Budget Travel Festivals


Festivals are a vibrant and exciting part of cultures around the world. From celebrating religious traditions to embracing the change of seasons, festivals bring people together to dance, listen to music, and have a great time. If you’re a budget traveler looking for unique experiences, attending festivals can be a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and create unforgettable memories. In this article, we’ll explore a diverse selection of festivals from different countries and months of the year that won’t break the bank.

January Festivals

1. Up Helly Aa

Location: Lerwick, Scotland

Date: Last Tuesday in January

Cost: Free!

Up Helly Aa is a celebration of the Viking heritage in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. This fire festival features a grand procession where men dress up as Vikings and carry torches through the town of Lerwick. The procession culminates in the burning of a traditional Viking longship. With its unique cultural significance and limited space for visitors, Up Helly Aa is a once-in-a-lifetime festival to experience.

2. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Location: Harbin, China

Date: January 5

Cost: Admission to each park ranges from 135-330 RMB per person

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Artists from around the globe come to Harbin to compete and showcase their intricate ice and snow sculptures. With a new theme every year, this festival transforms the city into a winter wonderland. Bundle up and explore the stunning sculptures and ice buildings that make this festival a magical experience.

February Festivals

3. Carnival

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Date: Begins the Friday before Ash Wednesday (February/March)

Cost: Tickets for the parade in the Sambadrome start at $35 USD

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the most famous carnival in the world. This vibrant festival attracts millions of people with its lively parades, samba music, and elaborate costumes. During Carnival, social conventions are turned upside down, and anything goes. Embrace the energy of the streets, dance to the rhythm of the samba, and join in the revelry of this unforgettable celebration.

4. Mardi Gras

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Date: Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday

Cost: Free!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the most attended annual event in the country. Parades, music, and costumes fill the streets as over 1.2 million people visit the city to partake in the festivities. Mardi Gras is a multi-day celebration leading up to Lent, with traditions dating back to 1699. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere, catch beads and trinkets thrown from floats, and indulge in the festive spirit of Mardi Gras.

March Festivals

5. Holi

Location: Various locations worldwide, with a vibrant celebration in Mathura and Vrindavan, India

Date: Begins the day after the full moon in February/March

Cost: Free! (Though you might spend a few dollars on paint)

Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated with exuberance and joy. Known as the Festival of Colors, Holi involves throwing vibrant colored powders and water at each other, symbolizing the arrival of spring. Mathura and Vrindavan in India are renowned for their traditional Holi celebrations. Join the locals in dancing, singing, and embracing the spirit of Holi as you immerse yourself in this lively festival.

6. St. Patrick’s Day

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Date: March 17

Cost: Free!

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, but nowhere does it better than Dublin. This multi-day festival celebrates the Patron Saint of Ireland with parades, music, and plenty of Guinness. Dress in green, join the locals as they wander the city, watch the parade, and revel the night away in cozy Irish pubs. Experience the Irish hospitality and embrace the festive spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin.

April Festivals

7. Songkran

Location: Thailand (nationwide)

Date: April 13th-15th

Cost: Free! (Though you might spend a few dollars on a water gun)

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is a water festival that engulfs the entire country for three days. Thailand comes alive as people engage in massive water fights, symbolizing the washing away of the past year’s misfortunes. No one is safe from getting wet, and the streets become a playground of laughter and joy. Join in the festivities, experience the Thai culture, and create lasting memories at this unique water festival.

8. Bay to Breakers

Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Date: The third Sunday of May

Cost: $69 to take part in the official race (party and watch the racers for free!)

Bay to Breakers is not your typical footrace. It’s a moving party that takes place in San Francisco, featuring participants dressed in weird costumes and running through the city streets. The complete course is 7.46 miles long, but most people join the festivities without officially registering for the race. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, cheer on the runners, and be part of the energetic spirit of Bay to Breakers.

