There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in January:
Viking boat ablaze
Mark the end of the yule season with viking aplomb at the Up Helly Aa Festival in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Costumed participants light torches, don kilts, and take to the streets of Lerwick, the main port of the Shetlands, led by Guider Jarl, the chief viking of the day’s events. The apex of the celebration, which takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year and traces its roots to Norse rituals and sagas, comes with the burning of a replica viking galley boat. [Read more about the surprising history of the Vikings.]
Tropical costume party
The island town of Kalibo in the Philippines turns into a Mardi Gras frenzy of sequined and coconut-covered dancers during Ati-Atihan, honoring Santo Niño (Infant Jesus). Follow the throng through the streets—stopping in the main Kalibo Church, of course—during this festival that dates back to the 13th century.
Each summer, thousands of people on horseback and foot flock to southern Spain, a celebration of Pentecost called the Pilgrimage of Rocío.
Find your home on the range in rural Elko, Nevada, for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Packed with readings, musical performances, and workshops, this annual ode to poesy stems from a long tradition of nights around the campfire spent reciting verse inspired by scenes seen from the saddle.
Wildebeest by the million
Few feats of nature can compete with the Serengeti’s great migration. Herds of wildebeest—up to 1.5 million total—graze on the short-grass plains of Tanzania from January through March as they prepare for their yearly migration north, with most calves born in February. The best place to see the spectacle in January is Ngorongoro Crater, an extinct volcanic caldera in northern Tanzania.
Underrated Mardi Gras
Already witnessed the spectacle that is Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Carnival? Try Argentina’s version in the city of Gualeguaychú, Argentina, where colorfully dressed, lithe dancers organized into comparsas, or social club troupes, show off their best moves along the parade route.
- Nat Geo Expeditions