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The best family-friendly festivals around the world

Angela Spiliotakos finds that the celebrations with your family will never have to end, with these top 7 festivals from around the world.

SONGKRAN, THAILAND

WHEN: April
VIBE: Nationwide water fight

songkran thailand

Thailand’s New Year celebrations are commonly known as the ‘water festival’ and it isn’t hard to see why. Wander into the streets in Phuket or Bangkok over the three-day period and you are guaranteed to get soaked.

The water symbolises a Buddhist blessing and a washing away of sins, evil spirits and all-round bad feelings, and the Thai people (and many tourists) embrace this whole-heartedly.

Travellers are particular targets for the fun, so be sure to wear swimmers, leave any nonwaterproof cameras at home, and reapply sunscreen regularly.

Many resorts and hotels will have their own celebrations for staff and guests so don’t forget to pack a water pistol so little ones can fight back.

family festivals

VENICE CARNIVAL, ITALY

WHEN: January - February
VIBE: Mysterious

The Carnevale di Venezia is an absolute must for any young kids who love dressing up. The elaborate outfits and masks � from Harry Potter costumes to 18th-century-style gowns � add an extra layer of intrigue to this fascinating canal city.

Be sure to get involved by wearing a mask as you tour the city; getting hands-on and making your own is a great way for kids to get excited about their trip.

For an authentic taste of Carnival, head to a pasticceria to sample the delights of traditional sweet treats like castagnole (fried round cookies), galani (paper-thin rectangles of dough) and fritelle (fried dough with raisins and pine nuts, and sometimes filled with custard).

Holi festival india

HOLI FESTIVAL, INDIA

WHEN: March
VIBE: Spiritual awakening

When a festival encourages you to get as messy and colourful as possible, you know it’s going to be a hit with kids.

Holi is an incredible event that is just made for social media snaps, with locals throwing arcs of coloured powder and perfumed water at one another.

It marks the victory of good over evil and the coming of spring, and is followed by large bonfires, lit across the country on Holi Eve.

The following day is then all fun, parties and colour. Holi is celebrated in many parts of India, including Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan, which host larger festivities, and Udaipur, Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi, for more modern celebrations.

Make sure you check out the street parades to guarantee a solid dose of colour and fun.

chinese new year

CHINESE NEW YEAR, HONG KONG

WHEN: January - February
VIBE: New beginnings

Welcome in the Chinese new year with colour, excitement and lots of fireworks in Hong Kong.

This family-friendly city really puts on a show, showering luck with the eye-catching Night Parade.

Highlights are seeing the traditional lions, Mickey Mouse and friends from Hong Kong Disneyland, delicious festive delicacies and masses of flowers and lanterns.

Make sure you get a good spot for the fireworks over amazing Victoria Harbour; the kids are bound to find the display dazzling.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA, AMERICA

WHEN: October
VIBE: Awe-inspiring

For a week in October, the blue skies of New Mexico burst with vibrancy and colour for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

From modest beginnings in 1972, when 13 balloons sprouted into the sky from a shopping centre car park, to over 600 balloons lifting off from the specially made 30-hectare launch field, the International Balloon Fiesta has transformed into a worldwide event that brings in people from all corners of the world.

There are many fun kids activities that are running while the balloons are flying from dawn through dusk. There are also musical performances, fireworks and family activities to keep everyone entertained, no matter their age.



vivid sydney

VIVID SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

WHEN: Late May - early June
VIBE: Anything is possible

Australian families are fortunate to have the world’s biggest festival of light, music and ideas right here on their doorstep.

In the final week of May, Sydney becomes a canvas for vibrant interactive displays, transforming the city’s most famous landmarks with mind-boggling 3D works.

With more than 1.7 million people attending the 18-day-long festival, it’s an inspiring time to visit and kids love the fact that this is one gallery where touching is usually encouraged.

Although there’s no knowing what Sydney has in store for next year, think a playful blend of illumination and sound, like 2015’s ever popular Piano Stairs.

Just be sure to dress your children in glowing souvenirs and take your time; the crowds around Circular Quay and The Rocks can be intimidating for little ones.

latern festival

LANTERN FESTIVAL,TAIWAN

WHEN: February - March
VIBE: Soul-stirring magic

The moment when thousands of lanterns ascend to the heavens, carrying with them the wishes and hopes of the people below, is one of the most enchanting sights to be found on this island.

In the mountain district of Pingxi, you can join the crowds writing their dreams on paper and then fashioning them into lanterns. Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the first Lunar Month, the festival also marks the end of the Lunar New Year with a flurry of fireworks, float-filled parades, and, of course lanterns, big and small.

Festivities take place across the country, including in the districts of Miaoli, Taichung and Yeliou.

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