Your Guide to Culture Adventures

Make 2020 the year when you step off the tourist trails and leap into a world of culture adventures. Cultural travel lets you scratch beneath the surface of each destination as you unearth compelling history and traditions that will undoubtedly get under your skin. To whet your appetite, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most inspiring experiences and events for cultural immersion in 2020.

Timkat Festival

Ingrained in the culture and history of Ethiopia, Timkat Festival is one of the most significant events of the year. This colourful festival celebrates the Ethiopian Epiphany as the baptism of Jesus Christ is re-enacted in the River Jordan in the country’s capital of Addis Ababa. Join hordes of pilgrims as they share songs, dance and prayers during colourful processions.

When to travel: January

Book your place: Ethiopia in Depth

Abu Simbel Sun Festival 

With a setting that rivals some of the most impressive on Earth, Abu Simbel Sun Festival takes place twice a year in Egypt when the statues of the inner chamber in the Ramses II Temple are illuminated by a solar phenomenon. The temple was purposely built so that it would only be lit on two dates throughout the year to celebrate the ascension and birthday of Ramses. As the sun rises, crowds meditate before embracing music and dancing.

When to travel: February

Book your pace: Egypt: Alexandria to Aswan

Holi Festival 

Experience this “Festival of Love” or Holi Festival, a Hindu celebration that celebrates the start of spring and unites the people of India in an explosion of colour. As well as covering each other in coloured water, you can enjoy music and dancing. This uplifting festival takes place throughout India on the 9th and 10th March.

When to travel: March 

Book your place: Highlights of Northern India

Cherry Blossom Season 

In early April, on the fringes of Kyoto in Japan, Arashiyama erupts with colour as the scenery is drenched in pink cherry blossom. There are few sights so spectacularly beautiful. The cherry blossom season usually lasts for around two weeks and makes this one of the best times for exploring Japan on foot.

When to travel: April 

Book your place: Ancient and Modern Japan

Seville Fair 

At the heart of this Andalusian capital, Seville Fair brings the city to life two weeks following Easter Holy Week. The Real de la Feria is buzzing with excitement from the hustle and bustle of the fairground, where vibrant, Flamenco-clad ladies, uplifting music and traditional dancing draw you into the true customs of Spain.

When to travel: May

Book your place: Authentic Andalucia


Turtle Hatching Season 

One of the most sensational events in the nature calendar, turtle hatching season in Oman is a sight to behold. Between April and August, these adorable creatures emerge from their shells to begin their journey across the sands towards the sea. If you’re a wildlife lover, we defy you not to fall in love with these baby turtles.

When to travel: June 

Book your place: A Week in Oman

Naadam Festival 

If you’ve ever had the urge to take part in ankle bone flicking, Naadam Festival is the place to be! As well as this unusual tradition, this Mongolian festival plays host to “the three games of men”, which include wrestling, archery and horse racing. This unique event demonstrates time-honoured nomadic culture that embraces the arts and sports of the country.

When to travel: July

Book your place: Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts and Nomads

Kandy Esala Perahera 

Paying homage to the Tooth of Buddha, Kandy Esala Perahera (also known as the Festival of the Tooth) is a traditional Sri Lankan festival consisting of a colourful procession that features cultural dances, firebreathers and musicians. The festival concludes with a water cutting ceremony, Diya Kapeema, at the Mahaweli River in Kandy.

When to travel: August

Book your place: Discover Sri Lanka

Whale Watching Season 

For many wildlife lovers and culture vultures, whale watching is high up on their bucket list, and it’s no surprise why. Hermanus in South Africa is one of the best spots for whale watching, with regular sightings of this immense mammal. To experience the grace and power of these creatures as they cavort in the water is simply phenomenal.

When to travel: September

Book your place: Johannesburg to Cape Town

Day of the Dead Festival 

A heady concoction of jungles, ancient civilisations and Hispanic culture, Mexico has more charisma than you can shake a stick at. Day of the Dead Festival, recognised by UNESCO, brings together all the country’s culture in a whirlwind of parties, parades and song and dance. Although the theme of death runs throughout, the festival is a demonstration of love and respect for deceased family members.

When to travel: October

Book your place: Mexico: Mayans, Aztecs & Conquistadors Day of the Dead Festival  

Hornbill Festival 

Showcasing the culture and heritage of India’s Nagaland, Hornbill Festival sees the gathering of tribes in a week-long celebration, where lively performances, traditional arts, sports and religious ceremonies play an integral role.

When to travel: November

Traditional Christmas Markets

Skylines punctuated by snow-dusted spires create fairytale backdrops for the Christmas markets in the Baltics. Draped in strings of fairy lights, wooden chalets overflow with traditional gifts, and the smell of mulled wine and gingerbread wafts among the crowds as they soak up the magical, festive atmosphere.

When to travel: December

Trips you may like

Ethiopia in Depth

19 reviews

Journey along Ethiopia's magnificent northern circuit, including Tigrai.

Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Ages: 16+
13 Days from £2,499
Guided (Excl. Flights)
View More Details

Ancient & Modern Japan

87 reviews

Explore Zen gardens, temples and the most iconic sights of Japan

Activity level:
Ages: 16+
14 Days from £4,399
Guided (Excl. Flights)
View More Details

Discover Sri Lanka

200 reviews

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Ages: 16+
15 Days from £1,899
Guided (Excl. Flights)
View More Details

Johannesburg to Cape Town

29 reviews

A classic journey through three countries from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Ages: 16+
20 Days from £3,099
Guided (Excl. Flights)
View More Details