Category: Culture and Tradition

The Best Festivals and Events Around the World: Celebrate Culture and Tradition

The word festival can mean a lot of different things depending on the culture and period of time. Over the years, festivals have transformed from something that we typically related to religion and agriculture to something that’s more focused on partying, music, and food. No matter what type of festival you’ve been looking to celebrate, there’s certain to be a big one happening somewhere on Earth. Let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest world festivals 

Coachella (Indio, California)

There are a ton of major music festivals throughout the United States, but the biggest one of them all is Coachella. What began as a Pearl Jam solo concert in 1993 launched the idea for an annual festival in 1999, and it has since become America’s premier destination for top-level talent and A-list celebrities. Some of the headliners have included Eminem, Beyonce, Drake, and Paul McCartney, showing that it isn’t just about one genre.

Rock in Rio (Alternating Cities)

Rock in Rio was launched in 1985 as a rock concert in Brazil headlined by the likes of AC/DC and over the years has rotated between Brazil, Spain, and Portugal (with one instance in the United States). The festival has pulled in millions of fans so far and even holds the single-day record for most hamburgers sold at an event. No longer contained to just the hard rock genre, Rock in Rio has seen headliners including Katy Perry, Post Malone, and Justin Timberlake.

Montreal International Jazz Festival (Montreal, Quebec)

While jazz music might not be the most mainstream genre these days, it still has plenty of fans, with 2 million of them making their way to Montreal each year for the International Jazz Festival. The event began in 1980 and held a long-running competition for the best jazz performer. COVID-19 threw a wrench into the festival’s future plans, but in 2023 it was revived to keep the dream of jazz musicians around the world alive.

Donauinselfest (Vienna, Austria)

Each year, more than three million people attend the Danube Island Festival in Vienna over the course of three days, and the area covered makes it the largest outdoor festival in the entire world. The festival contains the Rock the Island Contest which focuses on budding talent in the country. Meanwhile, there are plenty of established acts that have included Billy Idol, Sean Paul, and Simple Minds.

Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium)

Not to be confused with the part of the Disneyland theme park, the Tomorrowland festival in Belgium started in 2005 and now pulls in more than 600,000 people per year. Focusing more on electronic music compared to the other festivals we’ve featured so far, you can expect to see acts like Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, and Afrojack to name a few.

Carnival (Nationwide – Brazil)

Carnival is celebrated by many countries, but nobody does it quite like Brazil. The festival lasts throughout the country for five days between the Friday before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday itself. The festival itself is considered a Brazilian holiday and draws around five million people each year. While it doesn’t get many headlining acts compared to the other festivals, it’s still the biggest party.

Mardi Gras (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Carnival is to Brazil as Mardi Gras is to Louisiana. You don’t really expect to see any pop music performers on center stage, but instead just party between Ash Wednesday and up until Fat Tuesday following Easter. While celebrated in countries like Belgium and Germany, the United States kicks it up a notch with the celebration on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, especially with the annual float parade.

Summerfest (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Milwaukee is a city that loves its festivals, many of which revolve around food and beer. However, the culmination of those things plus some of music’s biggest names is Summerfest, which begins the final Wednesday in June and runs for 11 days. Some of the biggest names to headline Summerfest include Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, and Metallica, giving the midwestern United States its own version of Coachella.

Pol’And’Rock (Czaplinek, Poland)

Starting in 1995 and now pulling in over 700,000 people each year, the Pol’And’Rock festival is one of the largest in all of Europe and is meant to be the continent’s version of Woodstock. Dozens of bands perform on the larger stages throughout Pol’And’Rock, but you can’t be afraid to get messy when you’re there as people rolling around in the mud is a common occurrence. Some headliners over the years have included Judas Priest, Papa Roach, and Shaggy.

Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, Nevada)

If the idea of spending a few days outside in the hot sun of Las Vegas in the summertime doesn’t sound fun, then EDC might not be for you. The festival takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and features well over 200 DJs throughout. Make sure to bring plenty of water because it does get packed and that heat can make you dehydrated in a hurry.

5 Feng Shui Principles That Will Make Your Home A Nicer Place

Many people tend to place items in their homes where they want to based on their personal thought of what looks good. Not many, at least in the west, consider what the placement of these items means to them spiritually. Thankfully, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of feng shui, which is the Chinese practice of arranging your home so that good energy comes your way. If you aren’t familiar with feng shui, here are some principles to follow that will make your home nicer and improve your life.

