Five Festive Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013

We asked some of our regular contributors for their picks

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Tolga Sezgin / NarPhotos / Redux

Revelers party into the night at the Guca Trumpet Festival

1. Pasola
Every February and March, when the moon grows full, residents of the Indonesian island of Sumba drink heartily, rave all night, then stagger to the shoreline before dawn. Robed priests, bloodied by freshly sacrificed bulls and chickens, wade into the waves, chanting while searching for tiny sea worms writhing in sexual frenzy. These worms mate for just a few hours each year and are a symbol of the sea goddess Nyale, who bestows fertility. Priests jubilantly lift them aloft in midfornication. The crowd erupts in joy. When worms and moon align, it’s Pasola time.

The name of this ancient festival speaks for itself. Pa means game, sola a pointed object. At Pasola, armed Sumbanese on horseback assemble on a large field and lob spears at one another. When blood is shed, priests proclaim it a successful Pasola, for despite the violence (and even, in some years, deaths), Pasola is meant to keep the peace. By licensing this ritualized violence once a year, local tribes hope to be free of it at other times.

(MORE: Five Reasons to Visit Eastern Bali)

Catching the start of Pasola is challenging since it takes place without prior notice, but the jousting rolls on for weeks near the villages of Wanokaka, Koda and Gaura. Sumba itself is a rugged, rarely visited island near Flores. But if you make it there and time your visit right, you’re in for a visceral experience. And did I mention the best part? Those sea worms, cooked with ginger and garlic, are a special festival treat.

—Ron Gluckman

2. Eurovision Song Contest
More than 100 million people tune in every year to the Eurovision Song Contest (eurovision.tv) on TV — but there’s more to Eurovision than the contest itself. From May 14 to 18, at least 30,000 people will visit Malmo, Sweden, this year’s host city, for the weeklong series of cultural events that lead up to the final. From morning until night, music lovers will mingle at the Moorish Pavilion, a massive dance hall inside Folkets Park, and the Eurovision Village, a temporary amphitheater erected in the town center. Local musicians and Eurovision contestants will perform live at both venues and at bars, restaurants and street parties across the city.

Regardless of where they take place, the performances offer a chance to hear such esoterica as schlager (a saccharine Germanic pop), operatic pop, Gypsy punk and turbo folk. With 39 competing countries this year and a large LGBT fan base, Eurovision creates a tolerant atmosphere that smacks of gay pride, Glastonbury and the Olympics rolled into one.

—William Lee Adams

(MORE: Eurovision 2012: Sweden’s Loreen Wins in Politically Charged Azerbaijan)

3. Guca Trumpet Festival
For more than 50 years, the village of Guca, in the western Serbian Dragacevo region, has exploded every summer with the joyful oompahs of a weeklong brass festival.

Dubbed the Balkan Woodstock, the Guca Trumpet Festival (guca.rs), to be held this year from Aug. 5 to 11, features regional sounds played mostly by Romany musicians. The exuberant music, called cocek, originated among Serbian military bands, but the region’s Roma took it on and sped it up.

The Dragacevski Sabor Trubaca, as the festival is locally called, has become an event of global pilgrimage ever since the international success of the likes of musician Goran Bregovic and filmmaker Emir Kusturica raised the cultural profile of the Balkans. Last year more than half a million descended on the Serbian countryside to wiggle their pants off. “A lot of young people come, and it’s grown to the point where they have pop stars doing concerts in hotels and discos,” says Michael Ginsburg, whose New York City–based brass orchestra, Zlatne Uste, competed at the festival in 2010. The main acts perform in the football stadium, but the real fun is had around town in various makeshift kafanas, or cafés. Lambs roast on spits while virtuosic toots rock the umbrellas. And everyone forgets their troubles. Says founder Nikola Stojic: “If someone has never danced, in Guca they will dance.”

—Cathryn Drake

4. ArtPrize
The world’s most lucrative art competition isn’t in New York City or Hong Kong but in Grand Rapids — a Michigan city better known for Rust Belt decline than edgy painting and photography. Founded in 2009 by Rick DeVos — heir to the Amway fortune — the annual ArtPrize (Sept. 18 to Oct. 6) will distribute some $560,000 to its 2013 winners, chosen by both a professional jury and the votes of the more than 400,000 visitors who will arrive to view the work.

The prize money is the largest of its kind in the world, but ArtPrize’s real difference isn’t cash. It’s the event’s “unusual and daring ability to completely democratize the process of artistic judgment,” says 2011 judge Noit Banai. “Whether one agrees or disagrees with the grand public’s choice, the process empowers ordinary people to be the sole judge of value.”

—David Kaufman

(MORE: Best in Art, Fashion and Design)

5. Burt Munro Challenge
Every November thousands of motorcyclists make for Invercargill on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s the birthplace of the late Burt Munro, who in 1967 broke the world 1,000-cc land-speed record on a 48-year-old Indian motorbike modified with parts made in his garage. Little was known about his achievements until the 2005 release of The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins. The highest-grossing local film at the New Zealand box office, it turned Munro into a cult figure and precipitated the birth of the Burt Munro Challenge two years later.

Like its eponym, the Burt is unique, combining seven forms of racing: beach, circuit, street, long track, sprint, hill climb and speedway. Throw in live music, food, camping and Invercargill’s famous hospitality, and you’ve got one of the most colorful motorsport festivals ever conceived.

