The World Nomads Podcast: Festivals

From food fights in Spain to celebrating cultural diversity in London, and the most difficult-to-reach festival in the world.


Photo © iStock/mmeee

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World Nomads Podcast: Festivals

In this episode, we explore some of the world's famous and lesser-known festivals, from food fights in Spain to celebrating theatre and the arts in South America. Festivals are often the inspiration for travel; they promote diversity, creativity and ultimately define national character.

What’s in the Episode

00:33 There’s a festival for everything

01:48 Jacqui talks about the Teatro Iberoamericano Festival

05:54 This Carnival is the biggest outside of Rio - "It starts on a Saturday, and it goes until Tuesday. Every single day, there's different kind of parade. Some might be more traditional, other ones are maybe more folkloric, or they'll have their own themes."

10:25 What is Rad Season? - "It's all about the experience. Especially, nowadays, people are thinking what their next adventures going to be instead of what they can acquire, and it becomes less about things and just gaining a memory bank of amazing adventures."

14:13 The failed Fyre Festival

15:53 Gary goes to the Arirang Mass Game in North Korea - "Look, I'm a sports journalist actually by trade. I have no intention of writing anything from my trip to North Korea. I don't intend to write anything political, nothing at all."

23:40 Joe heads to four festival for World Nomads - "They were cracking. It was a whirlwind for me."

25:13 Notting Hill

28:09 La Tomatina

29:34 Appaloosa Music Festival

31:50 Guac and chips - "Well, we can't just get people in with just avocados. What can we do? Ah, margaritas, perfect."

34:25 What’s next?

Who is in the Episode

Joe Stuart has covered four festivals for World Nomads in a series of films available shortly on our YouTube channel.  Notting Hill Carnival in London, La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain, Avocado and Margarita Street Festival in California and the Appaloosa Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains, by the Shenandoah.

Gary Meenaghan is a freelance journalist who has visited more than 90 countries and filed stories from more than 40 of them. Gary traveled to Pyongyang to see the Arirang Mass Game. Read more here.

Jacqui de Klerk lives in South America and has been to the Teatro Iberoamericano Festival. The bi-annual, 17-day performing arts festival features the most important theatre companies from five continents. Plus, the Carnival of Barranquilla celebrates Colombia’s music, art, dance and legends.

Oli Russell-Cowan is the founder & CEO of Rad Season, an innovative, all-in-one website for finding and booking accommodation to the best action sports, adventure and music festivals  and events in the world

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

Read about the failed Fyre Festival. The doco is currently screening on Netflix.

The streets of west London come alive every August bank holiday weekend with a huge Caribbean party at Europe's biggest street festival. Read more about the Notting Hill Carnival.

Head to Morro Bay in September for the Avocado and Margarita Street Festival.

Love a good food fight? Details on La Tomatina here.

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Next Episode: Mexico

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today. Get in touch by emailing 

Announcer: Welcome to the World Nomads Podcast delivered by World Nomads, the travel, lifestyle, and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Host 1: Thanks for hitting play on this episode of the World Nomads Podcast looking at festivals, which are often the inspiration, Phil, for travel.

Phil: Yeah, you can plan an entire trip around visiting a different festival or stumble across the smaller or lesser-known festivals while you're already traveling. There are thousands to be found out there. Here's just a few. There's a mud festival. Burning Man, of course, we've all heard about that one. I'd love to do Burning Man.

Host 1: It sounds good.

Phil: I think I'm a bit old for that but anyway.

Host 1: Never. We'll touch on that in this-

Phil: All right.

Host 1: ... episode too.

Phil: Well, I'll keep my kit on then I think. Chinese New Year, which is all over the world, Mardi Gras, there's ice and snow festivals, Carnival in Rio, of course, very famous. Wooden boat festivals, Day of the Dead in Mexico, Holi in India, lantern festivals, beer festivals, the list goes on.

Host 1: Literally, a festival for everything. We're going to be touching on a few others in this special episode of the World Nomads Podcast, and we'll kick off with Jackie who lives in South America, and she's been to a couple of festivals there including the Teatro Iber-

Phil: Iberoamericano.

Host 1: Yup, you can do it again-

Phil: Thank you.

Host 1: ... when we chat to her. It's a 17-day, every two-year festival, performing arts in fact, and the most important theater companies from five continents go to that. And, the Carnival of Barranquilla. How was that?

Phil: Barranquilla.

Host 1: Oh. Anyway, they celebrate Colombia's music, art, dance, and legends.

Phil: It's the second biggest Carnival in the world outside of Rio, but the good thing is it still has all the color of movement but without the tourists.

Jackie: Exactly. When I went it was, yeah, I saw tourists, but it's such a, the whole of the coast is in Carnival mood I think right now. In one month, it will be this year's Carnival, and I think from the beginning of the year, everybody literally gets into the mood. When you go to the Carnival as a tourist, the kind of tourist feel almost disappears amongst just the craziness of it, all the costumes, everybody on the streets. It's just this, yeah, it's a very anti-tourist environment.

But, obviously, if you can get into, if you can, if you have a friend who's a local, your experience will be much better, because you'll be able to go into places where tourists, they have no idea exist.

Phil: Well, that's the problem with Rio Carnival around Mardi Gras time. Because it's so huge that you have to book tickets into the Sambadrome or getting to actually see something can be quite difficult.

Jackie: Well, with this one, what's a good option is actually if you stay in Santa Marta, which is a city just an hour and a half from Barranquilla. You can go to the Carnival for the day and night and then go back the next morning.

It starts on a Saturday, and it goes until Tuesday. Every single day, there's a different kind of parade. Some might be more traditional, other ones are maybe more folkloric, or they'll have their own themes.

Phil: I take it it's neighborhoods versus neighborhood in a massive dance-off, is it the same structure?

Jackie: Exactly, yeah. It's like I said before, it's the whole, it's every local, they all get involved. Yeah, they do have small neighborhood competitions. Each neighborhood will build a float or have a float, well, a competition between themselves, or they'll create a comparsa, which is the name for the group of people who do the specific dance or music. Yeah, so between the neighborhoods, they do have little competitions.

Phil: Then, whoever's won the local dance-off gets to go in the parade, or is it a free-for-all in the parade, anybody can go?

Jackie: No, it's quite organized. In actual, official parades, you have to sign up and register. You have to have a certain degree of, the actual float has to be quite good. It can't just be something you made in your backyard, because it can be, yeah, the floats can be incredibly elaborate. The costumes can be incredible like Rio, or the masks or the actual dance choreographies can be also quite complicated. Yeah, there's a lot of planning and organizing behind each of the groups.

Phil: You're not going to miss out on the spectacle by going to Barranquilla instead of going to Rio. It's just as good, is that what you're saying to us?

Jackie: I think so. To be honest, I've never been to Rio, so I can't compare. But, I think if you're just looking for a wonderful, crazy, colorful experience of a culture whose basically just expressing themselves to the max-

Phil: Yeah.

Jackie: ... the Carnival is fine. It's good enough.

Host 1: It must be good, because UNESCO have recognized it as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Jackie: Yes, exactly. It's incredible to see that diversity, because if you look at every, if you look at the parade and all the floats and the costumes and the dances, you can trace back the origin if it's African, indigenous, or European. There's a very, very traditional African dance. It's called Mapalé, and it was brought over by the slaves when they were brought over. It's incredible how that the musical dance has survived all these centuries. It's great that finally, they're able to express themselves as I am an African descendant. I can see why that's [inaudible 00:06:01] UNESCO, because it just is this amazing mix of all of the colorful cultures that make up Colombia.

Host 1: All right, let's get to the second one. It's a 17-day festival, and it is called-

Phil: Iberoamer ... Iberoamerican ... Now, I've lost it. Iberoamericano Festival, how's that?

Host 1: It is-

Jackie: It's-

Host 1: ... a-

Jackie: ... perfect.

Host 1: ... tongue-twister. It's a tongue-twister.

Jackie: It is.

Host 1: Tell us about this one. It's every two years. It's 17 days, which is quite long for a festival. It's about theater, and some of the world's most important theater companies come from around the world to join in on this. You must see some great work.

Jackie: Exactly. Yeah, it happens, yeah, every two years, and the next one will be in 2020. Yeah, for 17 days, it sounds long, but it actually can go quite fast, because there are about almost, I think every year maybe 300 companies come from around the world, and you can enjoy the street theater. There's music concerts. There's classical dance. There's children and youth theater. There's circus acts, story-telling. There's any kind of performance that's related to theater is on show.

What's really nice is that the festival is subsidized by the government, and so a lot of the performances that take place inside actual theaters, the actual tickets are not too expensive, which is really great. Because, the actual point of the festival is to bring the theater and art to people who wouldn't otherwise go and enjoy theater.