5. Follow the Map

Every home should have a map that they follow called the bagua map. This map separates your home into nine different areas, with each area having its own theme. When you enter the home, there should be a career theme. To your left is knowledge and self-cultivation and to the right is travel and helpful people. The other segments of the home include family, wealth/prosperity, fame/reputation, relationships and children/creativity. The exact center of the home, though, should be focused on health and longevity.

4. Go Up

You may notice in the homes of people who practice feng shui that there is a vertical design for most of the home. While it might be impossible to actually make your living space taller, adding designs and shapes to make things appear taller is great for feng shui. Things such as trees, bookshelves and vertical blinds go a long way in making things seem larger than they are. Work with a professional painter to help with increasing verticality as they’re trained in the art.

3. Use the Elements

Wuxing is the use of all of the elements to create perfect feng shui. The elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. When you’re designing your home you should be balancing all of these elements to the best of your abilities. Everything should be balanced from clothing to fountains to plants. Every item in your home represents one of the elements, so each space in your home should contain a good balance between them.

2. Stove Savant

While it might not seem like something major, the stove in your house plays a massive role in proper feng shui. According to the practice, your stove should never be on an island, instead placing it with the back against a wall. The stove also represents a lot, including your resources, career and how you can help to provide yourself with nourishment. The more burners you have on your stove, the better. This is because the burners represent opportunities, so make sure that your stove is the star of the show in your kitchen.

1. Free Entry

The stove is the most important part of the kitchen in terms of feng shui, but your entryway is going to be the most important overall. That’s because the entryway is the source of all energy that comes into your home and you want to set the right tone. Finding the perfect front door can be done at any major hardware store, and you want it to be formal and inviting. Things should be very tidy in this area, too, with no clutter to come into your home as it represents clutter constantly entering your mind.

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting England

Getting ready for a trip across the pond? Whether you’re visiting London or enjoying a vacation in the English countryside, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these five potentially offensive actions that can drive a wedge between you and your potential new English friends. 

1. Talk About Money

In America, many people are excited to share when they get a big raise at work or otherwise come into money. In England, you’ll want to steer clear of financial conversation. Instead of talking about how much your vacation cost or a great deal that you got on a flight, make small talk.

2. Walk Around With a Perma-Grin

In some English circles, smiling is a normal part of interacting, but in others, it’s a sign of an uneducated or poorly mannered person. Keeping a straight face while you’re out and about in England isn’t a sign of unfriendliness, rather, it will help you blend in like a local. 

3. Give the Palm-In Peace Sign

Throwing up the index and middle finger in photos or as a way to bid someone farewell is a common way to say “peace” in America, but in Great Britain, this is the same as throwing up a middle finger. Trust us–no one will be giving you well wishes in return if they see you giving this hand gesture in their direction. 

4. Talk About Your Accomplishments

In America, many college grads take a great deal of pride in talking about their alma mater, but this subject isn’t a common topic of conversation in England. Talking about one’s accomplishments–in both education and career–is looked at as over-the-top and rude. English people tend to steer away from talking about themselves, especially in new company. When you’re looking to connect with a new friend in England, make small talk about the pub you’re in, the park you’re visiting, or the weather–don’t try to find common ground by discussing potentially shared elitist experiences. 

5. Insist on Ice

In America, you’re used to being served an icy glass of water or iced tea with your meal, but in England, icy beverages are not as common. If you want to go with the flow and drink like a local, don’t ask for ice in your drink.

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Sweden

There’s some truth to the stereotype that Swedes are polite yet reserved. Still, most of them are happy to welcome tourists to their country. However, if you want to get the most enjoyment out of your Swedish vacation, it’s best to understand the culture and comport yourself in a way that Swedes find normal and acceptable. Here are five things you should never do when you visit Sweden.

1. Don’t Assume That All Swedes Speak English

Although more than 80 percent of people in Sweden speak English, not all of them do. It’s smart to have a few common phrases at the ready in case you need them. A “hej” (hello) or “tack” (thank you) shows your hosts that you’re making an effort to appreciate their language.

If you do attempt to speak Swedish, don’t use the exaggerated accent and gestures of the Swedish chef on the Muppets. Most Swedes don’t think he’s funny.

2. Avoid Loud and Animated Conversation

Swedes talk calmly and without much body language. What might be considered normal volume in America can come across as loud and obnoxious in Sweden. If your conversation becomes too expressive, you might see Swedes turn away and shade their eyes. That’s a sign to dial it back.

Also, Swedes value personal space. Don’t stand too close to other people, and don’t sit next to someone on a bus unless it’s the only type of open seat. And never cut a line. It’s unwelcome anywhere, but it’s shocking in Sweden.

