On January 28th, parties and parades will be held across the world to celebrate Chinese New Year and introduce the year of the rooster. This holiday, based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, is extremely important for the Chinese and is often marked with fireworks, family gatherings and traditional performances.

Taking part in a festival or holiday celebration, such as that of Chinese New Year, is a great way to learn about a different culture, religion or lifestyle, and presents you with an opportunity to open your mind to new ideas and spiritual experiences. Of course, living in such a diverse and multi-cultural world, it can be difficult to know when the most interesting and exciting festivals and celebrations take place, or even how to take part in them. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of five exciting religious, spiritual and cultural festivals to consider celebrating in 2017 – take a look!

HOLI

This Hindu festival, marking the beginning of spring, takes place on March 13th and is often known as the “Festival of Colours”. Holi is mainly celebrated in largely Hindu areas of India and Nepal, but over the past few years, it has grown in popularity to the extent that professionally organized (and free) celebrations take place in many major cities across the world.

Holi’s global popularity is quite easy to understand when you know one of the stories behind its origins. Legend tells of two lovers, Radha and Krishna, who struggled to be together because of their different skin colours. In order to overcome this, the couple painted their faces the same colour so that they were finally able to be together without issue. Today, groups from all castes, ethnicities and cultures gather to throw colourful powders and water over each other until everyone is completely covered in a kaleidoscope of bright and beautiful colours. At a time when race and ethnicity are topics of great tension, Holi allows everyone an opportunity to have fun and meet new people regardless of their skin colour.

BURNING MAN

From August 27th to September 4th, Nevada’s Black Rock Desert becomes the temporary home of the liveliest, most artistic community in the world. Every year, thousands of incredibly creative and spiritual people head to Burning Man to celebrate life, practice self-expression, and learn to be self-sufficient. Some people turn up with just a tent, some food, and a bicycle while others bring their artistic creations, a selection of costumes and all the tools they need to build an amazing shelter of their own. Over time, a city of shelters, makeshift stages, works of art, and temples develop, creating the perfect backdrop for making new friends, experiencing new things and discovering new concepts and ideas. By September 5th, the entire city will have disappeared, and it will be as if the festival had never taken place.

BALI SPIRIT FESTIVAL

On March 19th, men and women from across the world will descend upon Ubud, in Bali, to take part in the Bali Spirit Festival. Based upon the core principle of Balinese Hinduism, which emphasizes the importance of living in spiritual and social harmony within the natural environment, the Spirit Festival is a week of healing, yoga, dancing, live music and eye-opening workshops attended by over 7000 people. For many, the Spirit Festival is an opportunity to forget the stresses and troubles of reality and instead focus on developing their minds, spirits and souls. Whether you want to learn martial arts, hear life-changing seminars or dance the night away with new friends from across the globe, you’re guaranteed to make amazing memories when you take part in this spiritual retreat.

SONGKRAN

If you love the concept of Holi, then chances are that you’ll also be interested in Songkran, Thailand’s traditional New Year celebration that takes place between the 13th and 15th of April. Instead of colourful powders, the people of Thailand celebrate Songkran by soaking each other with water – the origins of Songkran come from the practice of cleaning statues of the Lord Buddha, when families would collect the water used to clean the statues and then splash each other with it for good luck. Nowadays, Songkran is mostly one giant water fight, with some people using water pistols and buckets of cold water to surprise friends, family, and even police officers. If Holi seems a bit too messy for you, then Songkran could be the perfect alternative!

SHAMBHALA CANADA

Shambhala is one of Canada’s best and most well known music festivals, attracting festival-goers from across North America and beyond. Taking place between the 11th and 14th of August in Salmo River Ranch, BC, Shambhala is a place for open-minded and creative people to meet, create amazing artwork, hear new music and try some amazing organic food and drinks. This festival is the perfect place to unwind, learn more about your relationship with the environment, and see the amazing experiences that life has to offer against a stunning natural backdrop.

Whether you want to take part in your first festival or you’re just looking to try something new, these five amazing events are the perfect place to start. From your local free Holi celebration to a week-long holiday in Bali, there’s something for every budget, and no matter what you choose you’re guaranteed to have unbelievable experiences and treasured memories that will last you a lifetime. Approach your adventure with an open mind, and you might even discover something about yourself that you had no idea you were capable of. Good luck!