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Written by Jenny McWhirter on 24 / 08 / 2017

Gap Year Advice

Party your way around the world

We all know that a gap year is the perfect time for party goers to get their fair share of nightlife… here is a list of some of the best, and cheapest, festivals and carnivals that will most certainly tick the party box.

1. La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain

Every year on the last Wednesday of August, over 20,000 people from all over the world come together to get coated in a sea of over ripe tomatoes…no wonder La Tomatina is known as the world’s biggest food fight! The festival starts when someone manages to climb to the top of the 2-storey, greased up, wooden pole to retrieve the desired ham…but this tends to take quite long time so the tomato chucking starts anyway. Then it’s free for all!

Top tips:

• A ticketing system has been put in place due to a huge surge in people attending (around 50,000 in 2013). This means you HAVE TO buy a ticket in order to join in…so be organised about it!

• Accommodation tends to be difficult so many stay in the next-door village of Valencia- just a quick bus journey to the festival.

2. Day of the dead, New Orleans, USA

Merging with the Catholic ‘All Souls Day,’ this is one of New Orleans biggest celebrations. Day of the Dead (or Día de Los Muertos from its Mexican heritage) was originally a day to honour the death of people’s loved ones, and although this is still the central idea, the vibe is a very happy and celebratory one. Thousands flock onto the streets in extravagant makeup and costume to join in on the procession. This is the ULTIMATE Halloween party.

Top Tips:

• To get the most out of your trip make sure you sign up for a ‘Save our Cemeteries Tour’- one of New Orleans most unique features. Book ahead to do this as it tends to get busy during the time of the annual celebration.

3. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest is the biggest beer festival in the world, and one of the oldest. The 16-18 day festival runs from the end of September to the beginning of October, getting around 6 million visitors each year. The festival not only includes endless supplies of Oktoberfest beer (roughly 7 million litres are served every year), but also includes delicious traditional food, and numerous fairground rides. Since 2005, organiser’s have tried to make the event more family friendly so up until 6:00 pm only calm folk music is played. After this, however, more modern dance music is played until late at night.

Top tips:

• Definitely invest in an Oktoberfest outfit…you’ll just stand out if you don’t!

• Once you have found a seat in a tent, keep it! On busy days, it can be difficult to find somewhere to sit in the jam packed tents

Here are 29 do’s and don’ts of Oktoberfest:

4. Rio carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio’s carnival is the ultimate party. With over 2 million people attending each day, this carnival is the biggest in the world. Countless parades choreographed dances, and street festivals no doubt make it Rio’s favourite holiday of the year. These small street festivals are known as blocos and pop up around the streets of Rio throughout the carnival. Crowds come together and dance to samba music all day and night (and sometimes day again…).

Top Tips:

• Pickpocketing is common during the festival so keep your valuables hidden

• Some blocos have water cannons so make sure you have a waterproof bag to keep your valuables in

• Some parades are ticket only entry so just be organised about which ones you want to go to.

5. Queensday, Amsterdam, Holland

In celebration of King Willem-Alexander, this Dutch national holiday is definitely an eventful one. Over 700,000 visitors join the 820,000 locals in dressing up in their brightest orange and hitting the streets of Amsterdam- making Queensday the biggest street party in the world. Not only are people on the streets but they pile into boats and float down the canal drinking and listening to loud music.

Top Tips:

• Due to the large increase in attendants over recent years, all public transport in the centre of the city is shut down for the day - but there are ferries from Amsterdam Noord and the rest of the city.

• The main DJ sets and concerts take place on the outskirts of the city to ease congestion. But they are always near local train stations. You also have to buy tickets for these!

6. Vesak, Beira Lake, Sri Lanka

If you want to avoid the slightly overdone Full Moon parties of Thailand, head over to Sri Lanka for a more cultured experience, and one of the most beautiful nights of the year… Vesak Week (better known as the festival of light) is one of the biggest celebrations in Sri Lanka. It originates from Buddhism and is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world. Entire towns are covered in handmade lights and lanterns of all different shapes and colours. Because of the giving nature of this event, stalls set up all along the streets offer food and drink, all free of charge!

Top Tips:

• Alcohol is prohibited! … but you will most likely come across some fairly intoxicated locals

• It becomes increasingly hard to get things done during Vesak Week, so make sure all your bookings are in order before arriving (such as renting a tuk tuk).

Each of these celebrations offer different things; some offer incredible cultural experiences, and some offer the chance to dance the night away…but all provide the opportunity for the night of a lifetime. Just remember: party hard and stay safe!

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