March is a month of transition. “The sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade,” as Charles Dickens so eloquently put it. On good days, New Yorkers come out of hibernation and west coasters wear shorts again, but the moderate temps also make it an ideal time to let loose at parties and events around the world. If your state has its primary in March, mail in your ballot, so you can celebrate change at one of these top global events.
“Cherry Blossoms” at teamLab Planets
March 1 to April 30
Each spring, tourists flock to Japan for the cherry blossoms, and the tech geniuses behind teamLab have embraced the season by making a major, temporary change to its Planets exhibit. For the next two months, digital cherry blossoms will bloom and change throughout the season in the massive Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers and Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People — Infinity art spaces. Planets is a fully impressive experience in which guests walk barefoot through different otherworldly spaces where a computer manipulates the digital art in real time so that every visual experience is unique and never replicated. For the uninitiated, teamLab opened Planets (which is scheduled to close in fall) and the permanent museum Borderless in summer 2018, and it quickly broke records as the most-visited single-artist destination in the world.
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 the first of March each year in a national party known as Beer Day. Join in on the 21th anniversary party to celebrate the end of yet another unjust prohibition. 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!
Ultra Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
March 5 to 6
A decade after the Ultra Music Festival made its Miami premiere, Ultra Worldwide made its debut in Brazil and quickly spread around the globe. This year, the Ultra festival heads to the Arabian Peninsula for a two-day event in the Emirates featuring the likes of Alesso, Major Lazer, Afrojack, Nick Romero, DJ Snake and Dash Berlin across three stages at Du Arena. The temperatures typically hover around 80°F in March so the dry tropical climate shouldn’t be too hot, but you can always take a dip in the Persian Gulf if it is. This is one of four Ultra events taking place this month with additional festivals in India,Australia and Miami (covered in more detail below). Photo credit: Amit Sharma.
The Grape Harvest Festival
March 6 to 9
Think of this as Carnival for wine lovers. Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (the Grape Harvest Festival) is an annual celebration in the Argentine wine country that officially started 84 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 talk and go straight to the spirits, which start flowing with a street parade, special parties and the crowning of the Harvest Queen. National Geographic dubbed this as the second-best harvest festival in the world, trailing only behind Thanksgiving at the original turkey-sharing site in Plymouth. Photo credit:Javinaselli/wikipedia.
Mexico City, Mexico
A creative community in Monterrey, Mexico started NRMAL in 2010 with the idea of “celebrating the coolest of the underground.” A decade later, the celebration has become an annual event in Mexico City, and this year’s lineup includes Flying Lotus, Juana Molina, The Sea and Cake, Belafonte Sensacional and several others. Photo credit: Camila Moreno at NRMAL by Carlos Juica/wikimedia.
March 7 to 8
East meets west at this two-day music and art festival in one of Metro Manila’s more upscale neighborhoods. With a near-even split of Asian and western artists, the lineup includes the likes of Indonesian star NIKI (image above), British rockers Foals, Australian singer Nick Murphy (a.k.a. Chet Faker), London-based Filipino artist No Rome, local rockers Urbandub and Dallas-born R&B artist (((o))). The festival also features a live art lineup that includes works from Faith de Leos and Wika Nadera. Wanderland takes place at the Filinvest City Events Grounds. Photo credit: YouTube.
San Diego, California
March 7 and 8
Waterfront Park offers an idyllic setting for this outdoor electronic music festival in sunny San Diego. Among the many participating artists, the Ocean View stage features Gesaffelstein, 2manydjs, The Rapture and Rüfüs Du Sol; the Palms stage hosts Chris Lake, Nora En Pure (image above) and Colette; while the City Steps will see the likes of Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte and Annika Wolfe. In addition to music sets on three stages, the 21+ event includes craft beer, craft cocktails and nightly sunsets on the bay. Photo credit: Amnesia Ibiza/Flickr.
Hokitika, New Zealand
Iceland famously eats weird shit in January to remember the nation’s culinary history, but what’s New Zealand’s deal? The beachfront town of Hokitika on the South Island hosts a freaky food festival that will make your taste buds revolt. We’re talking lamb testicles, pig ears, huhu beetles, pork-blood casserole, sheep brains and fish eyes, along with a not-so-woke feral fashion show. We’re not seriously recommending this event, but it’s impossible to ignore.
Holi (Festival of Colors)
India and Nepal
March 9 to 10
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, though cannabis bhang (bhang lassi) beverages are popular and available during Holi, especially in North India. 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. Video credit on homepage: devinsupertramp.
St. Martin, West Indies
March 11 to 15
The website says it all: five days and five nights of house and techno bliss on the magical island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. Often described as a tropical version of Europe, the island is split into a French and Dutch side, and it’s widely considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Playing into the tropical setting, SXM features immersive set designs and creative stages on boats, beaches, pools and in the jungle for music performances by the likes of BLOND:ISH, Whomadewho, Thugfucker and Inessa Raum. SXM, now in its fifth year, deserves praise for its commitment to sustainability. On a side note, any visit to St. Martin should include a stop at Maho Beach to play chicken with a jumbo jet.
