We're only a few months away from Chinese New Year and flights are already getting full. If you're wanting to get away from all the Chinese New Year madness in Hong Kong, here are a few festivals we've got our eyes on over that period.
1. Carnevale Venezia (Carnival of Venice)
Where? Venice, Italy
When? Starts on 30 January 2016 (two Saturdays before Ash Wednesday) and finishes on 9 February 2016 (Fat (Shrove) Tuesday).
The Carnevale Venezia is a huge highlight in Venice making it the high point in Venice's social calendar and your chance to spend your time in Venice donning a mask and joining in with the world's best Baroque fancy-dress party. What better place than to join in this internationaly renown festival that has been celebrated since the 15th century than a place like Venice. Indulge in all the fine wines and Italian food the city has to offer whilst soaking in the beautiful Italian atmosphere.
Make sure you buy yourself a mask to wear and one that you can bring home as a souviner!
2. International Ice & Snow Festival
Where? Zhaolin Park and Sun Island Park, Harbin, China
When? 5 January 2016 –29 February 2016
One of the coldest places in Asia, Harbin has taken on the cold and for the past 32 years have made the most out of it by creating the International Ice & Snow Festival. Held right in the middle of winter (it's freezing!), the festival showcases an amazing variety of ice sculptures in different shapes, structures and even re-creating famous landmarks.
The cold really does get to you (-40°C!) so make sure you bring those thermals and multiple spare batteries for your camera as the cold gets to those too!
Where? Batu Caves, just outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When? Full moon day in the 10th Tamil month of Thai (mid-January to mid- February)
Not recommended for the faint-hearted, Thaipusam is one of the most spectacular Hindu Festivals in Malaysia where devotees fill their bodies with multiple piercings and hooks, marking the day Lord Shiva's son Murugan, was given a lance to vanquish three demons. A colourful and incredible sight that makes your spine shiver as you see those truly devoted carrying offerings to the Gods with hooks attached to their skin.
4. Oruro Carnival
Where? Oruro, Bolivia
When? 10 days around Ash Wednesday (10 Feburary 2016)
The Oruro Carnival is THE largest and most anticipated celebratory event in Bolivia and draws up to 400,000 people every year. Marked by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Oruro Carnival showcases an incredible parade including the most famous La Diablada (also known as 'Dance of the Devils') and dancers dressed in elaborate costumes. Taking place on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday (6 Feburary 2016) over 30,000 dancers and musicians dance and sing on a 4km stretch that creates a parade lasting up to 20 hours.
We suggest booking early and arriving Oruro a few days earlier to acclimatise to the high altitude.
5. Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Where? Sambódromo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When? Begins on 5 Feburary 2016, ending on 10 Feburary 2016
The ultimate party of the year, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is all about the double-Ds, dance and drummers. Welcomming Brazillians dancers and drummers welcome all those on the streets of Rio to dance with and behind them. All about the glammor and dazzle, the parade lasts days and the atmosphere of Rio rises even before the Carnival starts. The climax of the Carnival is the samba parade, where the best schools of samba are given the opportunity to come out and prove their worth. Each school group is then escorted by up to 400 drummers who give it their all to draw cheering crowds.
We suggest planning this trip and buying your tickets well in advance if you want to be close to the action.