Pyrotechnics are the main attraction here, with hundreds of gigantic effigies going up in flames all over the city, rockets firing off, and two million people dancing in the streets. There's no shortage of sangria on hand.
Scandinavians are known to enjoy a bit of nudity, and what better way to show off the birthday suit than under the midnight sun? Celebrated in some form throughout Scandinavia, the Swedes really get into it, with a public holiday ensuring extra enthusiasm for maypole raising, beer drinking and singing in the streets. Skansen's open air museum is a good spot to celebrate.
For more information: Skansen
Like most Greek towns, the city of Patras comes alive with music, wine and food, all in honour of Dionysos, Greek god of wine. At this three-week festival, fattened pigs are slaughtered, cheese is scoffed in huge quantities and wine is quaffed with abandon. The conspicuous consumption peaks on the Sunday before the start of Orthodox Lent, when a bacchanalian dance sees hooded women flirting anonymously—and to their hearts' content.
The world’s biggest rodeo is nothing if not a pure demonstration of masculine prowess. Between the competitive blacksmithing, bull riding and, of course, boot scooting, there's no room for lazy cowpokes in these parts.
For more information: Calgary Stampede
What used to be the Zanzibar Film Festival is now a massive culture fest that takes over this island off the coast of Tanzania. For 10 days each year, it's a flurry of films, art exhibitions, live music, theater, dance and of course, beach parties.
This arts free-for-all sees comedians, thespians, dancers and musicians do their stuff in the halls of Edinburgh Castle, in bars and pubs around the city and on every available street corner.
Forget Carnaval in Rio, this is all the mayhem without the commercialization. At this town at the mouth of the Amazon, thousands of the faithful gather to venerate the Virgin of Nazareth. Scores of boats accompany her across the river of the town of Belém, and once she's installed in the basilica, the partying begins.
Watch 100,000 North Koreans sing, dance and march in an elaborate tribute to their president. Young gymnasts rehearse all year to subsume their identity in a mass routine that depicts episodes from the Dear Leader's life and the glorious revolution. Few westerners have seen this event in person.
For more information: Mass Games
With a street parade that's the biggest Halloween celebration on the planet, the Big Apple is Halloween Central. Held at night time, when the streets of downtown Manhattan are at their most alluring, the parade sees thousands of flamboyant New Yorkers don whatever costume takes their fancy and haunt the streets from Soho to Chelsea. The city's rich cultural mix is on display, with homesick Mexicans in skeleton suits for their Day of the Dead, and little Harry Potters grooving alongside Brazilians rather too scantily clad for early spring.