What are your New Year's resolutions? If they involve eating, drink or smoking less, this month's best fests list will surely test your resolve. You're allowed at least one cheat day, right?
The Taste of Tasmania
December 28 to January 3
The Taste of Tasmania turns 30! If you're not already there, it's probably too late to go, but the weeklong food and spirit fest takes place on the island state 150 miles south of the Australian mainland. New Year's Eve featured a Prohibition-era style swing party, and the week wraps up with events centered on gin, beer, aperitivo, whiskey, Korean munchies and pre-colonial dishes from the native Palawa population in a dinner strangely called Native Bush Tucker. And in case you are wondering, Tasmanian devils are real, and National Geographic says "the familiar Looney Tunes portrayal... as a seething, snarling, insatiable lunatic is, at times, not all that far from the truth."
Harbin International Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival
January 5 to late February
Based in northeast China with cold winter winds blowing in from Siberia, the world's largest snow and ice festival attracts millions of visitors and features the world's largest ice sculptures. Think lit-up, life-sized sculptures of Bangkok's Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Moscow's Red Square, Istanbul's Blue Mosque and other international landmarks turning the park into a Disney-like winter wonderland. Started in 1963, the festival also includes a wide range of activities that range from alpine skiing to an ice lantern exhibition.
The group that launched the first-ever medicated camping event in the Grand Canyon State returns with its fourth annual Errl Cup. With a focus on patient appreciation and dispensary accountability, Errl Cup staff secretly shops for flowers and edibles that are then lab tested and judged by a panel of medical cannabis patients. Free tickets are available to card-holding patients.
Kazuki Takamatsu - The Way to Release from the Restraint
Los Angeles, California
January 12 to February 16
The new exhibit by Japanese artist Kazuki Takamatsu is not a festival, but he is a PRØHBTD fave, and any show he does should be considered an event. If you will be in the Los Angeles area during the exhibit, definitely make plans to visit Corey Helford Gallery. Though they look like Photoshop creations, his works (an example pictured here) are actually paintings. Trip on that!
New York City Cannabis Film Festival
Brooklyn, New York
Now in its fourth year, the NYC Cannabis Film Fest showcases the growing collection of film works centered on modern cannabis culture. This year's event includes film shorts, music videos, documentaries, web series and feature films, including the Spanish comedy Occupied Heart. A panel of judges will vote to award prizes for Best Feature Film, Best Short Film and the Trailblazer Award.
Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux
Miami to San Francisco
January 18 to 26
Union des Grands Crus (UGC) launched in 1973 to promote Bordeaux wines, and each year, it hosts tasting events in cities around the world to promote the latest vintage. The North American tour promoting the 2016 harvest kicks off January 18 in Miami and then heads to cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. What can you expect? For a set price, attendees can sample wine from several dozen different châteaux and appellations, including Pomerol, Saint-Émilion and Médoc.
Full Moon Party
Koh Phangan, Thailand
The world's best full moon parties happen on Haad Rin beach! As part of the Samui Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, the island has become a yearlong party place with insiders coming for the half-moon and black moon events, but the full moon draws the biggest crowds with global jetsetters drinking on the beach and tripping on Mellow (Mushroom) Mountain. Hotels typically require a minimum stay of three to ten nights, and even at that, the vacancies fill up fast.
Secret Summer Aquarius
Queens, New York
The nation's "only sustainable seafood festival" calls attention to responsible fishing practices, but Secret Summer is primarily a farm-to-bar cocktail party where top mixologists craft drinks made with seasonal ingredients from local farms. This event, named after the astrological constellation, features sustainable seafood for sale, but the ticket price includes unlimited cocktails and lots of entertainment.
Up Helly Aa
The Total Abstinence Society started the Up Helly Aa festivals nearly 150 years ago to give young Scots something to do besides drink whiskey, but it's evolved into something that resembles a Game of Thrones beer bash. The fest website diplomatically says, "Up Helly Aa is many things to many people," while the Independent describes it as Viking fire festival where grown men in "Middle Earth helmets, sheepskin capes and squelching boots" belt out "an unsettling version of Elvis Presley's 'Burning Love.'" The event apparently marks the passing of the midwinter's darkest days, and it looks more like Winter Is Coming!