3. Don’t Wear Shoes in a Swedish Home

If you’re invited to someone’s home, take off your shoes as soon as you walk through the door. There will likely be a rack where you can leave then, and your host may even offer slippers.

Even if guests are nattily dressed, perhaps for an evening on the town, the shoes still come off. That’s why it’s a good idea to wear clean, comfortable socks without holes. They look and smell better, and sometimes Swedish floors are cold.

4. Don’t Worry If There’s Silence

Much of the world is abuzz with conversation. If there are a handful of people gathered, it’s expected that someone (maybe more than one person) will be talking. Not so in Sweden.

Swedes are comfortable with silence. They avoid small talk and don’t speak unless they have something to say. To outsiders, it can feel funny when there’s a bus full of passengers and no one’s saying a word.

This may seem awkward to you, but for Swedes it’s comfortable. Relax and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to think of anything to say.

5. Don’t Dress Down When Stepping Out

If you go to a nightclub in Stockholm wearing your grubbies, they probably won’t let you in. It’s called “face control.” Often it’s at the bouncer’s discretion who is well-dressed enough and who isn’t. You’ll find some fashionable clothing in Swedish stores if you didn’t bring along enough stylish threads.

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Malaysia

Malaysia is known for its friendly, relaxed people, but you’ll still want to ensure that you don’t take part in any cultural faux-pas behaviors that could offend locals. Here, we’ll take a look at five cultural don’ts when you’re visiting Malaysia. 

1. Point With Your Forefinger

Pointing is seen as bossy, rude, and overbearing in Malaysia, as this gesture is used to scold, not direct attention. Simple solution: instead of using your forefinger to direct someone’s attention, use your thumb.

2. Show Anger and Frustration

When traveling, it’s likely that you’ll encounter at least a handful of tough situations, like struggling with translation or being late to the start of a tour. As mentioned above, Malaysian people highly value politeness, and often feel embarrassed when others show anger or frustration. Instead of blowing up when things get tough, work hard to smile and keep your cool. 

3. Dress Inappropriately

In Malaysia, most people dress modestly but comfortably. Many historical landmarks in Malaysia are affiliated with a religion, and it’s important that you do your research on how to dress appropriately for the temple, monastery, or other religious building you’re visiting. Don’t just look to others in the area to clue you in on how to dress–many tourists (unfortunately) disregard best practices and dress in a way that Malaysians find offensive for visiting religious sites. 

4. Touch Someone’s Head

While it’s not likely that you walk around touching people’s heads, it’s especially important that you don’t do this while visiting Malaysia or other Asian nations. In Asian culture, the head is considered a sacred part of the body. It’s considered especially offensive to touch children or elderly people on the head. 

5. Go Overboard with Public Displays of Affection

In America and many European countries, PDA is the norm. This isn’t the case in Malaysia. Giving quick hugs or a kiss on the cheek is fine, but don’t go beyond that with your significant other. Malaysian people greatly value acting respectfully in public, and many feel uncomfortable witnessing others giving or receiving affection. 

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Australia

Australia has a rich culture, and as a visitor, there are some things you should not do to respect their way of life.  Here are five things you should avoid doing when visiting Australia.

1:  Don’t be late

Punctuality is essential in Australia, and being late can be disrespectful. If you’re meeting someone, arrive on time or a few minutes early. For Australians, casually being late tends to be seen as wasting someone else’s time, and probably won’t go down too well.

2: Don’t skip out on tipping

While tipping isn’t mandatory in Australia, it is still considered good manners to leave a tip for good service. 10-15% is standard, but you can always give more or less depending on the quality of service.

3: Don’t talk about personal space

Australians are generally quite laid back regarding personal space and don’t tend to stand too close to strangers. So, if you’re talking to someone and they step back, don’t take it personally – they’re just respecting your personal space.

4: Don’t be too loud

Australians are pretty relaxed, but that doesn’t mean they like noise pollution. Avoid being too loud in public, and be mindful of how your voice carries.

5: Don’t forget your manners

Manners are essential in any culture, but they’re necessary for Australia. Say please and thank you when appropriate, and always mind your P’s and Q’s.

Wrapping Up

The rule of thumb for visitors visiting Australia is to respect the local culture and customs. This means punctuality, tipping for good service, being aware of personal space, and being mindful of noise levels in public places.

Additionally, remember to use your manners when interacting with others. Following these simple guidelines, you can avoid cultural faux pas and have an enjoyable and memorable trip to Australia.


The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Greece

Ready to see the stunning islands and ancient ruins that Greece has to offer? You’re going to have a great time–and you’ll want to be sure to avoid doing these five things while you’re in the gorgeous southern European country. 

