Agenda Calendar of festivals

Whirling Dervishes spin in circles – a spiritual dance which represents the abandoning of ego and the ascent towards enlightenment.
Whirling Dervishes spin in circles – a spiritual dance which represents the abandoning of ego and the ascent towards enlightenment.PHOTOS: GO TURKEY
The boughs of the trees in Zrinjevac Park are decorated with fairy lights and the lanes (above) are filled with stalls selling handmade Christmas ornaments and trinkets and Christmas treats.
The boughs of the trees in Zrinjevac Park are decorated with fairy lights and the lanes (above) are filled with stalls selling handmade Christmas ornaments and trinkets and Christmas treats.PHOTO: ZAGREB TOURIST BOARD
The festival is at its best on its second day, when large carved wooden floats (above) are paraded through the streets.
The festival is at its best on its second day, when large carved wooden floats (above) are paraded through the streets.

KONYA, TURKEY

Witness a sacred part of Turkish heritage at the Seb-i Arus (Night of Union) festival in Konya.

Every year, Sufi mystics and followers from all over the world flock to the central Anatolian city to honour the life of 13th-century Sufi philosopher, poet and mystic Mevlana Jalal al-Din Rumi on his death anniversary on Dec 17.

Most commonly known as Rumi or Mevlana, he devoted his writings and teachings to the power of peace and love, and promoted dance as a form of communion with God. His followers, known as the Mevlevi Order, have honoured his life and faith for 800 years by making a pilgrimage to Konya, where he is buried, and praying at his shrine, now housed in the Mevlana Mausoleum.

The 10 days before the anniversary of his death are filled with cultural events and prayers. The festival culminates in a Sema ceremony on the last evening, when members of the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Whirling Dervishes, spin in circles – a spiritual dance which represents the abandoning of ego and the ascent towards enlightenment.

When: Dec 10 to 17

Info: http://bit.ly/2jhHGSw


ZAGREB, CROATIA

Hear sleigh bells ring and sip on sweetly spiced mulled wine at Advent in Zagreb, the Croatian capital’s biggest Christmas festival.

The boughs of the trees in Zrinjevac Park are decorated with fairy lights and the lanes are filled with stalls selling handmade Christmas ornaments and trinkets and Christmas treats. Nearby, hundreds of people swirl around King Tomislav Square, which is turned into an ice- skating rink for the occasion.

The festival features classical music performances, horse-drawn carriage rides and a performance of the Christmas Pageant.

There are also guided Christmasthemed tours of the city which touch on topics such as unique Croatian Christmas traditions and feasts and how the locals used to keep themselves warm in cold winters.

When: Saturday to Jan 8

Info: http://bit.ly/2A2L4v9


CHICHIBU, JAPAN

About two hours by train from central Tokyo, the city of Chichibu hosts one of Japan’s greatest hikiyama (float) festivals.

The two-day Chichibu Yomatsuri, one of the country’s rare winter festivals, celebrates the Chichibu Shrine, which is said to be more than 1,000 years old and is known for the beautiful carvings in its main hall.

The festival is at its best on its second day, when large carved wooden floats are paraded through the streets. In the afternoon, the floats transform into kabuki (traditional Japanese dance drama) stages with live performances. In the evening, all the lanterns on the 10- to 20-tonne floats are lit, carried up a sleep slope and lined up in the plaza in front of the City Hall.

Thousands of people gather along the parade route, where stands sell street food and amazake (sweet rice wine) to keep festivalgoers warm.

Once the floats are at the City Hall, a display of sporadic fireworks takes place from 7.30 to 10pm, when the festival winds down so festivalgoers can catch the last trains back to Tokyo.

When: Saturday and Dec 3

Info: http://bit.ly/2A0AIfj


ATHENS, GREECE

The Plissken Festival is a unique, genre-defying music event which has brought hundreds of local and international acts to its five stages since its start in 2010.

This year's headliners include British rap group 67, Canadian electronic songwriter and producer Jessy Lanza and Dutch electronic duo Weval.

The festival is also known for its annual workshop, The Lab, a series of seminars where participants learn to set up a festival from start to finish, including aspects such as event management, hospitality, sustainability, press and technical production.

When: Friday and Saturday

Info: www.plisskenfestival.gr


PRATIGI BEACH, BRAZIL

Ring in the new year at a dance festival on a pristine beach in the Brazilian state of Bahia. There, across the highlands on a remote coconut farm, a makeshift town springs up every year for Universo Paralello, a 10-day electro-trance dance music festival.

Universo Paralello means parallel universe in Portuguese and that is what this festival provides. For eight days, dozens of deejays perform across six stages.

When festivalgoers need a break from the rave, they can visit nearby tents for cultural and artistic performances, shop at a flea market with more than 40 shops, as well as enjoy yoga and massages.

Thousands of people come from all over Brazil and the world to set up camp on the beach. The venue is equipped with a 24-hour foodcourt staffed by professional chefs, security, lifeguards, a medic, showers and toilets, Internet access, a travel agency and a supervised children’s playground and recreation area.

When: Dec 27 to Jan 3

Info: universoparalello.org/en

Lydia Vasko

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline 'Agenda Calendar of festivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe