Go travelling: hedonistic hotspots

Whether you’re looking for a lunatic food fight, an eclectic costume party, celebrity shoulder-rubbing or the world’s top musical acts, you’ll find it at one of these festivals. Kelli Armstrong points to this year’s best places to have fun in a crowd.

Holi Festival

Mumbai & Delhi, India
2 March

Marking the arrival of spring, this vibrant celebration sees friends and strangers release coloured smoke and throw coloured powder (with each hue symbolic of an emotion) over each other in a moment of pure freedom.


Munich, Germany
22 September — 7 October

Also known as the world’s largest folk festival, Oktoberfest actually kicks off in September. Last year over 7.5 million litres of beer were drunk! Filled with rides, lights, entertainment and drunk people in lederhosen, what’s not to love?

Rio Carnival

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
9 — 17 February

Fantastic floats, flamboyant dancers, costumed revellers and joyous spectators come together at the biggest party in the world. From sunrise to sunset there are riotous blocos (street parties) showcasing Rio’s African and Portuguese culture. Leave your inhibitions behind.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
9 – 13 February

As Bob Dylan once said, “New Orleans is always a good idea”, and during Mardi Gras it’s bursting with extra bacchanalia. The wildest party in the United States kicks off in February, with sightseers camping for days to witness the super-parades Rex, Zulu, Endymion and Bacchus.


Burning Man

Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
26 August — 3 September

This purpose-built metropolis rejects modernity, with music, art and global revellers coming together in one big dust storm. It’s a cultural phenomenon, with Burners looking to shun reality making the pilgrimage armed with a week’s worth of apocalyptic outfits and a head for psychedelic fun.


Notting Hill Carnival

London, UK
26 — 27 August

The highlight of summer for Londoners, this street bash has been lighting up the neighbourhood since 1966. Drum explosions, decorated floats, street food galore and carnival dancers get everyone on their feet in a dedication to Caribbean culture.



Palm Springs, California, USA
13 — 15 April, 20 — 22 April

With Beyoncé headlining this year, don’t wait to secure your tickets! Endorsed by celebrities great and small, this ultimate high-class double weekender never disappoints. Stay for the week and socialise at daily packed pool parties that roll well into the night.

Download Festival

Donnington Park, UK
8 — 10 June

Having announced Ozzie Osbourne as the headliner, and followed by an A-list line-up including Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson and Bullet For My Valentine, this multi-stage five-day rock event will please all punters. Day tickets and multi-day passes are available now.

La Tomatina

Buñol, Spain
29 August

If the idea of getting totally sauced (by tomatoes) sounds like fun, then this tomato war is for you. Armed with ripe fruit, join the food fight to end all food fights.
In between the sweet sauciness, you might be lucky enough to get a hosing down from the locals.

Governor’s Ball

New York, USA
1 — 3 June

This is Gotham’s answer to Coachella. As well as kickass acts (like last year’s headliners Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Flume and Wiz Khalifa), the fest features mini golf, a silent disco, art interactions and life-size board games. There are VIP and Platinum experiences for cashed up punters.