Best March Festivals Around the World
Our contenders for top global festival month were, at one point in time and for a variety of reasons, July, December and February. But then, in conducting research for this post, we started to dig up some choice events in the month of March. Turns out the third month of the year is a pretty extraordinary time for cultural festivals the world over. In fact, if we had a limitless budget at our disposal and the services of a private plane, we would probably exhaust our globetrotting reserves from March 1 to March 31.
Holi ritual, Kathmandu – Photo credit
South By Southwest Music & Media Conference (SXSW)
Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
South by Southwest is probably the most erudite and influential music festival in America. From stellar lineups of avant-garde and big-name performers to panels and powwows on new media and the music biz, Austin’s keystone event is phenomenal.
Where to stay: The Westin Austin At The Domain
The Balinese “Day of Silence” is a Hindu tradition marked by fasting, meditation and reflection that is followed by a day of New Year celebrations. Manifold rituals take place throughout the two-day March event and showcase Bali as the singular island that it is.
Where to stay: Ubud Green Resort Bali
No word on whether Spain’s current economic woes will dampen the country’s biggest cultural bash but if we had to wager a few Euros on it, we’d put our money on Valencia. Falles is simply too integral an event to the city and autonomous community’s cultural heritage to dilute. Expect, then, even more colour, pomp, pageantry and piquante paella.
Where to stay: The Westin Valencia Hotel
Saint Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day has scores of ardent adherents across the Irish diaspora of course, from Boston to Sydney, but you can’t beat the scene in the epicentre of it all – Dublin. The capital of Ireland celebrates the Feast of Saint Patrick with as much verve and energy as it can muster.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Dublin
Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
Miami’s Little Havana Calle Ocho street festival has grown exponentially over the decades and is now a mainstay on the city’s event calendar.
Where to stay: Fontainebleau Suites Miami Beach
Many prefer it to Oktoberfest and why not? The beer is arguably better and the tourist crowds much thinner and more tolerable. If you’re a purist then, Munich’s Starkbierzeit is for you.
Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental Munich Hotel
Cherry blossom viewing is a venerable ritual in Japan that has a fickle window of opportunity; more often than not in March, which makes the annual bloom all the more precious. Whether you chill on a blanket in Tokyo’s Ueno Park or at any number of popular spots between Okinawa and Hokkaido, guard your picnic spot with your life.
Where to stay: Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo
Iran is not the most accessible tourist destination at the moment but any talk of March festivals around the world is useless without even a casual mention of Nowruz. The Iranian/Persian New Year is celebrated by millions in Iran and throughout Central Asia and is on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
India has more items on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity than most but surprisingly, Holi is not among them. No matter. The Hindu festival of spring and colour is extraordinary, whether you celebrate in Kathmandu, Nepal or, via New Delhi, the Lord Krishna enclaves of Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon and Barsana in Uttar Pradesh.
Where to stay: The Oberoi Hotel New Delhi
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
It has become, in short order, part of the holy trinity of comedy festivals with Edinburgh and Montreal. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has done well, too, to showcase not just native comics but new acts from every corner of the globe.
Where to stay: The Langham Hotel Melbourne