Cinco de Mayo is more widely celebrated by its northern neighbor, the United States. In the States, the holiday has evolved into a day of binging tacos and tequila, donning sombreros, and commemorating Mexican culture.
Skagit Valley tulip festival – Washington, USA
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the largest tulip festivals in the United States and, by far, the largest in the state of Washington. Each spring, the festival attracts over one million visitors to see millions of colorful tulips burst into bloom. The event takes place in and around the small town of Mount Vernon, Washington- about 60 miles north of Seattle – every April.
The festival’s origins started over 100 years ago when an English settler took interest in growing tulips due to the nutrient-rich soil in the Puget Sound region. After seeing his success with the flowers, other farmers started to plant the bulbs as well. By the 1980s, thousands of people started flocking to Mount Vernon in the spring to see the vibrant flowers. In 1984, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce established the inaugural Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The event has grown every year since and now includes street fairs, art shows, and sporting events.
While you’re in the Skagit Valley region, you may also consider planning a trip to the nearby Orcas Islands for spectacular whale-watching opportunities and exploring the islands’ old growth forests by bike or on foot. Alternatively, you can continue heading north to the quaint town of Bellingham, the northernmost city in the contiguous United States for spectacular hiking trails and craft cideries.
Songkran – Thailand
Songkran is the most well-known spring celebration in Thailand. It marks the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year, which is when the sun transitions from Pisces to Aries. The festival takes place every spring from April 13-15, and is best known for its jovial water fights.
The first day of the spring celebration is called Songkran Day, and entails buoyant and lively festivities with processions of Buddhist depictions. This is also the day when Thai people clean their homes in anticipation of the new year. This is the day when the water festivities really begin.
The second day of the festival is called Wan Nao, which is the equivalent of the Thai New Years Eve. On Wan Nao, many Thai people will visit their Buddhist temples to create epic sand castle-like structures depicting Buddhist temples (called sand chedis).
The final day of the spring celebration is April 15th, which is Thai New Year’s Day. This is the last day of festivities, and many locals will give up offerings to their local temples to start the New Year and ring in a season of spring and new beginnings.
Songkran is hugely popular with tourists visiting Thailand, and many people visit the country specifically to take part in the celebrations. If you plan on visiting during Songkran, prepare to get soaked! Between water guns, buckets of water being thrown, water balloons and other creative means, you will certainly get wet – but that’s (at least) half the fun!
Cimburijada – Bosnia
Cimburijada is one of the most incredible (and quirky) spring celebrations in the world. It is celebrated in the city of Zenica on March 21, in Bosnia, to commemorate the start of spring. How is it celebrated? Why, by making a huge pot of scrambled eggs, obviously.
Zenica locals gather in a huge field to set up tents and join in the festivities together. An enormous pot (cimbur) of scrambled eggs is cooked – it’s enough for the entire town to enjoy breakfast – 1,500 eggs! The entire community joins in the cooking (and eating) of the scrambled eggs.
Some locals will take a dip in the river for a ‘cleanse’ before the start of the new season.
Carnival of Cádiz – Spain
The Carnival of Cádiz is the biggest festival on mainland Spain. Over the span of ten days, the city comes alive with street processions, concerts and an engrossing carnival atmosphere. The festival has been designated as a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest of Spain; an honor bestowed on the most important cultural events in the country, so it’s no wonder the Carnival of Cádiz is one of the most popular spring celebrations in the world.
As a major port in the 16th Century, Cádiz copied the carnival of Venice, a tribute to a long standing important trade partner. Since then, the festival lights up the medieval streets of Cádiz, beginning weekend before Ash Wednesday.
Puppets, elaborate costumes and street processions fill the town which overflows with color and a party atmosphere. One particular highlight and main focus of the carnival is singing. Official, costumed groups perform in hotly contested competitions, usually with a satirical theme or sketches about political life in Spain.
The carnival is great for anyone who is up for a raucous street party, lots of fancy dress and light-hearted entertainment. It’s a major event on the Spanish calendar and one of the best things to do in Cádiz.
Walpurgis Night – Sweden
Walpurgis Night, a traditional spring festival held from April 30 to May 1 in northern Europe and Scandinavia. It is particularly special in Sweden since King Carl XVI Gustaf also celebrates his birthday on Walpurgis. In Sweden, typical celebratory happenings include singing Swedish spring folk songs and lighting bonfires. The bonfires are traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits, but now serve as a creative and fun way of getting rid of excess garden cuttings.
You can expect many Swedish flags flying high, parades and other jovial events. Anyone can partake in the festivities – if you don’t know the words to the songs, just hum along.
Nowruz – Iran
Nowruz, more commonly called Persian New Year, has been honored for over 3,000 years as the defeat of light over darkness.
The word Nowruz translates to “new day”. It is a celebration observing the beginning of spring and the first day of the new year in Iran, whose solar calendar starts with the spring equinox.
Though people traditionally celebrate Nowruz on the equinox, preparations for the holiday begin many weeks prior. In the events leading up to Nowruz, Iranians perform ritual dances and fill their houses with basins of water, which are symbolic of health and cleansing.
On the Wednesday that falls before Nowruz, some partake in jumping over small fires or go door-to-door banging spoons in order to ward off evil and bad luck. Many also bring offerings for the deceased to local cemeteries. People gather with friends and family to enjoy tea and Gaz, an amazing type of candy from Iran.
Nowruz is such an important celebration that it’s a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity item. The holiday is said to “promote values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighborliness.”
Cities near and far with a sizeable Muslim community celebrate Nowruz, making it one of the most important spring celebrations in the world.
Vappu – Finland
Vappu is certainly one of the craziest festivals you’ll ever experience. It is the Finnish version of celebrating May Day, combined with University students’ festival to mark the end of the term.
Vappu follows certain rules and, in fact, is heavy on drinking. Families with children, or people who don’t drink, might prefer to stay away.
The festival starts on April 30, when student celebrations take place. Everybody wears a white hat, which Finns receive upon graduating from high school. Typical ceremonials include putting a giant white hat on the main city statue. Current students wear their university’s overalls with patches sewn on and engage in games. After that, it’s all about drinking and partying. The more, the merrier. On May 1st, the celebrations quiet down a bit and move to parks, where everyone goes for a picnic.
People all over Finland celebrate Vappu. You can experience the proper “student-crazy” Vappu in any Finnish city with a large student population, such as Helsinki, Turku, or Tampere.
Tulip Time – Australia
Want to see tulips and spring-like blooms in September? Head to Australia! Tulip Time in the gorgeous Southern Highlands region of Australia is the perfect festival for flower and garden lovers who are craving a touch of spring in the Northern hemisphere’s ‘off-season’. The event takes place annually from mid-September to early October in the picturesque Corbett Gardens in Bowral. It is easily accessible on a day trip from Sydney or a longer stay in the area.
Tulip Time is one of the oldest springtime festivals in Australia. Vibrant displays of 75,000 tulips greet visitors each year. The festival also features music and entertainment in the Corbett Gardens throughout the duration as well as market stalls.
The Corbett Gardens are located in central Bowral an easy walk from the Bowral railway station. There’s also plenty of parking located nearby the gardens if you drive. The main street of Bowral has plenty of eateries to grab a bite, including one of the region’s most famous meals: meat pie.
Entry to Tulip Time costs $12 AUD for an adult and $7 AUD for a concession or child over 12. Children 12 and under are able to visit the festival free of charge. You must purchase tickets to Tulip Time online, where you can select a session time to visit.
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