What is so nice is that the first or second week falls in Semana Santa, which is Holy Week, which is a national week of holiday here. Many people have that week off, and so they can go and enjoy theater.

Phil: Colombia itself is just really, it's been a few years now, but tourism and travel to Colombia is just booming, isn't it?

Jackie: Completely. Every year, every time I look at the news, there's, the percentage of tourists are going up. I think last year, it was 2 million people came. It was up from the 10,000 that came 10 years ago. It's fantastic, because, especially here in Bogotá, they really are bringing more culture to the city. Because, there's so much to do here, and especially here in Bogotá, many people they just pass through going to the coffee zone or to the coast. But, there's actually a lot of things to do here that, yeah, you have to actually have to dig a little bit to see it.

Phil: Do you think Bogotá is like that, because it's not a hot South American destination? It's quite a cool, little, rainy town. Do you think that helps with the cultural aspect?

Jackie: I think so. On the coast, I lived on the coast for many years, and they have their cultural events. But, yeah, I feel like here in Bogotá, there's just so many more influences. You've got a lot more internationally, you have more international people live in Bogotá compared to the coast. The weather I think does play a part, but I also think, just because it's a capital city, and everything comes here first and then goes to the rest of the country.

Host 1: Thanks, Jackie. Links to those festivals in show notes. Now, still to come, Gary and the festival that he went to in North Korea.

Gary: It's hard to believe your own eyes what you're watching. Five-year-olds on unicycles, 20,000 people in absolute synchronicity making a flower move from one side of a 20,000-seat stand to the other side almost like a moving billboard. It blows your mind. I've never seen anything like this before in my life.

Host 1: Yeah, and he also gives a really great insight in general into visiting North Korea.

Phil: We also just had a chat with Joe who World Nomads sent off to four festivals around the world for a series of videos.

Joe: Then, there's this. The Avocado and Margarita Festival here in Morro Bay.

MB Cheerleaders: Hey! Hey, Joe! Thank you, for your tip. Hey! Hey, Joe! Enjoy your guac and chips! Whoo!

Host 1: Guac and chips, actually a really good combination. Now, though, how do you find out about what festivals are on and where? Well, let's check in with Oli to tell us about his website, Rad Season.

Oli: Sure, so Rad Season is the world's first one-stop shop for action sports, adventure events, and music festivals.

Host 1: Well, that sums it up. How'd you come up with the idea?

Oli: I was away in South America. I was away on my honeymoon [inaudible 00:10:42] trying to find a website that had different action sports, events, and music festivals all in one place, and I couldn't really find one. Yeah, decided to, when I came back from honeymoon to put it together and, yeah, two years later here we are.

Host 1: What attracts people to festivals? You are possibly the best person to ask. You live and breathe it, and it's your business, your bread and butter.

Oli: I say, the most, the thing that comes to my mind is the experience. It's all about the experience. Especially, nowadays, people are, yeah, I guess millennials are thinking what their next adventures going to be instead of what they can acquire, and it becomes less about things and just gaining a memory bank of amazing adventures.

Host 1: I know you mention millennials, but it's not just that particular generation.

Oli: Absolutely. We, even on our site, get everyone from 18-year-olds who are looking to go backpacking through to people in their 60s and 70s who are looking to go away and enjoy, just enjoy a festival on a weekend or go off for a couple months. Yeah, it is everybody. It's not just the millennial.

Phil: Do you reckon there are more festivals than there used to be? Is it a growing industry?

Oli: I don't know. There's definitely more niche events. A lot of things become more accessible and more popular just due to the internet. Some things, festivals have been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years, cultural events certainly around religion, and, yeah, now, it's just opened up where people can from all over the world can enjoy these type of events.

Host 1: You mention the niche events. Can you touch on some of those lesser-known festivals that, perhaps, should be on everyone's radar?

Oli: I guess from a cultural standpoint there's quite a few. Thinking about all the events that happen in Europe, there's a grape fight festival in Spain. [inaudible 00:12:58] Cascamorras Festival also in Spain in Granada, where everyone is covered in olive oil and running through the streets, streets in Granada, which is pretty crazy. There's a bit of a mixture, and just depending on what you're interested in, there's normally something going on.

Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, yeah, that's just, it's a crazy water pistol fight where everyone from four-year-olds to 80-year-olds are in the streets with water pistols and buckets of water spraying each other.

Host 1: What makes a good festival then, whether it be cheese rolling or throwing tomatoes or music?

Oli: For me, it's definitely the atmosphere. If the event organizers tailor the event to a new audience that's looking for if it's in a good location and just the whole general vibe of the event. Some of them, if they're a bit off the cuff, they can work out. But, yeah, if it is organized properly, especially if it's a multi-day event. Then, yeah, just having the logistics sorted out, running smoothly definitely helps.

Host 1: I'll tell you what, it would be remiss of us if we didn't touch on this while we have someone like you on the line, and it's currently in not really headlines, but it's doing the rounds around the world at the moment, is the doco on the Fyre Festival.

Oli: Yes.

Host 1: It was a total wipeout. Have you got any insight into that? You talk about festivals that are poorly organized I reckon that one takes the [crosstalk 00:14:32].

Oli: Yeah, no. That is I guess a next level scam of yeah, and you hear about all these events and buying fake tickets. I've managed to, yeah, first day in New York a couple of years ago, bought a ticket for a 4th of July event online thinking it was a legit ticket and walked onto the event, and it was a fake one. Yeah, that was basically this but on a massive scale.

Phil: Wow.

Host 1: That's what this guy did to actually recoup a lot of the money that he owed, was to send out these scammy events and sell tickets to people like yourself and then take the money and not deliver.

Oli: Yeah.

Host 1: What are some good tips to-

Oli: Pretty fortunate.

Host 1: ... just general ones for festival goers, so that they're prepared generally?

Oli: I'd say stay hydrated and, yeah, bring a smile would be another one. If you're going to be somewhere in a completely different culture, then, yeah, always smile and be open to a new experience.

Phil: Yep, a smile goes a very long way indeed.

Host 1: We're chatting with Gary about a story that he wrote for World Nomads, and when we were going back and forth with emails to set the chat up, basically, I said to Gary, I just want to know, how did you get into North Korea let alone go to a festival there?

Gary: I answered, essentially, like all tourists who have been to North Korea, you have to go with a guide. You have to go with a tour group, and most of them are based out of China in Beijing. I knew I was going to be in Asia, traveling around Asia, and I thought I was really intrigued by North Korea. I wanted to visit.

It was actually, it was difficult, because I had a few different issues of my own, personal issues in terms of being a journalist. [crosstalk 00:16:23]-

Phil: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. It's like the old days going behind the Iron Curtain in Moscow. They wouldn't take kindly to you admitting you were a journalist, I take it?

Gary: Yeah, I mean I deliberately did mention it to the tour group I went with, because it could potentially come back to bite them. They were aware that I was a journalist. I told them. I was open and up front from the start. I said, "Look, I'm a sports journalist actually by trade. I have no intention of writing anything from my trip to North Korea. I don't intend to write anything political, nothing at all."

The group, they said, "Okay, we will apply for you as if you were a student," which is what we did, and I went there as a student. But, in my passport, I have a correspondent visa. I'm pretty sure they knew I was a journalist, and it wasn't a major issue.

Phil: They just put a couple of extra spies on you mate, that's all.

Gary: Well, funnily enough, and I don't know if I should really be saying this or not, but when I came off the plane, I got on the tour bus with the rest of the group. There was about 20 of us I think in total. I sat down on the bus next to the window, at a window seat to get the best view of the city.

A North Korean, one of the guides came and sat next to me, and I thought, "Wow, here we go, my first North Korean. I'm so lucky he sat next to me. I'm going to speak to him and find out his views on the country, et cetera."

I asked, one of the first questions I asked him was, "What do you do here? What do you do in North Korea? What's your role?" He said, "My role is to find secret journalists."

Now, so, either really good at his job or he's really bad at his job.

Host 1: Tell us then, you went to a festival.

Phil: Those things are really famous. We've all seen the massive crowds of people and all the flashcards and stuff. That's what you went to see, right?

Gary: Exactly, yeah. It's called the Mass Games. When I was there, it was the Arirang Mass Games. Last year, they changed ... It stopped for five years, and then, last year, it came back under a different name. It's now called Glorious Fatherland.

But, yeah, it's like you said, it's 20,000 Korean students with flashcards flipping books of 170 cards, and they're flipping them all in sync to make pictures in the stand. They do it so perfectly that the picture actually moves, so it's like a video. It's incredible. It's mind-blowing.

