Travel goals: 14 festivals in 2023, from Jazz in Pittsburgh to Spring in Japan!

A huge crowd for the Jazz Festival in Pittsburgh and you can see buildings, people and a man who is performing

You may want to invest in a big, fat travel notebook for we’ll keep inspiring you with bucket-lists! Whether your travels take you to Spain, or to Japan, these festivals will ensure that you get a slice of the loveliest vibe. From street performances, free activities, events and many traditional and current traditions – these streets and cities come alive with a buzz like no other during festive times.

Light-Up Event in Shirakawa-go, Japan, January – February (various dates) 

The village of Shirakawa-go will hold the 37th Light-Up Event in the early months of 2023.The UNESCO World Heritage Site has garnered a global reputation for its traditional gassho-style house, which will be illuminated to give the streets a warm and welcoming glow each Sunday for six consecutive weeks. Known as the ‘White River Village’, the deep winter months see the steepled roofs, built from straw-like kaya plants and moulded into the shape of praying hands, blanketed with snow. www.mitsuboshi-kaidou.com/

Hachinohe Enburi Festival (Rich Harvest Festival), Hachinohe, Japan, February 

One of the Five Great Snow Festivals of Michinoku, Hachinohe Enburi Festival will this year be returning to the region. Held as a prayer to bring in the coming spring season, the Enburi Festival is well-known for its traditional performances carried out by the dancers (tayu), who are adorned in spectacularly decorated tall hats resembling the shape of a horse’s neck. The distinctive dance is designated as an ‘Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property’, and features movements which reflect farming practices, such as planting rice or sowing seeds. visithachinohe.com/en/

Las Fallas returns to the city of Valencia, Spain, 1-19 March 

One of Spain’s most beloved festivals returns to the streets of Valencia this year, The Fallas of Valencia. With giant sculptures set alight, musicians, costumes, and florists, the celebrations have maintained their heritage and traditions over the century. The festival begins with the ‘Crida’ – the opening ceremony where ‘Mayor of Falleras’ encourages citizens and visitors to enjoy the party. Declared an event of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO in 2016, Las Fallas has returned with traditional acts such as the mascleates (fireworks), late night parties, and art installations where around 800 monuments fill the streets with colour and joy. Visitvalencia.com

SLO CAL Craft Beer Festival 2023California, 25 March

Visit SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County) in California for the 5th annual Central Coast Craft Beer Festival on 25th March at the famous Sunken Gardens in Atascadero. The festival will host a range of singers, bands and DJs with plenty of food vendors to indulge in whilst enjoying tasty samples from over 55 independently owned local craft breweries, wineries, seltzer and kombucha makers and cideries from across California, not to mention the giant beer pong table! Starting at $50, tickets include a complimentary glass and samples from any of the vendors on site. www.slocal.com/

Takayama’s Spring Festival, Gifu, Japan, 14-15 April

Takayama, a town in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu prefecture, boasts a beautifully preserved old town for visitors to explore. For those looking to immerse themselves into Takayama’s history, make the most of the April days at the Takayama Matsuri Festival. The Covid pandemic has halted official Spring Festival activities since 2019, and this year will mark the full operation of Takayama’s Spring Festival. The celebrations showcase the town’s long legacy of craftsmanship through centuries-old floats that are renowned for their extravagant carvings and karakuri ningyo shows. Throughout the event l, the festival’s 12 yatai are on display in the heart of the town. Visitors can enjoy the evening on the 14th by following the floats, blanketed with lanterns, as they parade around the historic centre. visitgifu.com/

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, California, 14-16 April, 21-23 April

Beyond the musical acts, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, held in April at Empire Polo Club in Indio, has morphed into something of a cultural phenomenon, with fantastic food and high-wattage stars showing up in their best desert boho outfits. Artists also present large works, making the event a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, which is part of the reason why nearly 200,000 have attended the annual festival in recent years. www.visitcalifornia.com

