It is that time of year again (finally). We say goodbye to Old Man Winter and say hello to spring, hoping and praying that it will be short and sweet. Why? Because of summer of course. Yes summer. Days at the beach, going surfing, sun bathing, more biking, hiking, and fishing that doesn’t involve a hole in ice. Mountain climbing, zip lining, going for walks everywhere you can as there are no excuses now since you have to earn going to McDonald’s and getting that hot fudge sundae with nuts…, and bacon. More time with friends and family, camping, boating, picnics, and reason number two on why summer is awesome: behold…, the barbeque. Every day, no matter what time of day as no one, not even Mother Nature dare try to interfere with a day that is 40 below on the July long weekend. Even if you are vegan, you can’t help but enjoy the sweet smell of that burger sizzling on the grill with barbeque sauce wafting through the air. Corn on the cob cooking, potato salad, pasta salad, salad in its’ own right, chips, dip and a nice cold beer, or bottle of wine…, or a Coke. However, reason number one for why summer is awesome: outdoor events. Concerts, fairs, stampedes, exhibitions, carnival mini donuts, deep fried Mars and or Snickers bars, deep fried cheesecake, deep fried…, butter, and of course festivals. Whether they are music festivals, arts, food or whatever the cause to celebrate, being able to go to an event outdoors that lasts for days is in its’ own right epically awesome. Especially if you can go for the entire time that the festival is on. So in an attempt to help you enjoy your summer that much more, here is a list of the top 10 Outdoor Festivals that are bigger, badder, and bolder than anything on planet Earth.
10 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Usually runs in March (in 2015 it will be from March 3-22)
Although the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition is the greatest show on Earth, it ain’t the biggest, because everything is bigger in TEXAS!
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest live entertainment and livestock exhibition, and has been going on since 1938. In 2013, attendance reached a record high of over 2.5 million people and has numerous things going on including:
-5 and 10K walk and run
-pig racing (apparently this exists)
And of course
-World Championship Bar B-Q Contest
Big names have come to perform at this festival such as ZZ Top, Kiss, Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, and Willie Nelson to name just a few. And they even have a “Go Texan Day” where everyone in the town dresses up like a cowboy. Like a true Texan.
9 Just for Laughs Comedy Festival – Montreal, Quebec
Usually runs in July (with dates varying year to year)
Whoever said you can’t make money from making people laugh? The Just for Laughs comedy festival is the most famous comedy festival and they only have one goal…, one mission to make their lives complete: Make. People. Happy.
The festival launched in 1983 as a two day event and now it generally runs for 20 days. Events and shows take place all over Montreal but the big hitters show at the Saint Denis Theatre. Here, comedians such as Kathy Griffin, Joan Rivers, Jimmy Carr, Tina Fey, Andre Phillipe Gagnon, Mitch Hedberg, Craig Ferguson, John Candy, Lewis Black, Tommy Tiernan, Dane Cook, John Pinette…, just go to YouTube and search Just for Laughs and you will hit numerous videos that have some of the greatest acts of all time. Trust me, it’s the best trip you will ever make, and you will be made happy.
8 San Fermin Festival – Pamplona, Spain
July 6 – 14 annually
In case you don’t know what this is, don’t worry. Not a lot of people know what the festival is when you hear it in Spanish, but when you hear it in English, you can hear the ding real fast in your head cause that’s how fast you recognize the name. This festival takes place over an entire week and there are parades, bullfights, fireworks, sports and even a day where all they do is make noise for several hours. HOURS! But the festival is most known for the biggest daily event that goes on.
It’s the Running of the Bulls.
See! Told you there would be a ding!
7 7.Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Starts on the Friday and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year so the dates vary
Carnival is one of the biggest, baddest, brightest and shiniest festivals in the world not only because of the extreme costumes that people wear to the event, but also because it’s the last time you can do all the things you love before Lent (so if you are planning on giving up beer for Lent, this would be the time to get all your drinking in cause you won’t get a drop for another month).
Rio originally took the style of Carnival from the Europeans (since they started it), but soon added Native American and African elements to it to make Rio’s Carnival a one-of-a-kind.
There are blocos that parade up and down the streets and are dressed to represent different neighbourhoods (blocos are musical performers FYI), and usually have an entourage with them. There is also the infamous amount of Samba dancing that goes on, and also the different states of Brazil celebrate Carnival with their own flair. Just remember, if you go to the other states, it’s not Rio so have a different set of expectations going in.
