Desert Festival of Jaisalmer 2019

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

India is a unique country which never stops to impress with its diversity of traditions and festivals. When going to India it is always a challenge to choose where to go. If you plan to visit this colorful country in winter, we have a suggestion for you.

In the heart of the vast Thar Desert, lies the majestic city of Jaisalmer, known also as the “Golden City”. Every winter this city comes alive with the vibrant colors, authentic music and passionate dancing of the Desert Festival.  Thousands of people swarm the city to experience the richness of Jaisalmer culture.

RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL, TOURIST-ORIENTED EVENT OR COMMEMORATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE?

As every Indian celebration, the Desert Festival has its story. According to the legend, Lord Krishna, ruler of Yadav community told Arjuna that a successor belonging to the Yadav clan will establish his kingdom on the Trikuta Hill. The prediction of Lord Krishna, eventually, came true. In 1196 Rawal Jaiswal, a descendant of the Yadav community set up his kingdom in Jaisalmer. Naturally, when people found out that the prophecy came true, they were overwhelmed with happiness and started celebrating it. The celebrations soon evolved into the Desert Festival. We should also mention that this celebration is different from many religious Hindu holidays you know, this festival doesn’t bear any specific meaning of purification, the victory of good over evil, and it is not a  chance to ask gods for wealth and health. The main purpose of contemporary Desert Festival is to involve more people, to attract more tourists to learn about exquisite Rajasthan culture. Due to the efforts of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, which is responsible for organizing and hosting the festival, this celebration of the Rajasthan cultural heritage has flourished and developed significantly, attracting more and more visitors from all over the world.

THINGS TO DO AND SEE AT THE DESERT FESTIVAL

In 2019, Desert Festival takes place from the 17th to 19th of February at the beautiful golden desert city of Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan, India.The festival kicks off with a traditional procession known as Shobha Yatra. The procession commences at Sonar Road and culminates at the main venue of the festival,  Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium. You will see myriads of men with swords in hands riding camels, horses, and elephants, locals in the most extravagant, bright costumes marching through the street. People dance and sing filling the air with indigenous vibes. Bhopa’s Langhas and Manganiars play folk music and sing touching ballads of romance, bravery, and tragedy. You can also relish the performances of local nomads, the Kalabaz or the Nat’s, famous for their fascinating gymnastic acts. In addition, you will see a lot of snake charmers, puppeteers and you will be astonished by breathtaking stunts of Gair and Fire dancers.

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

While enjoying all the festivities, don’t forget to go to Bazaar, a perfect place to shop for souvenirs, where you will definitely find something unique for yourself. Then you can fuel yourself up with some delicacies of traditional Rajasthani cuisine and continue exploring the local culture.

You shouldn’t miss some purely male contests. First of all, it is turban tying, which for locals is not only tradition but an art. Other manly events are Maru-Shri (Mr. Desert competition) and competition for the title of ‘the best mustaches’. In Rajasthan culture, the mustache is a symbol of honor. Judges assess mustaches, paying attention both to the quality and length of mustaches. The man who wins the competition is given a prize and regarded as the most honored man.

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Also, no desert is possible without camels. Camels are the integral part of desert life as well as the desert festival. Therefore, at Jaisalmer Desert celebration, you can contemplate a host of camel-related events. Probably the most captivating competition is camel polo, which draws the attention of the audience by their camel riding skills. You can also experience spectacular stunts of Rajasthan gymnastics on the back of the camel. Camel formation dancing is another animated and amusing event. Finally, you can cheer for camel races, which are not less riveting and exciting than all other events mentioned above. By the way, in case you want more camels in your life, many hotels offer camel safaris.

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Unfortunately, the festival takes place only for three days. The Desert Festival comes to an end on Poornima (meaning the full moon in Sanskrit). It means that you will have a chance to immerse into the fairy-tail ambiance of picturesque Sam sand dunes, listening to the folk concerts under the full moon and sparkling stars of the magical night sky. The culmination of the Desert Festival is sparkling fireworks exploding in the sky, leaving vivid impressions and bright memories from the festival.

KEEP CALM AND GO TO THE DESERT FESTIVAL

The Desert Festival is an excellent event, for those who are in love with India and its unique culture. In Jaisalmer, you will experience another India, remote, unspoiled and romantic atmosphere of golden sands far from hustle and bustle of typical, always in a move, exuberant and noisy India.

