7 Global Festivals in December

From the India to Turkey and Colombia to Belgium, we bring you the best festivals in December, including where to ring in the New Year, and that is not even counting Christmas.

Americas, Asia, Culture & History, Europe

From the India to Turkey and Colombia to Belgium, we bring you the best festivals in December, including where to ring in the New Year, and that is not even counting Christmas.

Global Cultural Festivals in December

Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, India, 1 – 10 December
Hornbill Festival festivals in December
Hornbill Festival

December starts with the Hornbill Festival in India, a massive celebration of 17 indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland involving singing, dance and sports performances mix with traditional crafts, music, food and drink. The festival allows the different cultural groups to showcase their traditional rituals.

Konya Whirling Dervishes Festival, Turkey 7 to 17 December

December also sees the Turkish city of Konya hosting one in the most mesmerisingly beautiful spiritual ceremonies as the Whirling Dervishes honour the great Sufi mystic Rumi or Mevlana (‘master’). Thousands gather to commemorate the 13th century Persian poet with Sema dance performances.

Hanukkah Festival of Lights, Global, 7 to 15 December

Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, is one of the most celebrated Jewish festivals around the world. People light candles, enjoy the special food and present presents to children. Also known as Chanukah, or ‘dedication’, the term refers to the Maccabees emerging victorious over the Syrian-Greek army who had tried to supress their culture in the 2nd century BC.

La Feria de Cali (Cali Fair), Colombia, 25 to 30 December

Colombia Carnival
Carnaval de Cali

Held in Colombia’s third largest city, the Feria de Cali is one of Latin America’s largest salsa festivals, featuring fireworks, parades, concerts, and beauty pageants and more. It starts on Christmas Day with the Salsódromo parade and parties almost to the new year. Most of the events are free.

Christmas Markets in December

Antwerp Christmas Market, Belgium, 8 December to 7 January

Few European cities create for a more spectacular backdrop for a winter festival than Antwerp in Flanders. Enjoy mulled wine, spekpatatjes (small fried potatoes with bacon) and hot Belgian chocolate during the Antwerp Christmas Market, or buy handicrafts at the Christmas stalls around the old town.

Antwerp Christmas Market, Belgium

Beverley Festival of Christmas, 10 December @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm GMT

If you only have one day to devote to Christmas markets then you could do far worse than heading to the Beverley Festival of Christmas, held in the pretty Georgian town in East Yorkshire. With its minster, two markets and lots of great pubs this is a great setting for a Christmas celebration. Expect carol singers, mulled wine, mince pies and roast chestnuts as well as Santa and his helpers.

New Year Celebrations in December

Edinburgh Hogmanay Scotland, December 30 – January 2

Whether you are celebrating the end of the current year, or looking forward to the next, there is really only one place to ring in the New Year. The Edinburgh Hogmanay is so good that 2 January is a recovering public holiday in Scotland. It’s believed the ceremony dates back to when marauding Vikings used to throw wild parties.

Other Festivals in December 2023

There will also be the following December festivals: Amsterdam Light Festival; Wonderfruit Festival, Thailand; Harbin Ice Festival China Extravaganza; and Pagara Estafette in Suriname.

For more details on all the festivals and events in December, click here.

Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

Travel articles, news, special offers, festivals and events from the Travel Begins at 40 Editorial team and our global network of travel industry contributors.

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