Ducks, Tats and Junkanoo: Technicolour Festivals of the World


Revellers tired of grey skies over Notting Hill Carnival should consider heading to foreign festivals for a serious colour fix. Here’s our pick of some of the world’s brightest gatherings. These events are guaranteed to leave a vivid impression, whether or not the sun puts in an appearance.

Holi, India

Also known fittingly as the ‘festival of colours’, Holi is a springtime Hindu festival which traditionally sees people throw coloured powder at each other and offer well wishes. In India these days Holi means whole towns erupt in massive paint fights, often men against women. Visitors and locals celebrate armed with paint guns and dye-filled water balloons, prepared to leave no stone un-splattered.

 Carnaval de Olinda, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro isn’t the only place to enjoy the carnival season in Brazil. Further north you’ll find the Olinda carnival, an epic (and free) street party. It’s just as famous with Brazilians and recognised by the parade of giant puppets including some effigies of famous faces. This is celebrity spotting supersized.

Festival of Lights, Germany

For colours of the neon variety, check out Berlin’s festival of lights which runs for 12 nights every October. As well as shows by light artists, the cityscape is transformed into an illuminated wonderland. Visitors from around the world take in the pimped landmarks on ‘light-seeing’ tours by bus, boat or fun run.

Festas de Lisboa, Portugal

In Lisbon it seems tinsel is for life, not just for Christmas. On Saints days, especially in the month of June, streets are decked out in vibrant streamers and the whole city is in party mode. The annual Lisbon festival plays hosts to cultural and spiritual events plus there’s the tradition of a mass wedding. In the evenings there’s literally dancing (and sardine grilling) in the streets.

Ink Festival, Denmark

For colour you can take home and keep, tattoo festivals are an extreme way to get inspired and get inked. Copenhagen’s Ink festival is one of the newest around, uniting tattoo enthusiasts at TAP1 exhibition centre – a former Carlsberg brewery. Now in its second year the annual event offers 150 esteemed tattooists in one place. If you don’t fancy getting permanently marked, you can still enjoy entertainment like the weirdest tattoo contest or body painting workshops.

Junkanoo, The Bahamas

3 times a year ‘Junkanoo’ festivities set the islands of The Bahamas alight with costumes and calypso. Once on New Years Day, once in summertime and again on Boxing Day, the parade kicks off from as early as 2am. Expect lively carnival bands and ‘rush out’ performances from unbelievably huge dance troupes. If there’s not enough colour in the 1000s of feathers, masks and sequins, head across to Harbour Island where the beaches have pink sand.

Fiesta of the Ducks, The Balearic Islands

Thousands of visitors flock to Can Picafort in Mallorca every August, hoping to head home with a hard-earned duck souvenir. While it’s true that rubber ducks can be purchased here in the UK for just pennies, heading to the high street is not nearly as memorable as the ‘releasing of the ducks’. Boats dock outside the Hotel Sol y Mar at lunchtime and drop 350 rubber ducks into the water for swimmers to dive in and catch. Before 2007 the event was a lot noisier as live ducks were used.


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