Flying Over Sunset (postponed)
New York, New York
March 12 to TBD
LSD is coming to Broadway. The Lincoln Center Theater will host the new musical Flying Over Sunset based on the LSD experiences of actor Cary Grant, author Aldous Huxley and GOP Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce in the 1950s. A musical about celebs dropping acid needs a big name if it’s going to get made, and Flying Over Sunset has just that in three-time Tony Award winner James Lapine (writer/director), who wanted to explore why three very different individuals turned to psychedelics years before the drug became popular. And before you ask, yes, all three main characters will act out acid trips on stage, accompanied by original music from two-time Tony Winner Tom Kitt. Previews start on March 12 at the Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Grabouw, South Africa
March 13 to 15
Art, music and absurdism are the driving forces behind this lakeside festival. Dozens of local bands and DJs (as well as a few international ones) provide the soundtrack for crazy costumes, surprise art installations and water activities taking place (almost ironically), at a country club. Visions of the movie Caddyshack immediately come to mind. Grabouw is located about 40 miles southeast of Cape Town, which is good to know since Cape Town Carnival takes place a week later on March 21. Photo credit: Bazique/Facebook.
March 13 to 15
Amsterdam is still the cannabis kingdom of Europe, but Barcelona has been stealing Dutch thunder with major events like Spannabis. The three-day event features exhibitors from around the world, including Barney’s Farm, Puffco, DaVinci, CBDkoffie, PAX Labs and others. Of course, visiting Barcelona is definitely a great plan to enjoy world-famous restaurants, iconic artwork, cannabis social clubs and amazing local wines.
Tomorrowland Winter (cancelled)
Alpe d’Huez, France
March 14 to 21
Tomorrowland heads to a ski resort in the French Alps where 25,000 electronic music fans will gather to enjoy a week’s worth of art installations, incredible set designs and dynamic sets by the likes of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Lost Frequencies, NERVO, Afrojack and Steve Aoki. Tomorrowland Winter made its debut here in 2019, but it now seems destined to become an annual event. Photos and video courtesy of Tomorrowland.
March 15 to 19
Many years ago, carpenters made a tradition of burning wood to celebrate the arrival of spring, which somehow transformed into a Carnival-like party through the Valencian streets with fireworks, costumes, street food, a flower tower and the procession of giant sculptures (or ninots) made from wood and papier-mâché. The elaborate nature of Fallas is truly epitomized in the ninots, some of which cost millions to make.
Spring Equinox at Chichén Itzá
El Castillo is the most famous Mayan temple and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This is where the masses gathered on 12-12-2012 when the Mayan 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. (Take a close look at the image above to see the serpent on the left side of the temple.) Make sure to book the experience with a tour operator in order to ensure your access to the temple grounds.
Ultra Music Festival (postponed t0 2021)
March 20 to 22
Now in its 21st year, Ultra Music Festival (or UMF) helped create the modern electronic music festival, and as noted above with its Abu Dhabi event, the festival brand now circles the globe. The most popular UMF event still takes place in its hometown, Miami, with this year’s iteration returning to Bayfront Park downtown. Artists scheduled to perform include David Guetta, Afrojack, Fisher, Anna, Major Lazer, Sofi Tukker, Kygo, Flume, Carl Cox and Amelie Lens. Photo credit: Vinch/Wikimedia.
March 27 to 29
Lollapalooza started as an annual tour that helped define alternative rock in the early ’90s, and it was later revived in 2005 as an annual summer festival in Chicago. The success of the revival led to international editions in places like Germany, Sweden, France, Brazil and Argentina, but the first such expansion festival took place in Santiago, Chile a decade ago. The 10th annual Lollapalooza Chile returns to Parque O’Higgins with a three-day lineup that includes Vampire Weekend, Kacey Musgraves, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Gwen Stefani, the Strokes, Lana del Rey, Travis Scott, Martin Garrix, Brockhampton, Cage the Elephant and, for reasons Gen Xers will understand, Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra. It’s worth noting that most of the same artists will appear a week later (April 3 to 5) at Lollapalooza São Paulo. Photo credit: Diego Quintana/Flickr.
March 31 to April 7
It might not be a Lollapalooza, but Asunciónico will feature several of the artists mentioned above, including the Strokes (photo above), Lana del Ray, Cage the Elephant and Martin Garrix as well as Fito Paez, the Lumineers, Brazilian DJ Vintage Culture and others. Started in 2015, the annual festival takes place at the Hipódromo de Asunción, an 80,000-seat horse racing track that opened in the mid-’50s. The only negative is that the Asunciónico lineup is almost entirely male and could certainly use more balance.
David Jenison (email@example.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.