women in colourful dresses dancing at Madeira-Island-Flower-Festival

13 Best Festivals in May Around the World 2023-2024

Exit45 Travels Disclaimer

Everyone enjoys celebrating, so here are 13 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 13 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.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favourite Resources Below!

AccommodationWe recommend Booking.com
FlightsWe recommend Skyscanner
Tours / ExperiencesWe recommend Viator
Car RentalWe recommend DiscoverCars
Travel InsuranceWe recommend SafetyWing

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 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.

1. BaliSpirit Festival – Ubud, Bali

a woman doing yoga in ubud at BaliSpirit april Festival
BaliSpirit Festival: Image by Jared Rice at Unsplash

  • Where: Ubud, Bali
  • When: Annually in April or May: 4 – 7 May, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
  • Duration: 6 days

The BaliSpirit Festival, held annually in Ubud, Bali, is the ultimate festival for those looking to improve their health and wellness. Offering workshops and music schedules of more than 300 sessions in yoga, dance, healing, breath work, martial arts, sound, music and more, it is designed to truly pamper both mind and body.

When planning your trip to the BaliSpirit Festival, it is recommend to spend more time than just the festival week in Bali. There are amazing pre-festival events to tune you in the perfect mood, as well as post-festival retreats and trainings, which expand the festival experience and deepen the process of transformation.  

The extraordinary variety of programs, combined with the spiritual and beautiful natural setting of Bali, make BaliSpirit Festival an unforgettable experience.

Check rates and availability of accommodation options in Ubud now!

2. Bergen International Festival – Bergen, Norway

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

  • Where: Bergen, Norway
  • When: Annually in late May and early June: 24 May – 7 June, 2023 | 22 May – 5 June, 2024
  • 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.

DON’T MISS OUT… Check rates and availability of accommodation options in Bergen NOW!

3. Cannes International Film Festival – Cannes, France

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

  • Where: Cannes, France
  • When: Annually in May: 16 – 27 May, 2023 | 17 – 24 May, 2024
  • 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 PRICES AND availability oF accommodation options in Cannes HERE

4. Cheung Chau Bun Festival – Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong

  • Where: Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong
  • When: Annually in May: 23 – 27 May, 2023 | 12 – 16 May, 2024
  • 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.

DON’T MISS OUT… Check availability on accommodation options in Hong Kong NOW!

5. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – Las Vegas, USA

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

  • Where: Las Vegas, USA
  • When: Annually in June: 19 – 21 May, 2023 | 2024 date TBC
  • 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 RATES AND availability oF accommodation options in Las Vegas HERE!

6. Hamamatsu Festival– Hamamatsu, Japan

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

  • Where: Hamamatsu, Japan
  • When: Annually in May: 3 – 5 May, 2023 | 2024 date TBC
  • 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.

DON’T MISS OUT… Check PRICES AND availability oF accommodation options in Hamamatsu NOW!

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

Recommended by Shireen at ‘The Happy Days Travels’

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

  • Where: Hay-on-Wye, Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales
  • When: Annually in late May / early June: 25 May – 4 June, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
  • 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 RATES AND availability on accommodation options in Hay-on-Wye HERE!

8. Lake of Stars Festival – Lake Malawi, Malawi

boat on shore of a lake with sun rising
Lake Malawi at Sunrise
  • Where: At a different venue each year on Lake Malawi, Malawi
  • When: Annually in May: 26 – 27 May, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
  • Duration: 3 days

The Lake of Stars Festival is an annual music festival that takes place in Malawi. The festival was founded in 2003 by Will Jameson and has since become one of the most popular festivals in Africa.

The Lake of Stars Festival is a four-day festival that takes place in May at a different venue on the banks of Lake Malawi. The festival features performances by Malawian artists as well as international artists, and features a wide range of music from reggae to Afro-fusion to electronica. The festival also features art exhibitions, dance performances, workshops, and a food market.

Check PRICES AND availability on accommodation options in Lake Malawi NOW!

