STORIES

Best Fests Around the World for March 2019

By Carolina Jenison on March 8, 2019

March is a month of transition that Charles Dickens described as, "The sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade." Depending on the day's mood, New Yorkers and New Englanders might end their nightlife hibernation as outdoor events slowly start to return in the warmer states. Whether in the light or the shade, these global fests make March feel red hot.


Noche de Brujas (Night of the Witches)
Catemaco, Veracruz
March 1

It might not be Hogwarts, but you can get your magic fix at this lakeside town in Mexico. On the first Friday in March, the mystic-friendly Catemaco draws shamans, healers, witches and fortune tellers for the Noche de Brujas convention. The regional witchcraft mixes indigenous religions, West African voodoo and medieval Spanish traditions. A local shaman started the annual witchfest about 50 years ago, and today the event draws loads of spectators who can solicit black magic spells for a price. Just know that dressing like Hansel and Gretel is a huge no-no.


Great Wines of Italy
Five U.S. cities
March 1 to 8 

Wine Spectator vet James Suckling is one of the world's foremost wine critics, and his wine-tasting events sell out all over the world. To start the month, the Los Angeles-born expert kicks off his annual Great Wines of Italy tour with stops in Beverly Hills (March 1), San Francisco (March 2), Chicago (March 4), New York City (March 6) and Miami (March 8). The U.S. leg of the tour, which rolled through Asia last December, will feature more than 200 premium wines—some with perfect 100-point scores—handpicked by Suckling. This is one of the best wine events of the year.


Beer Day
Iceland
March 1

For nearly a century, Icelanders battled with beer prohibition, which somehow only ended in 1989. Holy shit, right? The end of prohibition made the citizens so happy that they now celebrate its repeal on March 1 each year in a national party known as Beer Day. This year's bash is especially meaningful as it's the 20th anniversary of repeal. Keep an eye out for local brews like Kaldi Black IPA, Einstök White Ale and the power-packed Garún No. 19 with 11.5-percent alcohol by volume. Skál!


Stepping High Festival
Negril, Jamaica
March 1 to 2

Negril is party central in Jamaica. The beautiful beach town claims the clothing-optional Hedonism II resort, Tedd’s magic mushrooms and lots and lots of smoke. If all that sounds like your kind of funzone, head to the island for Stepping High, the self-described "longest-running ganja festival in the Caribbean." The Connell family started the Stepping High organization as a social enterprise, and one of the founders, Daniel Connell, was the first person in Westmoreland parish to land in jail for cannabis possession. His grandson Lyndon started the Stepping High festival, and it includes a conference, a canna-fashion show and music acts like Principal Grundy, Capleton and I Wayne.


CRSSD Fest
San Diego, California
March 2 and 3

This outdoor music fest in Waterfront Park features performances by Phantogram, ODESZA, Ladytron, Lane 8, Justin Martin, Maetrik, Pan-Pot, the Martinez Brothers and many more. In addition to music sets on three stages, the 21+ event includes craft beer, craft cocktails and nightly sunsets on the bay, though unfortunately the park prohibits any and all smoking. Per the CRSSD website, "We very much support California's progressive stance on recreational marijuana, [but] we are a NO smoking event." So if you get busted for edibles, justify your stash by stating that you weren't smoking your Stokes' Micros.


The Innings Festival
Tempe, Arizona
March 2 to 3

The 1990s are back, or at least they're back this weekend in the Copper State with music performances by Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, Incubus, Jimmy Eat World, Sheryl Crow, Cake, G. Love and other acts from the decade of hair metal-grunge-swing-ska-punk-EDM. As the fest name implies, the nineties revival is actually baseball themed and will include appearances by such pros as Roger Clemens, Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy, Jim Thome and several others. The festival grounds will also feature batting cages, pitching booths, virtual baseball and a gaggle of bored girlfriends.


Carnaval
Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil
March 2 to 5

This debaucherous celebration takes place around the world, but the biggest bashes occur in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil. What is the difference between the two? In Rio, the parade happens in a stadium, and the partying mostly takes place on the beaches and in the Lapa district. Up north in Salvador, the parade literally travels through the streets, where getting groped like a Weinstein intern is pretty much a given. For those able to blow a few bucks in Salvador, shell out for a bloco shirt, which allows you to join the parade procession alongside a traveling party truck, or watch the party from an all-inclusive camarote club overlooking the parade route. Our recommendation is to stay near Ipanema Beach in Rio or Barra for Salvador, though those more interested in culture than caipirinhas might want to head a bit further north to the celebration in Olinda. (Note: Carnaval is the typical spelling in Brazil and Portugal; Carnival almost everywhere else.)


The Grape Harvest Festival
Mendoza, Argentina
March 3 to 11

Think of this as Carnival for wine lovers. Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (the Grape Harvest Festival) is an annual celebration in Argentine wine country that officially started 80 years ago but unofficially goes back centuries. The Blessing of the Fruit kicks things off as the Archbishop of Mendoza dedicates the new vintages to God. You can probably skip the spiritual and go straight to the spirits, which start flowing in full with a street parade, special parties and the crowning of the Harvest Queen. National Geographic dubbed this the second-best harvest festival in the world, trailing only Thanksgiving at the original turkey-sharing site in Plymouth. For those with limited travel days, arrive midweek around March 6 or 7.


