You’d think that New Year was well and truly done by now, but amongst our things to do around this world in April are two more New Year celebrations. There are also demonic spirits hiding up ladies’ skirts, and — we can’t forget — the yams.
1. Trelawny Yam Festival
Where: Albert Town, Jamaica
When: 2018: April 2, 2019: April 22
Easter Monday is yam day in Trelawny, Jamaica! The yam festival celebrates the ubiquitous root vegetable by showcasing its usage in all sorts of dishes, as well an amazing variety of creative byproducts and other uses. Thousands of people take part each year, but it’s not something to titilate my tastebuds… Maybe you just have to be there.
2. Le Carnaval Des Soufflets
Where: Nontron, France
When: Early April every year
How do you purify a town from evil spirits? With bellows of course! It’s important to blow those demons away, whether they’re hiding under your neighbours’ shirts or their daughter’s skirt.
That was the thinking of the monks of Nontron in the middle ages, and today… Well, it’s an excuse for a bit of fun. Get dressed up in a nightshirt and cap, add some clogs and a mask, and don’t forget your bellows.
Sadly, the event won’t be taking place in 2018, but we hope it will be back for 2019!
3. Boun Pi Mai (Lao New Year)
When: 2018: April 14-18, 2019: April 14-16
It’s a bit late in the year, but Laos celebrates the new year right now! While the public holidays only stretch for three days, you’ll find most people across the country celebrating all week.
This is an important time for the mainly-Buddhist country: offerings are made and Buddha statues are removed from their altars and temples for cleaning. The spin-off is that water is also used to ‘clean’ passersby, so make sure your electronics are well-protected if you’re in Southeast Asia this week. And bring your own water pistols.
4. Pahela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year
When: April 14 every year
The New Year’s celebrations in Bangladesh are noisy, vibrant, and… commercial. The big sales are a cause for celebration for many punters, but Pahela Baishakh is an ancient celebration of the Bangla New Year. Everyone dresses up to enjoy the fairs, which sell a variety of toys and dolls (among other things) and you’ll be entertained by singers and puppet shows.
5. Cherry Blossom Festival
When: March to May every year
From early March to late May, Japan’s gorgeous cherry trees are in bloom — and the whole country celebrates! The spectacle of pink and white blossoms appearing throughout the country brings joy to the heart, and is the main event of the season. People also arrange picnics and enjoy impromptu tea ceremonies and performing arts events.
Blossoms appear through the country at different times of the year — late March in the deep south, mid-April in the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
When: 2018: April 1, 2019: April 21. This is the date for Easter Sunday, but events take place on either side of this date — sometimes for a week or more!
Whether you’re scoffing chocolate, watching a procession, considering the religious history of Jesus’ death, or keeping an eye out for the Easter Bunny, all countries with a Christian tradition have a unique way to celebrate Easter. Our favourite so far has been Spain’s week-long celebrations, featuring processions that bring the community together and a raft of special foods.
This list of the top April festivals is in no particular order, and is also completely subjective — they’re the festivals we’ve most enjoyed, or would most like to take part in, of all the festivals that take place in April. Let us know if there are festivals you think we should add to this list!