If you do like the idea of escaping from daily routine to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, start planning your trip straight away. The easiest way to get to the location of Desert festivities is by air. The Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, or you can also fly first to Delhi and then go by bus or train, which might take nearly 6 hours. In Jaisalmer, if you need any help, you can go to the tourist help center, where people are always eager to help tourists with how to spend the Desert Festival and enjoy time to the fullest.

 

Welcome to the fantastic world of India!

 

Battle of The Oranges 2019 (Battaglia delle Arance)

Orange Battle

Ciao! Welcome to the romantic country of  Italy with its wealth of delightful food, superb wine, and grandeur of architecture from which you simply can’t take your eyes off. There are at least one hundred reasons, why one should visit Italy. One of these reasons is its outstanding festivals. You’ve probably heard about Carnevale di Venezia, but have you ever heard about the Carnival of  Ivrea, famous for the Battle of the Oranges? You should definitely add it to your bucket list. The 2019 Battle of the Oranges edition will be held from March the 3rd to 5th, traditionally taking place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

ORANGE WAR OR THE WAY TO GET LADY’S ATTENTION

The Battle of the Oranges is a spectacular food war that attracts travelers from all over the world. The origin of this festival is still unclear. According to the popular legend, back to the Medieval times, Ivrea’s lord tried to rape the miller’s daughter, Violetta, on the eve of her wedding, supposedly exercising his droit du seigneur (right of the lord). The tyrant’s plan failed when the young rebellious woman instead beheaded him and townspeople attacked and burned the palace. Nowadays, every year, a young girl is chosen to play the part of Violetta, the defiant young lady. The battles are fought between nine teams of orange-throwers on foot( symbolizing rebellious people) and throwers on horse-drawn carts wearing protective clothing (symbolizing local guards of the tyrant).

However, there is another explanation of throwing-oranges festival. Some people say that the origin of this tradition is in the mid 19th century. Local girls, standing on balconies, started to throw some oranges at the parade carriages, together with confetti and flowers, in order to draw the attention of boys in the carriages. Boys started throwing some objects back at girls, and that is the other theory of how this little battle began.

RED CAP OR ORANGE SQUAD?

Some people don’t relish the idea of getting struck by a flying orange. But if you are crazy enough, really want to soak in the culture and traditions of the city and have a desire to take a part in the orange-throwing battle, you can volunteer to join one of the nine teams on foot. If you don’t want to be the target of orange throwers and at the same time you want to show your full participation,  wear the Berretto Frigio (a red cap) and you’ll be seen as a spectator and not a target. Although a red cap can’t guarantee you won’t get hit by orange, so dress accordingly. Wear non-slip shoes and clothing you don’t mind getting dirty.

Orange Battle

MUST-SEE AND MUST-TRY  IN IVREA

Besides throwing oranges and watching the food battle, there is myriad of other things to do and see in Ivrea. Ivrea is a charming, picturesque, medieval little town. Start your sightseeing from Piazza Castello and Castle of Ivrea, then go to Bishop’s Palace and Ivrea Cathedral, which are superb examples of Medieval architecture. Check out one of Ivrea’s several museums, for instance, Civic Museum of Ivrea. It is definitely worth spending time on it. Besides, if you are born with a sweet tooth, you should definitely visit creative chocolate shop Nella Chocolate. You can also take a walk down the Via Arduino and Palestro, which are considered to be the main shopping streets.

Orange Battle
Castle of Ivrea

The very important part of getting acquainted with the city is tasting its local cuisine. In the morning, during Carnevale di Ivrea, don’t miss the free distribution of beans. Cured pork and beans washed down with red wine is a foodgasm. Speaking of local wine, you should try spiced, hot-served wine, known as vin brulé. Its fragrance and exquisite taste make it a must-try for every traveler. And, probably, the best way to finish a meal is a piece of Torta 900. This is not just a cake, it is a delectably sweet chocolate cake, that simply melts in your mouth and is an example of a spectacular Italian cuisine.