9. Madeira Island Flower Festival – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Recommended by Edyta at ‘Say Yes to Madeira’

  • Where: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
  • When: Annually in April / May: 27 April– 21 May, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
  • 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.

DON’T MISS OUT… Check availability oF accommodation options in Funchal NOW!

10. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – New Orleans, USA

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

  • Where: New Orleans, USA
  • When: Annually in late April / early May: 28 April – 7 May, 2023 | 26 April – 5 May, 2024
  • 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.

DON’T MISS OUT… Check RATES AND availability oF accommodation options in New Orleans NOW!

11. Passport DC Festival – Washington D.C., USA

Recommended by Jennifer at ‘DC Family Travel’

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

  • Where: Washington D.C., USA
  • When: Annually throughout the month of May: 1 – 31 May, 2023 | 1 – 31 May 2024
  • Duration: 31 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 PRICES AND availability oF accommodation options in Washington D.C. HERE!

12. Tulip Festival – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Recommended by Anukrati at ‘Bulbulonthewing

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

  • Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • When: Annually in late March through to mid-May: 23 March – 14 May, 2023 | 21 March – 12 May, 2024
  • Duration: approx. 7 weeks

If you plan to visit Amsterdam in March, April or 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.

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 AND RATES oF accommodation options in Amsterdam HERE!

13. VIVID Sydney – Sydney, Australia

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

  • Where: Sydney, Australia
  • When: Annually in late May and early June: 26 May – 17 June, 2023 | 2024 dates TBC
  • 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

DON’T MISS OUT… Check RATES AND availability oF accommodation options in Sydney HERE!

May Celebrations Around the World FAQs

Where are the top festivals in the world?

What are the most unique festivals around the world?

Some of the most unique and amazing festivals around the world are the following:
* Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Hong Kong
* Lopburi Monkey Banquet, Thailand
* Up Helly AA in Shetland Islands, Scotland
* International Hair Freezing Contest, Canada
* Underwater Music Festival, Florida

What are the best cultural festivals around the world?

Some of the best May music festivals around the world are the following:
* New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – New Orleans, USA
* Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – Las Vegas, USA
* Sandbox in El Gouna, Egypt
* Tmrw.Tday Culture Fest in Negril Jamaica
* Lost & Found, Malta

What are the May holidays around the world?

Some of the best May holidays celebrated around the world are the following:
* 1 May – May Day
* 1 May – Beltane
* 5 May – Cinco de Mayo
* 5 May – Kodomo-no-hi
* 8 May – Mother’s Day
* 12 May – International Nurses Day
* 17 May – Norway’s Constitution Day
* 26 May – World Dracula Day
* 30 May – Memorial Day

Where are some of the May Day traditions around the world?

* Beltane Fire Festival, Scotland – pagan ritual to protect cattle, crops and people
* Irminden, Bulgaria – rituals are made to protect people from snakes and lizards
* Vappu, Finland – one of the biggest holidays of the year
* Calendimaggio, Italy – seasonal feast held to celebrate the arrival of spring
* Northern Portugal – place May flower or bush on doors, gates, and windows to defend those places from bad spirits, witches and the veil eye

What are the best festivals of India in May?

Some of the best Indian festivals in May are the following:
* Moatsu Festival in Chuchuyimlang Village
* Thrissur Pooram in Kerala
* Mount Abu Summer Festival in Rajasthan
* Buddha Purnima in Delhi
* International Flower Festival in Gangtok

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.

Trip Planners For The Best Of World Travel: Related Blog Posts

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



Essential Travel Planning Resources

Below are our favourite companies to use for planning our travels. They consistently turn up the best deals, offer great customer service and amazing value, and overall, are better than their competitors. These are always our starting point when we need to book a flight, hotel, tour, car rental etc.

Book a Tour:
We mostly travel independently, however, some places are better to visit with a guided tour. We prefer GetYourGuide for its easy-to-use interface and solid reputation, but we also use Viator.

Ready to Book Your Trip?
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!

Exit45 Travels Disclaimer