Start off the New Year, with a much needed music and culture getaway! From iconic masquerade parties to transformational psy trance events, January is filled with excellent festivals to attend and explore.  And as usual, the trusty Sherp gives you the low-down.


1. Origin Festival

Where: Cape Town, South Africa

In the beautiful surroundings of Elandskloof, tucked away between Villiersdorp and Greyton, only 125 Km from Cape Town, resides this truly ethereal psytrance festival called Origin. This lush green valley is ripe with fresh mountain streams and towering mountain backdrops that beckons attendees to commence a celebration of nature and music, all the while laughing, relaxing and enjoying nature in all its glory.  With a grand and breathtaking psychedelic temple designed, like every edition, by ARTESCAPE, with some of the best indie/underground psytrance acts to accompany the essentially trippy vibe, there’s much to look forward to at this festival. Origin Festival takes place from Friday 8pm to Sunday 4pm, running through three full days of laid-back awesomeness.


2. Carnival Of Venice

Where: Venice, Italy

Much like Mardi Gras, the Carnival of Venice is a massive and grand celebration that takes place before the celebration of Lent. The festival celebrates pleasure and debauchery, but its main attraction and element are the elaborate Venician masks worn to the festival. As a pre-lenten festival, people of the city of Venice take great pride and pains to dress themselves in 18th century costumes and masks and roam the city. Adding to the mysterious and eerie charm of the festival, the masked people adopt strange alter-egos without being afraid of what society will say. They behave and act in abnormal manners, and act in accordance to the mask they’re wearing and the character they’re playing.


3. Chinese New Year

Where: All over China

The Chinese New Year is easily one of Asia’s most celebrated cultural events. This important Chinese month-long holiday falls in tandem with the lunisolar Chinese Calendar. The celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. The first day of the New Year falls between 21 January and 20 February. Good fortune and hope are the backbones of this tradition, as people indulge in dragon parades, fireworks, lantern making and nightly staged shows. The festival is celebrated all across nations and territories of china, that have a sizable Chinese population (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines).


4. Banff SnowDays

What better way to kick-off Christmas than with a snow festival that’s almost like a real life fairytale? Banff National Park plays host to one of the most beautiful snow and ice festivals we’ve come across so far. Celebrated in the month of January, this should be the first thing on your bucket list this new year.There are many reasons why this festival is a phenomenal holiday and a unique festival experience wrapped up into one. One of the most striking features of the festival is the abundance of ethereal ice sculptures. SnowDays celebrates the art of ice-carving elaborately, and gives these amazing artists a platform to display their many works. Unlike most sports, snow sports don’t require you to be a pro to enjoy them. Enjoying hot-cocoa indoors as you watch snow fall outside has its perks, but so does a bit of exhilarating skiing. For all you noobs, the festival has sleigh rides, ice skating, dog sledding and snowshoe Geocaching. For those who are more proactive and wish to experience Banff’s winter wonderland in all its glory, you can go skiing or check out the ice-climbing point below!


5. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Where: Heilongjiang, Harbin,China

Every year, during the months of January and February, China hosts the wonderful Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, that often rakes in a turnout of 800,000 people – making it the best time to visit the country. The festival takes place in the province of Heilongjiang, Harbin – where unused land is turned into a temporary city made of illuminated ice that includes towering ice sculptures of birds, animals, characters and even an amusement park and an ice slide!


6. BPM Festival

Where: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Over the years, BPM Mexico has served as a very important 10 day festival (set on some of Mexico’s best beaches), where attendees can have a taste of Mexican night-life along with some prime Mexican culture. BPM is an early start to the spring festival season! The line up this year, is a behemoth to say the least. Try deciphering it yourself :


7. Quebec Winter Carnival

Where: Quebec, Canada
During the winter season, Quebec is the perfect place to host a winter festival for families. The Quebec Winter Carnival is like a frozen paradise/amusement park with dogsled rides, parades, ice canoe-ing carnival-y food, slides and what not!


8. Holy Ship
Where: From Miami to the Bahamas

Holy Ship, is a electronic music catered cruise festival that takes place in two phases and  edition includes a private island party ,yoga activities, signature on-board activities, theme nights, and workshops with intimate artist involvement. Aboard the towering ship a phenomenal line-up awaits you featuring the likes of Kaskade, Dillon Francis, Odesza, Flosstradamus, Steve Aoki, Gorgon City, Skream, Brodinski, Hannah Wants, Alison Wonderland and countless more.


9. Up Helly Aa

Where: Scotland, UK

There are thousands of existing cultural festivals that are a depiction of the old world and new, and the Up Helly Aa fire festival is no different. For the Scots, burning barrels of tar mark the end of the season of Yule, known to most people as Christmas season. Although the Lerwick tradition of ‘tar barrelling’ was banned back in 1884, the tradition of burning torches and holding processions, is pretty much what Up Helly Aa is all about. The festival that originated in Shetland, Scotland, takes place around mid-January with thousands of men and young boys taking active part . This group of men, dressed like Viking warriors are called The Jarl Squad. The procession ends with torches being thrown into a replica of a Viking longship or galley. Once the march is completed and the Galley is set on fire, the Jarl Squads and their Guizer head to local spots like schools, hotels and halls to host and be part of private parties or ‘after-parties’ if you will.  To make things more interesting, each squad indulges in activities like theatre, singing or dancing to entertain everyone else. 



10. Light Festival In Ghent

When: January
Where: Ghent, Belgium

Light sculptures, installations and spectacular LED projects are the highlights of the Ghent Light Festival, that is set to take place in January. Students will demonstrate experiments with light and Ghent University has created an interactive route with scientific light installations in the UFO building. Enjoy the walk and experience the surprising variety of light creations.