Orange Battle
Torta 900

Although the Battle of the Oranges is a little messy and even violent, it is not simply the throwing of oranges. For locals, it is an important part of their culture and first of all, it’s the symbol of their liberty and freedom of expression. The Battle of the Oranges makes this carnival one of the leading carnivals in Italy and all over the world. No elaborate preparations are required. Just book accommodation and air ticket in advance, bring your Berretto Frigio, comfortable clothing, plus yourself and your friends. Find your freedom, unleash yourself from rigid rules and gloomy daily routine. Feel the vivacious atmosphere of the Carnival de Ivrea and its crazy, yet fantastic Battle of the Oranges.

 

…if you lack vitamin C, BENVENUTI AL BATTAGLIA DELLE ARANCE!

Chinese New Year 2019

Chinese New Year

Excitement builds up all around the world when the Chinese New Year approaches. This is festival known for streets lit up with bright lights, fireworks whistles that can be heard a mile away and smells of freshly-baked cakes that can tease our nostrils. A cheerful and vivacious mood can be felt in the air. This is a time when all worries and sorrows are left behind and the only rule is to be happy and celebrate.

HISTORY OF CHINESE NEW YEAR

This holiday has a long history of over 3,800 years. According to the popular myth, the origin of this day lies in the fight against Nian(Year), a beast in Chinese mythology. On the night of New Year’s Eve, the beast visited the cities and eat crops, cattle, and even people. In order to protect themselves from the monster, people placed food on their porches so that evil creature wouldn’t harm them.

Going back to the reality, of course, nobody has to fight a beast. Modern Chinese New Year is a colorful friendly celebration which can be found all around, far beyond China. In several corners of the world, major China Towns annually hold outstanding New Year festivals and parades too. To say, that you can visit some Chinese New Year festivities in some big cities, as well as in small towns throughout the whole planet, will not be an exaggeration either.

Also, I would like to add, when surfing the Internet, you might see the name “Spring Festival” in the article about Chinese New Year. It might be confusing, but Chinese New Year and Spring Festival are synonyms. It all happened because of moves of modernization in the 20th century. Chinese government wanted people to celebrate Western New Year. Therefore they decide to rename traditional holiday to Spring Festival. Then there were some other changes in the history of Chinese New Year. There was a time even when the Chinese New Year wasn’t celebrated at all ( the period when Chinese Communist Party was in power). Although, nowadays Chinese politicians don’t stop working and implementing new reforms, Chinese New Year remains untouched. So, in 2019 you are welcome to experience Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) firsthand. It takes place on Friday, the 5th of February.

WHERE TO SPEND CHINESE NEW YEAR

BEIJING

Without a doubt going to Beijing on Spring Festival would be a great decision. Celebration in the capital of China is, of course, the fanciest of all. The city hosts a series of Temple Fairs, that have been a part of life in Beijing for hundreds of years. There are two most recommended fair temples in Beijing: Dongyue Temple Fair and Ditan Park Temple Fair.

The Dongyue Temple Fair features five days of performances, with acrobats, opera singers, drummers, calligraphers and puppet shows. Another worth of visiting fair is Ditan Temple Fair. It is one of the most popular temple fairs, that includes a variety of performances, wide array of local Beijing snacks and handicrafts. The price of a ticket for each of mentioned above temple fairs is around 10 RMB/person( approximately $1.5 USD), which is quite affordable for any tourist.

Chinese New Year

The Dongyue Temple Fair

Chinese New YearDitan Temple Fair

Except for the Temple Fairs, visitors can also attend the Longqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival (nearly 50 miles outside of central Beijing) or the Longtan Fair.

Chinese New Year
Longtan Fair

Chinese New Year Food at Longtan Fair

GUANGZHOU

Have already been to Beijing?  Another place for spending a marvelous New Year vacation is the big southern city of Guangzhou. In China, it is called the “Flower City” for its blooming gardens all year round. Guangzhou is well-known for its flower fairs held annually during the New Year. During the fair, streets of the city are decorated with beautiful, fragrant flowers, and miniature landscapes. Also, at the fair, you can buy paintings and calligraphy from local artists or simply enjoy the various folk performances.

Chinese New Year

Among the other traditions of Spring Festival in Guangzhou is the lion dances that are performed to bring good fortune and to get rid of evil spirits. This dance is a symbol of Chinese New Year, a must go kind of event while being in China at New Year!

