These global festivals are worth putting on your wish list for 2019, writes Eli Orzessek.
Taiwan Lantern Festival
Although many lantern festivals are held across Asia, you'll find one of the most spectacular celebrations in Taiwan. The annual festival marks the grand finale of Chinese New Year celebrations and is usually held on the first full moon day of the New Year. The festival is celebrated all over Taiwan, with the village of Pingxi hosting the breathtaking Sky Lantern festival — where wishes are written on paper lanterns that are released into the sky, with hopes that ancestors will answer the prayers. However, wherever you go in Taiwan during this time, you're sure to see displays of beautiful lanterns — and you can expect to see a lot of porcine offerings for the upcoming Year of the Pig.
National Winter Ales Festival
Norwich, February 19-23
The sister festival of the larger Great British Beer Festival, this wintry offering is held to showcase the United Kingdom's best real ales, such as stouts and porters, that aren't available when the summer festival is held. Whereas the summer event is exclusive to London, the
moves between host cities on a three-year cycle. Norwich hosts its final year at The Halls, a medieval complex consisting of St Andrew's Hall and Blackfriars' Hall. As well as plenty of beer, there's a selection of musical entertainment to go along with it — and also a whimsical "Balloon Platoon" where punters can receive a personalised balloon creation as a souvenir.
World Science Festival
Brisbane, March 20-24
The World Science Festival returns to Brisbane for its third year, with plenty of free and ticketed events for both kids and adults at local venues like the Queensland Museum, South Bank Parklands, QPAC, QAGOMA, QUT and Griffith University. Started in New York in 2008, the annual event aims to take science out of the labs and on to the streets for everyone to explore. Held over five days, the festival includes everything from live turtle hatching to star gazing, interactive workshops and a Street Science day for the young (and young at heart) scientists among us.
Port Fairy Folk Festival
Victoria, March 8-11
Held in the historic fishing village of Port Fairy in Victoria, this four-day festival features artists from Australia and around the world, playing folk music from a range of cultures and generations. The upcoming festival's offering pays tribute to the original Woodstock festival, with Melanie headlining the festival — known for her 1969 Woodstock performance of Lay Down (Candles in the Rain). Other acts on the lineup include Suzette Herft, Front Country, Margret Roadknight and New Zealand's own Tami Neilson. There are also workshops on everything from belly dancing to interactive puppet theatre and even ninja training and sea shanty singing.
Austria, April 8-13
Held in Mayrhofen, Austria, Snowbombing has grown from a festival primarily about snow sports to one of the biggest music festivals in the mountains over the past few years. It's a chance to see snow pros perform serious tricks by day, while partying to an eclectic mix of musical acts by night. April's festival is headlined by Stormzy, the Prodigy and Fatboy Slim and more than 100 other artists, with performances in some unique locations — think pop-up butcher's shop parties, igloo raves and enchanted forest parties. The festival also hosts Austria's largest fancy dress street party. Accommodation includes everything from five-star luxury spa packages to options that are a little cheaper on the pocket — but there's not a tent in sight.
Comic Con International
San Diego, July 18-21
It's becoming more and more acceptable to be a geek these days, with the rise of comics, anime and superheroes in popular culture — and Comic Con is the place to get dressed up and celebrate it all. Started in the 1970s, this festival is held over four days and seems to get larger every year. It's an opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with their idols, with appearances by movie and television stars, writers, directors and artists, and movie trailers are also debuted. But above all, Comic Con is for the fans to commune — whether it's in full cosplay, or something more subtle.
Just for Laughs
Montreal, July 13, 28
Presenting some of the biggest names in comedy,
has a mission of just three words: Make people happy. And it's sure to do just that — plus it's a great excuse to explore one of the world's most beautiful cities. Held at the end of July, the festival hosts most of its shows in the Latin Quarter, with street performers during the day. Just for Laughs is the biggest international comedy festival in the world and has hosted big names, including Jerry Seinfeld, John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson.
Austin City Limits
Austin, Texas, October 5-15
Austin is the capital of Texas, but it's a little weirder than the rest of the state — think hipsters and indie rock, rather than cowboys. The city hosts a number of music festivals over the year, but one of the most famous is Austin City Limits, which has grown to be held over two weekends, with more than 130 bands of all different genres, as well as great food, workshops, markets and a mini fest for kids. Although next year's lineup is yet to be announced, 2018's headliners included Paul McCartney, Metallica, Travis Scott, the Arctic Monkeys and the National.
Hawaii Food and Wine Festival
October 5 to 27
Founded by award-winning chef-restaurateurs and native sons Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, the Hawaii Food and Wine festival celebrates the tropical state's culturally-diverse regional cuisine, looking back to a time when Hawaii was 100 per cent sustainable. The annual festival takes place over three weekends on multiple islands (Hawaii Island, Maui, and Oahu), with an impressive roster of 150 internationally-renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers. This is a destination event that all foodies will want to add to their bucket lists — and it's a ticket purchase you can feel good about. Money is raised to support the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen of Hawaii, as well as up and coming chef talent at local culinary colleges.