9 Interesting Holidays in the World and the Story Behind Them

  1. The Carnival, Brazil

The greatest show of all times, the carnivals in Brazil and especially Rio de Janeiro are a big bash party of over a week! Celebrating 40 days before Easter, Carnivals are a party that precede Lent (a Christian ritual) enticing over half a million tourists each year. Records say that this is a Greek festival to honour the God of wine – Dionysus, and later adopted by Romans. Introduced in the 17th century, in ancient times the masters and servants would exchange their attires, come onto the streets and soak in an entire day of drunken celebrations. In the 1800s, there were some modifications in this celebration like having drums and music, aristocrats and emperors wearing masks and participating in the parade, glamorous balls at lavish venues and of course having samba dancers turning the entertainment notch up a little. The Carnivals supersede extravagance in every sense – the costumes, the music, the participation of millions of passionate Brazilians as well as international celebrities and ENERGY!

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  1. La Tomatino, Spain

This tomato battle began in Bunol in 1945 and is celebrated on the last Wednesday of August. There are different versions of why this festival began in the first place, the most popular being about two boys getting into a squabble and attacking each other with the closest thing they could get their hands on – tomatoes. The following year the people of Bunol deliberately got into an argument leading into a battle of tomatoes.  Interestingly the Government put in all their efforts to stop this weird custom, so in the late 1950s there was a tomato burial where these veggies were put into a coffin for a funeral. Finally the Police gave in and made this festival official. For the past 70 years the audience for this fun event has been getting bigger with over 20 thousand revellers in the last year. Sounds like a great plan to go and indulge in a new kind of battle!

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  1. The Carnival of Venice

This fiesta is probably the oldest in the world with signs of inception in the 1100s! This is a two weeks gala where revellers drape themselves in fancy dresses embellished by the famous dramatic masks. There are a couple of stories as to why this celebration was introduced – one is when Venice became victorious against the Patriarch of Aquileia, the residents of Venice met in the square to celebrate over drinks and meat; the other says since these are the days before Lent when Christians give up alcohol, meat and parties for 40 days of penance, the carnival is where people indulge wholeheartedly in all these temptations! Like most historical significant events, the Carnival of Venice too went through a downfall because of political complications, but was revived in the 19th century and has become an identity of Venice ever since. Being a part of the Carnival of Venice means opulent masquerade balls where you need invites or pay steep prices for tickets, street performances and candle-lit gondola parades. The flowing alcohol and plates full of delicious meat preparations keep you up all night. The Italians surely know how to live life king size!

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  1. Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Thailand

The Yi Peng festival is a spiritual and scared affair that is significant to let go of personal demons and negativity and turn into a new positive leaf. Celebrated on a large scale in Northern Thailand, this is to pat respect to Gautam Buddha. This is celebrated along with Loi Krathong – another festival of lights. A holy celebration, Buddhists chant in a serene environment spreading tranquillity, followed by an attractive display of lights, firecrackers, parades, musical and dance performances, and heaps of food! The highlight of this festival is of course, the lanterns that are left to fly into the dark sky – the sight of black sky dotted with yellow sparkles is truly magnificent. The Yi Peng festival takes place in the second (‘Yi’) month (‘Peng’) of the Lanna calendar which is usually in November. So if you are up for some spiritual journey, the Yi Peng Festival Chiang Mai is the place to be.

  1. Patricks Day, Ireland

Celebrated all over the world from New York to San Francisco to London to Dublin, March 17 marks a historical day in faith of the Almighty. St. Patrick, a saint who dedicated his life to the Lord, was a Roman British who was captured by the Irish as an adolescent and enslaved. When he escaped he vowed to return to Ireland which he did; as a missionary he educated people about the power of God in the country and witnessed people come to church under his guidance and follow Christianity. This day sees people dressed in green parading on streets, bands playing fun music, entertainers showing off their talent and people having a jolly good time. St. Patricks Day associates itself with the colour green and the shamrock. Everything is green; in some place even the beer. This day is fun and frolic day that celebrates a key landmark in Christianity. Cheers!