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

HONG KONG

Last but not least, one of the favorite cities of our team: Hong Kong. New Year in this megapolis is a unique mix of modern fun and ancient traditions. One of the reasons why people go there on New Year is roaring, colorful, indescribable in one word fireworks show. The Hong Kong’s New Year Fireworks and Countdown celebration is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Some good spots to watch the fireworks shows are Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Harbour City Rooftop Car Park, and Avenue of the Stars. In fact, you can enjoy the fireworks show from any place of the city, as this colorful, bedazzling magic performance of light is impossible to be unnoticed.

 

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year can be celebrated almost in any big city, whether it is New York, San Francisco or Singapore, or, of course, China, which will always be the heart of old as well as contemporary  New Year traditions and festivals. Chinese New Year is not only an excellent opportunity to celebrate again New Year’s Eve, but a chance to get an experience of a great cultural celebration (and maybe get a second shot with any past failed New Year’s resolutions).

And, clearly, good trip requires great preparation. Even though Chinese New Year is celebrated almost everywhere, certain locations, like China, might get everything booked months in advance so remember: 不善始者不善终 (A bad beginning leads to a bad ending. Chinese proverb). Avoid paying extra due to bad planning, get your booking done as soon as possible and 吉星高照 (fortune will smile on you!)!

Venice Carnival 2019

“Parade in crinoline and lovers in disguise:
Mysterious, opulent, lascivious Carnival!”
-Mihaela Pirjol

Venice Carnival, what was your first thought, first association? Mirrors of water, old roads that lead you to get lost in narrow streets, the grandeur of mysterious architecture,  people that hide their personalities behind masks,  music, and dancing soaked in history, that reminds us about that epoch “with curls, silk, satin, pearls, and lace”. Venice Carnival is a period of fairy-tales, dreams, hidden desires, love and freedom. Let’s dive in the next journey of something obscure, mysterious and exciting!

The Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most famous and highly anticipated events in the world. It is a magnetic peculiarity and symbol of the “floating” city. This Carnival is a riveting mix of magnificent masquerades, street fairs, charming balls with a beautiful background of Venice. The Venice Carnival in its present form has been celebrated since 1979 when Italian government and Venetian civic society decided to revive it as an attempt to boost interest in Venice and its rich customs and traditions. However, the original Carnevale di Venezia traces its roots back to the 12th century, if not earlier.  Many of the traditions and extravagant, bizarre, fantastic highlights of today’s Carnival come straight from the Middle Ages.

Venice Carnival, which in 2019 will be held from February 16 to March 5 traditionally takes place in the days leading up to Lent. This magical event fills the streets with smiles and laughter, where you can see people wearing sumptuous costumes and masks. If you want to be fully immersed in the charming atmosphere of the festival, wear a costume or at least a Venetian mask. After all, the Venetian mask is the remarkable feature that makes Venice Carnival unique and it can be also a nice souvenir to bring home. If you want to be 100% involved in the celebration, then take a part in the costume contest, showing your outfit on stage at the Gran Teatro of Piazza San Marco.

Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival

Coming to Venice Carnival is not only about drinking and making fool of yourself wearing odd, fantastic, fairy-like costumes.  For instance, you can discover hidden Venice on a Carnival-exclusive walking tour (be sure to book online in advance as these tours and events sell out quickly).

One more thing, you shouldn’t miss the Flight of the Angel or Volo dell’Angelo in Italian. This performance is free and also one of the most crowded ones during the entire program of the Carnival, so if you want to see it, arrive in Saint Mark’s Square ( Piazza San Marco) earlier, not later than 11 am. Also, every day at St. Mark’s Square you can contemplate the largest number of masqueraders between 10 am and 4 pm when the costume parades are going on.

Venice Carnival
Volo dell’Angelo

While enjoying the pomp and pageantry of the constant procession of parades, don’t forget to taste something specifically from the local cuisine, for example, the sweet treat called frittelle. Experience the variety of Italian wine. It can taste like a symphony, a flawless performance or a euphoric salsa party. Relish full-flavored divine pasta. There is nothing better, than delectable pasta accompanied by heavenly wine, like Barolo or any other, depending on your unique taste. The marvelous culmination of your Carnival experience will be the fireworks show at St. Mark’s Square, which is said to be one of the most unforgettable moments of this great celebration.

