Snowbombing Festival 2018

Snowbombing-Festival

Austria is a stunning country with endless possibilities. You can go to the ball in Vienna, or explore the picturesque countryside and enjoy the fascinating mountain landscape. This country is in the top list of best countries for unforgettable vacation. However, if you want to enrich your mundane life with the incredible fusion of top-notch world-known DJs and bands, in the idyllic alpine setting of one of Europe’s finest ski resorts, you are to visit Snowbombing, an incredible one-of-a-kind five-day snowy music festival, which in 2018 takes place from the 9th to 14th April.

The festival is relatively young. It was first held at the Risoul Ski Resort, but in 2005, the festival changed its location and moved to the Tyrolean resort of Mayrhofen in Austria, its current location. Since then the festival has evolved into Europe’s largest snow and music festival that is annually crammed by thousands of party-goers and ski lovers.

THE HUB OF NON-STOP PARTIES

Numerous exquisite parties create the uplifting atmosphere of the Snowbombing Festival. Wherever you go, you will find a party to your liking. The parties are usually held in various venues, therefore you can jam with your friends at real igloo party, mind-bending forest raves and amusing pool parties.

The Racket Club, an underground tennis center transforms into a night-club that hosts the headliners of the festival.

It is already revealed, that in 2018 Liam Gallagher and Pendulum will headline Austrian event. Other artists that are going to charge the people with electrifying music vibes are  Dizzee Rascal, Anna Wall, Jax Jones, Disciples, Bicep, Hak Baker, Peggy Gou and Craig David’s legendary TS5 set and plenty more. It is a sin to miss this musical madness.

Also, you can join other revelers at the Arctic Disco at the top of the mountain. It is literally one of the coolest parties on the globe with stars so close that you can almost touch them. You can dance off in the igloo to the burning beats of famous DJs, sip hot mulled wine and cocktails in the ice bar, or simply chill out in fur rugs near the bonfire.

Next highlight of the Snowbombing is the Waldfestplatz or Forest Party, is an amazing outdoor venue in the middle of the woods, surrounded by tall pines and taking place on the old wooden stage on the edge of the hill. There you can enjoy the spirited atmosphere with DJs spinning tunes to make all the people unite in hot dancing. Also there you will find old traditional Austrian snacks turned into food stalls and bars where you can fuel yourself with some delicacies. Speaking of food, you can also go to the Podcast Pyramid, which is an excellent restaurant and superb party venue at 2225 m. It is constructed in the form of a pyramid with a staggering view over Penken ski area. The main specialty of this restaurant is that it serves delectable dishes made only from organic ingredients that are brought from the owners’ own farm down in the valley.  It will be not an exaggeration to say that Mayrhofen is a place where you can feel foodgasm.

Next, must-go for you is the Snowbombing Street Party, which is considered to be the largest fancy dress party in Europe. To blend in with Snowbombers in the anything-goes wild atmosphere you should don your brightest carnival costume and let loose. But before going to the festival, don’t forget to check the lineup again, to find out the theme of the dress party.

Snowbombing-Festival

Snowbombing-Festival

SNOWBOMBING IS NOT ONLY ABOUT PARTIES!

For those who want to relax after rowdy parties, there is no better place than one of the numerous pools, luxurious saunas and Spa, rooftop Jacuzzi offering breathtaking views of the majestic Alps.

Another way to find a piece and harmony is Alpine Yoga. This is a great opportunity to learn to feel your body,  to merge with nature and fill yourself with positive energy.

When you got tired of lying in Spa, you can take part in a host of wacky and extremely amusing games. The truly courageous Snowbombers are welcome to compete in Snowlympics. It is a series of games that require persistence, strength and being ready to fall all the time on your butt in the snow. You may participate in different games from the snowball fight to sumo wrestling. Snowlympics is a really fun, entertaining both for competitors and spectators.

Also during the Snowbombings, traditionally takes place a three-day snowboarding and ski competition known as the Ride & Seek, where pro riders compete, showing their best flips and tricks, to win the Snowbombing title and monetary prize. You have to see it, it is an astonishing competition that will catch your attention from the first second to the last.

Snowbombing-Festival

Although there are a lot of competitions to watch and take part, you can simply go with your friends to ski or ride a snowboard, enjoying show-powdered perfectly groomed pistes. And if you are not scared of heights and search for adrenaline, you can try Paragliding over fabulous views of the Austrian Alps.

