12 of the Best Festivals in May Around the World

Published Categorized as Best of World Travel, Destinations, Travel Blog
women in colourful dresses dancing at Madeira-Island-Flower-Festival

Everyone enjoys celebrating, so here are 12 of the best festivals in May around the world to add to your bucket list!

May is a great time of the year to travel. There are a number of festivals in the month of May which you may have the opportunity to partake in and experience. The memories of the music, food, ceremonies and traditions will stay with you forever.

There are so many amazing festivals in May around the world to experience, so here is our bucket list pick of the 12 best May festivals worldwide that offer something that will suit every interest.

N.B. We will updating this list regularly, so if you have any festivals, events or celebrations from around the world you think should make the list, please let us know in the comments section.

DISCLAIMER: This article contains affiliate links and Exit45 Travels are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.

Did You Know?

  • May is named for the Greek goddess Maia.
  • May is pretty exclusive when it comes to days of the week. No other month in one single year starts or finishes on the same weekday as May. Basically, if the first of May is on a Friday, and the 31st of May is on a Sunday, no other months in the year will start or end on a Friday or a Sunday!
  • May is the month to celebrate International No Diet Day (6th), World Turtle Day (23rd), National Wine Day (25th), and International Hamburger Day (28th).

“Festivals are happy places, and you don’t really want to enjoy them on your own.”

– Christine and The Queens –


pin image for Festivals in May

Festivals in May Around the World

Here are the best celebrations and festivals in around the world in May to add to your bucket list travel calendar.

Bergen International Festival – Bergen, Norway

Where: Bergen, Norway

When: Annually in late May and early June: 25 May – 8 June, 2022

Duration: 15 days

The Bergen International Festival is held annually in Bergen, Norway and is firmly established in the northern European arts scene, attracting over 100,000 visitors each year. 400 events are hosted at over 70 different venues and present art in all its guises including music, theatre, dance, opera and visual art. Bergen International Festival is Scandinavia’s largest and most important festival.

The festival programme is created with something for every taste and occasion, and the events are organised under the three terms Festivities, Foundations and Friction.

  • Festivities: Entertainment and surprises for both the young and old. Playful scenes in the streets and events and experiences for your head, heart and feet.
  • Foundations: The best of the best in the classical art tradition with performances and concerts with a history. Tradition and renewal, depth and reflection.
  • Friction: Reckless and shrewd, experimenting and exploring, new technology is presented and boundless artistic landscapes.

If you decide to visit this festival in Bergen, be sure to allow some additional days to explore the spectacular natural in this laid back harbour town.

Check availability on accommodation options in Bergen

houses on the water in Bergen harbour which hosts one of the biggest Festivals in May
Bergen International Festival: Image by Agent-J at Unsplash

Cannes International Film Festival – Cannes, France

Where: Cannes, France

When: Annually in May: 10 – 21 May, 2022

Duration: 12 days

The annual Cannes Film Festival will take place over 12 days and will showcase films and documentaries from across the globe. One of the most prestigious events in all of cinema, it is a must-go for those with an interest in film as well as those who are fascinating by international cultures.

The opening ceremony is well-known for its red carpet event where you may spot one of your favourite stars. Other celebrity parties include:

  • Chopard Dinner And Party – Chopard is equally renowned for its exceptional jewellery creations and its unparalleled watches as it is for its extraordinary soirées. Tickets: From £5,000 per person
     Jean Pigozzi’s Pool Party Lunch – Expect many of Hollywood’s top celebrities at what is said to be the best event in the world, and definitely the best event at Cannes. Tickets: POA
  • Eva Longoria Party – The Desperate Housewives’ star hosts a charity event for children, where she invites her celebrity friends for dinner and drinks. An incredible star studded dinner where everyone gets an exclusive picture with Eva Longoria. Tickets: From £2,999 per person or VIP (sitting on a table with a celebrity)£5,999 per person
  • Vanity Fair Party – Whether it’s the Oscar’s or The Cannes Film Festival, Vanity Fair never disappoints with a night to remember that is studded with the biggest stars. Tickets: From £12,000 per person
    The Chopard Trophee Annual Dinner and Party – Presentation of the annual award recognising up-and-coming film actors. This prize is awarded to two young actors as Male and Female Revelation of the Year. Tickets: From £9,999 per person
    American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR) Cinema Against AIDS Party – The black-tie event is celebrated for its glittering guest list, its unpredictable live auction, and its unrivalled success in generating funds for AmFAR’s lifesaving AIDS research programs. Tickets: From £13,000 to £500,000 per person

