Chinese Moon Festival And Two Other Riverside Celebrations
The start of September brings changes around the world. In the UK, the nights are getting noticeably longer and a turn in the weather is sure to follow. Elsewhere in the world, this month signals the start of spring or, in China, it brings with it the annual Moon Festival.
Celebrated all over Asia and also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the event is a chance for families to get together and enjoy a feast – much like Americans do on Thanksgiving. It takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, corresponding with a full moon in the night’s sky. A key part of the food that’s on offer is the traditional Moon Cake, a calorific treat that comes in a variety of flavours. It’s a baked (or sometimes steamed) pastry filled with either sweet paste, dried fruits, nuts, seeds or chocolate.
Having started during the Tang Dynasty, many believe that the Moon Festival takes place to praise the lunar gods in hope of a fruitful harvest the following year. As well as reuniting for a family meal, some people launch paper lanterns into the air or stage elaborate lion and dragon dances in the street. You may get to see some of the celebrations taking place during one of our Yangtze River cruises.
This is by no means the only festival you can visit as part of a river cruise, though. Here are two more prevalent celebrations that take place on the banks of the world’s waterways.
Rhine In Flames
The stretch of river known as the Middle Rhine Valley is already a breathtaking sight, featuring historic castles and beautiful scenery that stretches on for miles. However, on five specific nights between May and September, an even more impressive spectacle takes place. To celebrate the wine harvest in this passionate, vine-growing region, dramatic firework displays are held as illuminated ships sail in a parade along the river. To enhance the atmosphere further, iconic monuments and castle ruins along the route are lit up in all their glory, creating a hilltop light show that leaves spectators mesmerised.
The festivities start in the city of Bonn in May, before also being held in Bingen/Rüdesheim (July), Spay/Koblenz (August), Oberwesel (September) and St. Goar/St. Goarshausen (September). Whilst each particular section of the Rhine hosts its own unique events (live music, dancing, wine tasting etc), all feature the chance to see the spectacular river banks bathed in red Bengal lights and the sky filled with impressive fireworks. A number of themed Rhine River cruises will allow you to enjoy one of these Rhine in Flames events.
Because many of the cities in the Lower Mississippi region were colonised by France, explorers such as Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville brought the traditions of Mardi Gras with them over from Europe. Celebrations have been held in this part of America since the early 1700s and the city of New Orleans is always awash with colour and festivities at this time of year.
People flock to balconies to see the vibrant carnivals parade along the streets; strings of beads are thrown to bystanders wearing the traditional purple, green and gold colours; and music can be heard emanating from every bar and club. Businesses close down and the entire city comes to a standstill to celebrate this amazing festival.
Although things culminate on Mardi Gras Day (47 days before Easter), the carnival season actually starts on 6th January, also known as King’s Day. There will be celebrations happening throughout, but the main highlight and an exciting reason to take a Lower Mississippi River cruise at this time of year is the main event itself.
If you would like to learn more about combining your river cruise with one of these fantastic festivals, speak to the team on 0800 954 0064. You can also sign up to our mailing list and stay up to date with all the latest news and offers.