Also, if you would like to go to Rio in 2015, BOOK NOW! Stop reading and book the flight NOW (and then come back). Carnival is the HIGHEST tourist event that Brazil has, and just to give you some perspective, two million people (give or take) celebrate Carnival in Rio every year; Rio’s population: about six million; ONE THIRD of Rio’s population is celebrating Carnival AND on top of that, this event brings in 70% of Brazil’s tourists.
6 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dates vary but always in early October
Don’t make the left turn at Albuquerque yet! Not until you’ve caught wind of this (I’ll stop the puns now).
This festival is the world’s biggest hot air balloon festival. The festival originally began in 1972 and it was a radio station celebrating its’ birthday when the owner, who owned a hot air balloon, wanted to try and hold a balloon festival in Albuquerque. Although they had planned for 21 pilots, due to weather and travel issues, only 13 made it for the first show and it was hit ever since. The highest amount of pilots to date was in 2000 when they had over 1000 pilots register their balloons, but they have since dropped the number down to 600 per year citing “quality over quantity”. On any given day of the festival, there are up to 100,000 spectators that enjoy the sights and sounds of take offs and landings.
Plus there are different events that go on during the fiesta such as Balloon Glows, The Fiesta Challenge, Artisitc Vision, and the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race.
If the thought of this doesn’t make you want to visit, perhaps theme it as a “minor” detour on a Breaking Bad themed trip and that will kill two birds with one stone.
5 La Tomantia – Bunol, Spain
Held on the last Wednesday of August (so you still have time to book!)
I can go into detail about this, but really, there is no need too. All you need to know is this:
-started in 1945
-rabbits were eating all the good food so people started throwing tomatoes at the rabbits
-one person threw a tomato and missed the rabbit (allegedly), hitting a person
And so started the biggest and baddest food fight known to man today. However, there are rules:
-tomatoes must be pre-squashed before they take flight
-no other projectiles except tomatoes (so no bright ideas about watermelons)
-vehicles have the right of way and people must move out of their way
-KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!
-after the second shot is fired (gun shot), no more throwing tomatoes
Just to give you some perspective, there are 20,000 tickets that are available for purchase each year. Only 5,000 are reserved for the townspeople. So go online and buy them now!
Oh…, and if tomatoes seem like child’s play to you, check out Italy’s city Ivera…, they have the Battle of The ORANGES!!!
4 Oktoberfest – Munich, Bavaria, Germany
16 days from late September to the first weekend in October
If you don’t know what this is, there are no words to describe how sheltered you are.
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair and it’s been goin’ on since 1810. However, that being said, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knows it as the biggest beerfest known to man. But be warned now: you think you can handle your liquor, BUT do NOT FORGET:
a) over six MILLION people attend this event
b) beer at Oktoberfest has 5.6-6.3% of alcohol and a high sugar average (which is over the 5.2% average), so don’t get wasted and become a Bierleichen (or a beer corpse).
3 Glastonbury Festival – Pilton and Somerset, England
This is the world’s largest music festival, and so it RIGHTFULLY should be.
Originally, the festival hosted more classical themed composers, recitals, and lectures, but that was also in 1914 and 1926 because originally, this area was actually more for summer school purposes rather than a rock festival. So…, let’s skip ahead…, A LOT.
The real rockin’ started in 1970 with acts like T.Rex and Jethro Tull. Throughout the history of the festival, you have artisits such as:
-EVEN TONY BENNETT GUYS
So trust us; if you love music, go now.
2 Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Edinburgh, Scotland
For 25 days in August every year
You have not been to a fringe festival until you have been to this one.
The Edinburgh Fringe started in 1947 and has been growing strong since, and as of 2012, over 2600 shows from 47 different countries. The Fringe is considered an “unjuried” festival, so if you have a performance or something cool you can do, you can go there and do it. It’s basically a first come, first serve basis when it comes to getting into select shows. There are hundreds of shows that are free to watch but for the most part, you are paying to see it. And also, because there is no real selection committee, it’s kinda a “buyer beware” when it comes to certain performances as there is no quality mark that performers must meet in order to show there.
1 Songkran Festival – Thailand
April 13-15; the traditional New Year’s Day for the calendars from Southeast Asia and South Asia.
This festival is meant to symbolize the washing away of all the bad things that have happened in the past year and starting fresh and new. When it is celebrated traditionally, it has beautiful and fragrant smells associated with it. But this is a new generation, and everyone needs to see it for what it has become.
It’s the world’s biggest water fight filled with water guns, buckets, and probably balloons. And yes all the symbolism is quite touching but WHO CARES when you can douse some random stranger in water and not get hit for it! It’s every man’s childhood dream come true. However, there is word that the government may be ending the water gun portion of the festival as well as the dumping of water on people. But…, don’t think that will happen by next year so go go go. Now now now!