I’m a travel whore. I’ll turn a travel trick and whisk myself away over daily routine any day. In preparation for my next jaunt, and inspired by the onslaught of “before you die” books and “bucket list” movies, I’ve been sitting down with friends to generate a list of our top ten favorite trip ideas to do before we die. On the top of my list is a daydream six-month trip where I will crisscross the globe bouncing from one festival to the next.
The word festival means gaiety, revelry, merrymaking—three words I want to embrace and embody in my final days … in my every day. To kickstart the merrymaking this year, I’m considering the following festivals:
February 2–5, 2008
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I’ve always wanted to shake my cheeks with feathers towering over my head in the streets of Rio and perfect how Brazilians laugh and play. If like me, you’re seeking some carnival in your life, you’ll want to book ahead for the mass influx of sensual Samba dancers that stroll down the promenade in Rio’s Sambodrome.
Tet: Vietnam’s Lunar New Year
February 6–8, 2008
With the actual day scheduled for February 7 this year, fireworks and gongs will sound in the air while families clean their homes, buy new clothes, and mend severed relations with family and friends in preparation for the New Year. Tet is a wonderful festival to plan your travels around; just make sure you book a hotel in advance and stay put while the cities and town shut down for daily rituals.
March 15–19, 2008
Five days of concerts, fiestas, and a finale of blackened streets with exploding statues (las fallas) filled with fireworks gives this festival its name. Make sure to bring your walking shoes since the city center is closed off to cars and book your room well in advance.
Pen World Voices Festival
April 29–May 4, 2008
New York City
The World Voices Festival is where I can expand my love for all things literary. Thousands of writers hold panels on international issues and their role in literature to build global bridges from their thoughts into the written word.
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
April 25–27 and May 1–4, 2008
New Orleans, Louisiana
Sure, I was mugged five minutes after I arrived at our rented bungalow on Bourbon Street my first time, but this annual festival is keeping this city on the map. Po’ boys, étouffée, and other culinary delights keep your stomach packed while you knock back your third Hurricane. I recommend going the week between the weekends in order to catch jazz greats at more intimate venues, like Preservation Hall. The night I danced to Charlie Hunter in an empty bar across the Mississippi in Algiers marked one of my top ten music moments.
June 27–29, 2008
A sunburned bloke with his shirt off is how I’ve always visualized Glastonbury, but this massive event spans the ages and musical spectrum. Camping on rolling green hills between multiple stages is the perfect weekend away with friends or the family. Kidzfield will keep the wee ones entertained while Mommy or Daddy steal away for a beat session at the main stage before hitting the Theatre & Circus Field at sunset.
Roswell UFO Festival
July 3–6, 2008
Roswell, New Mexico
So you believe? Then you better gather with your fellow Close Encounters fans in Roswell to commemorate the 61st Anniversary of the 1947 UFO incident. While the U.S. government vows it involved a top-secret research balloon, others believe that a UFO crashed in their desert warranting a government conspiracy. No matter what side of the spaceship you fall on, parading through town and attending talks dressed as a Conehead is just fun.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
August 3–25, 2008
When my friends in London told me about watching a family of three (with the ten-year-old son banging the drums) pound out their brilliant concoctions, and a play they had to follow through the alleyways of Edinburgh, I knew I had to get to the Fringe Festival some day. When I get there, I’ll follow each morning performance with a lunch picnic in the park and end my day with a pint in the pub.
Burning Man Festival
August 25–September 1, 2009
Black Rock Desert near Reno, Nevada
I want to write off my days of Burning Man and assume I’ve outgrown it, but friends insist that it keeps getting better. An alternative universe that I once explained as, “Mad Max meets inclusive carnival art freak show for adults,” I still believe that everyone should experience Burning Man at least once in their lifetime. Make sure to check your judgment at the entrance gate and bring everything you need in order to survive in the desert. If you forget something, don’t worry, a nice soul will probably gift you whatever it is that you need, and end up as your friend for the day.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
August 29–October 5th, 2008
Coined Europe’s biggest singles event, if you’re looking for that handsome Prince William type waiting for you as he sips his Guiness at the pub, then you have five weeks to find him. Music and dancing on the weekends until 4:00 a.m., horse and sulki (buggy) racing, a local matchmaker to speed things along in the last three weekends, and a “Mr. Lisdoonvarna” and the “Queen of the Burren” competition at the end makes St. Patrick’s Day look like a celebration for lonely souls.
Diwali: The Festival of Lights
October 28–November 1, 2008
The first day of India’s auspicious Diwali (calculated annually according to the position of the moon) marks the beginning of a year filled with prosperity and well-being. All over India, streets, temples, buildings, and homes shine with candles and lights. I spent Diwali in Calcutta and Varanasi one year, and watched in awe while life-size installments of Hindu gods and goddesses took over streets like a hall of mirrors. Fireworks keep the evil spirits away, making Diwali a special celebration to kick off your fall.
Woodford Folk Festival
December 27–January 1, 2008
Woodford, Queensland, Australia
Held in a quaint town on Australia’s Eastern Sunshine Coast, this festival draws artists from around the world to put on over 400 concerts, workshops, street theatre, writers’ panels, a film festival, comedy acts, arts and crafts workshops, and a full children’s festival over a weekend. I would like to buy my ticket now to the midnight cabarets and fire shows to round out my first trip to Oz.
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