Christmas is fast approaching again, and so are the frantic shopping expeditions and last minute Christmas parties. It’s that time of year when stress levels can hit their peak, which is why a quick adventure before the unwrapping of gifts can be a very rewarding escape. There are some pretty interesting festivals happening this time of year. From all four corners of the globe, here are our Top 5 picks!
In Douz, from the 23rd to 27th of December, festival-goers adjust their turbans and pitch their Bedouin tents –50,000 in all– to take part in North Africa’s biggest festival of them all, The International Festival of the Sahara. Here you will experience everything from camel races to spectacular military displays as well as the best of the Saharan desert arts, from traditional dancing to poetry recitals handed down from generations before.
On the first or second Sunday in December, why not take part in the Guinness Book of World Records’ Santa Marathon. That’s right, you can suit up in the red, and join other like-minded Santas for a 7.2km run around the city of Newtown. The jog (or walk) takes about 1-2 hours depending on your fitness level… and is generally followed by a traditional celebration involving the best of local beers and food. After all, Santa does enjoy his filling his belly before getting on his sleigh!
If you have OCD, you will love this one! It’s all about cleaning up! Quema del Diablo –Burning of the Devil—takes place on December 7th each year. Residents ensure the year’s rubbish and hoarding is collected from every nook and cranny inside and outside of the home, and is then burned in a public festivity to rival any. An effigy of the devil is thrown on this massive heap of rubbish, and presto! All of the year’s evil spirits are chased away, allowing for a clean Christmas season to begin! Quema Del Diablo is full of marimba bands and fun, and although it takes place all over Guatemala, Antigua supposedly hosts the best Quema of them all!
The largest festival in Geneva takes place on December 11th and is a perfect treat for any chocoholics out there. During l’Escalade, Geneva becomes overrun with delicious chocolate cauldrons of all sizes, which are filled to the brim with marzipan. After some admiration, the cauldrons are smashed into tiny little pieces and devoured by greedy mouths. It’s a bit like Easter egg season, but with cauldrons instead of eggs and a Christmas feeling in the air. To add to the fun, there are torch lit parades throughout the town with hundreds of people dressed in medieval garb, so grab a costume and join in the theatrics! L’Escalade celebrates its 1602 victory, after a surprise military attack made by the Duke of Savoy. Be prepared to see a lot of chocolate grins all night long!
From December 10th to the 17th each year you can experience a truly unique visual experience at the Whirling Dervishes Festival. The festival commemorates the anniversary of the death of Saint Mavlana (from the 13th century) also known by the name of Rumi. Rumi believed that communication with God was possible through dance, and this is exactly how his memory is kept alive. The white flowing robes, black cloaks, and conical hats that the Mavlana dancers wear as they spin in rhythm, is a truly magnificent and spiritual experience indeed.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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