In Mayrhofen, there is also an option of Snow Limo, which is an accessible way of exploring mountains for everyone. You don’t need to be a snowboarder or skier all you need to do is to sit back, relax, and rely on your guide.

Snowbombing-Festival

While enjoying the beauties of the Tyrolean resort, don’t miss the opportunity to meet your love at Chairlift Speed Dating. And being at the Snowbombing Festival, it is a must to attend the daily warm-up sessions of fitness guru Mr. Motivator.

Snowbombing-Festival

Now when you know what to expect from the festival, don’t procrastinate, the tickets sell like hotcakes. Book your ticket right now! Prices start from £299, but this ticket is not just your pass for the festival, this is a package which comprises accommodation and a festival ticket. Detailed information about how to get to the Mayrhofen is given on the official website of the Snowbombing Festival, check it to find the best, most suitable transportation mode for you. Think beforehand of what you would like to visit firsthand, to enjoy to the fullest the Snowbombing’s combination of copious parties, games, gourmet restaurants, flawless pistes, and infinite music, which attracts thousands of people each year to escape from daily routine to the fragrant pine forests of the magnificent Austrian Alps.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival 2019

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Are you ready for the biggest, the wettest water festival ever? Bring water balloons, squirt guns, any kind of spray bottle, or simply a bucket. Fill all you have with water, and let the Water Fight begin!!!!!

In April Thailand is transformed into the battlefield, where people ruthlessly attack each other with water. This wacky event is known as the Songkran Festival. However this festival can be observed from two sides, and in fact, carries a deeper meaning than water mischief.

TRADITIONAL SONGKRAN

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

 

Songkran is the Traditional Buddhist New Year, celebrated from 13 to 15 April. It is considered to be introduced by Brahmins ( priests, scholars of Vedic literature) from India and its name, “Songkran”, can be translated from Sanskrit as change or transformation. That is why on the Songkran people try to get rid of old possessions, sorrows, and problems of past year and move forward. Also in the New Year, Thais go home, to pay respect to monks, family, friends, neighbors. Celebrating Buddhist New Year, people may also go to pray to the temples and wats. They also clean the images of Buddha on house shrines and local temples, carefully pouring them with scented water, as they believe that cleansing can bring good luck and prosperity. In addition, in Chiang Mai, you can see brightly adorned floats with Buddha, which people also shower with water. And, of course, people spill water on each other,  giving the blessing, purifying from bad luck and protecting from evil spirits. Eventually, due to this ritual, the Traditional Buddhist New Year evolved into the tremendous Water Fight.

MODERN SIDE OF THE SONGKRAN

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

 

Nowadays, the spiritual aspect remains, but the first association with word ‘Songkran’ is not anymore the Traditional Buddhist New Year, but a three-day water fight. Generally, The Songkran is celebrated in every corner of Thailand and in some other countries. If you are in Thailand on the Songkran, we can recommend you the best cities to celebrate the New Year and to take a part in the water-battle.

Bangkok is definitely in the Top 5. It can boast of its numerous party and crazy atmosphere with flying water. You can also go to  Pattaya City, where usually the Beach Road is cut off to traffic and live music stages are set up to entertain the revelers. For those who want to lie in the sun, feel the breeze coming off the sea, Phuket is number one beach destination. Bangla Road and  Patong Beach are the main hotspots of Phuket during Songkran, however, at night this area is not for an audience under 18, so don’t bring kids. In case you want to enjoy less wild parties, you might like to go to Koh Samui. This is a perfect place to celebrate Thailand’s New Year if you travel with kids.

All the cities we mentioned above have their charm and can compete for the title of the city with the best water parties, but still, the city that can be considered the synonym to the Water Fight Festival is Chiang Mai. We strongly advise this city for those who go to celebrate the New Year in Thailand for the first time.

Chiang Mai is a combination of old spiritual traditions and beliefs with water frenzy. During Songkran, in Chiang Mai, you can be drenched in any part of the city, when you go to the restaurant, or get out of the taxi. Don’t get angry, people do it with good intentions, instead get your water weapon and attack in return. And actually, there is no way you or your friends will get angry. April is one of the hottest months in Thailand and being showered with water is a blessing indeed. You don’t want anything so much as water. In such scorching days, water is the best medicine to be taken both orally and externally.  To soak in water and refresh yourself most of the people go the Old City near Tha Pae Gate, gathering at the moat, used as a water refill station. People fill up with water the weapons of purification and shoot, saying “Suk san wan Songkran!”, which means “Happy New Year!”

