Want to feel at home in a new culture? Visit the following festivals around the world to learn how to dance, sing, eat, and enjoy like a local. These festivals celebrate traditions passed down through generations and are guaranteed to increase your appreciation and understanding of other cultures.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
March 20–April 12, 2015
Washington, DC, United States
The US capital is never more beautiful than during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which commemorates the Tokyo mayor’s 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, DC. Soon after, the festival was implemented to celebrate the lasting friendship between Japan and the United States, as well as the millions of beautiful spring blossoms. Each year, festival-goers enjoy cultural dances and performances, fireworks, a parade, and even kite flying with locals.
Gnaoua World Music Festival
June 12–14, 2015
Each year, musicians from all over the world gather in Morocco to celebrate African culture and music. Their specialty? Gnaouan music—the traditional music of sub-Saharan Africa. On the beaches of Essaouira, a scenic coastal town, artists fuse Gnaouan beats with jazz, hip-hop, spiritual, and pop. Free concerts draw locals and tourists alike, and the spirit of Africa fills the air.
National Folk Festival
April 2–6, 2015
Over 50,000 people from around the world meet each year in Canberra to watch the fine-tuned choreography of folk dancers, tap to the beat of local music, and listen to the narratives of storytellers. More than 100 concerts and performances provide an insider view of the beauty and diversity of Australia’s local arts. Attendees can even participate in classes and learn folk traditions—Australian style.
Viljandi Folk Music Festival
July 23–26, 2015
The largest folk festival in northern Europe, the Viljandi Folk Music Festival rings with Estonian pride. During this four-day celebration of traditional music and culture, performing artists present contemporary renditions of traditional Estonian and European folk music. But attendees aren’t limited to watching and listening—they’re invited to join in the fun themselves through impromptu dances, games, and music making. Participants, over 20,000 annually, can also participate in workshops and a night university to learn more about Estonian culture.