  1. Diwali, India

The Festival of Lights is the most celebrated time in the world of Hindus and comes in usually around the pleasant season of November. The celebration lasts for five days, each day having its own significance. The main reason for celebrating this festival is because Lord Rama (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) returned to his kingdom after defeating a dangerous demon called Raavan. When Rama was returning to his kingdom, it was a new moon night, so the residents lit lamps to light his path which is why diyas are a symbol of Diwali. Goddess Laxmi, who is the Goddess of good fortune and wealth also joined in these celebrations and that is why one day is dedicated Her; rituals invite Her to bring along purity, happiness and wealth into each home. This week long festival sees happy scenes of firecrackers, exchange of sweets and lots of positivity in the air.

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  1. Oktoberfest, Germany

A sixteen day festival traditionally held in Munich and few other places in Germany, the Oktoberfest is all about German brewed beer! However, this festival did not revolve around beer in the initial years – Oktoberfest began as a commemoration of the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese in 1810. A grand horse race was organized five days after the wedding on October 17 and in the years to come this became an annual phenomenon with thousands of Bavarians walking down streets of Munich’s in traditional costumes. Along with the legendary horse race, there was other amusement too like a carousel and swings and beer stands to quench thirst. By 1896 the set-up had transformed into a fun fair where beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. Years later, this festival now identifies with beer from the Big Six breweries of Munich along with traditional food like Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstel (sausages), Brezel (Pretzel)), Knödeln (potato or bread dumplings) and Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage). Oktoberfest is celebrated in many countries today, however the locally brewed beer of Munich is what drags tourists to its home-city. This is the biggest people festival in the whole world which sees over 15% travellers from other countries that come to experience some authentic German culture.

  1. Chinese New Year, China

Although the Chinese follow the Gregorian calendar on a daily basis, for its festivals it works around the Chinese calendar. According to the Chinese calendar, the New Year for this community falls between the December Solstice and March Equinox which is usually around January third week or February first week. Being a traditional community, families get together for this week long holiday and bring in the New Year surrounded with love and friendship. Streets and buildings are decorated in red as red is considered an auspicious colour in Chinese culture. Cities and rural places also have parades with lion and dragon dances along with firecrackers; the animal of the year is given specifically celebrated in these parades. Another tradition the Chinese follow is eating fish in the New Year as it signifies good luck. Red confetti and decoration, dragon dances, family dinners, lanterns and firecrackers are all significant symbols of the Chinese New year; and be it Beijing, Xiamen, New York, London or Singapore you will feel the joy and happiness in the air in this week long celebration!

Lanterns are hung in a Chinese temple ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Dia de Muertos, Mexico

The Day of the Dead, Dia de Muertos, is celebrated by the Mexicans in memory of their near and dear ones. Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, these are the days of the Catholic All Souls and Saints Day which is usually a mourning time in countries across Europe. In Mexico, however, they believe to invite the spirits for a happy reunion and make merry by indulging in all the things their beloveds used to enjoy. The graveyards are merrily decorated and many have picnics where the locals bring in food, good music and drinks to have a family get together. Specially cooked food is prepared and it is believed that the spirits will come down and savour the fragrance after which the family will eat their meal. Quite unusual from the rituals most communities have for the deceased, the Mexicans believe in happiness even after death.

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All cultures across the world have are peculiar in their own way, yet the main idea revolves around spreading positivity, purity and simply having a good time. It is a lifetime experience to be a part of such celebrations and understand how different communities follow different ways but ultimately reach the same destination of love and happiness. Happy Holidays!

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12 Adventures You Must Do in Africa

The very cradle of mankind, Africa is the richest continent of all! The legacy of this continent is so ancient that you will be spellbound at the discoveries and the unrevealed treasures of this timeless continent. From mountains to deserts, from the Pyramids to markets of Marrakesh, Africa has so much to see! Here is a look at adventures you can indulge in on this continent; get ready for an implausible rollercoaster ride!

  • Snorkel in Madagascar

Madagascar is renowned among expert divers and why not, it is probably the best marine sanctuary in the world! When you enter the sea here, you will be fascinated with corals of all shapes and sizes, coloured fish and exotic marine animals namely clown fish, butterflies, unicorns, whale-sharks and names you haven’t even heard before. Exciting isn’t it!