Except, for the water fights, don’t miss the painted elephants’ parade and the Miss Songkran beauty contest.  Simply walk around the moat, and have a bite of some local delicacies. To party to the fullest, you can head to  Huaykaew Road, where usually a few stages are set up, that can brag about Thailand’s most popular DJs, pop, and rock bands. The epicenter of nightlife in Chiang Mai, which people swarm when the sun goes down is Nimmanhaemin Road. This area is famous for its numerous clubs and mind-boggling parties. In general, wherever you go in the New Year, Chiang Mai will have smth for you, you will enjoy these three days and probably will have a desire to come back again the next year.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

   HOW TO SURVIVE ON THE SONGKRAN FESTIVAL

  1. First of all, don’t go on the street without your water gun. If you don’t have it, don’t worry, as there are myriads of vendors who will help you to solve this problem.
  2. Don’t wear your best clothes, no flamboyant fancy costumes are needed. Wear simple clothes that will get dry quickly.
  3. The water is everywhere so bring a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for your cell phone.
  4. Streets may get flooded, so we recommend you to wear waterproof shoes instead of sandals, that may get broken easily.
  5. People don’t throw the pure water from a mountain spring, so to complete your outfit, you can wear swimming goggles, to protect your eyes from possible eyes infection. However, word “possible” doesn’t mean it will really happen to you. In addition, avoid swallowing the water, in order to avoid any stomach problems.

 

Experience the cocktail of unique Thai traditions with the craziest Water Fight.  The Songkran guaranties only good mood and exhilarating, spirited atmosphere.

Kanamara Matsuri 2019

Kanamara Matsuri

Japan was always known for its modesty, manners, strong traditions,  complex and demanding etiquette. Japanese people are always polite and respectful, especially towards people of a higher social status. They are never late, as they appreciate the time and perfectly understand the meaning of ‘a hard work’. They bow a hundred times a day while greeting or thanking. But at the same time, having a perfect reputation on the international level, Japan can brag of the most bizarre traditions and festivals, that astonish people all over the world.

Speaking about the most mind-bending and jaw-dropping events in Japan, the first place goes to the Kanamara Matsuri or the Festival of the Steel Phallus. It is annually held on the first Sunday of April at the Kanayama shrine in Kawasaki. The central theme of the event is a penis. Therefore it is the one-of-a-kind event with the tremendous concentration of men’s genitals in the form of different delicacies, candies, carved vegetables, various decorations, and parades. However, it is a mistake to associate this festival with some perversions. In fact, while some foreigners cram the festival to giggle and gawk, for Japanese people, this celebration has a deep, religious and thought-provoking meaning.

ORIGIN OF KANAMARA MATSURI.
DEMONS OF THE PAST AND NOWADAYS

Let’s look closer at this event. Kanamara Matsuri traces its origin to the Edo period. One of the most popular explanations of the appearance of the Festival of the Steel Phallus is the legend about “vagina dentata” or toothed vagina. According to the legend, there was a sharp-toothed demon who was totally enamored of one beautiful woman. But the woman didn’t love him at all and married another man. The demon got mad and decided to inhabit the woman’s vagina before the wedding night.  And when the act of love was about to happen, furious demon bit off the penis of the groom.

When the woman married another man, the jealous demon showed his sharp teeth again and bit off the penis of a poor man. The woman was desperate. So, upset villagers made a plan how to deceive the demon and help the woman to get rid of this evil.

However, there is another more realistic version of how the Kanamara Matsuri emerged. “Vagina dentata” can be considered a metaphor for the outburst of syphilis during the 17th century. The shrine has served as a meeting point for many local comfort women that annually gathered to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Nowadays situation didn’t change much, but instead of syphilis, there are other diseases. So, Kanamara Matsuri is not just a festival of the penis, it is, first of all, a tool to raise the awareness for HIV, AIDs and other STI’s. Also, it is a celebration of fertility. Many young couples and families come to pray for fertility and safe childbirth. But as far as Kanamara Matsuri is the festival, its main purpose is to make people have fun.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM KANAMARA MATSURI

The main highlight of the festival is Penis Parade, which starts around 10 am. The procession consists of three mikoshis ( portable Shinto shrines), each containing a gigantic phallus. The first mikoshi is a black steel phallus that commemorates the original penis from the legend about the demon. The second mikoshi is an old wooden model of the phallus. The third one is a huge pink penis, called Elizabeth. It was donated many years ago by the famous Tokyo cross-dressing club called Elizabeth Kaikan.

