In the earliest years of civilization, people started having religious rituals as a way to worship the Supreme Being, to please the Mother Nature. Religions, faiths and beliefs changed and expanded over time. Today, the world is a global village, where all ceremonies take place together, and all people, regardless of religion, caste, nationality or all such boundaries, enjoy and celebrate together during festive times. Various festivities have different roots, reasons, and rituals. For some, the beauty lies in the sense that enamours the worshipper. They create an ambience that transports everyone present to a heavenly dimension. Then again, there are some festivals whose celebrations are like a feast for the eyes. Let us look at some of the most beautiful festivals that are a visual treat.
10. Scarlet Sails, White Nights Festival | Russia
During the period of Midnight Sun in the Arctic Circle regions, St. Petersburg in Russia celebrates the White Nights Festival, an annual international arts festival with competitions, entertainment, etc. The main attraction is its culmination, the Scarlet Sails, in which a ship with scarlet sails, in the midst of amazing ambient lights and spectacular firework show, along with star entertainers and millions of guests, sets off along the Neva River, marking the freedom from school and rules. The tradition, started after the WW-II, was marked by the sailing of the scarlet-sailed boat, designed to update the erstwhile rusty revolutionary propaganda and the gathering of students.
9. Electric Forest Festival | United States
The Electric Forest Festival, which started less than even a decade ago as the Rothbury Festival, is a four-day multi-genre event, held at the JJ Resort in Rothbury, Michigan. The main focus of the event is upon electronic and jam bands. But, what captures the eyes is the ambience during this June festival. The surrounding environment becomes a kaleidoscope of psychedelic laser light shows. These blend with the electronica and the jamming. The lights and the sounds titillate different senses at the same time and create a surreal experience of wilderness. A part of the revenue from the festival is donated to Grant Township.
8. Winter Light Festival | Japan
The Winter Light Festival is celebrated in the Kuwana City of Japan, during the season of winter, when many other beautiful and creative festivals are held throughout the country. In this city is located the beautiful flower-focused botanical park, the Nabano No Sato, with its greenhouses, gardens and the very special tunnel of light. The Winter Illuminations are celebrated in this botanical garden from November to March, when millions of LED lights, powered by solar energy during the day, light up together, creating gorgeous scenes, sparkling over the grounds and waters, creating powerful images and sceneries based on themes. The tunnel lights up in flower-shaped LED lights.
7. Up Helly Aa Fire Festival | Scotland
To mark the end of the yule season, Shetland in Scotland celebrates a variety of fire festivals every year, in the middle of the winter season, along with a procession consisting of a large number of guizers. The most pompous of these is held at the capital, Lerwick, where the culture is born from an older yule tradition of tar barrelling, where burning tar in barrels used to be dragged on sledges by mischievous men, as early as 1876. Today, thousands dress up in themed, period-clothes, and take the on-lookers back in time. The procession finally torches down the replica of a Viking longship. The men in clothes of the bygone era, and the dazzle of the fire is a spectacle.
6. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta | USA
This unique festival is held every year, where hot air balloons of different shapes, sizes and colours fly in the air and cover the sky for nine days. There are various events, during which hundreds of balloons are launched all at once, or balloons the works of artists, or balloons shaped uniquely or thematically, are also seen. The balloons, illuminated by propane burners, and standing static, are quite a vision. There are also many special events and competitions. It all started as the birthday celebration for 770 KOB Radio back in 1972, and today, it has taken the form of the largest, most beautiful balloon festival in the world.
5. Carnival of Brazil
This annual festival marks the beginning of Lent, the forty-day period before Christmas. The festival has its roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia. While the carnival is primarily Catholic in nature, the entire world watches this spectacle of pomp, colours, music and rhythm, as the performers, especially the exotic samba dancers and revellers take to the streets and show their best moves, clad in body-paint, glitter, feathers, and little else. Ironically, the parade’s excesses represent an ‘act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh’ before Lent during which, Christians are supposed to abstain from all acts of bodily pleasures.
4. Lantern Festival | Asia
The Lantern Festival is celebrated in the countries of Asia since the Hans Dynasty on the 15th day of the lunar calendar, marking the last day of the lunar New Year, i.e. February or March. The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as ‘Lantern Festival’, in Singapore and Malaysia, is a harvest festival, held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese and Vietnamese calendars, which is in September or October. The one thing common between both is the magnificent display of lanterns, especially the sky lanterns which are little paper hot-air balloons with fire suspended at the end. The whole balloon lights up in this fire, and a large number of these fill the sky at night.
3. International Sand Sculpture Festival | Portugal
This is the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, held in Portugal’s Algarve which is also famous for its beautiful, naturally sculpted caves. Started in 2003, the festival witnesses 60 sand artists using 35,000 tons of sand to build 50 works of art. The festival has a new theme each year, based on which, the sculptures are created. These temporary sculptures are a real feast for the eyes, especially for those who are artistically bent. The exhibition is also open during the evenings, when the ambient lights create an atmosphere that is quite an experience in itself. The festival stretches across 15,000 sq. feet of area on the beautiful Portuguese beach.
2. The Sapporo Snow Festival | Japan
For seven days in the month of February, Sapporo in Japan hosts the Snow Festival, one of the largest ad the most extraordinary winter events in Japan. Having begun in 1950 when six local high school students created six snow statues. Year after year, more people and organizations started joining in, to build snow sculptures, and the Snow Festival, today, is famous for these. Today, millions of people visit Sapporo to see the statues and sculptures made out of snow. Every year, there is a theme, but, the statues and sculptures turn Sapporo into a magnificent land that seems to be out of some fairy tale.
1. Holi | Hindu Nations
India is the place of colours, and it is the birthplace of one of the most colourful festivals, Holi. This ancient Hindu festival is celebrated by the Hindu populations of all nations, or all people with an Indian origin. People celebrate by throwing colours on each other, in the form of dry powder called Ghulal, Aabir, etc., or with coloured water. It is perfectly in sync with the mood of the season of spring, the season of love and colours. The bonfire is an important part of the celebration, marking the death of the evil spirit of Holika. In Braj region of India, the festival is observed to mark the love of Radha for Lord Krishna. Altogether, people revel in colours, love and joy during the splendid Holi.
There are many more beautiful festivals that are observed all around the world. These pompous and beautiful celebrations are a representation of the inner peace and happiness achieved from such celebrations. When it comes to such ceremonies, the best way to observe them is by coming together with open hearts, crossing all religious or national boundaries, or any constriction, to feel the true spirit of the ceremony.