Have you ever been on holiday when you've just happened upon an event? It might have been a festival or a music concert, but it was unexpected and you really quite enjoyed it.
Well, with a rise in independent travellers seeking more immersive experiences, you might want to jump on the bandwagon and start seeking out events for adventurous souls and culture vultures.
I've hand-picked 14 must-see events from around the globe, most of which are family-friendly and affordable…
American Independence Day, USA: 4th July
I've always wanted to be in America on 4th July – not just to see how American Independence Day is celebrated, but because it's my birthday that day and I imagine the energy, the fireworks, the atmosphere and the parties on my special day would be double the fun. One day perhaps!
A good place to start searching for air fares is comparison site TravelSupermarket.
Wimbledon, UK: July
Wimbledon is probably the most famous of all the tennis tournaments worldwide. And whenever I think of Wimbledon, the words ‘strawberries' and ‘cream' spring to mind. I wonder how much they cost on site now?!
But if you're looking to get your mitts on tickets, best start early as they sell out fast – particularly for centre court matches. You can buy tickets direct from Debenture Ticket Holders, giving you access to Centre Court and Court No.1.
Gay Pride, Amsterdam: July-August
The next summer festival is Amsterdam Gay Pride, which takes place in the city centre and is one of the biggest celebrations of gay pride world-wide.
What can you expect? Well, a fantastic atmosphere for a start, along with exhibitions, debates, parties… get your rainbow-coloured glad rags on and join the party!
La Tomatina, Spain: August
La Tomatina is THE event that I have always wanted to go to. I remember saying to VIP years and years ago, when the kids were knee-high to a grasshopper, that we've got to do it one year.
And now that the kids are now 13 and (nearly) 11, it seems like a great time to do it. Not least of all because this event is typically held on the last Wednesday of August, meaning the kids wouldn't have to miss school to take part.
So what's the deal? Well imagine just grabbing a handful of tomatoes and lobbing them at people. Yep, that's what happens at La Tomatina!
I imagine that taking part would conjure up memories of the food fights we used to have at school. Imagine the laughs – it would be amazing. Best remember to do some exercises before I go – I don't need a little mishap when I'm chucking those tomatoes around!
Paris Fashion Week, Paris: September and Feb/March
Paris Fashion Week takes place twice yearly and sees some of the biggest designers, models and fashion lovers attend from across the globe.
I always find (when I watch clips of the show on the news or YouTube) that there are always some really bizarre outfits to be seen – some of which even the models can't walk in properly.
But fashion is an art in itself; something to be intrigued by – but for me it's usually admired from afar. I've always been a jeans and tee person – comfort over fashion and all that. Doesn't stop me from appreciating it though.
Venice Carnival, Italy: February/March
Do you remember the film Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman? Personally, I thought it was a bit crap, but when I think of the Venice Carnival and some of the elaborate masks they wear, I think of that film.
But there's no nudity at this festival – it's a very respectable event held in Venice that celebrates Lent. There are, however, plenty of elaborate costumes to admire and lots of opportunities to taste a range of culinary goodies.
Food and dressing up? Sounds like a great excuse to join in the fun.
St Patrick's Day, Ireland: March
If you've ever been to Ireland – or met an Irish person you know you're in for a good time. So imagine spending St Patrick's Day in a major city such as Dublin in Ireland?
They'll be fun, frolics and festivities galore – and, as we're talking about the Irish, plenty of drinking no doubt.
Secret Solstice, Iceland: June
I have mentioned before that Iceland has long been on my list of destinations I want to visit – mainly so that I can admire the Northern Lights.
But another great reason to holiday in Iceland is to celebrate the Secret Solstice event – where the sun never sets!
There's 96 hours of good vibes, great music and plenty of entertainment to keep the crowds going and thousands of festival lovers head to Reykjavik to party day and event.
Must be strange visiting a destination where the sun never sets. They must have great black-out blinds, that's all I can say!
Oktoberfest, Munich: September-October
If there was ever an event made just for VIP it would be Oktoberfest. He has been to a handful of beer festivals, but the 16- to 18-day Oktoberfest would be the ultimate accolade conquest for him.
But sadly, he'll never get to go. Well, not until he retires anyway as this event is held in late September to early October and, being a school teacher, he's required to be in school.
Taking place in Germany's Munich, there are beer tents to explore – small and large – and prepare to be a little more than merry when you leave.
It's not one for the kids really, but I had to sneak in an adult-only festival because sometimes it's nice not to have to worry about the kids when you're having fun yourself.
New Year's Eve Sydney, Australia: 31st December
I always wonder what it would be like being in Sydney at midnight on 31st December. The Aussies always seem to put on the most magical of fireworks displays that seem to go on for hours.
Can you imagine the atmosphere that night? It would be epic! It's never actually appealed to me being outdoors in a crowd on New Year's Eve, but I make an exception for the mark of a New Year in Sydney, with the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge as the backdrop.
Funnily enough, I did celebrate the start of 1999 in Darwin. I remember it well because Prince's song ‘1999' was playing loud and proud as we danced in the streets. Such great memories.
Carnival – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: February/March
It’s probably the world’s biggest festival and attracts around five million people every year, so I couldn’t write this post without mentioning Rio De Janeiro’s Carnival.
And although Carnival is celebrated throughout many Latin American nations, no one does it like Rio (apparently).
Taking place over the five days preceding the Catholic season of Lent, Carnival was historically a religious celebration, which starts 40 days before Easter.
The city comes alive with music, parties and dancing – mainly by half naked people shaking their bits in colourful and elaborate costumes.
The event culminates in a two-night gathering, where the top 12 samba schools compete for a grand prize.
Holi, India: March
I've picked this festival out as it looks like another fun activity for the whole family to get involved in. Holi is celebrated throughout India and got its name as the ‘Festival Of Colours' (from Lord Krishna, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, who played pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and coloured dye powder).
The festival marks the victory of good over evil as well as the end of winter – sounds like a good reason to celebrate to me – and takes place the day after the full moon in March each year.
But best of all, people spend the day smearing colored powder all over each other's faces, throwing colored water at each other, having parties and dancing under water sprinklers. I just know the kids would love that.
And if you don't want to travel all the way to India to take part in the event, Groupon sells tickets for the Holi Festival Of Colours at Lee Valley Waterworks in London – right now you can get two adult tickets to the event for £29.99. Click on the banner below to start your search.
Songkran, Thailand: April
This is another event that is right up my street as it involves chucking water at complete strangers – and getting away with it.
Songkran takes place in Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Bangkok every year and is the celebration of the New Year.
The exact date for the event varies as it depends on the lunar cycle, but it’s usually in April.
The traditional celebration was to pay respect to your elders by spraying some water onto their hands, but the tradition has developed over the years to become a public three-day water fight.
Finally, most of the events listed have dedicated websites where you can buy tickets, which I've listed, but if you're looking to compare accommodation costs, a great place to start is hotel comparison site, Trivago.
Which event sounds like something you'd like to attend?
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