15 Arts & Culture Festivals to Attend in 2015

Article by: Anja Mutić

Tue January 27, 2015 | 00:00 AM

2015 promises heaps of entertainment in locales around the world, from London and Chiang Mai to New York and Auckland. From offbeat art and sacred Buddhist ceremonies to underground opera and alfresco film, we’ve rounded up 15 arts and culture festivals poised to be big this year.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival Saint Paul, Minnesota (January 22-February 1)

Once deemed a city too cold to live in, Saint Paul becomes a winter wonderland featuring ice palaces, snow sculptures and fun snow games for the family. Warm up at the Securian half-marathon before trying one of 120 craft beers at the Beer Dabbler.

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (February 16-17)

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Photo by: Quinten Questel Creative Commons

While the Rio Carnival takes the limelight, this tiny Caribbean island nation parties hard in vibrant costumes to the beats of calypso and soca for two days leading up to Lent. Get front-row seats to this festival where African, French and Caribbean cultures fuse.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Ashland, Oregon (February 20-October 20)

Hero Oregon Shakespeare Jenny Graham

Photo by: Jenny Graham

Shakespeare fans should add this tribute to drama to their bucket list, with eleven plays lined up through nine months. Originally showcasing only plays by Shakespeare, the trio of Ashland theaters now stages other classics, too. Where art thou Romeo? … in Oregon.

Dubai Jazz Festival Dubai, United Arab Emirates (February 25-27)

Catch Sting and John Legend steal the spotlight this year at the annual shindig on the lush lawns of Dubai Media City. Lauded as Dubai’s best music fest, it features jazz and blues performances, paired with art, crafts and delicious bites, plus a festive Fan Pit.

Pulse Contemporary Art Fair New York City, New York (March 5-8)

For three days this early March, mingle with collectors in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion as you meander among quirky art such as x-ray photography and sculptures made of trash. With annual editions in Miami and New York, this vibrant fair exhibits cutting-edge contemporary art.

Pasifika Festival Auckland, New Zealand (March 14-15)

Explore rich Pacific culture in Auckland’s Western Spring Park, where 11 makeshift villages represent every island nation. On the fun island-hopping walk, nibble on traditional sua ika boiled fish in Tokelau, take in stone carving in Fiji, and join an upa upa dance in Tahiti.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival Melbourne, Australia (March 25-April 19)

Get ready for serious stomach cramps this spring! With three tireless weeks of comedy, from stand-up and cabaret to street performances and film, laughing is on the main agenda. The attendance of some 600,000 gigglers makes this laugh fest the nation’s largest cultural gig.

Beltane Fire Festival Edinburgh, Scotland (April 30)

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Photo by: Ellen Duffy

This ancient festival marks the beginning of summer by lighting huge bonfires to represent the season's coming sunny days. Run by the Beltane Fire Society, it’s a procession led by the May Queen and the Green Man, and at its end, sparks fly – literally – to ignite the Bel Fire. (Sometimes naked) Dancing, food, drink and music ensue.

Gnaoua World Music Festival Essaouira, Morocco (June 14-18)

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Photo by: Magharebia Creative Commons

Quiet Essaouira in western Morocco comes alive for four festive days as hypnotic rhythms of the African Gnaoua people flow through the winding lanes of this pretty port town. Expect a musical melting pot, with local and foreign artists performing jazz, blues, reggae and hip-hop.

Inti Raymi Festival Cusco, Peru (June 24)

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Photo by: Torukojin

A celebration of winter solstice, this nine-day event signs off with a traditional tribute to Inti, the Incan god of the sun. On June 24th, Incan re-enactments in colourful costumes head from Santo Domingo church in Cusco to the ancient Sacsayhuaman fortress above town.

Copenhagen Opera Festival Copenhagen, Denmark (July 16-August 2)

Denmark’s capital delivers opera to the public in an offbeat way, replacing renaissance costumes with ripped jeans and theaters with the outdoors. Opera performances take place in streets and squares, on canal boats, in the underground, and other peculiar places.

Sarajevo Film Festival Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina (August 14-22)

This August, celebrate the 20th birthday of southeast Europe’s largest film fest. Founded in the 1990s during the siege of Sarajevo, this cultural showpiece screens films in theaters and town squares. This year, catch Mexican cinema brought to Bosnia in collaboration with Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía. 

London Design Festival London, England (September 19-27)

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Photo by: Steve Weaver Creative Commons

A pilgrimage for the design devoted, the British metropolis becomes the global hub for all that is innovation. Some 300 events and exhibitions showcase dazzling creations in all thinkable disciples - from architecture to jewelry and interiors – and presents sustainable design forums.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival Chiang Mai, Thailand (November 24-26)


Photo by: John Shedrick Creative Commons

During Thailand’s Festival of Light, when candlelit baskets glide along waterways, Chiang Mai stages a mesmerizing spectacle. Thousands of Buddhists gather in a spiritual ceremony at Mae Jo University to invite new beginnings by releasing lit lanterns into the night sky.

Amsterdam Light Festival Amsterdam, Holland (November 2015-January 2016)

Artsy light installations decorate the cobbled streets and winding canals of Amsterdam. The beams and bulbs are on for 50 bright days. Expect 3D illuminated interpretations of Van Gogh’s masterpieces and canal cruises that bring you up-close to neon-colorful fabrications gracing the waterways.