Upcoming celebrations around the globe.
Gondar, Ethiopia | January 20
The Ethiopian Orthodox faithful celebrate Timket — or Epiphany, representing Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River — all across Ethiopia each January. But for the grandest experience of all, many travel to Gondar, a castle-filled city that surrounds the festivities with just the right amount of drama. On the eve of the holiday, the tabots (sacred replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) are wrapped in cloth and carried by priests to the Fasiladas’ Bath. There, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated in the wee hours of the morning, culminating in the moment when the tabots are immersed in the 17th-century pool. Many of the celebrants join in, submerging themselves as a symbolic renewal of their own baptisms, before singing, dancing and feasting begins.
Battle of the Oranges
Ivrea, Italy | February 6–9
Each year during Carnevale, a tiny city in northern Italy (roughly 2 hours from Milan) hosts an epic recreation of a historic fight between the town’s commoners and their oppressive tyrant. But instead of traditional weapons, the ammunition of choice at the Battaglia delle Arance (Battle of the Oranges) is 500,000 kilograms of — you guessed it — fresh oranges. Nine competitive teams totaling nearly 4,000 “soldiers” show up to pelt one another during the three-day battle, cheered on by upwards of 100,000 spectators. The festival ends on Mardi Gras, when judges and the defenders themselves dole out awards to the victorious teams.
Dédougou, Burkina Faso | February 26–March 5
Mask dances have long remained a ceremonial part of life in Burkina Faso, so when the tradition seemed to be slipping away at the turn of the 21st century, the FESTIMA took root to preserve the centuries-old custom. During this biennial weeklong “International Festival of Masks and the Arts,” costumed troupes of mask-donning villagers from around the country and its West African neighbors descend on Dédougou for a mesmerizing display of musicianship and dance. As many as 100,000 spectators turn out to enjoy the wildly colorful masks and all of the action that ensues.
Mumbai, India | March 23
To celebrate the end of winter and warmly welcome spring, Hindus and Sikhs all over India and Nepal join in on the Holi festival of colors. It all begins the night before Holi, with a bonfire, singing and dancing, and culminates the morning of with throngs of festival participants flinging brightly colored dyes at one another. Whether by an explosion of dry powder or water-balloon pelting, everyone leaves the battlefield enameled with a variety of rainbow hues.