It is hard to find right words to describe the atmosphere during the parade. Some people blush, others eagerly take photos with enormous statues of the phallus. And except for the three main erected idols, you can contemplate thousands of other penis variations. To blend in with people, don’t be shy and wear a penis hat, or even penis costume. Don’t forget to buy phallic souvenirs for your family and friends. You should also enjoy some penis-shaped food (mind, that buying any goods at the festival, you donate money on AIDS research). Try the most popular delicacy during Kanamara Matsuri, a penis lollipop. Make a pervy selfie with it AND DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY. Japanese take everything easy, for them, penis and vagina are just parts of human body and there is nothing to be shy about.

Kanamara Matsuri

 

Kanamara Matsuri

Kanamara Matsuri

Kanamara Matsuri

Kanamara Matsuri

After the festival, you can explore some nearby streets, visit some interesting sights like  Kawasaki Daishi Heiken-ji Temple or Toshiba Science Museum or simply take a walk in one of the numerous parks of Kawasaki, enjoying the fragrance of cherry blossom.

In the end, we want to emphasize once again that it is not an erotic festival. Kanamara Matsuri is a religious festival with a very light-hearted and friendly atmosphere. People of all ages, of all nationalities and sex visit festival. We do advise you to come and experience firsthand, before judging it. Kanamara Matsuri is more than just penises, it carries a more profound meaning.

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival 2019

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival

The advent of the Spring. Nature takes up a new look. We wake up slowly from long winter dream. We free ourselves from choking scarfs and heavy sweaters like an armor. Spring – a time when we unlock our feelings, desires, when we open our eyes widely, breathe in the fresh air and simply enjoy every single moment of our life. Drunk with a fragrance of cherry blossom and overwhelmed by feelings we walk through the park, so alive, probably like never before, catching the ray of sunshine and smiling at each other…That is how I can try to describe the feeling you can experience during one of the most charming festivals in Seoul, South Korea as well as in the whole world, known as Yeouido Spring Flower Festival.

THINGS TO DO ON YEOUIDO SPRING FLOWER FESTIVAL

This celebration is an excellent opportunity to run away from hustle and bustle of grey gloomy cities and to relish the cherry blossom in the company of your family, friends or the person you are in love with. Yeouido Spring Flower Festival is very young, probably not so advertised and world-known as Hanami in Japan or the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. The festival was celebrated for the first time in 2005. In 2019 it will be traditionally held during the first or second week of April when all around is in blossom. The easiest way to get to the location of the festival is a subway. Firstly, get to the National Assembly Station (Subway Line 9), Exit 1 or 6, then walk straight for 300m (about 5 minutes). And here you are at one of the most romantic festivals on the planet.

As it is Flower Festival, the first thing you should do is take your time and enjoy to the fullest the beauty of cherry trees in full bloom and some other flowers that you can find at the festival, such as azalea, forsythia, royal azaleas, bridal wreath spirea, deutzia.  Very soon you will blend in with people walking to and fro, chatting and taking selfies. But, of course, this festival doesn’t end after you took a selfie and walked around for 10 minutes. Another thing that will capture your attention is myriads of food trucks full of finger-licking street snacks. You will see a lot of people with mats and tents eating fried chicken and drinking beer, you can do the same, borrow or rent a tent, or simply join people and make new friends. You can order some food or come to any of street vendors.

No doubts, when you think about the festival, street food is a must. Try something exotic, for example, beodengi, street food made with silkworm pupae. If you like spicy food, try also tteokbokki that comes with orange or bright red sauce called gochujang. Another flavorsome street snack is jwipo, a traditional Korean pressed fish jerky, traditionally served hot. To continue the top list of mouth-watering delectable Korean street food, it is recommended for every visitor to try odeng (easy-to-eat fishcakes on a skewer), savory and sweet at the same time gyeranppang (egg muffins) and many other street snacks you that you will find at the festival.

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
Beodengi

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
Tteokbokki

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
Gyeranppang

Apart from stuffing your stomach, you can enjoy a photo exhibition, street performances of acrobats, singing contest, traditional Korean percussion music. Also at the festival, you will see some tents where visitors can try on and take a photo in traditional clothes, called Hanbok. If you are with children they can have some fun at the temporary roller skating rink. For couples, there is nothing more romantic than riding a tandem bicycle. The culmination of the celebration is the breath-taking fireworks along Hangang River.

