Travelling around the world for the best festivals

On May 20, 2010 at 01:00 PM research shows Australians will travel far and wide to experience the world’s best festivals

One in ten Australians – and almost one in five 18-34-year-olds – is planning to attend a festival in the next twelve months, according to new research from™, operated by Expedia, Inc., the world’s largest online travel company.

In all corners of the globe, thousands of festivals are held each year celebrating religion, music, food and art, and attract travellers from all walks of life looking for new experiences.

Australians, it would seem, are no exception. The Expedia survey, conducted among more than 1,000 Australians, showed that in the last twelve months, almost one in five Australians attended a festival and more than one in twenty have visited between two and five festivals in the past year.

While Australia and New Zealand are the most popular locations for Aussie festival fans, it appears they are not afraid to travel to the ends of the earth to attend one. Almost a quarter of Australians who attended festivals did so in Asia, while almost a third travelled to Europe and just under 15% travelled to North American festivals.

Louise Crompton, Marketing Manager at, said, “Travelling around the world experiencing great festivals of different kinds provides a unique opportunity for travellers to truly experience other cultures, customs and cuisines. And it’s not that hard: by considering your options and researching and booking your travel on, you will have more choice and flexibility to choose the destination and festival that is right for you.”’s Top Ten Festivals:

National Arts Festival

Location: Grahamstown, South Africa

When: Annually

2010 date: 20th June – 4th July

Celebrating 35 years, the National Arts Festival in 2009 showcased 616 productions and 2,210 performances for an audience of over 170,000. Local artists in the field of music, dance, theatre, comedy, visual arts and jazz have the opportunity to showcase what South Africa has to offer. Internationally-celebrated choreographers, performers and directors will contribute to this year’s festival, making Grahamstown the creative hub of South Africa once again. The 2010 festival promises to wow audiences with the rich and multi-layered South African culture for yet another year.

Best place to stay: The 3* A Stones Throw hotel is located close to centre of Grahamstown making it an ideal hotel to stay at during the festival.

Visit to book a stay at A Stones Throw Hotel, Grahamstown or call 13 38 10.

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

Location: Worthy Farm, near Glastonbury, United Kingdom

When: Annually

2010 date: 23rd – 27th June

Started after the death of the Jimi Hendrix, Glastobury (or abbreviated even further to Glasto) is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world. The event attracts the best in the music world with the likes of U2, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Roger Sanchez set to perform at the sell out event this year. The event with its numerous acts is spread across more than 900 hectares. The festival offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience with fellow partygoers from all over the world. Be prepared to travel as it is a bit out of the way, and remember to get there early to avoid the huge queues.

Best place to stay: For those not keen on camping in the festival grounds, you can stay at the 4* The Grand by Thistle in Bristol, located about an hour’s drive from the festival.

Visit to book a stay at The Grand by Thistle, Bristol or call 13 38 10.

Chicago Taste Festival

Location: Chicago, USA

When: Annually

2010 date: 25th June – 4th July

Foodies rejoice! The annual Chicago Taste Festival incorporates cuisine from over 70 restaurants that will take your tastebuds from Africa to Amsterdam. In its 30th year, over six million people are expected to visit the event this year in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. A number of famous US chefs will be in attendance including Mario Batali and Giada De Laurentiis and a number of informative ‘cooking shows’ will be showcased at Dominick’s Cooking Corner if you fancy brushing up on those MasterChef skills.

Best place to stay: To be close to the action, stay at the 4* Swissotel Chicago, which is less than 400 metres to Grant Park.

Visit to book a stay at the Swissotel, Chicago or call 13 38 10.

Queenstown Winter Festival

Location: Queenstown, New Zealand

When: Annually

2010 date: 25th June – 4th July

Adrenaline junkies get ready! The adventure sports capital of the world, Queenstown, is celebrating its thirty-sixth Winter Festival this year. The festival has evolved from its humble beginnings of a few mountain races and a couple of concerts to become one of New Zealand’s ’must see’ festivals. Nowadays, the festival is ten days in length and includes street parties, fireworks, international and local music acts, a Mardi Gras and a big air invitational for the adrenaline enthusiasts. This years’ festival will also include ice hockey matches.

Best place to stay: As the venue of the Lindauer Masquerade Ball, the 4* Millennium Hotel Queenstown is the perfect place to stay.

Visit to book a stay at the Millennium Hotel, Queenstown or call 13 38 10.