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  • Mingle with the sharks

South Africa offers adventures of dime to a dozen and the most exciting undoubtedly is diving in the deep blue sea to mingle with white sharks! You will obviously be caged when you go under water to prevent any bloodshed; but this rare opportunity to observe sharks in their own territory is certainly mindboggling!

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  • Say Hi! to the Big Five on a Safari

Wildlife safaris are the speciality of Africa; nowhere else will you spot herds of wild buffalos, lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes and antelopes living their life so comfortably. You will be thrilled to capture shots of elephants bathing, hippos playing in muddy waters and if you are lucky, spy on a leopard in search of his prey! Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Nambia, all have interesting Safaris, yet the most popular ones are at Masai Mara and Savannah.

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  • Go Wild at Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls are the longest falls in the world and the white sheet of water falling dangerously from a great height makes this an adventure junkie’s den! You can go…

  • White water rafting: Rafting in the ‘Washing Machine’ will be an experience of a lifetime! The steep gorges and the low waters twist and turn you on your ride leaving you with an adrenaline rush you can’t even imagine!
  • Helicopter tour: The massive pool of water bordering Zimbabwe and Zambia looks like a ‘smoke of thunders.’ The mist and rainbow can be viewed from a distance of 20 kilometres! Now imagine what this sight from up high will look like?!
  • Bunjee Jumping: An ideal place to test the edge of fear is on no-man’s land between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Victoria Bridge. Plunge 111m below with a dramatic background of the gushing Zambezi River below! A real Hercules task, this is a symbol of pure adventure!

  • Hike to Kilimanjaro, Simien Mountains or the Rwenzori Mountains

Africa’s topography is vast and unique. Trekkers will thoroughly enjoy treks varying from a half-day climb up to over five days. The Kilimanjaro perched at 19,336ft is the most favourite trekking destination with over 20,000 climbers every year. The lesser known Simien Mountains in Ethiopia and Rwenzori mountains in Kenya also have a challenging trail. If you are up for long inclined walks teamed with beautiful gorges and untouched waterfalls then this adventure will leave a mark in your life!

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  • Trek the Fish River Canyon in Kenya

The second largest river canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon is the highlight of the Nambian desert. As old as 500 million years, this is 160km long, 26km wide and 550+ feet deep! You may take a four-day trek to cover this Canyon spotting the Fish River at the bottom, unique landscapes and a wildlife comprising of horses, zebras, kudu and klipspringer. Sounds like a truly rewarding trek!

  • Ostrich riding in South Africa

This one is an interesting adventure surely not taken before! The tallest living bird, an Ostrich runs at 70km per hour. So if you dare to, visit Karoo in South Africa and take this unusual ride. It sure will be the ride of a lifetime!

  • Feel Rich at Seychelles

Luxury, exclusivity, natural beauty and romantic are adjectives that anyone would use to describe this isle of Africa. Seychelles has activities ranging from giant turtle spotting, to zip-lining through the jungles, watching the rich aquatic life through a glass bottom boat, to dipping in serene waterfalls in the middle of green foliage, horse-riding on white-sand beaches and so on. At the end of an adventurous day, you can simply sit back on the beach and stare at the million stars in the clear sky!

  • Hot Air Balloon ride in Serengeti

Ranked in the top 10 hot air balloon rides in the world, Serengeti will leave you enchanted! Probably the world’s most extensive national park, you will have a chance to get an aerial view of the massive landscapes and habitat of the world’s most popular wildlife. You will soar across golden grass plains, catching a magical sunrise and spotting wildebeests, gazelles and zebras from every corner of your cart.

  • Go for a Festival

African culture is ancient and unique; the ways to celebrating festivals in Africa is probably not seen anywhere else. The ethnic groups sing songs in local languages and play music on traditional instruments; this site will certainly introduce you to a new culture altogether. As a tourist you may not get easy access into these close-knit festivals, but there are bigger celebrations like Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Ghana, Festima and Dakar Beinnel. Visit one to expose yourself to authentic African Culture.

  • Cruise the Nile

The 4160 mile river of Africa is the longest river in the world.  Get ready for a fantastic journey on this river cruise as you glide past ancient tombs and temples, rainforests, mountains, deserts, landscapes and a mix of unimaginable nature!