1. Only Carry Credit Cards

We get it–when you’re in a foreign country that you are not familiar with, you may feel more comfortable carrying credit cards than cash. In Greece, however, you’ll likely run into quite a few stores and restaurants that are cash-only. Be sure to carry cash on hand so you don’t have to deal with the hefty fees that come with using an overseas ATM. 

2. Forget a Gift

In the exciting event that you’re invited into a Greek’s home for dinner, it’s common courtesy to arrive with a gift. Showing up empty-handed shows as lack of respect for local tradition and culture, and a lack of appreciation for the invitation. 

3. Toss Your Toilet Paper into the Toilet

To most Americans, this one isn’t going to come naturally. Greece is an old, old country with old, old plumbing systems that struggle to handle modern-day toilet paper. When you go to the bathroom in Greece, you’ll notice a trash can with every toilet. Throw your toilet paper in there instead to avoid an embarrassing and costly mistake. 

4. Speak Your Mind to Smokers

Nearly half of all Greeks smoke cigarettes, and it’s not a smart move to criticize locals who are lighting up. The country attempted an indoor smoking ban, and it failed miserably. If you’re not a smoker, you’ll be happy to know that the weather in Greece is typically fantastic, and there’s no need to be cooped up in a smoky bar or restaurant if that’s not your thing. 

5. Ask For Butter With Your Bread

When you sit down to dinner in Greece, you’ll (almost) always be served a bread basket. Don’t ask for butter to go with your bread–instead, Greeks dip their bread in the communal salad bowl to soak up the dressing. Tear off a small piece of bread and dip it in the salad bowl so that you’re not double dipping.

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Egypt

Whether trekking through the desert to view pyramids thousands of years old or perusing the stalls at a Cairo marketplace for delicious food and delightful souvenirs, there is no doubt that Egypt offers an unforgettable place to visit and explore. To get the most out of your trip, however, you want to be conscientious of a few key don’ts that could hinder your trip. Keep these in mind to help you stay on good terms with your hosts and experience the beauty of Egypt.

DON’T Forget about cultural differences in clothing

Remember the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In Egypt, that means watching your dress to avoid offending the locals. Wearing tight-fitting clothing or showing too much skin through tank tops or shorts can make you seem rude. This is amplified even further if you want to enter any religious buildings. Wear loose-fitting, light clothing throughout your trip. Women should also have a loose scarf available if they want to visit any religious buildings. As an added bonus, covering your arms and legs will also help protect your skin from the strong Egyptian sun.

DON’T Assume you want to wear sandals everywhere

Sandals might seem like a great footwear choice because of the comfort they offer in the heat, but they can actually be a poor choice when exploring Egypt. Even major cities like Cairo tend to have streets that are dirtier than what some people might expect. Additionally, you should expect to do a lot of walking as you explore the areas around the major sites. Sensible shoes, such as sneakers, will likely serve you better throughout your trip.

DON’T Take a picture of everything you see

As you look around at all of the amazing sites, you might feel tempted to take pictures of everything you see. However, you should familiarize yourself with the cultural expectations surrounding pictures. Specifically, regulations dictate that you cannot take pictures of certain infrastructure in the country, such as the Suez Canal. Therefore, you want to verify that you can take pictures of your target before you start snapping.

Additionally, most locals will consider it rude if you take pictures without asking permission. Therefore, even if you can take pictures in the area you explore, make sure that you have asked permission of those around you as well.

DON’T Forget to tip

Tipping plays an important role in the local economy, so you should carry coins and some small bills with you to provide a tip to those who offer you services throughout your trip. For example, you will want to tip your room cleaners, taxi drivers, and tour guides as you travel.

DON’T Write off the potential of a guided tour

You might feel tempted to try and save some money or to give yourself more flexibility, and explore the different sites on your own with the help of a guidebook. However, booking some guided tours can help you get significantly more out of your travels. You can ask your guide questions that might arise as you explore. You also get to find all of the hidden gems that you might have missed if you relied solely on what you could find in a book. 

However, as you look for your tour guide, be sure to check their government license. Failing to do so can result in accidentally falling for a scam.

Egypt can offer you an adventure of a lifetime. Keep these tips in mind and experience all that this incredible country can offer.


The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Uganda

Uganda is one of the world’s most beautiful countries. There are landscapes that look almost too gorgeous to be real, as well as one of Africa’s most impressive collections of wildlife. No visitor to Uganda should miss these, but there are also cities, villages and hospitable people.

