What festivals are worth of your attention

1. Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival, Tokyo, Japan

The cherry blossoms, or sakura, have a two-week window of blooming and the Japanese know how to celebrate spring and their national flower. Most people flock to the Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival at Ueno Park. Over 800 cherry trees are scattered throughout the park and over 1,000 lanterns hanging on the trees are lit up at night to extend the flower viewing.

Festival dates vary each year based on when the flowers bloom but usually late March to early April. During this two-week period, the Japanese gather under the cherry trees to eat, drink and celebrate with friends and family. We loved the festive atmosphere, beauty of the flowers and unique cultural experience. My kids enjoyed exploring the different structures around Ueno Park all underneath the pink and white canopy of flowers.

There were various musical events scheduled. We enjoyed sampling some of the unique delicacies at the various food stands too. For a unique view of the blossoms, swan-shaped boats can be rented for a tour around Shinobazu Pond.

Tip! Go an hour or two before sunset and stay until it gets dark. There’s plenty of time to admire the flowers and enjoy the festivities during the day. But, it’s also a great opportunity to see the lanterns lit up once it gets dark and do some nighttime hanami.

When: Usually late March / early April (approx. 2-weeks)

What: Celebration of Spring

Where: Ueno Onshi Park, Tokyo, Japan

2. Holi, India

India’s yearly Holi festival, also known as the Festival of Colours is one of our family’s favourite holidays to celebrate. Holi is celebrated for several days every year in March throughout India and Nepal. Festivities include prayers and bonfires, with the main event being the throwing of colour powder.

Adults and children alike take to the streets to throw gulal (powder) and spray dyed water (from water guns, buckets or water balloons) on everyone they can find. If you think India is chaos on a regular day, wait until Holi! Its anarchy!

Holi is a day that adults get to be kids again and kids get to really let loose. Throwing water balloons and coloured powder on parents is typically a child’s number one priority on Holi.

Tip! Celebrating Holi on the streets in India with kids can be overwhelming. We suggest finding an organised party at a local hotel, expat club or within a housing compound. These parties will be less chaotic than on the streets, also allowing children to escape from the festivities easily if they need to. Another tip is to wear sunglasses and a hat to help keep the colour from getting in your eyes. Mostly, remember to let go and enjoy one of the world’s most exciting festivals to welcome the coming spring season.

When: On the day after the full moon in March every year

What: Hindu Spring Festival

Where: Across all of India and Nepal (and may other countries where Hinduism is practised).

3. Provins Medieval Festival, France

Provins Medieval festival is held once a year in the UNESCO world heritage site of Provins. The festival celebrates all things medieval and has a different theme each year. Last year when we attended the theme was children’s games in medieval times. The festival is held over a weekend in June every year. Provins is located one hour from Paris by train. If interdependent travel to the event is not your thing there is day trips from Paris available and accommodation in the town.

The festival is two-day event of epic medieval proportions. People dress in costume, bands play music from the period, markets stalls, activities and food all from the a bygone era will whizz you back to the medieval age. Our kids had a ball trying out calligraphy, archery and medieval ball games. Its amazing there are activities and events in every direction. Stadium shows are also available at Provins where you can witness jousting events, birds of prey and war games from the middle ages.

When: June

What: A weekend celebrating medieval times.

Where: Provins, France

4. Just So Festival, Cheshire, UK

As you go through the entrance archway to the Just So Festival (made out of suitcases, incidentally) it is like you are sprinkled with fairy dust and transported to a magical place far away from the stresses of everyday life. The fun begins straight away and there is a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air for the weekend ahead.

The list of events and activities is so extensive that you might wonder where to explore first. There is a woodland area complete with fairy trail with little fairy houses and a number of smaller activities like Clay Faces (making faces on trees from clay), toasting marshmallows over an open fire, and magical stories round the camp fire. In the central area there is tight rope walking, hula hooping and circus tricks.

The Peekaboo zone designed for babies has a changing area, baby baths, feeding tent and some lovely activities like Clay Babies which under 2’s love too. The main stage is the centre point for the tribal activities – you can choose to join a tribe (all named after animals) and take part in fun activities to score points for your tribe over the weekend.

Fancy dress is positively encouraged and you will be amazed at some of the fantastic family efforts on display! As night time falls you can settle down to some great stories around the campfire or watch films such as Mary Poppins at the outdoor cinema where everyone sits on the sloped hill on a picnic blanket or camping chairs. b (which in the UK is a distinct possibility) then simply pop on your waterproofs and in true British fashion the show will go on with all the outdoor events moving under trees or into the many tents around the site.

Tip! Let the kids jump up and down in muddy puddles (and yes you can do that too!) and have fun. The food is good with lots of different options and you can end a long and tiring day eating freshly made pizza and chips in a barn listening to a live acoustic set from one of the many bands who play throughout the day on the outdoor music stage.

When: August

What: A spellbinding weekend of art, music and literature in a woodland setting

Where: Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire, North-East England, UK

5. Easter Parade in New Orleans, U.S.A.

The Chris Owens’ Historic French Quarter Easter Parade is a small scale family-friendly version of Mardi Gras! The morning parade begins at the famous Antoine’s Restaurant, takes a stop for mass at the St. Louis Cathedral, then resumes after a promenade in Jackson Square.

Your kids will delight in the elaborate costumes, fancy over-the-top hats and talented marching bands. Fully decorated carriages and convertibles will pass you by with the paraders throwing out stuffed animals, colourful beads, Easter toys, candy, and trinkets! Family friendly fun on Bourbon Street…Who would have thought! Line the streets of the French Quarter and join all the other families thrilling in the Easter festivities!

Tip! Your kids will get lots of loot and candy while watching the parade. Bring along an empty bag to collect all the goodies!

When: Easter

What: A family-friendly parade on Bourbon Street

Where: New Orleans, U.S.A.