From the burning of towering dolls in Valencia to Delhi’s colorful streets during Holi, Lonely Planet has rounded up seven around-the-world fetes taking place this March.
Las Fallas - Valencia, Spain
Valencia is Spain’s third-largest metropolis and is often (and unfortunately) overlooked for perennially popular picks Barcelona and Madrid but is teeming with its own unique traditions, futuristic architecture and lush miles-long parks. There is never a better time to visit the Mediterranean city than during its most legendary tradition, the Las Fallas festival.
Local Valencians and travelers alike take to the sangria-soaked streets and historic plazas for a weeklong bacchanalia that consists of cacophonic firecracker shows during the day and dazzling fireworks displays at night, with plenty of parties and paella in between. The conviviality culminates in the burning of giant papier-mache dolls that depict both traditional and current satirical figures (known as ninots) around the Old Town.
St. Patrick’s Day - Dublin, Ireland
Tourists travel from all over the world to experience St. Patrick's Day in its homeland, Dublin. The Irish capital’s narrow lanes are flooded with swathes of leprechaun-like revelers during the long weekend — you’d be smart to avoid the overhyped Temple Bar at all costs — and Guinness is consumed with a fury, but the Irish capital shows a more authentic side to the holiday that is often lost in American translations.
Nosh on coddle or stew at a pub, check out a local or televised rugby game (the final round of the contentious Six Nations tournament is held the weekend before) or find a quiet moment in St. Stephen’s Green before the citywide parade.
LGBTQ Pride - Tampa, Florida
If you live in a part of the world that endures wintry weather well into April, then an escape to warmer climes must be on the cards; Tampa, Florida is the perfect seaside hideaway for such a trip, with the promise of sunshine and rainbows at its LGBTQ Pride Festival on 28 March. Pirate-themed floats and exuberant drag queens march down the cobblestoned palm-laden 7th Avenue of Ybor City (the historic LGBTQ epicenter of Tampa Bay with many gay-friendly-and-frequented clubs, bars and restaurants) flaunting the area’s diversity, acceptance and bright attitude.
Holi Festival - Delhi, India
The kaleidoscopic Holi festivities commemorate the changing of seasons, and the triumph of good over evil.
There are many origin stories associated with the Hindu holiday. Today, however, it is honored in India and Nepal by splashing fistfuls of colored water and bright powders (sulfurous yellow, deep crimson, bright green) on festivalgoers, and sipping the traditional Bhang drink derived from cannabis plants. In Delhi – which hosts some of the largest celebrations alongside Mumbai – the festivities tend to be musical, with parties like the Holi Moo Festival showcasing performers across a number of stages.
The date varies by the Hindu calendar, with the 2020 festival occurring on 10 March, following the full moon and the bonfires the previous night to honor the defeat of demoness Holika.
Spring Equinox - Teotihuacán, Mexico
The Spring Equinox (20 March) is mostly cause for cheer, marking the official start of the season associated with rebirth and renewal. But many people believe in the powerful energetic effects of this annual occurrence, equal parts light and night, especially potent at Mexico’s early archaeological sites.
Thousands of believers trek to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, outside of Mexico City, where they perform special rituals (often clad in white garbs), stretching arms out to soak up the rays’ energy. Traditional medicine practitioners also perform rites at the base of the temples — as one of Mexico’s preeminent ancient sites, these Teotihuacan festivities pay homage to Mesoamerican heritage and a culture that was inextricably linked to the movement of the celestial bodies.
Wine and Food Festival - Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is known for many things — preserved antebellum architecture, world-class shopping, pivotal historic sites — but the Holy City’s undeniably best feature, its acclaimed culinary offerings, are proudly put on display at the Wine and Food Festival from 4 to 8 March.
Renowned chefs from across the nation congregate in the Lowcountry alongside local farmers and purveyors, wine professionals and artists. The jam-packed weekend schedule includes foraging classes, a saison and oyster-shucking workshop, a gullah history and tasting experience, and lively Sunday brunches.
Chocolate Week - Antwerp, Belgium
Is there anything as gourmet and indulgent as Belgian chocolate? The treat has evolved into a luxurious art form here and sweet-toothed travelers can head to Chocolate Week in Antwerp to sate any confectionary cravings from 6-15 March.
A €10 pass to this low-key festival provides access to over 20 of Antwerp’s renowned chocolatiers, touting meticulously crafted creations from swans to severed hands (a common sweet symbol in Antwerp), fine pralines and even a cocoa lipstick at the Chocolate Line.