I have absolutely no memory of my 21st birthday, but I’m told I had a great time cutting the line to the bathroom, justifying the dickery by shouting out, “it’s my birthday, mother fuckers!” The Elsewhere Man, ladies and gentlemen. Judge me if you will, the point is… it’s my birthday month, mother fuckers.
And as the Universe has deemed it appropriate, my birthday month is chock full of things to do. Just, you know, not on my actual birthday. Nothing. What gives? In the month of Carnival, where the entire world goes batshit crazy over something I still don’t entirely understand except that it has something to do with a Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, there’s not one event going on in Australia on February 11th. Oh well.
This month is a weird one. All the Carnivals start towards the end of the month, so it’s a fair mix of religion, decadence, and a few instances of mutilation and death. It’s like Christmas dinner at my house! But for those backpackers just looking for a chance to chill out to some soft smoke and softer vibes, there’s still some music festivals to look forward to. I could do a whole calendar of just Carnival events, but chances are if you’re going to one, you’ve been planning it for ages now. There are other awesome things going on here. Let’s check ’em out.
1-9th – St. Kilda Festival (Melbourne, Australia) – St. Kilda is the artistic/indie/hippie/tourist area of Melbourne, like if Hollywood Boulevard and Venice Beach had a baby and taught it to say “cunt” for shits and giggles. The beach has a boardwalk to rival any, and during the St. Kilda Festival, the whole thing is covered in free music, handcrafted hippy goods (you’ve been looking for the perfect dreamcatcher, right?), and bogans. Bogans, hippies, and tourists, which are really the only three kinds of people you find in St. Kilda on a regular day anyway.
1-15th – Tapati Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) – Easter Island is one of the most remote places on Earth, so chances are you’re not just going out there to get stoned and look at stone heads. Which is good, because if you pulled that here, you’d probably get stoned in the bad way. This isn’t a music festival, and it’s not really even a festival that cares if tourists come. This festival is a celebration of Polynesian culture, the kind of culture that buries gigantic stone people up to their necks and then doesn’t tell anybody why. Maybe they were stoned.
1-16th – Quebec Winter Carnival (Quebec, Canada) – Fair admission of guilt: the Winter Carnival started on the 31st of January. I’m sorry! I know that this basically invalidates all my hard work, but I think that knowing about it is better than not. The Winter Carnival is like the Harbin Ice Festival mixed with Rio’s, well, Carnival. It’s a cold weather alternative to a season most people associate with skimpy bathing suits and samba parades. And hey, it can be that too. Just expect a dogsled to be leading that float.
2-5th – Virgen de Candelaria (Copacabana, Bolivia) – The Western side of South America doesn’t get a whole lot of love when it comes to festivals. Being a giant stretch of mountain and desert tends to do that to a place (although it’s not stopping a few places on this list…). But that doesn’t mean they don’t understand the concept. On the shores of Lake Titicaca (heh), the town of Copacabana celebrates the Madonna with a festival on the day of her Purification. With the smaller, more rural culture of the area, don’t expect a blowout like Rio’s throwing this month. Instead, expect an awesome feast and some great times celebrating with the locals.
4-March 4th – Viareggio Carnevale (Viareggio, Italy) – At a certain point, a lot of these Carnival/Carnevale/Karny-Ville descriptions are going to start to blend together. I need to decide whether I want to blow my load early on these less famous ones to save my strength for Rio, or assume everybody’s going for Rio and put a little attention on the shyer friend who may be just as hot. It’s like my college bar all over again. The Viareggio celebration is one of the largest (along with Venice) Kernelbills in the world, so if you find yourself on the European mainland with no direct flights to Brazil, take solace in the fact that you’re gonna be just fine.