  • Sky Dive in Morocco

Rock climbing and trekking are popular in Morocco; but how about appreciating this topography from a bird’s eye? Amidst the tall line of mountain peaks, you will have wide open spaces to cruise down after a fantastic jump from the sky! Sky diving is popular at many destinations but try one in Morocco, it surely will be different.

Must-Visit Destination – Sri Lanka

The word ‘serendipity’ is incepted from this gorgeous island nestled amidst the Indian Ocean – with a history that dates back to over two thousand years ancient Arab traders had named this isle ‘Serendib.’ This ‘accidental beauty’ is one of the most celebrated discoveries, because Marco Polo’s words echo even today when he described Sri Lanka as the finest island of its kind.

Pristine beaches and breathtaking landscapes is a regular at islands, but Sri Lanka is extraordinary – you will be pleasantly surprised to discover national parks nurturing a herd of majestic elephants and leopards, manicured tea plantations, rich jungles, misty mountains, remarkable cliffs, precious stones and a heritage you were unaware of. Sri Lanka like a magician’s box – you will marvel at everything that comes out from there! Some things you simply cannot afford to miss on your visit to Sri Lanka are right below, make sure to note them down…

  1. Embark on a historic cum adventurous trip to Sigiriya, which is the 5th century fortress of King Kasyapa. Situated atop of tall rock plateau, the approach looks quite rickety, but be courageous and climb up, as the views of the jungle below and the Sigiriya plain are simply out of the world!  Sigiriya Rock - 000902
  2. National parks of Yala, Udawalawe, Bundala and Horton’s Plains are spectacular! Sri Lanka has the highest concentration of leopards and is known for its majestic elephants. At these parks you will find a calm and relaxing set up where the rare wildlife is casually roaming around.sri-lanka-yala-national-park-sri-lanka1
  3. If you are on an island, how can you not take a trip to the beach! The Southern Beaches are bucolic with its colonial towns and skilled fishermen. This is also a perfect place to catch a glimpse of blue whales. Here you will be spoiled for choice with luxurious resorts overlooking a classic green landscape bordering azure blue waters.
  4. An experience of a lifetime would be to check out the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage at Kegalle and meet abandoned/orphaned wild elephants. You will get the joy of feeding the young and old or simply capture a fun picture of them soaking themselves in the river.
  5. Revisit the British charm at Kandy. The picturesque tea plantations at Nuwara Eliya, the scared abode of Temple of Tooth which preserves the scared Buddhist relic and also the Sri Lankan landmark – Adam’s peak is located right here. The highest point in Sri Lanka this is the most favourite hill station on the island; boasts of vast resorts, gold courses, splendid verdant sights and a botanical garden.
  6. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and if you are in this town you will walk by colonial lanes, ageing bungalows, a Church built in 1755, and traffic-free streets filled with expats. Galle Town is like a small town you see in movies!
  7. Polonnawara is a place you must pay a visit to if you are interested in Buddhist remains. This old capital is oozing with monasteries, temples and statues, each telling a story of its own. Since Sri Lanka is the oldest stronghold of Buddhism, there is so much to know about it in Polonnawara.
  8. Anuradhapura was the heart of civilization in Sri Lanka and has seen over a 100 kings being crowned. The architectural marvels like Maha Bodhi, Great Stupa, and monasteries here are famous all the way from Korea to Europe.
  9. Colombo City is one of the liveliest cities in the world. You will find several world renowned hotels, restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, cafes and frescos, some shopping and places to gamble as well.C1

From Safari Tours to world’s end Cliffs, from adventurous beaches to historic World Heritage Sites, the small land of Sri Lanka has big plans for all its tourists. The chirpy people, happy faces and free-spirited atmosphere makes you admire this beautiful land even more!

How to Plan a Budget Trip

Everyone want to travel the world and fly to places unknown! And with social media tempting travel lovers by posting bucket-list photographs 24×7, the travel bug just gets itchier! But, the stacks of bills to be paid are endless… the savings pile appears to shrink every time you see it… and holidays seem to get expensive all the time. So here are some travel tricks that will help you plan holidays to fit your budget –

  1. Flexible dates

Being adamant and stuck-on to particular a date means that you will end up paying more. Search for dates that are a few days or even a couple of weeks before or after your desired date and compare the rates. If you are flexible with your timing, you will be assured lesser prices for tickets, accommodation and even excursions.