If want to rub shoulders with the Hollywood elite (and can afford the prices of tickets to some of the events), Cannes Film Festival is the place to do it! It is considered to be one of the best top 10 festivals around the world.

Check availability on accommodation options in Cannes

sign for Cannes International Film Festival in may
Cannes International Film Festival in May

Cheung Chau Bun Festival – Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong

Where: Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong

When: Annually in May: 17 – 20 May, 2022

Duration: 4 days

Held annually from the 5th to the 9th day of the 4th lunar month (May), Hong Kong celebrates with the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. Cheung Chau Island is just a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong city and most events take place at Pak Tai Temple, the most important religious site on the island.

Back in the 1600s the plague spread through Hong Kong and locals erected an altar outside the Pak Tai Temple to give them a place to pray for the evil spirits to leave the island and rid them of the plague. Locals believe that praying away the plague really worked and so they celebrate every year with music, dance, drums and parades.

Over the course of the 4 day festival, bun-covered bamboo towers are erected and the area is alive with lion dances and colourful parades in which participants dress as folkloric characters. The festival’s main event is a bun scrambling competition held on the last day where participants climb a 60-foot tower to collect as many buns as they can – the higher the bun, the higher the score – with individual contests and a relay.

Check availability on accommodation options in Hong Kong

Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – Las Vegas, USA

Where: Las Vegas, USA

When: Annually in June: 20 – 22 May, 2022

Duration: 3 days

The Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is held annually in Las Vegas and is a globally renowned dance music festival. It is the largest dance music festival in North America and the EDC also takes place in Mexico, Florida, and Japan as well.

Under the Electric Sky, fans come together to celebrate life, love, art, and music at this unique multi-day festival. Elements mix to ignite the senses and inspire the imagination. The foundation upon which the festival was built is one of unity, love, self-expression, and respect for one another.

Asides from the huge line-up of performers from around the world, there are pyrotechnics, carnival rides, and a merry band of Funkdafied Freaks such as dancers, stilt walkers, aerialists, circus performers, and other whimsical characters of EDC! Attendees will also experience interactive art installations, LED three-dimensional superstructures, and 3D glow-in-the-dark environments.

Head Downtown to catch live performances at one of the many themed bars or the open-air theatre. You will also enjoy a Tokyo-style karaoke bar, or dance in the dark or with headphones on at the Headlight Disco or the Silent Disco.

Check availability on accommodation options in Las Vegas

live dj playing at Electric Daisy Carnival in front of crowds
Electric Daisy Carnival: Image by Matty Adame at Unsplash

Hamamatsu Festival– Hamamatsu, Japan

Where: Hamamatsu, Japan

When: Annually in May: 3 – 5 May, 2022

Duration: 3 days

The Hamamatsu Festival is held annually in early May in Hamamatsu, Japan during Golden Week. The festivals consists of 2 different aspects: the parade of floats and the huge kite flying festival.

Each evening at 6:30pm (sunset) there is a procession through the streets of large ornate floats, each one representing a district of Hamamatsu. Some of the more traditional looking floats are beautifully decorated with ornate wood carvings. The floats carry children playing traditional Japanese instruments, whilst the adults carrying lanterns and flags, make noise, cheer and pull the floats along the road.