5-8th – Pasola War Festival (Sumba, Indonesia) – For a sport that involves thrusting a giant spear in another man’s face, jousting doesn’t get a lot of respect nowadays (thought I was going in a different direction there, huh?). But apparently, the key to making something cool is to move it to a tropical setting, take away the clothing, and add a lot of war paint and battle cries. The Pasola War Festival takes place on the shores of one of the more remote Indonesian islands, far away from the controlling bodies who may be against people trying to kill each other. It’s a dangerous and exotic festival… and isn’t that what you’re looking for in the first place?
7th – Thaipusam (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – Remember that scene in the Dark Knight, where the Joker talks about how knives are a much more intimate way to kill somebody than guns? That’s basically what Thaipusam has going on (especially compared to Pasola), minus the weird death wish (the colorful dress can stay). The festival centers on a pilgrimage to the Batu Caves (Dark Knightu tie-in) while draped in knives and hooks, as a way to atone for sins past. If you’re gonna go, keep in mind that there’s about 300 steps to climb. So if self-mutilation sounds like a gas, but physical exertion is just a step over the line, maybe stay home.
7-March 2nd – Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Sydney, Australia) – You wouldn’t think a global festival centered on getting half-naked and dancing through the streets would need an iteration specifically for the gay crowd, right? But here we are. This version of Carnival marches through the Sydney Harbor area, bringing in the best parts of a Pride Parade and Mardi Gras into one big, barely contained package. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s in Australia, where I swear to God they put something in the water that makes the entire population about 30% better looking by default. Not that that helps me at this festival, since, you know…
11th – My Birthday! – Rejoice, fair citizens. On this day, 24 years ago, I entered the world in a fashion not unlike the Rhino scene from Ace Ventura. Take a shot for me. I’ll be doing it.
13-16th – Sauti Za Busara (Stone Town, Zanzibar) – Half the time musicians talk about Africa, it’s Bono pretentiously pretending he can fix it (sometimes you can’t make it on your own, guy). The other half, it’s in South Africa. Since Mali’s music festival went into fest-xile, there’s not a whole lot of representation from the middle and north of the wildest continent. Enter Sauti Za Busara, a true international music festival that dubs itself, “the friendliest festival in the world,” hosted in Zanzibar, previously famous for Tenacious D’s food order. The music tends to be more worldly, and with the starry African sky above, chances are you’ll feel more worldly too. More than that dick Bono anyway.
14-16th – Splore (Tapapakanga Regional Park, New Zealand) – Count yourselves lucky, kids. Splore takes place once every two years, and you’ve just happened to land on the Good Year. The festival itself takes place in a national park in New Zealand (no idea how they pull off those permits), so the name is pretty apt, since you’ll be ‘sploring the whole damn place by the end of the weekend. The organizers know the people in attendance are naturally going to have a certain affinity for nature, so the whole thing is sustainably based around turning the beach into a giant circus. And it takes a special kind of festival to have a circus with wild animals in attendance in the bush.
15th – 9 Mile (Miami, Florida) – Here in America, we’ve got two states with legalized weed. That’s gotta be the reason we haven’t seen a big weed-oriented festival out of them yet – they’re all too high to organize it. So logic follows that the first big Rasta festival takes place in Florida, home of some of the strictest drug laws in the state. Nothing helps paranoia like that little fact, huh? The organizers really don’t give a shit about that in any case – just take a look at their website. That URL ends with “Ent.” They’re gonna say it stands for “entertainment,” I’m sure, but we all know the truth. Burn those trees down, orcs.
15th – Hadaka Matsuri (Nara, Japan) – Let’s get your hopes up – the name of this festival translates to “Naked Festival.” Let’s get your hopes down – even if there were people you wanted to see naked, you wouldn’t get to – flapping in the wind is sorely forbidden. Even tattoos need to be covered up, so really, it’s the name kind of builds up something that it can’t deliver. Like a McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty. The festival involves trying to grab a spiritual stick in a free-for-all involving sumo wrestlers and Yakuza, which may do a bit to explain why so few foreigners actually attend this thing. Strip down at your own risk.