Festival of San Fermin

Location: Pamplona, Spain

When: Annually

2010 date: 6th – 14th July

The Festival of San Fermin, or the ‘Running of the Bulls’ as it is more widely known, kicks off at midday on July 6th with the setting off of the pyrotechnic rocket (chupinazo). The biggest day of the festival is on the 7th of July when the first encierro, or bull run, takes place. Thousands of people try to negotiate the 825 metre course, in their sangria drenched whites, without getting hit by the rampaging bulls coming up behind them. The bulls are then used in afternoon bullfights in the Pamplona bullring. If bull fighting is not for you, there is also the Procession of San Fermin, which takes place on July 7th and involves a statue of the Saint Fermin and provides travellers the opportunity to learn about the origins of the festival.

Best place to stay: With some rooms having views of Estafeta Street, the 5* Gran Hotel La Perla has perfect views to watch the runners below.

Visit to book a stay at the Gran Hotel La Perla, Pamplona or call 13 38 10.

Kumbh Mela

Location: India (Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, Nasik)

When: Every three years

2013 date: TBA

Location (2013): Allahabad (Prayag)

This is one of the world’s biggest religious festivals, an epic affair where Hindus gather at the Ganges River. Holy men from across India attend the event which is held every three years and rotates between four Indian cities. The major event of the 104-day festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river and this year, it is estimated that about 80 million pilgrims bathed in the sacred water which is said to wash one’s sins away.  

Best place to stay: The 3* Kanha Shyam, is located in Allahabad close to the meeting point of the Ganges and Yamuna River, making it a perfect location to witness the Kumbh Mela in 2013.

Visit to book a stay at the Hotel Kanha Shyam, Allahabad or call 13 38 10.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Location: New Orleans, USA

When: Annually

2011 date: TBA

Known for its musical heritage, New Orleans is home to one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival, which started back in 1970, was born out of a spontaneous moment between arguably the greatest gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, and the Eureka Brass Band. A who’s who of the music world performed during this year’s event including Lionel Ritchie, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Pearl Jam and Elvis Costello. With fantastic musicians and its famous Creole and Cajun style cooking, a trip to this festival will leave you feeling a part of the southern style way of life.

Best place to say: Located close to Bourbon Street, the 4* Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans is the ideal place to stay.

Visit to book a stay at the Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans or call 13 38 10.

Oktoberfest Beerfest  - celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2010

Location: Munich, Germany

When: Annually

2010 date: 18th September – 4th October

Possibly one of the oldest festivals on Earth, the annual Oktoberfest is world renowned and has even the most manly men wearing tight leather pants, also known as ‘lederhosen’. The first Oktoberfest was held back in 1810 and over the last two centuries the festival’s popularity has exploded with over six million people now attending the event each year. Be sure to be on hand for the official opening of Oktoberfest when the Lord Mayor will tap the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at noon on September 18th. Don’t forget to bring some lederhosen and your singing voice while you down the famous litre of beer, otherwise known as a MaB.

Best place to stay: For close proximity to the Oktoberfest grounds, stay at the 4* Tryp Muenchen hotel, Munich.

Visit to book a stay at the Tryp Muenchen, Munich or call 13 38 10.

Sydney Festival

Location: Sydney, Australia

When: Annually, in January

2011 date: 8th – 30th January

The Sydney Festival showcases the best in performing arts, music and visual arts. Started in 1977, the festival is now one of Australia’s largest annual cultural festivals, holding around 80 events across the city of Sydney during the month of January. Many acts performed during the festival are ‘premiers’ and have attracted some of the best international talent to perform such as Ian McKellan in ‘Dance of Death’. The festival has gone from strength to strength with around one million people attending annually and is the highlight on many a calendar during Sydney’s summer.

Best place to stay: With its central location you will be close to a number of events during the festival at the 5* Sheraton on the Park.

Visit to book a stay at the Sheraton on the Park, Sydney or call 13 38 10.

Melbourne Comedy Festival, Melbourne, Australia

Location: Melbourne, Australia

When: Annually

2011 date: 30th March – 24th April

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the largest ticketed cultural events in Australia with over 450,000 people witnessing the event. The inaugural festival was launched in 1987 by Australian comedy legend, Barry Humphries, and British comedy legend, Peter Cook. Over the years, the festival has attracted the crème of the comedy crop of both international and local talents.

Best place to stay: To be close to a number of the locations for the Melbourne Comedy Festival, stay at the 4.5* The Swanston Hotel, Grand Mercure.

Visit to book a stay at The Swanston Hotel, Grand Mercure, Melbourne or call 13 38 10.

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