There’s a shortage of time in this world for all of us. No matter how hard we try we can’t just experience all the great things our world has to offer before our time ends. So how do you choose which places, events and things on your bucket list you have to see before it’s all over? Luckily, we’re here to help. Here are ten of the most amazing events you simply must attend before you die.
10) Il Palio — Siena, Italy
Twice a year (on July 2nd and August 16th) they hold a horse race in Siena called the Palio de Siena. It consists of ten riders who ride horses bareback, garbed in colorful clothing which represents ten of the seventeen wards in Sienna. The racers circle the Piazza del Campo, which is covered with a thick layer of dirt, three times. The race itself lasts only about 90 seconds and riders are routinely thrown from their mounts. Preceding the race is a spectacular event known as the Corteo Storico, a parade of costumed flag-bearers dressed in medieval garb and warriors who perform several demonstrations to entertain the crowds. Surrounding the race is a city-wide celebration and festival which is well-worth the trip. One word of caution, get there early because the square fills up long before the events begin.
9) FIFA World Cup
Forget the Olympics and the Super Bowl – if you’re going to attend one sporting event in your life, make it the FIFA World Cup. Like the Olympics this event only comes around every four years – and that’s part of what makes it so great. Not only does it draw the best players from around the world, but the football is generally spectacular and emotional. Getting a ticket is difficult, but few sports bring out the passion and national pride of fans like this one does. And if your team doesn’t make it, well don’t fret – you’ll find yourself rooting for one side or the other rather quickly. Decades long rivalries are part of the charm of this event.
8) La Tomatina — Bunal, Spain
Like food fights? Well then, we have the place for you. The best way to describe the La Tomatina is to say that it’s a giant food fight with tomatoes – with 30,000 participants. Admission to this event used to be free, but in recent years the numbers have swelled to the point that the town was forced to sell tickets for it. Before the fight starts the organizers launch rockets filled with tomato juice into the sky, which cascades into the city and coats everything and everyone. Participants are “supposed” to crush all tomatoes in their hand prior to throwing them in order to prevent injury, but it’s clear that some lawbreakers refuse to follow this rule.
7) Mardi Gras — New Orleans
One of the biggest parties of the year is held in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Held prior to lent, thousands of people flock to the streets of New Orleans for the final day of the carnival dressed in costume, arrayed in beads, decorated in face-paint and generally inebriated. The Mardi Gras parade is an eclectic affair riddled with wildly outrageous costumes and floats with riders who toss plastic beads to those they feel deserve them. Even though most participants are drunk prior to noon, the party doesn’t stop until the next morning. While it’s not a lawless affair, the gathering of so many people, many of them drunk, is rife with all manner of craziness.
6) Burning Man — Black Rock Desert, Nevada
This strange festival is a gathering of artists in search of various forms of expression – or so we believe. The truth is that Burning Man is one of the weirdest gatherings you’re likely to ever attend. It’s filled with artists, exhibitionists, and crazy people who converge in the desert and construct a temporary town they call Black Rock City. It’s assumed that anyone who attends must contribute to this construction. This gathering and construction is part of the festival in many ways, but once fully underway there are displays of crazy and beautiful forms of expression. Artists create unique and amazing works, and there seems to be few rules in this place. Nudity is common. So are drugs, and music. The name of this festival is derived from the strangest part of the event – the burning of a giant wooden effigy which is constructed for the sole purpose of being destroyed.
5) White Nights and Scarlet Sails Festival — St. Petersburg, Russia
During a time in the summer months the sun never sets in northern Russia. During the height of this season the Russians hold the White Night Festival which culminates with the Scarlet Sails on the final day. During the White Nights, artists, musicians, ballerinas, orchestras and street performers entertain the city with performances and film festivals. It’s a celebration of life and art and during the final day the Scarlet Sails celebration takes place under the setting sun and features tall ships with red sails and a tremendous fireworks celebration. It’s one of the most enjoyable and beautiful celebrations on the planet and honors the artists who live and work in St. Petersburg.
4) Diwali — India
It’s known as the Festival of Lights. It takes place over five days following harvest season and it’s largely the New Year’s Day celebration for those of the Hindu faith. During this time the Hindu people celebrate the good things in life. They light fireworks, craft colorful lanterns, share in meals, and participate in ceremonies and traditions that go back hundreds of years. The third day of this festival is the Festival of Lights and on it there is a large firework celebration and the Indian people light clay pots filled with oil in honor of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. It’s one of the happiest times of the year in India and an event not to be missed.
3) Running of the Bulls — Pamplona, Spain
The San Fermin Festival includes the ever popular event, the running of the bulls. During this spectacle tens of thousands of people line up and attempt to run with, and from, a group of bulls which are funneled through a barricaded path towards a stadium filled to capacity. It’s one of the more bizarre and dangerous festivals in the world and despite the countless injuries, people continue to flock to Spain for this daring event. If you can escape without being gored or trampled by a bull (or the crowds) you’ll have earned the bragging rights for participating in this event.
2) Oktoberfest — Munich, Germany
There are many imitators, but only one true place can honor Oktoberfest – Munich Germany and their famous beer halls. For sixteen booze-filled days millions of people descend upon Munich to drink beer and enjoy German food from beer tents scattered across the city. The food is amazing and so is the beer, but it’s the hospitality and atmosphere that keeps many coming back year after year. It’s a riotous and enjoyable time, filled with songs, camaraderie, beer, food and lots and lots of people. It’s a city-wide celebration on the grandest scale and it seems to be ever growing. In fact, it’s believed to be the world’s largest festival.
1) Carnaval — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This four-day celebration is unlike anything else on the planet. Nearly 2 million people gather on the streets of Rio de Janeiro to celebrate Carnaval. Dancing, parades, costumes, and oh so much more burst forth to create in the biggest party in South America. There are several parades and all of them are free-spirited affairs where quite literally anything could happen. Everyone is happy and everyone participates. It’s one of the most entertaining events to take place anywhere. Samba schools hold elaborate competitions. These schools work year round on their routines for Carnaval. Hundreds of street bands perform throughout the city. Everything about Carnaval is loud and fun, and it’s the one can’t miss event that everyone must attend before they die.