The procession consists of three groups and each evening each group takes a different route allowing the over 70 floats to be seen by the crowds. If you would like to take a closer look at the floats, go to the plaza between JR-Hamamatsu and Shin-Hamamatsu train stations during the day. Some of the floats are displayed with information on their history (in English!) and there are volunteers who are happy to talk to you about the craftsmanship and what the float represents. The floats are works of art and some are more than 100 years old.

The second part of the festival is held from 10am during the day and is a huge kite flying festival with neighbouring towns competing with their own giant kite. You will witness over 100 kites in the air duelling over the huge sand dunes of Nakatajima. At the sound of a trumpet, the kite fliers compete to cut each other’s strings and bring the other kites down.

The procession and kite flying happen in two different venues, but shuttle buses operate between the two and a one-way trip is 260yen for adults and 130yen for kids.

Check availability on accommodation options in Hamamatsu

Kite flying contest at Hamamatsu Festivals in May
Kite Flying at Hamamatsu Festival in May in Japan

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts – Hay-on-Wye, Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales

Recommended by Shireen at ‘The Happy Days Travels’

Where: Hay-on-Wye, Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales

When: Annually in late May / early June: 26 May – 5 June, 2022

Duration: 10 days

There is a quaint market town called Hay-on-Wye in Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales that is known as the ‘book town’ of Wales. Every May this book town hosts The Hay Festival of Literature and Arts. Fondly known as the ’Woodstock of the Minds’, bookworms, authors and professors flock here to listen to speakers, get news on book releases, buy book-themed tote bags and of course drink the ink!

Lasting for 10 days, attendees to this festival can enjoy the events, exhibitions, keynote speakers, book releases and all things literary in one of the world’s biggest Literature festivals. Entry to the festival is free but you must pay for tickets to some events and workshops. There’s also musicians, comedians, food trucks for the taking and the festival is very family-friendly. 

You can explore the town of Hay-on-Wye by walking the River Wye, shopping, kayaking, glamping, visiting the castle and of course, go bookshop-hopping. Read this guide to the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye.

Check availability on accommodation options in Hay-on-Wye

entry sign to Hay Festival of Literature and Arts
Hay Festival of Literature and Arts in Hay-on-Wye

Madeira Island Flower Festival – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Recommended by Edyta at ‘Say Yes to Madeira’

Where: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

When: Annually in May: 5 – 29 May, 2022

Duration: Approx. 3 weeks

If you are looking for a beautiful festival to attend in Europe in May, take a look at the Madeira Flower Festival (Festa da Flor)Madeira Island is a small Portuguese island in the Atlantic, often called the Island of Eternal Spring, or, the Garden of the Atlantic. That’s why it is here, in the island’s capital Funchal – where you will have a chance to participate in colourful flower celebrations.

The 2022 edition will last over three weeks; it is scheduled to start on the 5th of May, and last until the 29th of May. Every year during the festival, Funchal’s city centre will be beautifully decorated with flowers and flower exhibitions and all sorts of flower-related concerts, markets, shows and competitions will be held. The highlight of each Madeira Flower Festival is its main parade – so called Cortejo Alegórico, which usually takes place on a May Sunday afternoon, in Funchal. During the parade, you will see beautifully dressed performers – men and women, kids & adults alike – parading through the city presenting their flower dresses, floats and choreographies.

The local volunteers and artists work very hard each spring and give their very best to make the Flower Parade a special event that will bring joy to both Madeira’s residents and visitors from all around the world. This passion and energy is what makes this festival special. It is a vibrant and colourful event which the entire family will enjoy.

Check availability on accommodation options in Funchal

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – New Orleans, USA

Where: New Orleans, USA

When: Annually in late April: 29 April – 8 May, 2022

Duration: 10 days

We have added the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans to our post on the ‘Best Festivals in April” as this is when it begins. However, this festival can be enjoyed in both April and May each year.

