World festivals you shouldn't miss this May

  • outdoors festival
Published last year

“April showers bring May flowers”, the saying goes, and we here at got a bit excited about what else April brings — that is a ton of festivals around the world! So, if you are looking to join in on the fun with locals and expats alike, we are presenting you with an international calendar to celebrate culture this month in your host country. Take your seat upon the grass, find yourself in the heart of the celebrations, and enjoy a unique cultural experience.

Hong Kong: Cheung Chau Bun Festival

bun festival in Hong Kong

In front of the Pak Tai Temple on the Cheung Chau island of Hong Kong, 20-metre-high bamboo towers are covered with sacred buns — a symbolic local produce. The festival is always held on Buddha’s Birthday (even though it’s a Taoist festival), lasts for three days, and celebrates the Taoist god of the sea, who had once eradicated the plague and pirates. Don’t miss the parade during the third day, and note that you may have to show off your climbing skills to grab a lucky bun. The best of luck!

When: 3 May

England: Brighton Festival

If you live in England, you are most likely already aware of England’s hipster city of Brighton — a very diverse and artistic mix of local, international students, and expats. Brighton Festival is the country’s biggest arts festival, and attendees come from everywhere for its social and political debates, music and theatre shows, and other types of interactive events. Be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

When: 6-28 May

USA: New York Frieze Art Fair

New York frieze art fair 2016
lev radin /

What other place to go to than New York City if you are seriously into modern art? If your expat life doesn’t revolve around Manhattan, don’t worry because now you have a very good reason to visit the city. Discover the world’s leading modern art galleries, and view the work of more than 1,000 artists. The Frieze Art Fair also curates talks, performances, and other events.

When: 5-7 May

St Petersburg: The White Nights Festival

If you have been living in Russia for a while, you will probably know that St Petersburg experiences the natural phenomenon of white nights — an opportunity for the city to go sleepless for a while. This festival, held at St Petersburg's historic and renowned Mariinsky Theatre is honouring the ballet and opera scene. During the festival the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mariinsky Concert Hall host evening art performances. But the fun continuous outdoors at St Petersburg's Palace Square where international music stars conquer the raised stage.

When: 26 May-23 June

Ireland: Litfest of Food & Wine

cooking food and wine

Have you just moved to Ireland, are a food enthusiast, and looking to mingle with an international community that shares the same love for food and drinks? Litfest is a weekend long food and drinks literacy festival at Ballymaloe that helps people understand where the food on our table comes from, who is the producer, and whether it’s a healthy and environmentally conscious choice. All this knowledge is accompanied by music, dancing, and interesting discussions.

When: 19-21 May

Indonesia: Waisak

Regardless of your religious views, this is a cultural and spiritual experience that you will only find in Indonesia. Recognised as a World Heritage Site, Borobudur's 10-thousand-years-old temple is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. During the ceremony and as the full moon rises, a mass of monks in their orange gowns holding candles and flowers march toward the temple to pray and lay an offering to Buddha.

When: 11 May

Turkey: Cappadox

Cappadocia in Turkey

Before moving to Turkey you probably read and heard a lot about the beautiful Cappadocia where air balloons fly above the volcanic peaks. The Cappadox festival welcomes you in this historic region with a series of contemporary art and music programmes, as well as local gastronomy and outdoors activities (walks, run, cycling, and yoga).

When: 18-21 May

USA: Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de mayo Los Angeles
Anton_Ivanov /

Expats in Los Angeles never get bored — The City of Angels enjoys an outstanding cultural diversity that makes everyone feel at home. If you are looking for something very local to do this month in California, celebrate the victory of the Mexican army over France in the Battle of Puebla 155 years ago. The holiday pays tribute to the latin culture and heritage, and it’s an informal celebration of the Mexican-American relations (given the large Mexican-American population in LA). Are you ready to smash some piñatas?

When: 5 May

Austria: The Vienna Festival

The Vienna Festival is a five-week tribute to contemporary art with international productions that cover performances, musical theatre, drama, and dance. The celebrations will begin at the City Hall Square with a free open-air concert. This multidisciplinary festival that started in the 1950s, is a manifestation of the arts as a way to create alliances rather than define art and create borders.

When: 12 May