Being able to witness a local festival when traveling abroad is one of life's great pleasures - and it’s even better when it’s a festival that truly spreads harmony. Around the world, there are festivals dedicated to celebrating peace through showcases of light. Here are eight of the most dazzling festivals that'll have you booking a flight asap.
Varanasi, India has traditionally held its own festival of light on the full moon after Diwali is normally celebrated elsewhere. Known as Dev Deepawali, or Diwali Of The Gods, the event attracts thousands of pilgrims and revelers each year. It's so revered that there’s even a separate festival aimed at tourists known as Ganga Mahotsav, which has its final night coinciding with Dev Deepawali. The city is ablaze with candles, especially on all of its 84 ghats (steps) that lead right into the Ganges River and are perfect places to see the fireworks.
Kandy, Sri Lanka
This large city rests in the center of the island nation, and it has been long regarded as the cultural core of Sri Lanka due in part to the various holy sites to be found there. While the country’s population is predominantly Buddhist, a good amount of its people are Hindu and bring in Diwali with a bang. Visitors can partake of the abundant feasts of roti and watalappam (a Malay-influenced rice pudding) from restaurants around the city during the festival, and they flock around the Kandy Lake, built in 1807 which is within the city center to join in the fun.
Canada is home to an array of Diwali celebrations taking place throughout Ontario. But the biggest of them all takes place in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. It’s gotten to be so popular that it’s held at the Bramalea City Centre, the 4th largest mall in the province. Their three-day festival includes dance performances and concerts, as well as the chance to create rangoli, traditional art made during Diwali using colored rice or sand.
In northern Mauritius about seven miles from the capital of Port Louis lies the village of Triolet. It’s the largest village in the country and when Diwali comes around, every home and building is lit up with the traditional clay lamps and strings of electric lights to go with villagers visiting different homes and feasting with one another in the streets. There are also sacred rituals related to this festival held at the Maheshwarnath Temple, the oldest in Mauritius that's also open to the public.
This East Midlands city is home to one of the larger festivals of light in Europe and arguably outside of India. Leicester attracts close to 35,000 people who take to Belgrave Road, the epicenter of the city’s Asian community which gets dubbed “The Golden Mile” during the festival. The holiday fun stretches throughout the city, with one of the area's most popular attractions being The Wheel of Light, a 110-foot Ferris wheel perched at the end of Belgrave Road.
Trinidad and Tobago is home to a very large East Indian community that began arriving there in 1845, with a sizable portion being of the Hindu faith. To that end, Diwali is a national holiday throughout the islands. The most magnificent display during the festival is in the town of Felicity, located in Changuanas, the largest borough on Trinidad. Here, people take part in ceremonies throughout the town and the Divali Nagar site, all lit up with the deyas and electric lights draped on statues to commemorate the deities.
In Vancouver, Diwali isn’t limited to just one day - it’s a month-long celebration that’s the largest in the Lower Mainland area. There’s a slew of events held throughout the downtown section - from classes on cooking the sweet delicacies that are served during that time - to elaborate dance competitions. One standout event is a workshop where people learn to use the multiple colored powders to create rangoli at the Roundhouse Mews.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The streets of Kuala Lumpur come alive each year when it’s time for their festival of light to take place. Celebrations are mainly held in the Little India district of the Brickfields neighborhood of the city, which is easily accessible being that it's also home to the city’s primary hub of transportation, KL Sentral. Visitors can witness the rites and prayers that begin Diwali at the Sri Kondaswamy Kovil temple in the morning and be enthralled by the kolam displays in the streets as well as the Pavilion KL, a major shopping mall in the city.