15-March 4th – Mardi Gras (New Orleans, Louisiana) – I’ve always been terrified of going to Mardi Gras. My brain has trouble differentiating my hopes – in which the streets are filled with beautiful women throwing their tops at me while I shower them from above with bundles of beads, while a live alligator feeds me shrimp poboy on an speeding airboat – with my expectations, in which a bunch of sad old men look for hot topless women while steadily being scammed out of more and more money by the homeless dudes in the French Quarter. I’m assuming the real thing will be somewhere in the middle (hopefully the poboy gator exists; I’ve already picked out a name), and I’m sure you’ve already got your own ideas about the place. It’s not exactly underground. If it sounds like your scene, check it out. Say hi to Termigator for me.
22-March 3rd – Soundwave Festival (Touring Australia) – Australia’s got a weird little festival culture. In America, everybody wants a slice of the pie, which leads to exclusive festivals with a lot of name recognition (it’s hard to forget a name like Bonnaroo or Coachella, which read more like sound effects from Batman than names). In Australia, it’s all about touring festivals, so there’s no real exclusivity or difference with regards to what they offer besides the lineup. They tend to blend together when each one hits the same cities each time. Soundwave is the next iteration of this, and it does have a pretty good lineup, so if you’re anywhere it’s hitting you might as well check it out. Unless you’ll be here for the next touring festival in a month.
22-March 4th – Carnevale di Venezia (Venice, Italy) – We’re still building up to the big one here, but if you couldn’t make it out of Europe, and that coin flip didn’t send you to Viareggio, then chances are you’re gonna be celebrating Carnival in Venice. They’re two sides to the same coin – Viareggio is all about that street level energy. Venice classes it up a bit, becoming a city-wide masquerade ball. Of course, it’s gonna cost a fortune to get into the actual balls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw on a mask and get in on the festivities anyway. Nothing helps the embarrassment when you get drunk and fall into a canal like a little anonymity.
24-March 2nd – Maslenitsa (Moscow, Russia) – Leave it to Russia to just have to do Carnival different from everybody else. Their version of the festival takes a lot of influence from pagan traditions, especially revolving around the banning of dairy and meat during the Lentern period. Maslenista is the last week before this period, leading to it’s other name – Pancake Week. It’s the last week orthodox Christians can enjoy a couple of flapjacks, as well as the last week for drinking and parties. As such, Maslenista is your chance to really get down with your comrades before they shut down for the month. It’s celebrated all over Russia, but chances are you’re gonna have a better time in Moscow than some gulag in Siberia.
25-March 2nd – Noise Pop (San Francisco, California) – Man, finally a good ol’ fashioned music festival. After all those cultural and Carnival parties, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to write about them. Nice shift from the northern hemisphere’s summer, huh? Did you notice that I’m avoiding writing about the actual festival yet? Yes? Okay, sorry. Noise Pop is a multi-venue cooperation through the Yay Area to bring out some awesome music while the area is still a fog-ridden depressothon. There’s some great acts performing this year, so if you’ve ventured out of the sun-soaked refuge of Southern California (serious, great weather so far this year guys), then cheer up with some sweet tunes.
27-March 2nd – Wanderlust (O’ahu, Hawaii) – For a festival named after an almost sexual desire for travel, Wanderlust really works hard to build an atmosphere around being okay with staying in one place. The health-and-wellness festival is all about yoga, talks about healthy living, and carrying out that healthy living. So for the backpacker looking for a Full Moon Party in Hawaii, maybe look elsewhere. It won’t be hard – it’s being hosted at the Turtle Bay Resort, and getting to that kind of place is more in line with a CEO’s salary. Now, I’m not saying you should sneak in. But if there’s one thing America can handle, it’s a few more illegal border crossings.