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival

If you lack something romantic in your life, or if you simply want to spend some time with your dear people, Yeouido Spring Flower Festival is more than perfect. Besides, the atmosphere of cherry blossom and cheerful people around is, probably, the best cure for those, who are tired of sitting in the office in front of the laptop whole day and whole night, drowning in the daily routine, thinking about billions of problems that invade their heads every day and every hour.

How little we need sometimes to feel alive again and wake up happy next day.

Valborgsmässoafton (Valborg) 2019

Valborg

“In the meadows our dreams will ring
And the winds will sing our songs.
Let us leap over the fires with the sparks
On Walpurgis Night!”

On the last day of April, when the sun goes down, the door to another world opens. This is a night when spirits walk between people when the air is filled with magic. People are dancing around the mountainous bonfires, which are the embodiment of cleansing power from bad luck; a source of energy, protecting people from evil forces, warding off malevolent spirits and witches. At the same time, this night symbolizes the gate through which the spring and warm days come. People call it Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgisnacht, Witches’ Night) or simply Valborg.

HISTORY OF VALBORG

The name of the festival originates from the 8th-century missionary Saint Walburga (Saint Valborg), well-known for her fighting against sorcery and witchcraft, establishing the Catholic convent of Heidenheim in Germany and promoting Christianity in Europe and especially in Germany.  However, Saint Walburga has never been commemorated in Sweden. Catholic Mass on her day is probably the only connection of Walburga with Sweden.

In fact, Valborgsmässoafton has pagan roots. It all started in the 8th century when on the advent of the spring Germans let their cattle to go out to graze in woods and fields. But to protect their livestock, to frighten the wolves, they used to dance around the bonfire, singing and making noise.  Naturally, that those times such a feast was considered to be paganish, so the Christian priests wanted to stop it. Nevertheless, it wasn’t prohibited but removed to Saint Walpurgis’ day, which evolved even into greater celebration. In Sweden, the tradition of igniting majbasor (bonfire) emerged in the 19th century, due to the German immigrants that came to the Uppland County. That is the brief story of how Valborgsmässoafton in Sweden appeared. But if you ask any Swede, most likely, he will have no idea who Walburga is and what the origin of the Witches’ Night is. The Swedes celebrate the arrival of spring and the approach of summer. That is the main purpose why they gather annually on the night of the 30th of April to frolic around the fire. Valborgsmässoafton celebration is barely connected to religion.

WHERE TO CELEBRATE VALBORG

Speaking of the modern Valborgsmässoafton celebrations, it should be mentioned, that they are not family occasions, but public events and municipalities usually take charge of construction bonfires creating the elated atmosphere. People all over Sweden gather to sing, dance and listen to numerous choirs. The large celebrations take part in Uppsala and Lund, which are known to be the major university cities. For students, Valborg is associated with freedom, last lectures, and approaching of anticipated summer. Students as well as people all over Sweden, start celebrating since the very morning with delicious breakfast, including strawberries and champagne.  The special event in Upsala that is annually swarmed by thousands of people is students’ boat race. So, don’t miss a chance to have a look at students competing in their homemade elaborately decorated and painted rafts on the Fyris River. When the competition comes to the end, students usually gather in Ekonomikumparken and simply let loose.

Valborg

Valborg

In Lund, the hotspot of the celebration is the town’s main park Stadsparken, where students party not worse than in Uppsala. What is true about celebrations in both cities is that students will guarantee you the merry atmosphere, good mood and a crazy revelry, accompanied by non-stop flow of beer and champagne. In case you want to relish some cultural events you may listen to orchestras, speeches and student choirs singing about the springtime. Choral singing is an inseparable part of the Valborg celebration and favorite pastime for many people in Sweden. On the Eve of Witches’ Night, all the chores in every part of Sweden are busy, singing their tributes to the spring.

Despite the festive vibes of Upsala and Lund, the greatest historical Valborgsmässoafton celebration takes place in the Skansen Open Air Museum,  Stockholm.  Witches’ Night in Stockholm is perfect opportunity to learn about ancient traditions of the Swedes, enjoy the singing of uplifting folk songs by Stockholms Studentsångare (a student choir). But the main charm of celebration in Stockholm lies in its ambiance. At dusk, when the bonfire is lit, people burst into dance, celebrating the end of dark gloomy winter and welcoming the sunny days of spring and summer. Although the fire helps to warm up, we advise wearing some warm clothes, as the spring nights are still rather cold. Another way to ward off freezing cold is traditional nettle soup.  And of course, no festival is complete without crackling fireworks.

