Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan, 31 January – 11 February
The Sapporo Snow Festival has very humble beginnings. Started by a group of students in Odori park in 1950, the festival featured snowball fights, snow sculptures, and a carnival. Despite low expectations, more than 50 thousand people showed up to the event. Following this, the snow festival became known as a seasonal event held every winter by the city citizens. Over the past 70 years and since hosting the Winter Olympics in 1972, the sculptures in Sapporo have become ever more impressive, and the events have grown to cater for the large amount of snow-lovers that the event draws, including the International Snow Sculpture Contest.
Download: Adventure Golf – Japan
National African-American History Month, USA, 1 – 28 February
Originally founded in February 1926, African American History was celebrated as a week in February with the aim of raising awareness of African American’s contributions to civilisation. In 1976, following the largely successful civil rights movement of the 60’s, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”. The event was subsequently extended to the full month of February, and has grown every year ever since. It is celebrated by institutions and individuals in the United States, and far beyond!
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, 1 – 9 February
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is India’s largest annual multicultural festival. The Festival draws visitors in large numbers, not just from Mumbai but from all over the country, and the world. The Kala Ghoda Association, who are responsible for the event, was formed in 1998 with the idea of giving back to the thriving city of Mumbai. And, thereafter was born the biggest street art festival that India has – the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. You will find comedy & theatre, food, cinema, literature, dance, music, visual arts installations, and talks and workshops to take part in over the course of the festival.
Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria, Copacabana, Bolivia, 2 – 4 February
Though this feast day is celebrated in multiple other Catholic nations, Copacabana holds an especially big bash, with pilgrims and dancers coming from Peru and around Bolivia. The Fiesta honours the patron saint of Copacabana and Bolivia, la Virgen de Candelaria, who according to popular folklore, protects Copacabana from storms and natural destruction. The fiesta is filled with music, traditional Andean dancing, drinking and feasting. On the final day, locals must try to keep their wits about them so as to not be trampled by 100-or-so running bulls!
Groundhog Day, Pennsylvania, 2 February
Groundhog Day is a popular tradition celebrated in North America on February 2nd. It derives from the superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early. Of course, this superstition does not have any scientific foundation, though the event remains popular, with the biggest and most widely known celebration being held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Mahamuni Pagoda Festival, Myanmar, 7 – 8 February
An annual festival held at the end of Buddhist Lent for which pilgrims travel from afar. The festival celebrates the history of the Mahamuni Buddha Temple which contains one of the 5 ‘images’ of Buddha, created while he was alive and of great likeness to him. During the festival, aside from the daily rituals, sacred scripture is recited by monks. The recitation is a special feature, which continues for several days. The festivities also include various forms of entertainment programmes such as dance, music and theatre, and there is also a social event, allowing families and friends to spend time with each other.
Santa Eulalia Festival, Barcelona, 7 – 12 February
The Santa Eulalia is Barcelona’s biggest annual event for children and takes place in the Old City of Barcelona. You will find story tellers, puppet shows, human towers, parades with giants and other fantasy figures and lots of costumes. Children’s choirs and orchestras also perform around the city. The event is a fully family-friendly affair!
Download: Metropolis – Barcelona
St. Valentine’s Day, 14 February
The feast day of St. Valentine – the patron saint of love, affianced couples and happy marriage – is one of few religious events which has attracted and developed secular cultural observers and wide commercialisation. The customs of Valentine’s Day, as it is commonly known, have their origins in England, where greetings cards, chocolates and flowers were exchanged as a display of affection, or even as a declaration of love. It is suggested that over 1 million people a year get engaged on Valentine’s Day, and that the occasion is the second busiest day in the year for restaurateurs, after Mothers Day.
Watch: The Story Of… Chocolate
Study Guide: The Story of Chocolate
Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, 21 – 26 February
No guide to the month of February would be complete without Rio’s Carnival. Although there are many other cities who hold their carnivals on and around the same dates, Rio’s takes the crown as the world’s biggest carnival, with over 2 million people per day taking to the streets to be a part of the celebrations.
Read: Carnival Season
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy, 22 – 25 February
The Battle of the Oranges is another pre-lenten carnival, but with an interesting, sticky and sweet twist… The Battle of the Oranges is an outdoor event where spectators get a chance to relive one of the most significant turning points in Italy’s past by re-enacting the civil war between the Royal Napoleonic Troops and the people of Ivrea in their fight against the tyrannical government. The organized “battle” is composed of squads where the orange throwers (who represent the people), defend their town by tossing the citrus fruits (representing arrows) at the carts (representing Napoleon’s troops), and vice versa!
DVD: Great Festivals 2
Mardi Gras, Various, 25 February
Mardi Gras, sometimes known as Fat Tuesday, is the carnival celebration which falls annually on Shrove Tuesday, and is characterised by feasting on fatty and rich foods before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The period in the run up to Lent is known more generally as shrovetide, and there are many celebrations around the world which follow the pattern of indulging and feasting prior to Lent. Perhaps the biggest of all the Mardi Gras celebrations occur in New Orleans, with colourful parades and balls (often masquerade) taking place in the two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. At the stoke of midnight, celebrations are promptly shut down by police and officials, so as to begin observing Lent.
Read: New Orleans Mardi Gras
Tet Nguyen Dan Festival, Vietnam, 25 February
“Tet” is the most important celebration of the year in Vietnam, celebrating the Lunar New Year. Tet is celebrated by preparing special holiday foods, cleaning the house, paying off debt, visiting relatives, and reconciling differences with others. Tet is also considered the first day of spring, and so a good time to begin a new venture such as opening a business. The celebrations can last for up to a week, with the first day reserved for the nuclear family. Communal celebrations include loud drumming, fireworks and the dancing Mua Lan, a Lion-Dragon, all of which is said to scare away evil spirits.
Read: Tet Festival, Vietnam
Watch: Great Festivals
Main Image: The Battle of The Oranges, Pilot Productions