27-March 3rd – Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival (Puerto Galera, Philippines) – Although the Philippines does have a few minor music festivals, most of the bigger name bands didn’t hit the country until Yolanda provided a little good karma PR (call me a cynic). Malasimbo is a bit of a quieter effort to expand the music cred of the the country without the iTunes album. Taking place in a beautiful jungle-style setting and bringing in smaller acts with a focus on the setting and culture of the area, Malasimbo is definitely going to be one of the more beautiful festivals to see. The night sky in the Philippines is amazing. Enjoying it to the sweet sounds of José Gonzalez will be even better.
28-March 4th – Jam in the Sand (Negril, Jamaica) – Jesus, who would have thought that Miami would upstage Jamaica when it comes to a weed party. Florida’s putting on 9 Mile, while Jamaica is putting out this exclusive little party here. It’s a resort-hosted festival, and packages are already in the thousands of dollars, so if you’re gonna go, chances are you’re gonna be hopping a fence. Based on the search terms leading to my website, I’m gonna guess that CEOs aren’t really checking me out. Or maybe they are. I guess “pushkar camel sex party sign up” could have come from any age.
28-March 4th – Carnaval de Binche (Binche, Belgium) – The Carnaval de Binche (Carnival of Binche, come on keep up) actually takes place on the 2-4th of March, but the city takes so much pride in its tradition that the ball gets rolling a lot earlier than you’d expect. The town’s kind of a blip on a radar that only comes to life during this season, like nearby Boom during Tomorrowland, so it’s pretty anxious to show off. It’s like that kid in kindergarten who just really wants you to see his macaroni picture, only in this case that kid made the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel out of macaroni and paste. So you stand there kind of flabbergasted, taking it in, a single tear of beauty falling down your cheek, while the kid sits back down and starts eating glue again.
28-March 4th – Carnival de Oruro (Oruro, Bolivia) – Lake Titicaca’s popping off so much this month that you’d think it was a bra off a pair of Titicacas at Mardi Gras. The town of Oruro, on the shore of the lake, throws a large Carnival during the regular season. It’s no Rio, obviously, but if you’re having trouble finding your way to the other side of the Andes, then go for the quieter affair with the better stars. There’s really no downside to snuggling up in Titicaca.
28-March 4th – Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – And here we are. The big one. The Carnival you’ve always dreamed of visiting, the one so awesome they make kids movies about it with annoying talking parrots. But you know what? That’s the thing – you already know about it. And chances are if you’re going, you’ve been going for a while. So I’m gonna tell you, check out the Carnival in Sao Paulo. It’s smaller, but more intimate and less well known. Didn’t expect that one, huh? I also may not have had jokes to live up to the hype. Don’t tell.
For Further Reference- Tickets for EDC New York (NYC, May 24-25th) are on sale now. Governor’s Ball (NYC, June 6-8th) has revealed it’s dates and a lineup will be coming soon. Ticket information for Burning Man (Black Rock City, August 25-1st) has released it’s ticketing information and will be available over the course of the year. Coachella (Indio, April 11-13th, 18-20th) sold out instantly, but you should still look into going. It’s my favorite festival of all time, and I’ll see you there.
And that’s it for the month! I’m sure I’m missing some festivals, maybe even your favorite one. If you want to make some suggestions for next month, or just have something you want to see up, send it in to me and I’ll make sure to include it on the March 2014 Edition of out in the world.
I’ve also created a map with locations of all this month’s festivals, but the HTML coding doesn’t want to cooperate like WordPress’ instructions indicate it should. So I’m going to leave it up as an act of defiance. Free World, y’all.
<iframe width=”425″ height=”350″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ src=”https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=215242552195457547115.0004ef06f93d227d89fbd&ie=UTF8&ll=8.984973,-109.563616&spn=93.541706,297.505025&t=m&output=embed”></iframe><br /><small>View <a href=”https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=215242552195457547115.0004ef06f93d227d89fbd&ie=UTF8&ll=8.984973,-109.563616&spn=93.541706,297.505025&t=m&source=embed” style=”color:#0000FF;text-align:left”>Out in the World February 2013</a> in a larger map</small>