  1. Off-season trips

The best hack to spend less and still get the same exciting experience is to travel in the off-season. Hotel tariffs, air tickets, entertainment are all half-price around this time of the year! No doubt, there will be some compromises like not being able to undertake too many outdoor activities if the climate is cold. Yet, if you wish to achieve an aim, you have to let go of something; the same theory applies to your travel.

  1. Compare websites

With the internet revolution, holidays are planned sitting on your desktop or browsing through your phone. Make use of this benefit and explore all the holiday websites to compare rates, package inclusions and facilities. This may be time consuming, but you never know – you may just hit a jackpot and get your ideal holiday in a price you never imagined. If not a jackpot, you will get options of flights, hotel accommodations and tours which can be mix-matched as per your wants and finances.

  1. Plan in advance

A last minute plan will always be more expensive; this is a well-known fact. So, if you know you have a travel opportunity coming up in a few months, act quickly – book your flights, explore accommodation and even choose you excursions. This process will also take a good week, but booking in advance will make a huge positive difference in your holiday budget!

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  1. Inclusive Tours

Many websites have an ‘IT’ option which means an all inclusive tour. This indicates that your flight will be teamed with hotel accommodation, a car-pick or rent-a-car. Like all package deals, this will turn out to be more economical than paying for each transaction individually.

  1. Sign-up for newsletters

Since travel is a hobby, why not sign-up for all those newsletters doing the rounds? You will not only be aware of the new destinations and alterations in popular tourist spots, but also receive discount coupons. Subscribe for newsletters and avail such discounts to cut down costs on your holiday. It’s as simple as that!

  1. Travel Overnight

This is a popular trick. By travelling through the night you cut down on hotel costs and even dinner expenses in some cases. When you wake up, you will be in a brand new city, all set to enjoy your holiday. However, it is advised that you don’t travel at night all throughout your trip since your body will certainly need the comfort of a bed to survive a healthy holiday.

  1. Carry Snacks

Always carry your own food! You may not realize how much you are shelling out for a pack of chips, some chocolates and water, but in the end this small expense burns a large hole in your budget. So, keep a bottle of water and some snacks handy to fill that tummy while you discover interesting spots on your holiday.  

  1. Stay at the beach

Those fancy villas at beach destinations are extremely inviting, and also extremely pricey! To get a similar view, feel and experience, look for accommodation options by the beach – you will have the open sea, beach bars and shacks, parties and in most places, even a community swimming pool, all at your doorstep. So why shell out hundreds of dollars when you can get the same thrill at less than half the cost.

  • Eat like a local

When in Rome, do like the Romans do! Eating local food is one of the main holiday experiences, so indulge in whatever is the staple diet of the city. This meal will definitely be cheaper than some continental food and a meal at a fancy restaurant. So eat at local markets, food carts and stalls that serve authentic food -that is how you will sink into the true culture completely and spend less.

  1. Plan your own excursions

It is true that package tours will give you a comprehensive view. But more often than not, these are close to double the rates of the actual ones, because it is a business after all. So, put your intelligence to use and get in touch with the tourist spots directly. You can issue your own entrance tickets, sight-seeing tours and even commuting options and create a customized tour at perfectly economical rates.

  1. Walk the talk

Walking is the best way to explore the unexplored and experience the inexperienced. Most of your precious memories will be when you have chosen to walk around the city; and what does this walking tour cost you – absolutely nothing!

  1. Choose local beverages

Local beer, local wine and local liquor is a must-try at any destination in the world. Every place has its peculiar character, taste and brewing skills and since you are on a mission of discovering the world, why not opt of a glass of local beverage? The best part is that these will be cheaper than all the international brands.

There are a million ways to cut costs on a holiday, because where there is a will there is a way! Do not hesitate to take that trip you’ve been dreaming about simply because it looks expensive; looks can be deceptive after all. And remember, you don’t need to be a millionaire to travel the world and spread your wings!