Valborg

Valborg

ADDITIONAL INFO ABOUT VALBORG

It looks like everything is said about Valborg, but no. On the 30th of the April, you might also notice a lot of flags, not without reason. It happened though, that the birthday of King Carl XVI Gustaf falls on the same day as Walpurgis Night. Zillions of Swedish flags is the way people congratulate and show respect to the King.

And one more thing, it is mistaken to think that when the bonfire dies, the festivities are finished too. People go to the pubs and restaurants or join the boozy parties of their friends. Those parties proceed the whole night and the whole next day because the 1st of May in Sweden is a “red day” on the calendar. It is an International Worker’s Day, which is declared a national holiday in Sweden, giving people one more excuse to party and enjoy the life.

Finally, you can celebrate the Witches’ Night in other countries, like Germany, Finland, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. But if you want to understand what the Valborg means for the Swedes, you have to come and experience it firsthand, blending in with locals in jovial celebration of spring.

Glad Valborg! Happy Witches’ Night!

The Beltane Fire Festival 2019

Beltane Fire Festival

Fire along with water,  earth, and the air is considered to be one of the eternal parts of the world. It appears in various cultures, numerous legends, and myths. At the same time, you can find the fire as an inseparable part of many celebrations dedicated to the changing of the seasons, when the frosty days of winter are replaced by the fragrance of spring and eventually by the sunny days of summer. In India, people celebrate the equinox of spring on the Holi Festival. In Spain people celebrate Las Fallas, greeting Spring, burning everything old, saying ‘goodbye’ to the past year and ‘hello’ to the new life. Meanwhile in Scotland people carouse in a wild dancing around the huge dazzling bonfire, celebrating the anticipated change of the season, the death of winter and the birth of summer. This day is known as the Beltane Fire Festival.

THE HISTORY OF BELTANE FIRE FESTIVAL

The roots of the Beltane Fire Festival can be observed in Celtic Mythology. The name of the festival originates from the Solar God Bel, the god of death and life, the god of light and fertility. Those times the Sun God Bel was one of the most worshipped deities, who had the power to defeat dark forces and bring the light, the warm and sunny days of summer that all the people were looking forward to. To welcome the summer and pay homage to the Solar God Bel, people kindled bonfires, uniting in the singing, jumping across the fire and dancing to the pulsating drumbeats, absorbing the energy of fire, healing, cleansing and purifying themselves from evil and bad luck. However, around the bonfire, you could see not only people but the livestock (pasturing used to be one of the main activities for Celts). People believed that the fire had a power not only to protect people but the farm animals as well. So, this fire ritual was annual tradition before the beginning of pasturing and putting the cattle to the fields.

MAIN RITUALS & TRADITIONS

As far as you can see the bonfire is the main highlight and embodiment of boundless energy. But there are some other allures of the festival. First of all, no Beltane Fire Festival was possible without bannocks, traditional oatcakes. While bonfire served for defending human beings and livestock, bannocks were made to venerate fertility of the earth. It was believed that if you ate one such oatcake on the Beltane morning,  you were blessed to have livestock and crops wealth. Nowadays people also make bannocks, but besides the traditional bannocks, you can find many variations of this pie.

Another interesting Celtic tradition is handfasting. This is the act of tying hands that means the temporary marriage, not bound by the vows, or so-called permanent marriage, which depends on the seriousness of couple’s intentions and the size of the flame of their love. This tradition also leaped through the time, being quite popular among couples on the night of The Beltane Fire Festival.

CONTEMPORARY CELEBRATION

Although some main rituals remained, the celebration you can experience nowadays is not the same as it used to be. The modern version of Beltane Fire Festival was first held in 1988 by the creative musical band Test Dept, brilliant choreographer Lindsay John and the academics from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Their purpose was to promote the sense of oneness of the people with the environment by means of unique modern interpretation of the ancient festival while preserving some old Celtic traditions. With the time the Beltane Fire Festival developed and grew significantly. It attracts more and more people to welcome the summer in rowdy uncontrolled revelry around the large bonfire on the Calton Hill at night before the 1st of May.

 The Night of the Beltane Fire Festival

The festival itself is a spectacular procession that commences at the National Monument of Scotland and moves along the path to the hypnotizing rhythms of drummers. The heads of the parade are the Green Man and the May Queen, accompanied by a number of other mythological characters.The journey of Green Man and May Queen is constantly interfered by various groups who either help or hamper their progress toward the end of the procession.