Here are five ways to get to know the real Uganda, both the spectacular and the everyday aspects of the country.

1. Feast Your Eyes on Wildlife

Whether it’s a gorilla trekking tour, a guided safari or a hike through amazing scenery, you can’t say you’ve seen Uganda if you haven’t seen some wild animals. There are lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, gorillas in western Uganda and elephants, buffalo, lions and giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park. Safaris of all sorts are available, including eco-friendly tours, customized treks for your party and car-hire safari tours.

2. Spend Time on the Water

Uganda boasts five large lakes, including the massive Lake Victoria, and it shares part of the Nile River. Tour companies offer cruises and canoeing on the lakes. There is rafting as well as less adventurous cruises on the river.

You can fish in Lake Victoria: it’s home to more than 500 species. The lake is also blessed with islands and beaches that are worthy of a visitor’s time and attention.

3. Shop a Kampala Craft Market

In the capital city, you’ll find the Ugandan Parliament, several famous museums and over three million people. Additionally, you’ll find craft markets, also called craft villages. Some inhabit permanent locations and others appear on a weekly or monthly basis. You can meet the artisans, and sometimes they will create custom orders. Choose from baskets, pottery, paintings, jewelry and other Ugandan handiwork.

4. Take a Village Tour

If you’re wondering what traditional life in a Ugandan village is like, a village tour is a great way to find out. Most of these villages are located on or near tourist sites and are readily accessible. As an example, there’s Boomu, a lovely community with gardens and tour amenities including a restaurant. You can sit around the campfire and listen to the elders spin their tales before retiring to sleep in a genuine African hut. This is just one of many available village tours.

5. Come in April

June, July and August are the most popular months for tourists, but not as many foreigners come in April. It’s the wettest month of the year, which has its pros and cons. Some accommodations will be closed and some park roads might be impassible.

However, many people find it the most beautiful season, with mists settling onto treetop canopies. Gorillas linger in lower regions, and the treks to see them are shorter (though muddier). Even in April, Murchinson Falls National Park in the north is drier. Best of all, you’ll see a less commercial Uganda without crowds of tourists.

The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting South Africa

No matter where your travels take you in the world, the last thing you want to do is act like a tourist. And that goes double when traveling to South Africa. Tourists often end up an easy target for opportunistic criminals – and run the risk of getting into trouble otherwise. Thankfully, you can avoid all that by simply using these tips on five things you should never do while visiting South Africa.  

Don’t Be Impatient 

Slow and steady is the way to go while visiting South Africa. The big city hustle just doesn’t fly here. Instead, you want to bring all the patience in the world as you travel the roadways and stop in at venues along the way.

Traffic moves at a slow pace almost everywhere, so give yourself extra time to get from place to place. Then, add even more time to your stops, especially while eating out at popular restaurants. Service comes just as slowly as everything else.

Never Flash Your Valuables

Jewelry, electronics, and other valuables serve as a homing beacon for opportunistic individuals looking for a quick score. You’re especially at risk if you end up visiting a relatively bad neighborhood with your valuables out in the open.

Overall, it’s best to just leave all your jewelry at home. Yes, that includes your wedding ring. And while you should carry a cellphone, try to keep it out of sight, out of mind, as you enjoy exploring the cityscape.

Avoid Visiting Dark Alleyways

As you travel across South Africa, remember the risk of falling victim to theft, assault, and worse increases under the cloak of darkness. If you can end your adventures before nightfall, that’s often best.

You can enjoy all your accommodations have to offer after that, and then hit the road bright and early the next morning. If not, then at least stick to well-lit passageways along the city streets. Dark alleyways are a no go always.

Don’t Skip the Sun Protection

The sun shines brightly across South Africa more often than not. While that’s part of the allure, the harsh sun rays can also put a damper on your trip, especially if you get sunburnt.

To stay protected, be sure to put on sunblock at the start of the day. Then, reapply it every two hours after that. Consider wearing UV-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses as well.

Never Get Too Close to Wildlife

At least one safari tour is a must while visiting South Africa. You’ll get to see elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, giraffes, wild dogs, warthogs, kudu, and so much more. Cheetahs, lions, and other big cats are common sights as well.

Although it’s tempting to try to get a closeup, even the most docile wild animals can prove deadly. So, heed your guide’s warnings and stay in the vehicle at all times. Never attempt to get too close to the animals or you might end up in serious danger before you know it.

If you’re ever unsure how to be while visiting a new place, like South Africa, pop into a local eatery and ask the owners for advice. They know just how tourists can avoid trouble and can provide key insights into all the best sights in the region.