January is a time for new beginnings, new opportunities and new experiences. But it is also a time to reflect on what’s gone before us, the traditions that have brought us here and the developments that will propel us into the future. Many countries across the world celebrate a variety of festivals and events in January. Some of which reflect a strong cultural heritage, others work to shed a little happiness at the beginning of the new year, and some celebrate everything that made the previous year so great. So I decided to do a little digging and I managed to find some great January Festivals which I just had to share with you…
Tromsø International Film Festival
3rd Week in January – Tromsø, Norway
Since 1991, the Norwegian town of Tromsø has held an International Film Festival each year, screening films for a local, national, and international audience. Set in the dark polar nights, TIFF benefits from 5 screens, including a unique outdoor cinema which offers the opportunity to witness the beauty of the Northern Lights alongside a capturing movie experience! The Festival shares a wide selection of documentaries and short films which have been featured in the Films from the North program, as well as special screenings and other unique events.
January 2nd – Cape Town, South Africa
Kaapse Klopse (The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival) is held in the city of Cape Town every January. Over 13,000 minstrels congregate in Klopse (troupes) and parade through the city playing music on a variety of instruments including trumpets, banjos and the ghoema drums. Troupes are well spaced out across the city, ensuring each group can be distinctly heard!
Kaapse Klopse has a somewhat tainted history, beginning in colonial times. As Slaves were allowed just one day off a year (January 2nd), the Carnival has been thought to have united the whole community. After the abolishment of slavery, the carnival continued and is seen as a celebration of the survival and renewal of the community which has survived so much.
Ocaso Underground Music Festival
7-11 January 2020 – Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Ocaso Festival is an electronic music festival in Tamarindo, Costa Rica which turns this quaint coastal town into a hive of house and techno beats. With poolside stages, beach blowouts and jungle landscapes, I feel like this is one of the most incredible settings for a music festival that has ever existed. Ocaso creates a unified, single-staged experience, ensuring only one performance is staged at any one time!
Fête du Vaudou
January 10th – Benin
Each January, Benin hosts a Voodoo Festival (Fête du Vaudou) which celebrates the traditional religion of the country. Voodoo is highly important in Benin’s identity, with over 300 deities. Throughout the festival, song and dance are followed by the ritual slaughter of a goat to honour the deities. The town of Ouidah is the centre of many celebrations, where you will find beach parties, costumes, drums, horse races, sacred ceremonies and sacrifices to the gods. The celebration of this Voodoo Festival plays an important role in protecting Benin’s rich cultural history and keeps these cultural roots at the foundation of Benin’s development.
Up Helly Aa
Last Tuesday in January – Lerwick, the Shetland Islands
Each year the town of Lerwick embraces its rich Viking heritage through a series of marches and visitations, ending in torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. Up Helly Aa a strong community event with dozens of volunteers working throughout the year to organise and plan the following January’s celebrations. With authentic music, costumes, and plenty of beer, this remains one of Europe’s largest fire-based festivals.
Have you been to any of these Festivals before? Let us know in the comments below!