Weekly Travel Inspiration: Nocturnal Festivals

(Weekly Travel Inspiration is a feature on this blog where I share a link, book, or film that incites my wanderlust, and might incite yours too!)

Extra large sparklers at Correfoc, part of Barcelona’s festival La Mercè

A few weeks ago National Geographic Traveler tweeted their Top 10 Nocturnal Festivals.

Their list included celebrations in Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, and Latvia among others. The Noche de Brujas (Night of Witches) festival in Catemaco, Mexico, which plays host to witches, wizards, and mystics sounds like a grownup Halloween. Another festival featured on this list sees “the residents of the Latvian town of Kuldiga mark the start of midsummer, or Jani, by running naked through the streets.” According to National Geographic, after they all get naked and don flower crowns, they start bonfires — because what goes together better than fire and nudity?

Christine of almost fearless regularly mentions the nighttime lantern release in Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and calls it one of the best things she’s experienced in the world. She made a video of it, which I highly recommend watching. Lantern releases fascinate me, partly because I don’t really understand how they work, so it seems like magic. I’ve never been to one, but it’s on one of my many to do lists.

I’ve personally only had a few “nocturnal festival” experiences outside of the United States. One was this past New Year’s Eve, which I spent in Ecuador where they celebrate by burning effigies of politicians, cartoon characters, or homemade dummies. Burning these effigies represents the end of any sorrows or grudges from the old year.

When I studied abroad in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to be there for La Mercè — a multiday festival throughout the city that features live music and firework shows every night plus a myriad of other events. Arguably, the most exciting of the evening festivities is Correfoc (pictured above), which translates to English as “Fire Run,” and includes drummers parading alongside people carrying huge sparklers, as well as floats in the shape of dragons and other beasts, which are also emitting rather large sparks. Don’t wear anything to this parade that you would mind getting singed!

What’s your favorite nocturnal festival? Interested in going to any of the celebrations National Geographic listed?


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