March is a busy month, with Holi, Las Fallas, and St Patrick’s Day all being celebrated. If those aren’t of interest, there’s always the sheeps’ testicles.
Where: Hokitika, New Zealand
When: 2019: March 9
If you’ve never tasted a sheep’s testicle, then this is the event for you. Or if those mountain oysters don’t appeal, wrap your laughing gear around a possum hotpot, live huhu grubs, or wasp-larvae icecream. If it’s wild, it’s wonderful in New Zealand’s strangest food festival.
Where: Valencia, Spain
When: 2019: March 15-19
One of Europe’s craziest parties takes place in Valencia each year, with days of fireworks exhibits, pageants, and street art, culminating with hundreds of bonfires on the city streets.
It takes all year for each neighbourhood to construct their own papier mache “ninot” satirising recent events, which are shown around the city; all but one of the giant ninots are set on fire at midnight on the last evening of the festival. Then there’s flames, fireworks, and the kind of street parties you’d expect to find when people have just started over 300 massive bonfires around the city.
St Patrick’s festival
Where: Dublin, Ireland
When: March 17 every year
Wherever you are, there’s likely to be a St Patrick’s Day festival with green beer, blarney and craic, but the most authentic way to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint is in the country’s capital, Dublin. Possibly Ireland’s biggest export, it’s well celebrated at home too: hundreds of thousands gather on city streets and in venues throughout the centre to ‘honour’ the saint… what he’d think of it all isn’t worth thinking of!
If you can’t make it to Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, think about heading for Chicago instead, where the Chicago River is dyed green to mark the occasion. Just don’t call it St Patty’s Day — if you want to abbreviate, it’s St Paddy to you!
Holi, the festival of colours
Where: Primarily India, Sri Lanka, Nepal
When: 2019: March 20-21
Ever seem pictures of people with colourful dust thrown all over them and wondered why? It’s a part of Holi, a Hindu festival celebrated throughout India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and other communities in the Hindu diaspora, including those in Fiji, Mauritius, the US, and the UK.
This website describes some of the myths and the rituals, and shows you how to make the coloured powders. We haven’t found a good international events listing, so to celebrate in your city, Google “holi 2019” and add your city name.
Cherry Blossom Festival
When: March to May every year
While April might be a better month to enjoy the cherry blossoms, if you’re in Japan in March you should definitely check them out! Head to the deep south of the country for the earliest-appearing blooms, have a picnic in a park, or just enjoy the colours.
Where: New Orleans, USA
When: 2019: March 5
It really needs no introduction, but if you want to go to one of the world’s biggest parties, make sure you’re in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Parades, parties, jazz, and madness! The businesses might all be shut, but the bars sure aren’t — this is one to go wild at.
The Rio Carnival
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: 2019: March 2-9
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the world’s most intense celebrations, as the party city does what it does best at this time of year. The city is always packed — they expect over half a million foreign visitors, plus people from all over the country… So look for accommodation now. Or last year.
We spoke with Joel Ward about Carnival, samba competitions, and too much beer.
See the photos or listen to the podcast:
This list of the top March 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 March. Let us know if there are festivals you think we should add to this list!