Host 1: I could imagine the precision that they would do that with would be just on point. It would be incredible to see.

Phil: And, at the same time-

Gary: Yeah.

Phil: ... you've got dancers and performers in the-

Gary: Exactly.

Phil: ... stadium.

Gary: Yeah, you've got another 80,000 on the actual field-

Phil: What?

Gary: ... dancing and doing theater, and as I say in the story, you've got kids who are five years old skipping rope while riding unicycles. It's just, it's so [inaudible 00:19:13].

They're training for six months almost daily. There's a very good documentary. It was made in 2004. It's called A State of Mind. It follows two of the young girls who are training to take part. Like I said, daily training, hours of training, acrobatics, gymnastics, et cetera, and they have to be absolutely perfect with the timing.

Phil: I'd be interested to know if you had any indication of what part of society the participants were from? Did it appear to you that they were the normal country folk, or was that part of the elite? Any idea?

Gary: I think almost all, especially, for certain the majority would be from Pyongyang. They'd be from the working to middle class of Pyongyang, so cities rather than from the rural areas.

Phil: How did you manage the ethical dilemma in your own mind?

Gary: I did some reading, and I watched some video documentaries before going. Obviously, these are things you have to consider when you decide on where you're going to travel. But, I just, the curiosity really got the better of me. I thought nobody, the people, there's just, there's so much people don't know about the country. It's a very secretive country. Not much information really comes out of the country. Not many people get to go there. I thought, "I've got the opportunity to go here and see something with my own eyes." Whether what I see is the truth, or whether it's just what they want me to see-

Phil: Yeah, but did you get an indication of that? You were obviously very heavily managed, yes?

Gary: Yeah. No, absolutely. From the moment arrived, I write in the story again, it feels like the [inaudible 00:20:50] everything's made for you. You're walking along the street, or you're on the bus, and you see someone walking along the street, and you thinking in your head, "Where's that person going? Why are they walking? Are they walking somewhere, or are they just walking so that this bus passes them, and it looks like they're walking somewhere?"

They take you down to see the metro stop, and you get on, and you go to the next stop, and you get off. They say, oh, there's 14 or 16 stops to this metro, and you think, "Well, is there really, or is there only two, and it's just these two?" You just, you become super cynical about everything. It's almost like you can't trust your own eyes.

The best example that I can think of is there's massive statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. The only way you can visit them is if you take flowers to lay at their feet.

We were in this park, and we were given five, 10 minutes to walk around the park and take some photos. It was the only time really we were free of the guide. You could walk around by yourself.

At the end of this five, 10 minutes, we came back, and the guide said, "Okay, now, we're going to go and see the statues. But, we're going to have to buy some flowers." I'm looking around, and I'm thinking, "Where on earth are we going to buy these flowers?"

There's no shops, and the shops there are, they don't have signs. There's no adverts. There's nothing to indicate there's a shop there selling flowers. I'm thinking, "Where am I going to get these flowers?" Then, just by complete coincidence a woman walks around the corner with bouquets of flowers for sale.

Host 1: That is so Truman Show, isn't it? Beautifully described. It's 90 minutes of acrobatics and theater and song and dance, but there's zero competition involved.

Gary: Exactly. There's very tough competition before you get to the games. All of the children who are training, they all want to be selected for the games. They all feel massive pressure, and it's very competitive among them. But, for us as spectators, there's nothing. There's no competitive edge for us to watch. You're not rooting for one against the other or anything like that, no.

Phil: What were you feeling while you were watching it? Obviously, it's just spectacular.

Gary: I went back and watched some videos that I'd made when I was there. The funny thing is, you can hear me in the background almost talking to myself in disbelief. I'm like, "Oh, what? No, no, stop. That's just incredible."

Like I say, it's hard to believe your own eyes what you're watching. Five-year-olds on unicycles, 20,000 people in absolute synchronicity making a flower move from one side of a 20,000-seat stand to the other side almost like a moving billboard. It's just, it blows your mind. I've never seen anything like this before in my life.

Host 1: An amazing experience, Gary, the story in show notes. But, time to chat with Joe, who World Nomads sent off to four festivals around the world.

Joe: We're in Notting Hill at the moment. It's bank holiday. The streets of Notting Hill are deserted. It could only mean one thing, and that's Carnival is about to start.

