Have you ever wanted a reason to celebrate “just because”? Then get your party hat out, your dancing shoes on and grab the camera to capture the fun, for every month of the year is the season to celebrate somewhere. To prove the premise, we traveled to the top of the globe, the peaks of the Alps, rivers and seas in between in search of the best fests. Here are four of our favorite gatherings.
LFM Around The World Parties
Full Moon Party, British Virgin Islands:
Party time is dictated by the monthly moon (2012’s second quarter dates are April 6, May 5 and June 4). Observed under the illumination of the Caribbean’s full glow, the lunar soiree gives locals and vacationers alike nature’s best excuse to play.
Two of the most popular sites are on the tiny atoll of Tortola (bvitourism.com). Drinking, dancing and R-rated escapades fuel the festivities of Bomba’s Full Moon Party. For the wilder-and-crazier crowd, it’s an island-style tailgate party that is the creation of local legend, Mr. Bomba.
Twirlers, fire jugglers and steel drum music set the stage for Trellis Bay’s family-friendlier fiesta. But whatever gala you choose, full moon fever is the energizing catalyst.
Summer is a coveted commodity in Northern European countries where blistery weather stretches far into spring. When the season officially arrives with summer solstice on the year’s longest day (usually around June 21), celebrations rule the land.
Nowhere is it more festive than Finland (visitfinland.com) – where days before the country closes down for the holiday, national costumes are retrieved, Finnish flags are readied and birch branches are placed on doorways.
The highlight of the holiday’s eve is the ceremonious lighting of a lakeside kokko (cone-shaped lumber pile). The pyro-pleasing bonfire is timed to the night’s blackest hour – on this day, seldom darker than twilight.
Upon first inquiry, you may find only private parties – like the Finlandia Vodka group that has traveled to Kittila within the Arctic Circle to revel in the ritual. Don’t fret. A public celebration on Helsinki’s Seurasaari island showcases its own urban shindig.
Festival of the Cows, Austria:
Accompanied by a chorus of ringing bells hung about bovine’s necks like costume jewelry and amid cheers from their escorting cowherds, September’s Alpine cattle drive highlights the local farmers’ year. Cause for celebration: the safe return of their cows from high in the Alps where they’ve grazed summer long on Austria’s mountainside buffet.
Known as Almabtrieb (literal translation: drive from the mountain pasture), it’s a collection of regional parades with 500,000 four-legged participants countrywide. All dressed in their Sunday best alpine flower and ribbon headdresses, colorful cow trains descend the hills to their stable homes.
Accompanied by music, food and almost as many beers as there are animals, the festival unofficially kicks off autumn’s invigorating days and clear nights before all hunker down for winter. Find out more at austria-tourism.at.
Loy Krathong, Thailand:
One of the nation’s most popular rituals, the “Festival of Light” is an ancient but simple tradition. Loy Krathong (tourismthailand.org) is translated from loy, meaning “to float,” and krathong, a lotus-shaped boat made of banana leaves.
According to custom, the krathong holds incense, flowers, a candle and coins. At nightfall candles and incense are lit, wishes are made and the vessels are released throughout Thailand’s waterways (rivers, klongs, small ponds, even swimming pools). Belief is that the krathongs carry away sins and ill omens. The glowing result is a country alit with floating candles.
Commemorated on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November), it was intentionally timed to when the river’s tide is highest and the moon’s glow is brightest.