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The Dunkirk Carnival is as colorful as it is boisterous. (Photograph by Jarek Buss, My Shot)

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must Dos in January

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:

  • Get ready to slurp. It’s time for the 30th annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival (January 27) in Charleston, South Carolina. Take part in the infamous oyster shucking and eating contests (or simply watch from the sidelines) while rocking out to live music. If you find yourself tiring of bivalves, don’t worry: there’s plenty of other food available.
  • Laugh, clap, and possibly be dragged on stage at the World Buskers Festival (January 17-27) in Christchurch. New Zealand’s largest outdoor festival brings together street performers from all around the world to entertain the public with juggling, magic, comedy, music, fire shows, and more.
  • Soak up local tradition at the Dunkirk Carnival (January 12-March 30), a wildly popular carnival in northern France that pays homage to the city’s fishing and maritime culture. But be sure to bring your ear plugs! The Dunkirk Carnival is known to be one of the most boisterous celebrations in the world.
  • Explore California’s scenic and celebrated “Wine Road” at the Winter Wineland festival (January 19-20). Meet winemakers and taste limited production wines, brand new varietals, and signature, only-get-better library wines as you travel from winery to winery in northern Sonoma County.
  • Kick off your shoes at the San Sebastián Street Festival (January 17-20). A carnival atmosphere takes over Old San Juan during the four-day festival, with revelers, rides, food stalls, and live musicians filling the streets. The climax of the four-day event: a massive, undulating parade along Calle San Sebastián.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day coincides with Inauguration Day this year (January 21). Travel to Washington, D.C. to see President Obama be sworn in for a second term on the Capitol lawn, then head down to the MLK, Jr. Memorial to pay your respects to one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century.
  • Experience world-class Irish music in Ireland’s biggest city at the Temple Bar Trad Fest (January 22-27). The festivities last six full days and nights and sprawl all over Dublin. See standard-bearers like The Dubliners and Clannad as well as some of the most promising emerging talent to hit the scene.
  • Get a taste of the Wild Wild West at the National Western Stock Show (January 12-27). The epic agricultural event, now in its 107th year, draws hundreds of thousands of cowpokes to Denver, Colorado with its huge trade show, bull riding, rodeos, horse contests, and show jumping.
  • Go up, up, and away at the 35th annual Hot Air Balloon Festival (January 26-February 3) in Château-d’Œx, Switzerland. See scores of aerostats navigate the skies against an idyllic alpine background (don’t miss the “night-glow” show). There’s also a museum in town dedicated to Montgolfier balloons.

  • Soak up Caribbean flavor at the 25th annual Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival (January 26) in George Town, the largest city on Grand Cayman. Learn about the island’s unique culture and history as you watch chefs prepare classic Caymanian dishes and sample the results — like “heavy cake.”
  • Start sharpening your cutlass. It’s almost time for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest (January 26) in Tampa, Florida. Witness the José Gasparilla (“the world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship”) enter the city along Bayshore Boulevard in the Parade of Pirates, then let loose at the Pirate Fest Street Festival.
  • Head to Tokyo to see some of the greatest Sumo wrestlers in Japan battle it out at the January Basho (January 12-27), one of the year’s six grand tournaments. Make sure to brush up on the ancient sport before attending. It’s much more complex than it first appears (there are more than 70 maneuvers in play).

What would you add to the list? Let us know what we’re missing by leaving a comment.