When the dramatic performance symbolizing the beginning of summer comes to the end, the Green Man and May Queen welcome the summer by igniting the bonfire. This magnificent night ends up in the Bower where the couples are handfasted and all the performers and spectators dance, eat and drink, celebrating the change of season. People simply let loose. They free themselves from clothes and strict rules with moral duties imposed by society. On that night people merge with nature, turning into a whole one.

Beltane Fire Festival

Beltane Fire Festival

Beltane Fire Festival

  TIPS & ADVICE

  • Book your accommodation well in advance, as on the festival city becomes a hive full of tourist.
  • It is not a free event, however, the price is quite affordable: approximately £8.50 for one ticket, if you buy in advance; £10, if you buy on the day of the festival.
  • If you are under 18, you have to be accompanied by an adult. (We don’t recommend bringing kids, as the performances may include nude scenes.)
  • Wear warm clothes. The end of the spring doesn’t mean the warm weather.
  • The Beltane Fire Festival is the best time to visit Edinburgh, but if you have an opportunity – stay a few days more and explore the Old Town of Edinburgh. You should take a stroll through the Royal Mile, visit Edinburgh Castle and other places of interest. Edinburgh is a charming city.

If you want to experience frolic atmosphere of people blending in fiery, hot dance honoring the Sun, visit one of the most exquisite festivals in Scotland, based on the modern view on the rich Celtic traditions, yet keeping the true spirit of Scottish people. And remember that the Beltane Fire Festival is more than just a show. It is a chance to feel yourself a part of the boundless Universe, ruled by the Almighty Nature.

The King’s Day (Koningsdag) 2019

King's Day

 FOLLOWING RULES OR LETTING LOOSE?

Amsterdam is a popular touristic spot. Myriads of people from all over the world swarm the city every day for different reasons. Since Amsterdam is advertised as the city where everything is allowed, some people call it a paradise for drugs and sex. And, surely there is some truth in these words. However, if you live for some time in Amsterdam and communicate with locals, you will find out that in fact, the Dutch are very conservative and secluded, they care a lot about their social space and they are definitely not porn merchants and drug traffickers as  many people think due to numerous false stereotypes about Amsterdam, spread across the globe.

People in the Netherlands like to say ‘doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg’, which means  ‘just act normal, that’s crazy enough’. These words perfectly describe the way of life of an average Dutch. But everything is completely different when the day of “orange madness” comes and unites reserved Dutch in the crazy & orange atmosphere of King’s Day.

QUEEN’S DAY OR KING’S DAY?

Koningsdag or King’s Day is a National holiday, which takes place in the form of the huge vibrant street party on the King’s Willem-Alexander birthday. As a rule, King’s Day is celebrated on 27th of April, but when the King’s birthday falls on Sunday, all the celebrations are moved to Saturday.

Also, it is interesting, that this holiday is called King’s day only for a few years. For decades King’s Day used to be the Queen’s Day, due to the row of the powerful female royal monarchs. The holiday was held initially on the  31st of August, 1885 as Prinsessedag ( Princess’s Day), on the birthday of the heir to the throne,  Princess Wilhelmina. When in November 1890 she was enthroned, the holiday got the name Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). With the coronation of Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana,  the celebrations were moved to Juliana’s birthday, the 30th of April. The next was Queen Beatrix. Naturally, the holiday supposed to be switched to her birthday, but she decided not to change the date. Firstly, in honor of her mother, the previous Queen Juliana. Secondly, probably, because of not the best weather in the Netherlands on her birthday which falls on the 31st of January.

Nowadays as we already mentioned, the Dutch and thousands of tourists celebrate the birthday of the King Willem-Alexender, on the 27th of April with obviously better and warmer weather for the open-air festivities.

IF KING’S DAY, THEN IN AMSTERDAM!

Although you can find celebrations, and parties dedicated to the King’s day, in every corner of Netherlands, Amsterdam remains the location of the most splendid celebration with fascinating musical performances, dancing, and positive ‘orange’ vibes.

King’s Day celebration in Amsterdam kicks off on the eve of the holiday. People call it King’s Night. This is a time when the  Amsterdam is transformed in the city of the astonishing, mind-bending concerts and parties with the best world-known DJs. Celebrations proceed to the morning, and often don’t stop the next day, but grow to the next level. And it is a sin not to party on this day!

