From otherworldly solstice festivals to nearly poignant shaman rituals, these cult festivals are as obscure as they are captivating.
There are hundreds of cult festivals celebrated in the shiftiest crevices of the world. Just in time for Halloween, The Sherp has brought you a list of some of the most intriguing cult festivals that highlight their respective cultures. If pagan rituals, fireworks or witchcraft fascinate you, take a look at these amazing festivals.
1. Walpurgis Night
When: April 30, 2016
Where: Mount Broken, Germany
Walpurgis Night, also known as Walpurgisnacht, is the eve of the feast day for Saint Walpurga. This unique festival celebrates the arrival of spring in Germany and other European countries by paying homage to ancient pagan rituals. On the quaint Mount Broken in Germany, residents light fires and erect maypoles to ward off witches, who gather at the Hexentanzplatz (witches’ dance) on April 30. During the night of April 30, individuals indulge in dances and feasts, dressing up in costumes for the occasion, celebrating this little influx of witchcraft in modern society.
2. Stonehenge Summer Solstice
When: June, 2016 (TBA)
Where: Wiltshire, England
Every year, at the height of the considerably tame English summer, comes a festival/gathering of Druids, new age believers and hippies. They gather around and recite ancient hymns and rites in circles, while drummers play their tribal beats giving a sense of rhythm to the gathering to celebrate the summer solstice by watching the sunrise on June 21st. The celebrations start the night prior to the sunrise, that also happens to be the shortest night of the year. Stonehenge is a popular gathering site in general, which is why Neo-pagans or Guardians of Stonehenge allow worshippers from everywhere to come and pay homage on what is supposed to be the most auspicious day of the year.
3. Stars of the White Nights
When: May, 2016 (TBA)
Where: St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
This midnight sun festival is an extraordinarily unique affair. In the historically rich city of St. Petersburg, Star of the White Nights celebrates the three months of twilight with with a flourish of music and art. A grand carnivàle-esque spirit circles the purple tinged skies as operas, ballets, gypsy bands, jugglers, sword swallowers, fire eaters and mimes litter the festival, colouring the streets and bringing them to life. Don’t miss out the Scarlet Sail at the festival, a great ship with massive red sails shooting fireworks into the sky, which began as a tribute to the popular 1922 Russian children’s tale “Scarlet Sails” by Alexander Grin, but has now become one of the customs of the festival.
4. Hogmanay Celebration
When: December 30 – January 1
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
If New Year parties just don’t do it for you anymore, here’s a spectacular alternative! The Hogmanay Celebration is the happiest way you can spend your New Year’s eve. This festival has pagan roots that are derived from warding off winter spirits using fire, resulting in a brilliant fireworks extravaganza. The modern celebration of Hogmanay involves torch-lit processions, street parties and in some rural areas of the country, traveling strangers are invited to the home of the residents for a feast.
5. Call of the 13 Shamans Festival
Call of the 13 Shamans is an almost prehistoric festival, inculcating rituals and ceremonies from shaman prctices. Tribal leaders from Mexico, Mongolia, Greenland, Russia come together in a four-day festival held near the village of Khorum-Dag in Tuva (or Tyva Republic) for this celebration that involves throat-singing, dancing, playing drums and meditating. These rituals may look similar to Native American ones, but are very different. Take a look at the stunning images of the festival below.
Also view: 5 Ethereal Summer Solstice Festivals