As if you needed some more reasons to get excited about travel again, surely it is the opportunity to once again experience a fabulous festival or engaging event.
So whether that’s close to home or farther afield, or even a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list type activity, there’s bound to be something to suit everyone in this incredible rundown of festivals that we’ve scoured the globe to find. Read our blog below or view all of our Festivals & Events Packages here.
Close to Home: World-renowned festivals and events in Australia
World-renowned festivals and events can be found closer than you think, and we’ve discovered three that perfectly fit the bill.
This April, the longest-running show in musical history, The Phantom of the Opera, will dazzle you from its extraordinary floating stage right on Sydney Harbour and under the stars. With a breath-taking backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyline glittering in the background, this is an inspired interpretation of Gaston Leroux’s novel about a mysterious masked man who lives beneath the Paris Opera House, and the beautiful young singer who becomes his obsession.
As a member of the audience, you’ll be sitting in airy comfort in an incredible purpose-built grandstand, listening intently to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magical score, while a whole new level of spectacle unfolds before you to reveal the show’s defining moments — the mirror, the journey to the Phantom’s lair, and the chandelier. Complete with a massive cast of musical theatre and opera’s top talents you’ll fall in love all over again with opera, Sydney and of course this incredible performance.
Another Sydney institution is the vibrant VIVID Festival that combines art, innovation and technology with some of the most boundary-pushing artists, thinkers and musicians of our time over 23 spectacular days kicking off on 27 May 2022.
Designed to tell a story of Sydney that’s more than ‘just’ the icons, VIVID is all about urban legends, secret spaces and visions for the future. From the longest continuous Light Walk in the 12-year history of the event, to the magical Lighting of the Sails of the Sydney Opera House, this year’s event promises to warm the creative soul of the Sydney CBD and well beyond. Sparking a sense of wonder that resonates around the world, visitors to this epic, award-winning festival will marvel at incredible 3D light projections, cross-art form installations, an array of live music and deep-thinking discussions.
Celebrating Aboriginal culture and storytelling, this event brings together singers and musicians, choirs and audiences from Alice Springs and Central Australia, creating something truly special for guests to experience against the backdrop of ancient lands. Desert Song Festival also plays an important role connecting artists from this vibrant multi-cultural community with visiting interstate and international artists and musicians through a series of unique events that celebrates the singer, the song, the instrument, the land and its people.
From major concerts to intimate chamber performances, workshops and masterclasses, the choirs, small vocal ensembles, musicians and solo performers present music that is a true celebration of the best of Australia. For music lovers, this event is a bucket list must-do!
Once in a lifetime
There are some festivals and events that also double as bucket list experiences. Take the Oberammergau Passion Play, a tradition that was promised by Oberammergau villagers in 1633, to be performed in Germany only once every 10 years. Of course, this is an event that is absolutely worth the wait!
In 2022, the next performance is due, marking the 42nd year of the play and it’s one everyone has been eagerly waiting for – waiting a decade in fact. Insight Vacations has a range of wonderful, intimate tours between May and September this year that will deliver you to the doorstep of this incredible ‘Passion Play’ and offers the very best seats in the house, along with accommodation in the heart of the town, or in the nearby Bavarian Alps. This is a production you won’t want to wait another decade to see!
The Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia is another bucket list activity we’re dreaming of this year. During this annual traditional festival, Kazakh eagle hunters (the Burkitshi) celebrate their heritage and compete with highly trained golden eagles, showing off the skills of both the bird and its trainer by catching small desert animals to sustain life in this harsh environment.
While you’re there, you can also mingle with nomads to learn more about their fascinating culture and the challenges of living off the land. Add to that, a chance to explore the Gobi Desert and the Singing Sand Dunes, all the while hosted by the brilliant Crooked Compass team. This is an experience you won't soon forget and well worth that wishlist!
A little closer to home in Vanuatu is the Maskelyne Canoe Festival. Known for its wild interiors, history of cannibalism, exotic tribes, protected marine waters and spectacular highland trekking, the Malekula & magical Maskelyne archipelago are the perfect contrast for curious travellers wanting to escape the city and head off the beaten track.
Crooked Compass has a fabulous tour to the Malekula Islands of Vanuatu for a thrilling annual cultural festival that showcases kastom dance, traditional canoe making, feasts of local kakae and the freshest seafood you have possibly ever tasted – followed of course by the ultimate outrigger canoe race.
On this journey to the Maskelyne islets, you’ll be captivated by the pristine reefs, the chance to explore remote islands, sail a traditional outrigger canoe and one of our favourite activities of all time, swimming with dugongs. This festival, though held every year, is so enchanting, you won’t want to miss a moment.
From Europe’s famed Christmas markets to Brazil’s Carnival, there are long-time favourite festivals and events that we think you’ll want to visit repeatedly. And one of the best ways to enjoy these incredible activities are on a tour or a cruise, where you will be guided through the masses to well-kept local secrets, private sights and can relax with a truly hands-off experience.
A Rio de Janiero tradition harking back to the 1700s, Carnival is both exhilarating and memorable. In 2023, join Azamara as you sail from "The Paris of South America" otherwise known as Buenos Aires, to Montevideo for an overnight stay that will have you thinking you’re in Europe thanks to the undeniable European charm and elegance of this city. Once you depart port, you’ll have two glorious days to explore all the luxury experiences your boutique hotel at sea has to offer.
When you arrive in vibrant Sao Paulo, you’ll be awestruck by the spellbinding views from atop Banespa -a 161-metre-high skyscraper in the heart of the city before venturing to the rainforests of IIhabela for a late stay, colonial Paraty, and the designer shops and beaches of Buzios.
After experiencing Carnival at it’s very peak, you’ll swear there’s not a more exhilarating and memorable festival to be found anywhere on earth and thank goodness for another two relaxing days at sea to recall every little detail of the spectacle you've just experienced close up. Finish your voyage exploring the artistic energy and white sand beaches of Punta del Este before heading back to Buenos Aires. You’ll never want to leave after spending time in this vibrant part of the globe.
Back-Roads Touring will take you to Christmas markets galore across Europe in December this year, and we think there’s no better way to stock up on Christmas gifts for the whole family. Better yet, make this tour the gift to remember for family of all ages!
From the fairytale spires of Prague, to the bustling markets of Dresden and the twinkling Christmas lights of Karlovy Vary, this is an intimate tour that explores the festive traditions, history and Yuletide beauty of Germany and the Czech Republic. And with the chance to discover magnificent castles, sample delicious local produce, and of course, local beverages, it's sure to be a trip to celebrate and remember for festive seasons to come.
Cherry blossom season in Japan is a must-see and there are endless options to experience this incredible sight on an immersive tour with specialist, Wendy Wu. The Cherry Blossoms, known in Japanese as ‘Sakura’ have dazzled the world for centuries and continue to overwhelm visitors and locals.
Delicate and radiant, the sea of soft pink flowers has entranced the Japanese for many centuries and is now a much-loved phenomenon around the globe as a symbol of hope and life.
Across Japan’s diverse landscape, the magical moment of Cherry Blossom blooming occurs from March to April for a brief period of full bloom. Starting in the sub-tropical south, the blooms sweep up the country like nature’s Mexican wave, reaching Tokyo and Kyoto around the first week of April. When the trees are in full bloom, the Japanese celebrate and cherish this natural wonder by taking strolls and having picnics under the pink petals which gently float to the ground. You’ll be swept up in the beauty of this incredible natural wonder for years to come.