In your énergique moments, you’ve been there, done that, and are looking for more. Allow us to take you across the world—from the stately Italian Alps to sizzling South Africa—to decode a list of lesser-known festivities that are as vibrant and dazzling, as their more high- profile counterparts. For the remaining of this year and next, skip Rio, Nevada and Cannes, for a feast of art, cinema, literature and music that you should book tickets for right away!
If you think the regional arm of the world’s most electrifying and unique festival is just an exotic ‘me-too’, think again. Packing all your belongings and supplies for a week to swerve off the north-east side of Cape Town onto the dusty and nasty R355 route, is an experience in itself. Like big brother Burning Man, AfrikaBurn is an entirely participant-created movement, a pop-up city that vanishes as magically as it appears; an experiment in inclusive community building, cocking a snook at commoditisation. Think radical creativity and art, mutant vehicles and performers, a throbbing mass of over 10,000 Burners milling around the playa (desert basin). But what sets AfrikaBurn apart is the local flavour; and we aren’t just talking of simply grabbing biltong (dried, cured meat) off the streets or smoking boerewors (farmer’s sausage) on a makeshift braai (barbeque). Tankwa Karoo, part of the undulating Great Karoo desert makes for a spectacular setting, letting you tick off another outstanding world experience from your bucket list, says Mumbai-based Hanneli Slabber, country head for South Africa Tourism, a devout Burner. “It’s so difficult to describe something as enigmatic as AfrikaBurn—at one moment you are looking at a blank canvas, the next you have an explosion of colour, energy and creativity. The world becomes simpler and more layered all at the same time. Add to that the stark beauty of the Tankwa Karoo, the fields of low hanging stars, and you can experience a little bit of your own heaven for a couple of days,” she exults.
Sure, you’ve hotfooted to Switzerland several times and perhaps dropped in at Hong Kong too, following the Holy Grail of the art world. But if you haven’t been to Art Basel Miami Beach, you haven’t seen the world’s most whirlwind celebration of art. Make sure you’re in the United States this year, between December 3-6, when the resort city and playground of the rich
and famous, plays host to celebrity soirées, restaurant openings and clubs. Much of the action centres around Wynwood where giant murals and installations jostle with pop-up cafes and hordes of trendier-than- thou hipsters. The nightlife is legendary. Last year, David Guetta, FKA Twigs and James Blake rocked the parties, while the invitation-only events include the LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) 5th year gala, and Dom Pérignon’s launch of the new Iris van Herpen-designed Metamorphosis Bottle.
It’s not all about the fringe glamour of course. With a new director, New Yorker and art historian Noah Horowitz, the show this year will see an even bigger participation than the 267 galleries that displayed a wealth of modern and contemporary art last year. Think ambitious, large‐scale public art projects, films and live performances at nearby Collins Park and SoundScape Park. It’s as flamboyantly artsy as you can get.
Like Holi in India, it struck the clever Thais to mark their hottest month of the year with a rollicking excuse to indulge in ice cold water fights. Also celebrated in Burma, Cambodia and Laos, this New Year festival pays homage to the sun’s entry into the zodiac sign of Aries in mid-April. Essentially, it is an excuse for young Thai people to bring out their water guns and mud chalks, along with buckets of ice cold water, and lie in wait for unsuspecting visitors (tip: stay on foot and avoid getting on a motorcycle). After the partying, there are also a couple of interesting rituals, including making sand pagodas and bathing the Buddha with scented water. To prep, arm yourself with candles, flowers, joss sticks and practise the traditional benchangapradit salutation.