A Year of Celebrations: Holidays, Festivals and Special Events to Add to Your Travel Calendar
We love a good reason to party. Our 2019 calendar is already filling up with festivals and special events to rejoice over. No matter where or how you want to celebrate your birthday, anniversary or latest grand achievement, MIR has the destination expertise and experience to help you mark the special occasion on a trip to any of our legendary destinations along the Silk Route, the Trans-Siberian Railway, through Siberia, Mongolia, Iran, the Balkans, the South Caucasus and beyond.
Looking to add a celebration or festival to your own calendar, and add some revelry to your next trip? Here are a few ideas:
During the light of day – from four to six hours at this latitude – you can wander around Snow Island among the gigantic creative snow sculptures carved from huge piles of snow by teams from all over the world. As night falls, the action begins across the bridge on the Ice Festival grounds. Ice blocks cut from the Songhua Jiang River are stacked on top of each other with lights embedded in them, to create Russian churches, Thai palaces and Chinese pagodas. An enormous model of the Great Wall might double as an ice slide, and the whole place glows like Las Vegas.
Enjoy the pleasures of Old World rail travel as you glide in style on a circular route from Budapest, Hungary, where layer upon layer of civilizations have flowered and faded, and on to a date with a brilliant New Year’s celebration in magnificent Vienna, Austria. Continue through the hip Czech Republic and green and friendly Slovakia, stopping in the medieval city of Kosice, declared a European Capital of Culture in 2013, and ultimately arriving back where you started, in beautiful Budapest. Encounter four countries and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the rails as you roll from one fascinating city to the next. Departure dates: December 28, 2018-January 5, 2019 / December 28, 2019-January 5, 2020 (tour details and photos)
The biggest celebration is in historic Yaroslavl on Russia’s Golden Ring, the main Maslenitsa city in Russia. At the History Museum of Yaroslavl, you can dive into the celebrations of the holiday. Here they re-create all the old traditions of Maslenitsa, such as horse riding, singing, sledding, jumping through bonfires, playing “King of the Mountain,” riding in horse drawn sleighs, and of course, making and eating huge piles of pancakes.
The Persians celebrated the start of the new year at this time, and spent the thirteen days following Navruz settling debts and mending relationships in order to set a positive tone for the upcoming year.
In Uzbekistan, the observance starts a few days early, with a khashar or community service project. People come together to clean and decorate their towns in preparation for the holiday. The day of Navruz, Uzbeks eat sumalyak, a dish made of wheat grain sprouts, which symbolizes eternal life, and wheat grain. Traditionally, sumalyak is prepared only once a year and by women. As the dish cooks, women stay up late in the night, stirring the pot of grains, while talking, singing and dancing.
In 2019, you can celebrate Navruz in Uzbekistan on MIR’s small group tour Backstreets & Bazaars of Uzbekistan. Taste your way through the vibrant heart of the Silk Road, during the height of the Uzbek New Year, Navruz.
No matter what time of year you want to travel, MIR has a variety of small group tours and rail journeys to places that celebrate Navruz, such as Central Asia and Iran. You can also book a custom private journey.
MIR can make all the travel arrangements for you to explore the longest section of the trail (and the easiest to get to), running from Listvyanka to Bolshoye Goloustnoye, a small town about 34 miles north along Lake Baikal. The hike usually takes three days, and is characterized by swift transitions between steep coastal bluffs, sandy beach and deep forest. There are guesthouses or homestays available at little villages in the evenings, and you can get back to Irkutsk by boat or bus from trail’s end in Bolshoye Goloustnoye.
You can experience the wildness of Lake Baikal on MIR tours to this UNESCO-listed lake on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and on small group tours through Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East. You can also book a custom, private journey.