All around Notting Hill here, you can see people preparing. You can see the barricades going up on the streets. But, one other thing you also see is people boarding up their shop fronts. Once they go up, some street graffiti artists move in, and they paint the buggery out of it.

Okay, we're here in Virginia, we're just taking a little drive down Route 66, and we took a turn somewhere between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River, and we ended up here, at the Appaloosa Roots Music Festival.

ARMF Dan: We did it the first year by the seat of our pants. 3,500 people showed up, and then every year, it's making its own identity. It's all good will. It's all donation. We don't have big investors. It's just a band trying to start something. I don't know. It's been pretty amazing.

Joe: All around the world festivals are held in celebration of many different things. Religion, music, world cultures, and then, there's this, the Avocado and Margarita Festival here in Morro Bay.

MB Cheerleaders: Hey! Hey, Joe! Thank you, for your tip. Hey! Hey, Joe! Enjoy your guac and chips! Whoo!

Host 1: Yeah, sounds like heaps of fun, and Joe, I'm guessing they were.

Joe: Oh, they were. They were cracking. It was a whirlwind for me. We started off going to Notting Hill for the Carnival. It's billed as the biggest street party in Europe. If you can imagine 2 million people just filling the streets of Notting Hill for this incredible show that's just a feast for the senses. You've got these dances in the street. You've got big bass sound systems, and it's just huge and food everywhere.

Phil: I actually have been to that one, and I have a confession to make. I mucked it up.

Got off at the local Tube station and started walking around, and as you were saying there were lots of food being cooked. There were all these sound systems out in front of people's houses. Massive street parties. We'd got there about, I don't know, about 10 o'clock in the morning.

10 o'clock at night, the person I'm traveling with, we're pretty tired now. I think we've done it pretty well. But, we'll just walk up the top of this hill and see if we can find a Tube station to get back to where we were staying. We get to the top of the hill, and we're looking down into Notting Hill. We hadn't even been in Notting Hill.

Host 1: Are you serious?

Phil: There below us was like another million and a half people. Aw, looks as though, looks as though-

Joe: [crosstalk 00:26:22].

Phil: We'd better get ... We just, girded our loins and went back in again and stayed for another few hours.

Joe: Wow, so you were actually on the outskirts of-

Phil: Yeah.

Joe: ... Notting Hill somewhere, and it was still, was it still big enough to warrant being the biggest street festival in Europe?

Phil: Well, I thought so, until I saw the real one. I mean it was the newbies Notting Hill Festival out on the edge where I was.

Joe: Look, one thing about Notting Hill that really stood out for me that, we do touch on in the video, but I really wanted to really make sure that everyone sees is the fact that there's such historical significance to this festival. It goes all the way back to I think it was 1965, '66. It originally started as a peace march, and they really, really wanted to push the fact that this, it's more relevant now, and it's just as relevant as it was back then.

Phil: What a great way to make that point as well. You can go and have a riot, but you can have a party.

Joe: They do. They have a hell of a party. At the end of the day, Phil, I don't know if it was like that for you, but, at the end of the day, you just get back to home, or even if you do make it home, and you just lie back and you go, "Oh, bloody hell. That was huge." My body was still vibrating and shaking. All my bones were just finding their places again after being smashed by bass systems all day.

Host 1: Smashed by bass systems there, but then in Spain at Tomatina, you were smashed by tomatoes. That just looks like a crazy, crazy festival, and you thought after an hour you might be bored.

Joe: I did, because when I went, when we were gearing up, getting ready for the Tomatina, and we got the rundown of the rules, obviously, not allowed to throw a tomato above I think the shoulder blades or something, I might have got that wrong, and you've got to squash the tomato first. We got a rundown of the rules. Then when I saw, it goes for an hour, I went, "Hang on, an hour, that's not very long at all. I'll probably be twiddling my thumbs for a while after that."

But, really, an hour is all you need for that festival, I'm telling you. It's insane. That narrow, narrow street that you're all on there in Buñol, I had to see that. That was one of the burning things in my mind that I had to see for my own eyes, how so many people could fit into that tiny street, and it was tiny. We visited it the day beforehand, and it was small, so how are you going to get six trucks full of tomatoes through these packed streets?

But, it works. It happens so effortlessly. And, the fun is just out of this world and jumping in the river at the end was probably the most beautiful feeling I've ever had. It was insane.

