World Calendar: Must-Attend Events in January

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in January:

  • Mark the end of the yule season with viking aplomb at the Up Helly Aa Festival in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Costumed participants light torches, don kilts, and take to the streets of Lerwick, the main port of the Shetlands, led by Guider Jarl, the chief viking of the day’s events. The apex of the celebration, which takes place on the last Tuesday in January each year and traces its roots to Norse rituals and sagas, comes with the burning of a replica viking galley boat.
  • The island town of Kalibo in the Philippines turns into a Mardi Gras frenzy of sequined and coconut-covered dancers during Ati-Atihan, honoring Santo Niño (Infant Jesus). Follow the throng through the streets—stopping in the main Kalibo Church, of course—during this festival that dates back to the 13th century.
  • Find your home on the range in rural Elko, Nevada, for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Packed with readings, musical performances, and workshops, this annual ode to poesy stems from a long tradition of nights around the campfire spent reciting verse inspired by scenes seen from the saddle.
  • Few feats of nature can compete with the Serengeti’s great migration. Herds of wildebeest—up to 1.5 million total—graze on the short-grass plains of Tanzania January through March as they prepare for their yearly migration north, with most calves born in February.
  • Already witnessed the spectacle that is Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Carnival? Try Argentina’s version in the city of Gualeguaychú, where colorfully dressed, lithe dancers organized into comparsas, or social club troupes, show off their best moves along the parade route.

What would you add to the list? Let us know what we’re missing by leaving a comment below.


  1. tristan manluyao
    January 8, 2016, 7:15 am

    Maybe you guys can check first what’s the big event tomorrow-the ‘translacion’ of the Black Nazarene (El Nazareno Negro/Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno/Poong Itim na Nazareno). It happens every 9th of January. It draws millions of devotees and believe me it’s a big one…

  2. María Rossy
    Houston, Texas
    December 31, 2015, 10:01 am

    Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Celebrated mid January

  3. Sarah Attaway
    Hanoi, Vietnam
    December 30, 2015, 6:52 am

    I’m going to be in the Philippines for the first two weeks of February! I’m just barely missing all their festivals. They sound fabulous!

  4. Jestoni Abulag
    tagbilaran city bohol
    December 26, 2015, 3:53 am

    You may also consider Sinulog Festival. Every 3rd sunday of January, people of Cebu honors Sto. Nino(infant Jesus).