May Festivals

9. Fez Festival of World Sacred Music

Location: Fez, Morocco

Date: May/June

Cost: Tickets range from 215-3,700 MAD depending on the events

The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music is a unique music festival held in Morocco. Started in 1994, it aims to bridge the gaps between cultures and religions through music. With a focus on promoting dialogue, this festival brings together artists from various backgrounds to create a harmonious celebration. If you’re interested in religion and music, the Fez Festival is a must-visit event that will leave a lasting impression.

10. Glastonbury

Location: Pilton, England

Date: The last weekend of June (with a “fallow” year every 5th year)

Cost: Tickets cost around £238

Glastonbury is one of the largest music festivals in the world, attracting approximately 150,000 people each year. Held in the English countryside, this festival showcases not only contemporary music but also dance, comedy, theater, and more. Camp out, enjoy the diverse range of performances, and embrace the lively atmosphere of Glastonbury. Despite its popularity, this festival still maintains its authenticity and sense of community.

June Festivals

11. Midsummer

Location: Throughout Sweden

Date: The Friday between June 19th and 25th

Cost: Free!

Midsummer is a beloved festival in Sweden, celebrating the arrival of summer and the longest day of the year. Swedes head out into nature, dance around maypoles adorned with flowers, and indulge in traditional foods like pickled herring and schnapps. Embrace the festive spirit, join in the merry celebrations, and experience the magic of Midsummer in Sweden.

12. La Tomatina

Location: Buñol, Spain

Date: Last Wednesday of August

Cost: 30 EUR

La Tomatina is a unique food festival where participants engage in a massive tomato fight. Tens of thousands of people from around the world gather in Buñol to throw tomatoes at each other for an hour of messy fun. After the tomato extravaganza, join the locals in washing off in the river and continue the celebration with a lively dance party in town. Don’t forget to bring goggles to protect your eyes from the tomato pulp!

13. Burning Man

Location: Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Date: Begins on the last Sunday in August

Cost: Tickets start around $390

Burning Man is an iconic festival that takes place in the Nevada desert. This six-day event is a unique blend of art, alternative living, and self-expression. Participants, known as “Burners,” come together to create a temporary community, showcasing creativity and embracing radical self-reliance. At the end of the festival, a massive wooden man is set on fire, symbolizing the culmination of the experience. Join the Burners and immerse yourself in the transformative atmosphere of Burning Man.

14. Oktoberfest

Location: Munich, Germany

Date: Beginning in late September and lasting for over 2 weeks

Cost: Admission is free, but you’ll have to pay for beer (around 12 EUR) and reservations for specific tents

Oktoberfest in Munich is the world’s largest beer festival, attracting over 6 million people each year. With its lively beer halls, traditional lederhosen attire, and giant steins of beer, Oktoberfest is a non-stop party. Indulge in German culture, savor the local cuisine, and enjoy the festive atmosphere of this iconic festival. Prost!

15. Day of the Dead

Location: Mexico (nationwide)

Date: October 31-November 2

Cost: Free (though you may want to buy some face paint)

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a vibrant and colorful festival celebrated throughout Mexico. This carnival-esque event combines remembrance of deceased family members with festive celebrations. Families clean their ancestors’ graves, decorate them with candles and flowers, and gather for picnics while dancing to mariachi bands. Experience the unique blend of remembrance and festivity during Day of the Dead and embrace the joyous celebration of life.

16. Hogmanay

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Date: December 31st

Cost: £30 for the street party, additional fees for concerts

Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a renowned New Year’s Eve celebration that spans two days. With over 100,000 participants, this festival features a Viking procession, bonfires, fireworks, concerts, and a massive carnival. Embrace the festive spirit, join in the lively celebrations, and welcome the new year in style. Don’t miss the Loony Dook, where participants dress in funny costumes and jump into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth.


No matter the month or country, festivals offer an exciting and immersive way to experience different cultures. From the fiery Viking procession of Up Helly Aa in Scotland to the vibrant water fights of Songkran in Thailand, each festival has its own unique charm. By planning your travels around these budget-friendly festivals, you can create unforgettable memories and celebrate life with people from around the world. So pack your bags, grab your tickets, and get ready to dance, sing, and immerse yourself in the joyous atmosphere of budget travel festivals!