THINGS TO DO ON THE KING’S DAY

When the KIng’s day begins, we recommend you not to start the day at Amsterdam’s infamous “coffee shops”, if you don’t want to be stoned for the whole day, melting on the sofa from mind-numbing marijuana. You can relax in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam any other day, but the party vibes of King’s day you can enjoy only once a year.  The first highlight of the holiday we advise to visit is vrijmarkt (literally ‘free market’). During the Koningsdag, people are allowed to trade for free, without any license.

From 7 am till 11 am, Amsterdam transforms into a large street market. There you can find everything, starting with old children’s toys, second-hand clothing and finishing with gadgets offered at low prices. If you want to relish the variety of goods and find something unique,  you should come early in the morning. But remember that this free market is more about having fun than buying something really valuable. Just follow the simple rule: don’t be shy to negotiate about price and simply have fun. Also, you can try to set up your own shop and sell something, perhaps, something you’ve always dreamt to get rid of but didn’t have a chance.

King's Day

Except for trading and partying to the DJs beats on King’s Day, there is also a host of other activities. Whether you came here with your boyfriend or girlfriend, family or friends, you will find something appealing to you. Visitors are offered to take a part in numerous, games, sport events. While parents can have their beer, kids may play some Dutch games, like koekhappen, in which they bite off an attached to the thread spiced cake, called ontbijtkoek. Another popular game is spijkerpoepen (in which participants tie a string around their waist with a nail dangling at one end, which they try to lower beyond the bottleneck without using their hands).

One more attraction of the King’s Day is its parades of colorfully decorated boats that fill Amsterdam canals. Prinsengracht is the main canal with the biggest concentration of boat parties. To join the floating party, you don’t need a special invitation. Very often boats just stop near shore to pick up any willing to party with them. However, joining this party, mind that only one regular drink per person is allowed on the boat and most of the boats don’t have a toilet. You should definitely join the floating party if you have an opportunity, but if not, there is a plenty of other non-stop parties in Amsterdam.

King's Day

Except for the huge free market, amusing Dutch games and crazy partying, you can take a break and go to some museums. Majority of museums are closed, as King’s Day is a national holiday. But a few hotspots, such as Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum stay open.  Of course, we don’t suggest you spend one of the biggest holidays in the Netherlands only in museums. When you enriched yourself culturally, you can always join the revelers and continue partying until the end of the day.

In addition, during the Koningsdag, you can be lucky to see the King and the Queen, not on the TV, but in the real life. Each year, on the King’s Day, royals go to a certain town in the country to meet the people and participate in the celebration, playing  Dutch games and enjoying the old traditions of the country. Despite the many accidents that happened during the several King’s Day and Queen’s day celebrations, Royal family doesn’t stop attending this annual street celebration, trying to show the connection and equality of royals with the Dutch people.

Now when you know about the main attractions of King’s Day, you may have a look through some useful tips, that might help you enjoy King’s Day to the fullest.

King's Day

King's Day

KING’S DAY TIPS

  • First of all, take care of your outfit. Orange is the color of the monarchy. To become a part of the holiday, you should wear from head to toe orange clothes, and also you can complete your look with some ostentatious accessories. While being clad like a clown, be confident, as at this event, the weirder and oranger you look, the better.
  • Speaking of your shoes, they are shouldn’t be necessarily orange, but comfortable. Taxis and public transport are usually restricted through the center of Amsterdam during the King’s Day. So, you will have to walk a lot.
  • Next tip for the freshman. If you want to blend in with locals, learn the words of Het Wilhelmus, the Dutch anthem and the symbol of patriotism.  During the Koningsdag you will hear many times crowds singing about the courageous William and his fight for the Dutch nation.
  • Before going to vrijmarkt, prepare lots of small change. Many vendors are not always able to change large bills.
  • Once again, although Amsterdam is known to be the city of freedom, there are some strict regulations, regarding alcohol during the King’s day. As well as on the boat, in any public place, you are allowed to have only one alcoholic drink at a time. If you carry more than one bottle of alcohol, it might be confiscated.
  • Be careful. The crowded celebration is the best place for pick-pocketers, so watch your wallet. Unfortunately, not everyone comes to Amsterdam with good intentions.
  • Finally, don’t forget to book accommodation way in advance. Amsterdam is a very crowded city, on Koningsdag the population of the city is double-increased, and we don’t exaggerate. Both the most luxurious hotels and the cheapest hostels are booked a long time before the celebration. Book as early as possible, or just right now!

 

Welkom in Amsterdam!

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