Read more about the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, USA in our post on the Best Festivals held in April Around the World

street band playing wind instruments at New Orleans Jazz Festival in May
New Orleans Jazz Festival: Image by Robson-Hatsukami-Morgan at Unsplash

Passport DC Festival – Washington D.C., USA

Recommended by Jennifer at ‘DC Family Travel’

Where: Washington D.C., USA

When: Annually throughout the month of May: 1 – 31 May, 2022

Duration: 10 days

Can you imagine traveling to 15 countries in an afternoon? Well, you can with at the Passport DC Festival in Washington, D.C! Each May, dozens of embassies and ambassador residences are opened to the public on a few select weekends. It’s an incredible international festival of culture, art, and good food.

Each embassy or residence can decide how they would like to observe the day. At the embassy for the Republic of Korea, there was K-Pop music playing, beautiful displays of art, and some food to try. At the British Embassy (a long wait!) they offered free tastings, opened the beautiful grounds, and had children’s activities for the kids. My favourite part was touring the beautiful residence of the Ambassador from the Netherlands. I also liked the smaller embassies of Barbados and Latvia because you can chat more with the embassy staff. Read more about free embassy tours here.

The festival is held each year throughout the month of May. Usually, one weekend will be European Union countries, and the second, non-EU countries will open their doors. It’s truly a wonderful cultural experience! And there’s lots more to do if you are travelling to DC with Kids from epic playgrounds to free museums! 

Check availability on accommodation options in Washington D.C.

outside of the Residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands at Passport DC Festival in may
Passport DC Festival – Residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands

Prague Beer Festival – Prague, Czech Republic

Where: Prague, Czech Republic

When: Annually from mid to late May: Dates in 2022 TBC

Duration: 17 days

The Prague Beer Festival is held annually from mid to late May in the city of centre of Prague in a park near the Vltava River. It is held over 17 days which allows for plenty of time to sample and enjoy over 120 beers, including 70 beers of Czech origin including Pilsner, Budweiser, Staropramen, Gambrinus, and Bernard.

Beer is served either in the tents or in open air bars by staff dressed in the Czech national costume. Unlike other beer festivals around the world, the beer is served in glass mugs as the Czechs say that it is a sin to spoil a good beer by plastic packaging. And we couldn’t agree more…

Accompanying the free flowing beer are an abundance of sausages including vaclavska, Prague sausage, and staropramen.

Check availability on accommodation options in Prague

large crowd with glasses of beer raised in the air at Prague Beer Festival in may in Czech Republic
Prague Beer Festival in May Each Year

Tulip Festival – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Recommended by Anukrati at ‘Bulbulonthewing

Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands

When: Annually in late March through to mid-May: 24 March – 15 May, 2022

Duration: approx. 7 weeks

If you plan to visit Amsterdam in May, a day trip to Keukenhof (also known as the Garden of Europe) has to make it to your itinerary. It is the largest flower park in the world. More than 7 million flowers are in bloom during this time.

In 2022, Keukenhof Tulip Gardens are open from March 24 till May 15. It is recommended to book the entrance tickets online to avoid the queue. The tickets are also 1-2 euros cheaper when bought online.

The park showcases a fantastic collection of tulips, lilies, carnations, roses, orchids, and many other flowers. The display of flowerbeds is mesmerizing, with floral fragrances in the air. Keukenhof is only open when the flowers are in full bloom, which is a short period. That’s a pity, right? But, it is how mother nature works.

While tulips are extremely popular in the Netherlands today, they didn’t originate there. Their origin goes back to the Tien Shan mountain ranges in Central Asia. Tulips were rare and exotic back then. Western Europe soon became fascinated by them. Towards the end of the 16th century, tulips were introduced in the Netherlands.

Check availability on accommodation options in Amsterdam

display of colourful tulips in a garden at Tulip Festival in Amsterdam
Tulip Festival – Amsterdam

VIVID Sydney – Sydney, Australia

Where: Sydney, Australia

When: Annually in late May and early June: 27 May – 18 June, 2022

Duration: 23 days

VIVID Sydney is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.  This annual winter celebration of innovation, technology and creativity transforms the centre of Sydney into a mosaic of VIVID Light, VIVID Music and VIVID Ideas.

