Start planning your getaways for the coming years ahead with our guide on the best spiritual festivals you need to see to believe!
Holi (Festival of Colour), Sri Lanka
This festival is celebrated by people in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and other places which have a strong Hindu following in their culture. The difference with Sri Lanka, is that there is also a large Buddhist following of over fourteen million people in the country, which makes it perfect for immersing yourself in meditation and mindfulness. The Holi festival itself is a beautiful burst of celebration and hue as people adorn themselves in multicoloured dyes and enjoy themselves in the street. The festival is a celebration of good triumphing over evil, in terms of spring replacing winter, and has become popular in localised areas of Europe and North America, along with many places in Asia. March 12th to March 13th are the key dates for this festival, with the celebrations beginning in the evening of the 12th and continuing until the following evening.
Songkran Water Festival, Thailand
Another festival which holds great appeal for those interested in Buddhism is the Songkran Water Festival. Celebrated in Thailand, where over 93% of the population are Buddhist, it’s the perfect place to soak up the culture, while getting thoroughly soaked in the process! The festival takes place between the 13th and 15th of April, and involves people drenching each other with water by any means necessary. Hoses, water balloons, water pistols – anything goes! Traditions during this festival include offering food to Buddhists at local temples, pouring water on statues of Buddha and spending time with relatives, particularly the elderly. Different parts of Thailand have their own unique twists on activities during the Songkran festival, but it is certainly one of the best holistic festivals around, whichever region you choose to visit. The word ‘Songkran’ derives from a Sanskrit word which means ‘astrological passage’, and the festival is essentially a New Years Eve celebration. It coincides with the star sign Aries rising to prominence on the astrological chart.
Wanderlust Yoga Festival, Hawaii
The north shore of Oahu in Hawaii plays host to this festival to celebrate all things yoga. Taking place between February 23rd and the 26th, it involves countless opportunities to expand your holistic horizons, with meditation classes and many group yoga sessions, as you would expect. Wanderlust describes itself as helping people find their true north, and with artists, teachers and speakers around every corner, you’re bound to discover something new, either within or around yourself. Activities are not confined to those which exercise the mind, as there are plenty of classes for the body too, including kayaking, horse riding and a bike tour. Visitors can also take courses on photography and explore other artistic experiences too. So, if you want a wonderful holistic experience in of the most beautiful places on earth, you should book your tickets now!
Glastonbury Festival, United Kingdom
This may seem to be an unusual choice at first glance, but festivals don’t have to solely be about partying and sleeping in tents. Glastonbury Festival also has space set aside for people to sit in quiet contemplation together, so you have a full spectrum of options, from the peaceful and mindful to the hectic and hedonistic. The music festival takes place from the 21st to the 25th of June, but if you aren’t overly keen on the musical side, perhaps you might enjoy the sites of historical interest which are located nearby. Stonehenge is just a short drive away, as are other ancient stone circles which were built thousands of years ago. If you’re thinking of going to Glastonbury and visiting Stonehenge while you’re there, it may be worth arriving a few days before the festival and attending the summer solstice celebrations at the popular stone cricle between the 18th and 21st of June. But be sure to book your camping space in advance, as this event is very popular.
Article by Craig Bradshaw, intern at Soul & Spirit