The 14 Most Unique (or Exclusive) Festivals Around the World

Who doesn’t love a good festival? It seems that nearly every country holds an exciting festival at some time in the year. From events celebrating food to honoring a burning man, there’s a festival for everyone out there. These events are about more than just having fun, however. By participating, you immerse yourself in the local culture. You learn about local customs, beliefs, and lifestyles. It acts as a wonderful learning opportunity for new and seasoned travelers alike. Here are 13 unique festivals around the world for you to explore.

Food Festivals Around the World

Woman carrying two cups at a food festival.
Food festivals like Wildfoods Festival give you the chance to expand your culinary palate.

1. Wildfoods Festival (Hokitika, New Zealand): March

Consider yourself an adventurous eater? You’ll love the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika, New Zealand, hosted every spring. At Wildfoods, you can munch on lamb testicles, pig nipples, and huhu grubs (the larvae of New Zealand’s huhu beetle). You can also take part in the festival’s “Feral Fashion” costume contest. Here, you dress up as your ” wild alter ego,” which gives you the opportunity to use your wildest imagination. 

2. Watercress Food Festival (Hampshire, England): May

The Watercress Food Festival in Hampshire, England is made for watercress lovers. Watercress is a type of aquatic vegetable similar to cabbage that is native to Asia and Europe and has a peppery taste. At this festival, you’ll find 80 food stalls selling watercress-based recipes. The area’s top chefs come together to cook up crowd favorites, including watercress scones, salads, and soup. If you are daring, you can enter the World Watercress Eating Championship. To become the champion, you’ll need to eat 85mg of watercress in less than 32 seconds!

3. Bacon Festival (Sacramento, California): January

For one week every January in Sacramento, you can celebrate a famed breakfast food: bacon. Participating restaurants in the area craft bacon-based dishes for you to try. The highlight of the festival is the skeeball tournament. Sip on bacon-themed drinks as you compete to win exclusive prizes!

4. PoutineFest (Ottawa, Canada): May

Poutine is a staple Canadian dish, so it’s no surprise that the country has a festival dedicated to it. Located in Ottawa, you can sample your way through 30 different poutine vendors. You can also take breaks between eating to enjoy live music or sip a drink in the Craft Beer Garden. This event is also kid-friendly, as it includes face painting and rock climbing

5. Vegetarian Festival (Phuket, Thailand): September/October

Warning: this festival is not for the faint of heart. Also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, this Thai festival takes place across temples in Phuket. Participants abstain from eating meat during the event as a ” purification of the body and mind.” Participants also take part in gruesome celebrations. They test out their bodies’ limits by inserting sharp objects through their mouths, piercing their bodies, and walking on coals.

6. Knox County Watermelon Festival (Vincennes, Indiana): July

This family-friendly festival has much more than free watermelon. You will also find a watermelon eating contest, a “watermelon toss,” and even a Miss Watermelon Beauty Pageant. If you love to get active, you can partake in the festival’s 3K or 5K run. If you’d rather relax, you can sit back and watch live concerts while eating the region’s freshest watermelon. The 2021 festival, which was held in early August, featured a new addition: performances by local singers and dancers and appearances by local celebrities. 

Art & Culture Events Around the World

Here are some of the top art and culture festivals around the world.

Jordan Peele meets with fans at South by Southwest Film Festival.
South by Southwest is one of America’s top film festivals, bringing in filmmakers from every background.

7. SXSW (Austin, Texas): March

South by Southwest, commonly referred to as SXSW, is one of The United States’ most famous entertainment festivals. The event lasts for over a week and attracts some of the biggest names in film, music, and tech. You can find yourself watching an award-winning film, catching a concert, and participating in an interactive art exhibit all in one day. The 2021 festival featured a mix of in-person and virtual showcases. The highlights included a discussion between filmmaker Barry Jenkins and composer Nicholas Britell, a surprise appearance by singer Janelle Monae, a keynote address by Willie Nelson, and the premieres of films like Swan Song and Not Going Quietly

8. Festival d’Avignon (Avignon, France): July

Founded in 1947, the Festival d’Avignon has every arts-related event you could want. The arts festival is held in various parts of the French city, with the biggest events happening in the historic Palais des Papes. Enjoy theatre, dance, music, film, art exhibitions, and readings among the gorgeous backdrop of Provence in Southeastern France.

9. Junkanoo (Nassau, Bahamas): December 26 (main event), New Year’s Day and Independence Day on July 10 (mini-festivals)

For true cultural immersion, you have to check out Junkanoo in The Bahamas. The festival is a street parade full of exuberant costumes, dances, and music. While the festival’s origins remain a mystery, today, it is one of the best ways to celebrate the island’s lively culture. Even better, you can catch the festival several days a year. 

10. Ithaca Festival (Ithaca, New York): May/June

Created “for the artist in everyone,” the Ithaca Festival brings together artists of all kinds over four days. Every year centers on a new theme to inspire local artists. You can check out paintings, pottery, photography, live performances, and even a silent disco that includes music from many different genres. Maybe you’ll even find some inspiration yourself! The 2022 festival will be held June 2-5. 

11. Heidelberg Herbst (Heidelberg, Germany): September

Medieval markets, anyone? That’s what you’ll find at Heidelberg Herbst in Heidelberg, Germany. The historic town holds this festival every fall to ring in the new season in an exciting way. You will see participants in medieval costumes parading down the street. You can also sample various regional foods and listen to local bands. The 2021 festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but the 2022 event is scheduled for the last weekend in September. 

Other Stand-Out Festivals Around the World

Burning Man festival.
Burning Man is a visual feast for all festival-goers.

12. RiSE (Jean Dry Lake Bed, Nevada): October

If you’ve never released a lantern into the sky, you can have your chance at RiSE, which is held at the Jean Dry Lake Bed near Las Vegas. RiSE gives all attendees a lantern on which to write a prayer or dream. Just after sunset, all attendees release the lanterns into the sky in a uniting, cathartic moment. The festival’s purpose is for everyone to have a moment to reflect on themselves and the world. The team and technology have played a key role in turning this festival into a resounding success over the last few years. 

13. Burning Man (Black Rock Festival, Nevada): August/September

Nevada is home to yet another self-reflecting festival: Burning Man. The main event of Burning Man is the burning of a wooden man sculpture. Like the RiSE festival, however, it’s also about something much deeper. 

The festival means something different to everyone who attends. Some see it as a form of self-expression. Others see it as a celebration of love. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what the message is. 

14. Wonderfront (San Diego): Nov. 18-20, 2022

The Wonderfront music and arts festival features a variety of bands and art showcases (including comedy shows) in San Diego. The festival is held across several stages, including Seaport Village, Broadway Port Pier, and Embarcadero Marina Park North and South. Past performers include X Ambassadors, CNCO, Don Omar, and Miguel. 

Discover Your Next Adventure

As you can see, there are countless festivals around the world. Whether you want to try exotic foods or participate in cultural dances, there is an event waiting for your attendance. is proud to help festival organizers by providing seamless, efficient ticketing, marketing, and sponsorship solutions, as well as resources for offering and tracking on-site sales and check-in. Check out our list of upcoming events to find a festival you will fall in love with.