Water is important. Symbolically speaking it represents life and cleanliness. Literally it provides us with what makes up a good percentage of our bodies; we basically are water. So it’s little surprise that so many cultures around the world choose to use it for their festivals of tradition and religion.
So if you love travelling and you hold water fights in the same misty-eyed, nostalgic reverence that we do, you had best check out some of these events making a splash on the global water festival scene.
Fiesta del Agua y del Jamon
The party starts close to home in Las Alpujarras, Spain, on July 23rd. This is the date that most on the Costa Tropical celebrate their Saint, John the Baptist, but in Las Alpujarras rather than lighting the traditional bonfires on the beaches, the citizens of this small town break out into a frenzy of water fighting that borders on lunacy.
Bang on midnight the roads and alleys open up into water mayhem where everyone is game. Later that day they cool off by guzzling beer and eating ham. Sounds like they’ve got it all figured out.
Dai Water Splashing Festival
In the Yunnan Province of China, the Dai people take things a little more sedately, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have any fun. Children can be seen cutting down bamboo in order to create squirting water guns and there are fireworks at the end of the day.
The Dai people spend their day being blessed by Buddhist monks, splashing water on statues of Buddha and the younger adults can often be found courting one another.
Harbin Snow and Ice Festival
Technically snow and ice is derived from water, and this particular festival is too wonderful to miss. Whilst the other festivals listed here concentrate on cooling down in the summer, the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival of North China is 100 percent a winter festival.
If you really want you can go winter swimming in the Songhua River, but the real attraction of Harbin is the phenomenal snow and ice sculptures on display. During the day it is a cold and icy kingdom of intricately carved snow built buildings, but at night it turns into a land of neon ice. It’s miles away from everything, but we think it is well worth the visit.
We reckon that most people will have heard of the Holi Festival, it has recently made an appearance in European cities as a music and paint powder festival, but it originated from India as a Hindu festival of love.
In India the celebrations begin with a Holika bonfire, the next day people throw dry powder paint, coloured water and water bombs at people in the street, and no one is safe. If you are in India at this time, you will get painted in bright colours. But it’s alright, because the festival is a celebration of good over evil, so you should be okay.
Song Kran Festival
In South-East Asia, it all kicks off. Welcome to Song Kran (or Chaul Chnam Thmey, or Thingyan), the world’s biggest water fight. In mid-April Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar celebrate the water festival. These events all fall around the same time to celebrate their New Year. With roots steeped both in Hindu and Buddhism, it is almost impossible to discern which traditions came from which religion, but these days it isn’t so important, all that matters is that you get wet.
Everywhere from the south of Thailand to the north of Laos is throwing water, buckets of the stuff into the road at cars, bikes, pedestrians. They’ll sift the stuff from lakes and pour it over your heads, water guns are on sale at every corner and there is no where to hide. In the back of Tuk Tuks and jeeps, unless you have sealed windows, you’re asking for a drenching.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Ivan Gayler is the Director of The Well Water Ltd, a leading UK water cooler supplier. Well Water is BPA free certified and containers are fully recyclable.