Nature enthusiasts and green fingered fans are in luck. Marking anything from a new season, a fruitful harvest or an annual migration, these festivals celebrate the very best of mother nature in each corner of the globe. From sitting down to a picnic under a cherry blossom tree in Japan, to dancing the night away under a flurry of jasmine confetti, we’ve picked our top festivals which showcase the very best of the natural world.
The annual Black Necked Crane Festival takes place each November, in the Phobjikha valley of Bhutan, a protected area for the Black-necked cranes. The occasion marks the arrival of the endangered and majestic bird which is so intrinsic to the daily lives of the local people during the winter months whilst also serving to generate awareness about the conservation of the rare species. Large numbers of locals gather for the occasion, and children wearing crane costumes perform choreographed routines in front of the Gangteng Monastery giving it a truly authentic feel. Encompassed by the majestic Himalayas, this is the perfect opportunity to really immerse yourself in Bhutan's fascinating culture.
The Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show is the hottest ticket in the horticultural calendar. The show was originally called the Great Spring Show and began its life in 1862 in Kensington, first moving to Chelsea in 1913. This glamorous affair takes place in the last week of May. The grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital are transformed into a showcase for innovative garden designs and impressive floral displays, and garden-themed boutiques if you're in the market for a souvenir or two. Members of the Royal family and a whole host of celebrities attend an exclusive preview of the Chelsea Flower Show. Judges award medals to the top gardens in each category, with the most coveted being Best Show Garden.
Throughout spring, Japan's landscapes transform into hues of pink as its trees turn a shade of pink, blooming with the colours of new life. During this time it is de rigeur to head out to local parks and gardens and join locals for a hanami or flower viewing celebration. Blossom themed events take place up and down the country and the shelves of supermarkets are stacked with sakura (cherry blossom) flavoured food and drink.
The Medellin Flower Festival is a celebration of many aspects of Colombian culture. The true meaning of the festival is encapsulated by the parade of silleteros, or flower farmers, who carry enormous, ornate flower arrangements on their backs through the streets of the city. Not only does this symbolise a great celebration of the flowers from the area, but it also commemorates the end of slavery in the region. Further, the festival falls on the Virgin Mary Day, incorporating a religious element to the celebrations. Expect floral arrangements like you've never seen before.
The annual Fête du Jasmin takes place in Grasse and pays homage to the flower for which the town is renowned. Tucked away in the hills of Provence, the annual celebration marks the beginning of the jasmine harvest, featuring fireworks, traditional dancing and costumes and a parade. During the weekend of festivities, jasmine petals float through the air like confetti and festival goers are doused in jasmine water. Stay awhile to witness the crowning of Miss Jasmine and soak up the celebrations at the heartland of the Provencal perfume industry.
The Hermanus Whale Festival coincides with the annual migration of Southern Right whales, when the mammals come so close to shore that you can spot them from the coastline. Considered the best on-land whale watching destination on earth, there is no better place to celebrate the marine life of South Africa. The festival aims to promote awareness for the conservation of whales and whilst sea life is the star of the show, the town bursts with sports events, musical performances and kids entertainment over the course of the three days. This is the ultimate family friendly attraction to squeeze into your South Africa itinerary.
Six hours south east of Marrakech, the Valley of Roses is as lush and fragrant as it sounds. The Morocco Rose Festival is held in El Kelaa M'Gnouna, a town brimming with people and excitement where roses are garlands, decorations and appearing in every form, from soaps and gels to creams and oils. Revelling in the beauty of the flower, the Moroccan Festival of Roses, is set in the heart of the Moroccan rose industry and is the perfect place to find an exquisitely prepared bottle of rose oil in the country's largest distillery.