The city centre becomes a magical outdoor night-time gallery as some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and buildings are illuminated with works by leading light artists. The best places to view the VIVID Light show is from the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Bradfield Park and from Darling Harbour between 6pm and 11pm each evening.

VIVID Music features an eclectic line-up of both local and international musical performers, and VIVID Ideas showcases thought provoking talks from some of the world’s greatest minds.

A full programme of events can be found here

Check availability on accommodation options in Sydney

lightshow displayed on sydney opera house at Vivid Sydney
VIVID Sydney: Image by Srikant Sahoo at Unsplash

May Celebrations Around the World FAQs

Some of the most amazing festivals around the world are the following:

  1. Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
  2. Lopburi Monkey Banquet, Thailand
  3. Up Helly AA in Shetland Islands, Scotland
  4. International Hair Freezing Contest, Canada
  5. Underwater Music Festival, Florida

Some of the best May music festivals around the world are the following:

  1. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – New Orleans, USA
  2. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – Las Vegas, USA
  3. Sandbox in El Gouna, Egypt
  4. Tmrw.Tday Culture Fest in Negril Jamaica
  5. Lost & Found, Malta

Some of the best May holidays celebrated around the world are the following:

  1. 1 May – May Day
  2. 1 May – Beltane
  3. 5 May – Cinco de Mayo
  4. 5 May – Kodomo-no-hi
  5. 8 May – Mother’s Day
  6. 12 May – International Nurses Day
  7. 17 May – Norway’s Constitution Day
  8. 26 May – World Dracula Day
  9. 30 May – Memorial Day
  1. Beltane Fire Festival, Scotland – pagan ritual to protect cattle, crops and people
  2. Irminden, Bulgaria – rituals are made to protect people from snakes and lizards
  3. Vappu, Finland – one of the biggest holidays of the year
  4. Calendimaggio, Italy – seasonal feast held to celebrate the arrival of spring
  5. Northern Portugal – place May flower or bush on doors, gates, and windows to defend those places from bad spirits, witches and the veil eye

Some of the best Indian festivals in May are the following:

  1. Moatsu Festival in Chuchuyimlang Village
  2. Thrissur Pooram in Kerala
  3. Mount Abu Summer Festival in Rajasthan
  4. Buddha Purnima in Delhi
  5. International Flower Festival in Gangtok

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Check out our Travel Resources page for the companies we use and recommend to plan and book our travels. Through lots of trial and error over the years, these are the best!

In Summary – The Best May Festivals Around the World

You can find many major festivals around the world which are held throughout every month of the year. You will be spoilt for choice if you choose to celebrate at a festival in May as there are lots of both smaller and larger festivals out there for you to pick from and enjoy.

What is your favourite May festival around the world and why? Have you been to any of our list of the best May festivals around the world listed above? Have we missed any you think we should add? Post your tips, comments and questions below.

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Want more info to help you plan your trip? Check out all the ‘Best of World Travel’ articles we’ve written on travel in all parts of the world.

DISCLAIMER: This article contains affiliate links and Exit45 Travels are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.

By Peta Wenzel

We are Peta (Australian) and Jonas (Swedish/Australian), a couple in our mid 40’s / early 50’s who have been travelling the world fulltime since January 2018. We met and lived on the Gold Coast, Australia and spent many evenings researching and watching YouTube vlogs about travel and dreaming of the day we would retire and be able to enjoy a lot more travel ourselves. Over the years, a number of events happened to family and friends and an opportunity arose which made us decide to not wait but to instead take a “Gap Year”. We are now in our 3rd year of travel and still hunger for new adventures and embrace the uncertainty that comes with full-time travel. If you want to know more about who we are, why we choose this lifestyle and how we do it, please follow our adventures and see how you can do it too.

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