On the fifth and last day, the Munro family awards a trophy to the competitor who most closely mirrors the traits that enamored Munro to a nation.

“A lot of people have asked me over the years what my dad was like when I was a kid,” John Munro tells TIME. “I’d say he was just my dad and what he did seemed normal. But now I understand him as a different person, one with imagination, tolerance, unique skills and super­human patience. All of that gives me great respect for him and for what he contributed to society.”

—Ian Lloyd Neubauer

MORE: Take the Cycling Tour: South Australia at its Raciest

16 comments
jerryrvankuiken
jerryrvankuiken

Great article. Hopefully it will keep the ignorant elitists away from Grand Rapids. :~)

pngreg
pngreg

And for 2014,  adventurers and photographers can plan on a trip to New Guinea Highlands Show for a trip sure to be one of the most "Wow" festival experiences in a lifetime of travels

AndrewMillard
AndrewMillard

This is what happened the last time a national news magazine didn't do their research on Grand Rapids: http://abcnews.go.com/US/grand-rapids-michigan-stands-newsweek-dying-city-snub/story?id=13753012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPjjZCO67WI

"Rust Belt decline" seems a lot like "dying" but neither one describes this city. Come visit. We'll prove it. You can have a local brew from one of the great brewpubs that have made this city nationally recognized as Beer City USA: http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/grand-rapids-asheville-share-beercity-usa-2012-title.18503/

RobertTalbert
RobertTalbert

Thanks for the nod to Grand Rapids, TIME magazine, but GR is not a Rust Belt city and never has been. It was recently voted the #1 city in the US for families by Forbes. You guys should actually come here some time and see for yourselves. We moved here two years ago and whenever we have out-of-town company visit, they have been thinking the same thing as the author -- that all of Michigan = Detroit -- and are surprised by how *nice* it is here. Low cost of living, gorgeous beaches 20min to the west, great outdoor activities all around, half a dozen colleges and universities to add to the economy and culture of the region, and a vibrant and hip city center in GR. ArtPrize is just one facet of a really great place to live. 

sniffydogs
sniffydogs

Obviously Mr. Kaufman has never been to Grand Rapids. I've lived here all my life and been all over the world. Rust Belt? I don't think so! Maybe you're thinking about Detroit? ArtPrize ISN'T about the $$$. It's about participation. Thousands of people are walking around looking at 1500 or so entries. You can talk to the artists. Marvel at creativity and scratch your head at weird. It's free and fun! Entire families come out and are enjoying themselves and communicating. It's too bad the "Art Experts" are trying to muscle their way in because the normal people are doing great on their own judging the art. For $50 anyone can enter, we have everything from professionals to grade school classes.

MarkBast
MarkBast

Typical lazy, "fly over" journalism, Mr. Kaufman. GR has never been known for Rust Belt decline. Maybe you meant Flint?

DeeButlerBellini
DeeButlerBellini

I have lived and worked in Grand Rapids for over 20 years now, by way of Detroit and then Los Angeles.

Grand Rapids is far from the Rust Belt, it was actually more furniture oriented, with Steelcase and Herman Miller both headquartered here

I love this city, it is beautiful and interesting, and still has a small town feel to it, even though it is the second largest city in Michigan.

ArtPrize is amazing, but it isn't the only artistic venue in our city.  It is alive with all kinds of interesting festivals, from Tulip Time in May, to Festival of the Arts in June, and many weekly art fairs and markets, all summer long.  

SarahLeachDahlman
SarahLeachDahlman

"Rust Belt city"? I'm pretty sure this author has never actually seen Grand Rapids. I've been through many Midwest industrialized towns and GR doesn't even come close to visually or historically meriting this designation. Mr. Kaufman, you should take care with the backhanded insults. This is a piece allegedly highlighting positive experiences that you are encouraging others to enjoy.

AnnGundryTeliczan
AnnGundryTeliczan

I'm an artist who grew up in the Chicago area, lives in Grand Rapids, and has participated in ArtPrize. Because I live here and have experienced Grand Rapids first hand, it is always surprising to me when I hear that there is a perception that Grand Rapids is a dying rust belt city. After seeing and hearing the shock of tourists who discovered this area for the first time, I started a photo blog, www.michigansweetspot.com to show what it really is like here. I started taking random photos of all the great places here because there truly is a misperception about the area from those who have not been here. Seeing is believing.

chloe.michelle13
chloe.michelle13

Grand Rapids is and has always been an artistic community. Great ideas and conceptions don't just come from a stale community that has seen better days. Declines as we know, only make for a notable rise where as other cities get dirtier and  abandoned, GR has been able to create more housing, reuse old facilities, preserve historic buildings and neighborhoods, and build new avenues for its community.

RachelSteinbauer
RachelSteinbauer

Before posting negative comments about Grand Rapids and its people try actually visiting it! Grand Rapids is a fast growing, vibrant, passionate city with people who are just as talented and artistic and any other city in the world. Insulting a city is NOT going to gain you credibility in my book or any other. Shame on you Ian Lloyd Neubauer and Time.

ScottJohnson
ScottJohnson

Speaking of Amway, a scam everyone should be aware of is the Amway Tool Scam. Google "Stop The Amway Tool Scam Wordpress" for more information, and forward this to every non-Distributor/IBO you know, so they don't get scammed. 

RyukyuMike
RyukyuMike

@AnnGundryTeliczan It's refreshing to hear from someone with their feet on the ground and a camera to document sights, many know nothing about. So true; seeing is believing !