Hidden Gems

Hidden Cultural Festivals Around the World

Cultural festivals offer a window into the soul of a community, showcasing traditions, rituals, and celebrations that have been passed down through generations. While many festivals like Rio Carnival and Oktoberfest are globally renowned, there are numerous hidden cultural gems that remain relatively unknown. These festivals, often celebrated in remote or lesser-visited areas, offer an authentic glimpse into the diverse tapestry of human culture. In this blog, we will uncover some of these hidden cultural festivals around the world.


Tsagaan Sar – Mongolia

Tsagaan Sar, or the Mongolian Lunar New Year, is one of the most important festivals in Mongolia. Celebrated between January and February, this festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. Families come together to feast on traditional foods such as buuz (steamed dumplings), and exchanges of gifts and well-wishes are common. The festival also involves various rituals to honor ancestors, making it a deeply spiritual and familial event.

Songkran – Thailand

While Songkran is known in Southeast Asia, it remains relatively hidden from the global mainstream. This Thai New Year festival, held in April, is famous for its water fights. Originating from the practice of pouring water over Buddha statues and elders for blessings, Songkran has evolved into a nationwide celebration. Streets turn into battlegrounds of joy, with locals and tourists alike participating in water-splashing festivities, symbolizing the washing away of sins and bad luck.


Ivrea Orange Festival – Italy

In the small town of Ivrea, Italy, a unique and vibrant festival takes place each February – the Battle of the Oranges. This historic event reenacts a medieval battle with participants dividing into teams and pelting each other with oranges. Rooted in local legend, the festival symbolizes the fight for liberty and freedom. The streets of Ivrea are filled with the scent of citrus and the sounds of laughter and revelry as the townspeople engage in this friendly but intense fruit battle.

Jarramplas – Spain

The Jarramplas festival, celebrated in Piornal, Spain, is an intriguing event where a volunteer, dressed as the mythical figure Jarramplas, parades through the streets while townspeople throw turnips at him. Held in January, this festival is a test of endurance and bravery for the participant playing Jarramplas. The origins of the festival are shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have connections to ancient rites and local legends. It is a vibrant expression of local identity and communal spirit.


Gerewol Festival – Chad

The Gerewol Festival is a mesmerizing courtship ritual celebrated by the Wodaabe tribe in Chad. Taking place annually during the rainy season, the festival is a week-long event where young men adorn themselves with elaborate makeup and attire to impress potential brides. The highlight is the Yaake dance, where participants are judged on their beauty, dance moves, and overall charm. Gerewol is a colorful and lively celebration of love, beauty, and cultural pride.

Timkat – Ethiopia

Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, is a spectacular festival held in January. The three-day event commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and involves a series of processions, prayers, and re-enactments. The highlight is the blessing of water, which is then used to baptize attendees. Vibrant processions with priests carrying replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, accompanied by music and dance, create a deeply spiritual and visually stunning experience.

South America

Puno Week – Peru

Puno Week, celebrated in November in the Peruvian city of Puno, is a vibrant festival that honors the founding of the Inca Empire. The highlight is the reenactment of the legendary arrival of the first Inca king, Manco Cápac, and his sister-wife, Mama Ocllo, who emerged from Lake Titicaca. The festival features traditional music, dance, and elaborate costumes, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Andean people. Puno Week is a celebration of history, identity, and indigenous pride.

Final Words

These hidden cultural festivals offer a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the rich diversity of global traditions. They provide a window into the soul of communities, preserving ancient rituals and fostering a sense of identity and continuity. By venturing off the beaten path to experience these festivals, travelers can gain a deeper understanding of the world’s cultural heritage and the universal human spirit of celebration.


1. What is the significance of Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia?

Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian Lunar New Year, marks the end of winter and the start of a new year. It is a time for family reunions, feasting, and honoring ancestors.

2. Why do people throw oranges during the Ivrea Orange Festival in Italy?

The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea symbolizes the fight for liberty and freedom, reenacting a medieval battle where participants throw oranges to represent stones.

3. What is the purpose of the Gerewol Festival in Chad?

The Gerewol Festival is a courtship ritual where young Wodaabe men dress elaborately and perform dances to impress potential brides, celebrating love and beauty.

4. How is Timkat celebrated in Ethiopia?

Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, involves processions, prayers, and the blessing of water, commemorating the baptism of Jesus.

5. When is Puno Week celebrated in Peru and what does it commemorate?

Puno Week is celebrated in November and honors the founding of the Inca Empire with reenactments, traditional music, dance, and elaborate costumes.


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