Travel Begins at 40 rounds up the best festivals in February 2024 across the Globe, from Mongolia to Easter Island, so wherever you are you just can’t help celebrating the month of the Carnival.
Cultural Festivals in February
Tapati Rapa Nui, Easter Island, Chile – 9 to 17 February
Let’s start our global round up of festivals in February at one of the most remote islands in the world? The Tapati Festival of Rapa Nui or Easter Island is a mix of sporting events and singing and dancing. The latter take place at night on a stage at Hanga Vare Vare. There is also body painting and storytelling. The range of sporting events include an island-wide triathlon (with local variations, including running while carrying about 20kg of bananas), horse races, swimming competitions, wave-riding/surfing and canoeing. A particular local tradition is the Haka Pei, which involves charging 200 metres down a 45-degree slope on the trunk of a banana tree.
Tsagaan Sar, Mongolia – 10 to 12 February
For a totally different tack head to Mongolia for Tsagaan Sar. Mongolia’s lunar new year is the most important festival for ethnic Mongols and the people of the Arctic where age-old rituals combine with eating local delicacies such as dumplings, sweets and plenty of vodka. Meaning “White Moon” in Mongolian, Tsagaan Sar refers to the first day of the year in the Mongolian solar-lunar calendar when the new moon rises.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival, Thailand – 2 to 4 February
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is one of the most colourful events in Thailand attracting thousands of floral enthusiasts year on year. It’s not haphazard that Chiang Mai, located in the north of Thailand, is nicknamed the Rose of the North. While the Damask rose is found only here, a huge variety of flowers – from the kingdom’s national yellow Ratchaphruek to white chrysanthemums and multi-coloured orchids – make Chiang Mai an ideal showcase underscoring Thailand’s reputation as a country with one of the largest plant biodiversity in Southeast Asia.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Taiwan – 24 to 27 February
During the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival thousands of glowing lights float up into the jet black sky above the village of Shifen in Taiwan. Taking place during the first full moon of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors who release an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 glowing rice paper lanterns into the nocturnal skies. The main lantern release events take place in Shifen, not Pingxi, despite the festival being named after the latter.
Fête du Citron Menton (Lemon Festival), France – 17 February to 3 March
Situated on the Côte d’Azur in the French Alpes Maritimes, the town of Menton came up with the highly innovative and colourful La Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival), which attracts thousands of visitors annually. The region of Menton is a producer of high quality lemons. The first festival took place in the grounds of the Hotel Riviera in Menton in 1934. With stunning displays, floats and sculptures, the ever increasing popularity of the festival has amplified its imaginative themes, with shows introduced in the evening as well as during the daylight hours.
Quebec Winter Carnival, Canada – To 11 February
Since 1955, the people of Quebec City have celebrated winter with the Quebec Winter Carnival. In 2006, over a million people attended the festival, making it the biggest winter festival in the world until the Harbin Ice Festival usurped its crown. Drink caribou, dine at the city’s bars and restaurants at the outdoor patios – presumably heated – or dance the night away at the Ice Hotel. At the centre of the festivities is the Ice Palace, where the festival mascot, Bonhomme, resides.
Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy – To 13 February
Juxtapose one of the most beautiful cities in the world alongside one of the most colourful and exciting carnivals globally and it has to be a winning formula. Masked costumed revellers intermingling in St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, or sailing along the Grand Canal, create a spectacle not to be missed – the Venice Carnival. The wearing of masks is a central part of the fun and adds a surreal feel to the carnival events. La Maschera Più Bella (“the most beautiful mask”) is judged annually by a group of international fashion and costume designers.
Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia – 10 to 13 February
The sensational Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia is the world’s second biggest fiesta with magnificent street parades, traditional dancers, lots of local food and the South American country’s joyous cumbia music. This authentic Caribbean, because of its status as one of Colombia’s most important folkloric celebrations, Unesco added the Carnaval de Barranquilla to its list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Film Festivals in February
Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival), Germany – 15 to 25 February
The German capital turns into a silver screen city when hundreds of films from all over the planet are shown in its theatres and cinemas during the Berlinale or Berlin International Film Festival. As one of the world’s most visited film festivals, the Berlinale has earned itself a place within Europe’s top three most famous festivals of its kind, alongside Venice and Cannes. What sets the Berlinale apart from its contemporaries elsewhere is how integrated it is in Germany’s capital – films are screened all over the city centre – while it is also one of the most political and socially conscious of major film festivals.
More Festivals in February 2023
For a full list of February festivals around the World, including the: Festival of the Candelaria (La Fiesta de la Candelaria); Chingay Parade Singapore; Hoi An Lantern Festival, Vietnam; Viareggio Carnival (Carnevale di Viareggio) Italy; Thaipusam Festival Malaysia; Carnaval de Nice (Nice Carnival); Slapstick Festival Bristol; Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Carnaval Sitges (Sitges Carnival), Spain; Cologne Carnival (see cover photo); Bahia Carnival (Carnaval Baiano), Brazil; Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg, Canada; Sydney WorldPride; Naked Man Festival, Okayama (Hadaka Matsuri); Carnaval de Binche, Belgium; Panama Carnival (Panama Carnaval); Trinidad Carnival, Port of Spain; Mashramani Carnival, Guyana; Dallas Blooms 2023, Dallas Texas, USA; and Basel Carnival (Fasnacht), Switzerland, visit our Events and Festival page.
This article was originally published on 29 January 2020, and updated on 24 January 2024.