Get on Down with the Locals: A Festival Guide

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

See somewhere at its most vibrant, most musical and when the locals have got their best party feet and faces on: Festivals celebrate the weird, the wonderful and everything in between, from a thousand year old religious traditional festival like India’s Ganesh Chaturthi, to the refined high culture of The Verdi Opera Festival to the cultural mash up and binge that is the Burning Man Festival.

Attending a festival is a great opportunity to get down and party with the locals but not all is as it may seem on the festival circuit; some events have been hijacked by festival tourism (The Festival of the Running of the Bulls, and La Tomatina, for example) and bulge out of shape with people not down with the spirit of the thing, so look further than the hype if you’re after an authentic festival experience. There are hundreds of little known festival wonders out there that will surprise you with their ingenuity and total originality! You’ve heard of Rio Carnival, Glastonbury Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, Octoberfest, and the Sundance Film Festivalbut bet you haven’t heard of Boi Bumba, the Aso Town Fire festival or the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival (even the names sound sounds pretty enticing don't they.).

Once you've picked your festival event there are a few hard and fast rules that will make all the difference. The best advice for all prospective festival goers is BE PREPARED:

*Buy your tickets in advance and have accommodation (or a tent if it’s that kind of festival) pre-arranged.

*Know what you’re allowed to bring onto festival grounds. Some festivals don’t allow liquids, some don’t allow cameras, some don’t allow alcohol, some don’t allow dogs, some don’t allow nudity, some don’t allow women…

*Know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re a festival virgin you may be in for a surprise, so ask around and know what to expect so you don’t offend anyone by forgetting to cover your shoulders, impaling someone’s foot with your high heels in the mosh pit or getting angry when people start throwing coloured dye in your face.

*Bring water and a spare pair of underwear and wear sunscreen and stretchy pants. This is good general advice for all situations, even when attending an opera festival when a niggle in the back of your throat may leave you paranoid for an entire evenings performance.

Now go free and party with the locals like it's 1999, the rhythm has overtaken your soul and a Hindu god has been resurrected...

World Reviewer's favourite festivals so far

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