Host 1: You left the UK and Europe, and then you went across to America and to the Appaloosa Music Festival in Virginia. Now, speaking of numbers, was this a huge one?

Joe: This wasn't a huge one. This was actually quite a, this was, in stark contrast to both of those two festivals, it was a really small, little country town festival.

Phil: What type of music? What are we hearing?

Joe: Well, this was predominantly roots music, blue grass, country music, yeah, a lot of feel-good music. Especially, it just fit in perfectly for the landscape there. It was in amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River of West Virginia. That's right, it sounds like a song, doesn't it? It's John Denver.

Phil: There you go.

Joe: Funnily enough if you shoot that name around where we were in Front Royal, I kept saying to a lot of locals, I didn't want to seem too touristy, but my Australian accent sort of gave it away, "What do you guys think of John Denver? What's the story of it? When was he here? When did he write the song?"

A lot of them, turn their nose up to him saying, "Aw, he didn't even come here. He didn't even come here. He hasn't even been here. He doesn't even know what the place looks like." I don't know if there's much truth to that, but that was the story going around.

But, the beautiful thing about this festival was that, because it was relatively small, and we turned up to go to this festival and document the festival, people like the, not just the event organizer, his name was Dan, who actually was in one of the band's there, they just couldn't believe it. "How did you guys hear about our little festival?" They kept saying it, "Why are you guys here? You've come all the way from Australia for this? Why are you here? Why are you here?"

That to me was just so nice. I thought, "Right-o, here we are. We're really in a real, small-time festival here," and it was great.

Host 1: This festival speaks to me, Margarita and Avocado Festival in Morro Bay.

Joe: Yeah, how is that combination? It's a marriage that was just perfect.

Yeah, this festival was really cool. It started out, because these avocado farmers, and we met one in particular, his name was Frank. They were quite fed up with the fact that they had these gorgeous avocados, and most of, a lot of America's avocados at that point had come from overseas. They were outsourcing all of their avos, and they had all these gorgeous avocados just sitting on these trees in California.

They decided to celebrate them by throwing a little festival, and they thought, "Well, we can't just get people in with just avocados. What can we do? Ah, margaritas, perfect."

They threw on these, they started this festival that is just getting bigger and bigger every year. It's perfect. They get to really promote their beautiful product in this gorgeous, picturesque town of Morro Bay. It's, you've got, I can't even put into words just how peaceful and beautiful it is. You've got this massive, huge rock just off the coast that just overlooks the whole town, and this festival is just amazing.

You've got avocados of all kinds everywhere. Different varieties, you got your Hass, you got your Reeds. You've got all these other ones that I haven't even heard of. But, then all your food vendors, it's amazing how many food vendors were there doing different things with avocados.

Host 1: To watch those videos, go to Any festival still on your radar, Phil, apart from Burning Man?

Phil: Yeah, look, I know the EXIT Festival in Serbia is a pretty amazing thing. They have a whole series of them all over that part of Europe now as well, including one based around ... It's a music festival, but it's in Croatia, so it's, it's called the Sea Festival.

Host 1: Yeah?

Phil: It sounds fantastic. Croatia, music festival, summertime, what could go wrong?

Host 1: Yeah, just keep your kit on.

Phil: I will.

Host 1: Day of the Dead in Mexico takes my fancy. Anything Mexican takes my fancy.

Phil: Fair enough too, it looks fantastic.

Host 1: Well, it sounds macabre, doesn't it? Because, it's family and friends who, celebrating, mourning the loss of their family and friends, but it's super colorful, lots of dance, lots of food, altars, lots of color and movement.

Phil: A lot of emotion at the beginning and then a big party at the end.

Host 1: That's how I'd like my funeral to be.

Phil: Oh, fair enough.

Host 1: Next episode is all about Mexico. Until then, you can download the episodes from iTunes or the Google Podcast app or ask Alexa and Google Home to play the World Nomads Podcast.

Phil: Aw, tell you what we do have to add, we do have to add this.

Disclaimer: (singing).

Host 1: Why we played that disclaimer, we need to clarify, it's because we don't cover travel to North Korea.

Phil: I just want to thank RØDE who have very generously donated some new recording equipment for us. The RØDECaster Pro, which we are recording this episode on for the very first time. If it sounds a bit different, if it sounds better let us know.

Host 1: Yeah, thumb's up. Any questions, any festivals you want to share with us, See you.

Announcer: The World Nomads Podcast, explore your boundaries.


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