WeHo Pride, West Hollywood, California, 2 – 4 June

For nearly four decades, West Hollywood’s Pride has been celebrating diversity and inclusivity across the storied city. Kicking off Pride Month is the LGBTQ Arts Festival, with a schedule of events from exhibitions to multimedia projects. As June rolls round, WeHo Pride Weekend starts with a free street fair and the OUTLOUD Raising Voices Music Festival. The final event is the energetic and colourful Pride Parade with the whole city showing up to wrap up the festivities. West Hollywood has been advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and ensuring their visibility and expression since its recognition as a city with a first US majority gay council in 1984. www.visitwesthollywood.com

Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride, Colorado, 15 – 18 June

Nestled in the rugged San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival welcomes visitors from far and wide. This year is going to be even more spectacular with the festival’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which include free workshops, a 2023 NightGrass schedule and a better than before music lineup. Not only an iconic representation of the music scene, the experience is a place of awe inspiring beauty – a destination where travellers can dance under the solstice sun and embrace their truest self. www.colorado.com

The Tremblant International Blues Festival, Québec, CA, 14 – 16 July

Delighting fans year after year, The Tremblant International Blues Festival is one of the largest musical events in Canada. Set over three days, visitors will enjoy over 40 performances across three outdoor stages and numerous indoor venues, as well as family activities and more. Mont-Tremblant’s alpine-style village offers an enchanting backdrop nestled in the beautiful Laurentian mountains, just 90 minutes by car from downtown Montreal. www.tremblant.ca 

Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle,  21 – 23 July

Celebrating the Capitol Hill neighbourhood in Seattle, Capitol Hill Block Party has 100 local and national acts performing at bars, outdoor stages and restaurants in the area. Known for creating the world’s most influential musicians, such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Seattle is the city for music fanatics and Capitol Hill is where the newest and best in the industry can be found. This year’s headliners are still TBC. visitseattle.org 

Drishti Beats Yoga and Music Festival, Snowmass Village, Colorado, July 

Set in the magnificent mountains of Aspen Colorado, the Drishti Beats Yoga and Music Festival 2023 is the ultimate way to connect with nature this summer, blending mindfulness and music to create a festival experience like no other. The weekend features a plethora of immersive yoga classes and sessions hosted by carefully selected teachers with live musicians, world class hospitality and a mix of electronic chill and house music for you to dance the night away to. Look out for the 2023 line-up and ticket announcements for the chance to secure a spot. Aspenchamber.orggosnowmass.com

Arte Viva Festival, Florida’s Paradise Coast, now – September

Supporting the rebound following the devastation of Hurricane Ian, the Arte Viva Festival on Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – has given the resilient region a reason to celebrate. This year-long celebration of Hispanic culture offers events and exhibitions taking place for locals and visitors to enjoy the diversity of art, artists and music. Until September, Frida and Her Garden is one of these exhibitions, celebrating Frida Kahlo and her colourful self-portraits and paintings by transporting visitors to her home garden in Coyoacán, Mexico City. Florida’s Paradise Coast

Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival – Pittsburgh, 15 – 17 September

Don’t miss this soulful weekend at Highmark Stadium with more than 140 jazz musicians. Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival sees world-renowned musicians grace the stages as well as new artists to watch. With numerous vendors, huge stages to bask in the talent and a friendly, lively crowd, this exciting weekend is a must for music lovers. www.visitpittsburgh.com

Farm-to-Fork Festival, Sacramento – California, 8 – 24 September 

Farm-to-fork is the way to live in the Sacramento region. For more than a century, the region has been an agricultural powerhouse boasting a year-round growing season and an ideal climate. Local restaurants utilise the abundance of regionally grown products to create an unparalleled freshness – whether it’s a burger joint or an upmarket restaurant. As the seasons change, so do restaurant menus in Sacramento, ensuring an authentic taste of local flavour. Visit Sacramento will host its ninth annual Farm-to-Fork Festival known to be the most anticipated food and music celebration on the West Coast, taking place from 8 – 24 September. www.visitsacramento.com


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