The , which will likely be from May 24-26 in 2019, offers a weekend of fine Czech and international cuisine at an affordable price. Since 2006, Prague chefs have offered foodies a specially curated menu of soups, appetizers, main courses, and desserts, as well as workshops and demonstrations. In 2018, a day’s entrance fee was $26.
strives to live up to the reputation of the Czechs as the world’s top beer drinkers – for 23 consecutive years, the Czechs have drunk more liters per capita than any other country in the world. The festival features brews from all over the country, as well as food that begs for beer. In 2018 it was held from May 10-26, and 2019 dates will likely be close to that time.
Book a custom, private trip to Czech Republic for the month of May to taste and enjoy both the cuisine and the favorite beverage of the country
No time is better than during Bulgaria’s Kazanluk Rose Festival in early June. MIR’s small group tour, Bulgaria & Romania: Frescoes & Fortresses includes this famous flower fest on the June departure.
Join a band of adventurous travelers during the “White Nights” of summer on a luxury rail journey celebrating the Midnight Sun. Beginning in magnificent Moscow, take advantage of the long, sun-filled days as the train heads north beyond the Arctic Circle. The journey culminates in sumptuous St. Petersburg, where fashionable boulevards and serene canals glisten in the oblique rays of the Midnight Sun.
You may be able to participate in this mountain festival during MIR’s small group tour, Village Traditions of the South Caucasus.
During the August in Krakow, Maly Rynok square is lined with stalls and booths serving the finest, most creative pierogi ever dreamed of. Chefs and home cooks mix and roll the thin unleavened dough, stuff it with any number of savory or sweet ingredients, and steam it till it bursts with flavor. One year, the winner had a stuffing of smoked prunes, walnuts and honey; and the other was stuffed with free-range duck, fresh figs and lemon basil. The two winners represent the judges’ choice and the peoples’ choice. The judges award their winner a statue of St. Jack holding a bowl of pierogi: legend says that he ministered to starving Poles by feeding them pierogi.
2019 adds extra piquancy to the mix, since the European Academy of Gastronomy has awarded Krakow the title of 2019 European Capital of Gastronomy Culture. This means there will be lots of culinary events throughout the year.
Wander the medieval cobbles of Maly Rynok, enjoying folk performances and loading your plate with as many of the dozens of varieties of pierogi as you can handle. Schedule MIR’s custom tour, Essential Poland, around the August dates of the Pierogi Festival for a real taste of Poland.
The beautifully proportioned Old Bridge in Mostar is a symbol of the city, standing in its original form for 427 years until it was destroyed in 1993. Commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent, the tall arch of the bridge radiates grace and power. Its reconstruction, which recreated the original silhouette, is considered a work of art as well as a gesture towards peace.
You can schedule MIR’s custom tour, Essential Balkans, around the dates of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event, to experience some extreme sports, as well as the capitals, the countryside, and the competing cultures of the Balkan Peninsula.
Travel to the rocky ridges overlooking Mongolia’s westernmost province, Bayan-Ulgii, to attend the Golden Eagle Festival on MIR’s small group tour, Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival.
MIR also offers a variety of small group tours and rail journeys by private train to and through Mongolia.
MIR is an expert at planning custom and private travel to the South Caucasus and can put together an unforgettable Thanksgiving celebration in Georgia, complete with a feast befitting the holiday for you and your family or group of friends.
If you’re interested in traveling with a small group and can’t wait until November, MIR has several small group tour departures to the region to choose from:
On MIR’s Russian Winter Wonder Land: New Year’s in St. Petersburg small group tour, sip champagne at an elegant reception and bask in the warm honey-colored glow of the Amber Room, or spend New Year’s at an intimate late-night dinner in a Russian home.
Mark Your Calendar With A 2019 Trip!
MIR has more than 30 years of experience connecting travelers to fascinating destinations at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
Wondering which destination or itinerary is right for you? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog, you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map. Or chat with our Private Journeys department to have a trip handcrafted to your interests, pace, and budget.
(Top photo: Celebration on the shores of Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin)
PUBLISHED: February 12, 2015