Trinidad and Tobago Carnival  
Port of Spain, Trinidad
March 4 to 5

Most people think Brazil when it comes to Carnaval, but the world's best is arguably in the Caribbean. Carnival in Port of Spain is a colorful, music-driven party that demands participation, and Carnival historian Barbara Ehrenreich says it "makes Mardi Gras look like a Veterans Day parade." Actually starting weeks (and even months) before the actual two-day event, the party officially begins in the wee hours of the first day when people fill the streets dressed as demons, devils or covered in chocolate, paint or mud. Rum is the drink of choice, and the local soca music plays a pivotal role as top artists compete for the prestigious Soca Monarch crown.


Ressaca
Morro de São Paulo
March 6 to 10

A couple of decades ago, Morro de São Paulo became the post-Carnaval destination to recover from all the drinking and late nights. The five-day recovery became known as Ressaca (or "Hangover"), but the annual tradition soon turned into a more exclusive continuation of the Carnaval celebration. Morro is a town on Tinharé Island off the coast of Salvador, and the boats that jettison people to the island come with barf bags that are used waaaay too often. The beautiful beach town has no cars, and the island clubs take turns hosting the various parties, which typically include a foam party on one of the nights. Still, the best times are drinking caipirinhas on Beach #2 as rows of tiny stands make the cocktail with a wide range of fresh tropical fruits that you choose simply by pointing. In case you're wondering, yes, Morro's four beaches are indeed named #1, #2, #3 and #4.


MoCannBizCon + Expo
St. Louis, Missouri
March 11 to 12

Republican Lyndall Fraker, a former state representative, is now the medical cannabis director inside the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The Springfield-born director will give the keynote speech at this two-day event at Union Station in the heart of the Midwest. The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association is producing the event and call it "the state's largest medical marijuana trade conference."


SUNDARA
Riviera Maya, Mexico
March 13 to 16

Get yourself to Cancún International Airport, and the rest is taken care of with this all-inclusive music fest at the beachfront Barceló Maya Resort. ODESZA, who started the festival, will perform three very different sets, including an ambient DJ set for a yoga class. All the other acts—which include Rüfüs Du Sol, Alison Wonderland, RL Grime, Jai Wolf and many others—will each perform two unique live sets. As all-inclusive implies, the festival tickets include food, drinks and other resort activities, like yoga, beach games, pool parties, off-site adventures, tequila and craft beer tastings, and (presumably drunk) bowling and karaoke. The setting itself features crystal clear Caribbean waters on one side and tropical jungle on the other, and the Xel-Há aqua park and Tulum's Mayan ruins are both about 20 miles away.


Spannabis Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain
March 15 to 17

Amsterdam is still the cannabis king in Europe, but Barcelona has been stealing Dutch thunder lately with events like Spannabis. Cannabis social clubs exploded in Barcelona in recent years, and Spannabis is the top event for enthusiasts seeking a deeper experience. The three-day event, now in its 16th year, features exhibitors from around the world, and it is already considered one of the best cannabis expos in Europe. This year's participants include PAX LabsPuffco, Sensi Seeds, Barney's Farm, DNA Genetics, Basil Bush and countless other companies from around the globe. Coinciding with the event is the seventh edition of the World Cannabis Conferences.


Spring Equinox at Chichén Itzá
Pisté, Mexico
March 19 to 21

If you're already on the Yucatan Peninsula for SUNDARA, why not stay for the spring equinox? About 125 miles from the beach fest, El Castillo is the most famous Mayan temple and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This is where the masses gathered in on 12-12-2012 when the Maya calendar supposedly predicted the end of times. Mother Earth lived to see another day, so travelers have the chance to see another gorgeous equinox at the Chichén Itzá ruins. The temple design, seemingly aligned with an astronomical axis, produces a light and shadow show during the equinox that looks like a feathered serpent slithering down the steps. The official date for the spring equinox is March 20, and book the experience with a tour operator to gain access to the temple grounds.


Holi (Festival of Colors)
India and Nepal
March 20 to 21

The festival of colors in South Asia celebrates good overcoming evil, sharing love and the end of winter. The two-day festival, which starts on full moon day (or Purnima), is the most psychedelic party that doesn’t involve acid or shrooms. Participants throw colored water, paint and powder at each other, turning the streets and people into a massive canvas covered in iridescent colors. The most famous Holi events take place in Kathmandu (Nepal) and the Indian cities of Jaipur, Mathura and Sri Krishna. Cannabis bhang (bhang lassi) beverages are popular and available during Holi, especially in North India.


Beyond Wonderland
San Bernardino, California
March 22 and 23

"When day breaks in Wonderland, a curious cast of characters emerges, and fantastical animals of all shapes and sizes run wild. In this place beyond our imaginations, colors shine brighter, smiles are wider, and the secrets of Wonderland come to light. Follow Alice on her wondrous journey through the various realms of Beyond Wonderland." That's the website description of a two-day event packed with art installations, dressed-up performances, dozens of DJs and we're guessing a shitload of shrooms. The website says the event "enforces a zero-tolerance drug policy at all of its events—end of story," which stems from overdose deaths at similar SoCal events, so use in moderation and discreetly.  

David Jenison (david.jenison@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Photo credits: Steven Gerner/Flickr, Skrrrrrtq/Wikimedia, Pete Souza/Wikimedia, Spannabis, Ron Ramey Logan/Wikimedia, the Innings Festival and Jake West for Insomniac Events.

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