Venice Carnival
Venice Carnival Fireworks

Dreaming about Venice, mind that every good trip requires a  great preparation. The Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most visited events in the world and hotels might get fully booked months in advance. Avoid paying extra and frittering away your money, get your booking as soon as possible. The most important, don’t forget to bring your costume and mask!

BENVENUTI AL CARNAVALE ! WELCOME TO CARNIVAL !

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro 2019

Carnaval de Rio Sambadrome

“It’s better to see something once
than to hear about it a thousand times.”
– Asian proverb

Do you feel the vibes of the party? Bodies are intertwining in hot moves of samba, one step forward and two steps back, air is getting heavy, and your hips move in a crazy rhythm, music is getting louder and you unconsciously follow the ritual of immorality, demonstration of joy and freedom. Yes, this is Rio de Janeiro Carnival!

RIO CARNIVAL FROM THEN TO NOW

Like any other holiday, this carnival didn’t appear from anything, it has its far-reaching history which started hundreds of years ago. The carnival can trace its roots back to an ancient Greek festival held each spring to honor Dionysus, the god of wine. The first Rio festival dates back to 1723. The first samba school, Mangueira, appeared in 1928. Since then, many teams followed the footsteps of Mangueira and formed samba schools to take part in the Carnival.

Since then Rio Carnival is known as a series of exuberant events, raising the roof parades and parties. This celebration is one of the most important events in the Brazilian culture, where everyone wants to experience festivity and merrymaking of this carnival.

The 2019 Rio Carnival is set to take place from 1st  to the 9th of March. It officially starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. However, preparations for the Rio Carnival go on for months before the event, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the upcoming Rio Carnival, you can expect spectacular parades put on by the city’s samba schools, along with live Brazilian music and street parties.


RIO CARNIVAL

CHOCK-A-BLOCK OF PARADES, STREET PARTIES, AND BALLS

The moment you arrive in Rio, you’re completely immersed in the parties and celebration, no matter where you are. But some of the biggest and the best parties are held in the Sambódromo. Every single day you’ll find a parade taking place at the Sambadrome, with various samba schools taking part in the parades. The parades, which are also a competition between all the different schools, begin each night at 9 pm and last until the morning. They bring the special feeling of infinite convivial celebration.

RIO CARNIVAL

Moreover, during Carnival, bars, and restaurants on every street turn into a party (the street parties are called “blocos”). Whether it is at a bar or a beach, people gather, clad in flamboyant costumes to celebrate, to dance their booty off and party till they drop like a rockstar.

One of the best places to go to listen to street bands during the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is Avenida Rio Branco in Centro, the city’s downtown area. Late afternoon is the finest time to go out as this is when you’ll see processions of street bands making their way along the street playing to thousands of dancing, drinking revelers.

If partying on the street isn’t really your thing, the lavish Carnival balls may be more of your style. Most cost between R$120 and R$170 (between $38 and $54 USD in 2017 values) to attend. Although some of the celebrations are more expensive, such as the well-known annual Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel which regularly attracts a great number of VIPs. Other popular balls include the Red and Black Ball, the Ball of the Beer and the Gay Costume Ball. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, check out the celebrations held at the Rio Scala nightclub on Avenida Afrânio. For many years, the ball here is an excellent fusion of live Brazilian music and samba.

RIO CARNIVAL

WHY RIO CARNIVAL?

From the first moment you are at the celebration, you will realize that Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is undoubtedly the planet’s most ostentatious, extravagant, grandiose, mind-blowing spectacle, uniting millions of Brazilians and visitors. The “Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro” is not only the biggest Carnival but also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most captivating artistic events on the globe. Rio de Janeiro Carnival is all over the places; in the squares and streets, clubs, bars, and all other venues taking over the whole city of Rio and culminating in the Rio Samba Parade that impresses everyone without exception.

 

If you feel like dancing, singing, falling in love head over heels,
If you are ready to forget about all the rules and everything that chains you,
if you want to immerse in the ambiance of samba and joy…
Then, Rio Carnival is a must-go for you!

Get your dose of emotions and escape from routine, let the groove get in and feel the crowd’s ecstasy kick in!

 

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