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Exploring Unique Festivals Around the World

If you’re considering overseas travel this year, checking out different countries’ festivals and event schedules can be a good idea. Tourism bureaus worldwide are promoting various events that will be held this year to welcome tourists. Here, we introduce the unique festivals of 2024 recommended by the tourism bureaus of Mariana, Austria, and the United States.

“Spicy Pepper Eating Contest” on Tinian, a neighboring island of Saipan

Scene from last year’s Tinian Hot Pepper Festival. /Photo: Mariana Tourism Bureau

Tinian of the Northern Mariana Islands encompassing Saipan, Tinian, and Rota will host the “Tinian Hot Pepper Festival” for two days on February 16-17. Tinian is a pristine island just about 5 miles off Saipan, reachable by a 15-minute flight. The Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, which celebrates the “Donni Sali” pepper – a key ingredient in the hot pepper sauce that’s a staple on every table in the Northern Mariana Islands – features a hot pepper eating contest, food market, live performances, and craft sales.

This year, the festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It will feature various events, including a spicy burger eating contest at JC Café, a spicy chicken stew cooking contest, and a cha-cha dance contest. The festival’s highlight every year is the hot pepper eating contest, where the person who eats 100 small, spicy Donni Sali peppers the fastest wins. The contest crowns a winner on both the men’s and women’s sides, and anyone can apply to participate on the spot.

Winner of the 2021 pepper eating contest. /Photo: Mariana Tourism Bureau

The residents of the Northern Mariana Islands have their own hot pepper sauce recipes in every home, which makes the pepper a significant ingredient in local food culture. There are also various local dishes using this ingredient. Although Donni Sali peppers can be cultivated, they can also be harvested from the jungles of Northern Mariana. Wild Donni Sali peppers are spicier. It might pique the interest of young Koreans accustomed to spicy foods like extremely spicy stir-fried rice cakes.

In addition, camping is possible in Jones Beach, Taga Beach, and Tachogna Beach on Tinian. Toilets, outdoor shower facilities, and outdoor grills are available in Taga Beach and Tachogna Beach.

Korean Guide Tour at Neue Burg, Vienna

View of Neue Burg. /Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

One of the representative tourist attractions in Vienna, Austria, Neue Burg has launched a new tour program, “House of Habsburg,” where you can encounter the history and hidden stories of the Habsburg royal family.

Ranked as one of the largest palace complexes in the world, the Hofburg Palace served as the residence and political hub of the Habsburg emperors over approximately 650 years, preserving the splendor and glorious history of the Habsburg Palace. In particular, the Hofburg New Palace (Neue Burg) in the vast palace complex is now offering a new Korean audio guide tour program.

The Hofburg New Palace was the ruling and living base of the Habsburg Empire in its final days, founded in the early 20th century. Today, parts of the New Palace are used as museums and the National Library. On this tour, you can visit the court hunting armory and period instrument collection, as well as the rooms and corridors made for Empress Elisabeth. These spaces are especially meaningful as they were never used due to the assassination of Empress Elisabeth in 1898.

You can enjoy the beautiful architecture of the Hofburg New Palace, which was like the last light of the fall of the Habsburg Empire, and hear stories about the royal family from the founder of the Habsburg dynasty, which had power in the late Middle Ages, to Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth at the end of the 19th century. You can also see various exhibits, the evidence of the history, including the fortepiano played by Mozart and the intricate wax doll of Joseph Haydn. Concerts using the collected period instruments will also be held. They are scheduled for March 24, June 16, and October 31 at 11 am and are free of charge.

Musical instrument collection. /Photo: KHM-Museumsverband

In addition, visitors can experience Vienna’s culture and art throughout the long history of the Hofburg Palace. At the Sisi Museum, you can see the living space of Empress Elisabeth, who is famous for musicals, and in the Kaiserappartements and court silverware collection, which are connected to the Sisi Museum, you can see the Habsburg royal family’s office and living space and the royal family’s glamorous tableware collection.

Also, the Spanish Riding School, where world-famous white horses and riders hone their skills, and the Vienna Art History Museum, which houses art collected from around the world by the Habsburg royal family, are located here. The Austrian National Library Prunksaal, the oldest baroque library in Europe and considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, can also be found in the palace.

American Sports and Art Museum in Missouri and New Mexico

Fountain in Kansas City, Missouri. /Photo: Go USA

The U.S. Tourism Bureau recommends Kansas City, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, for travelers looking for new destinations in the U.S. this New Year.

Kansas City in Missouri has risen as a bona fide attraction due to the hottest couple who became famous in 2023. The relationship between Taylor Swift, the queen of American pop and a country singer, and Travis Kelce of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs has drawn many tourists to Kansas City.

This city, adorned with over 200 fountains, is recognized as a place where you can enjoy a variety of sports, from soccer to tennis, ping pong, and pickleball, a combination of badminton. In August, the “PickleCon” tournament, the first of Triple Crown Sports, one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., is scheduled to be held. The FIFA World Cup will be held in 2026.

Also, the debut match of the Kansas City Current, a women’s soccer league in the U.S., is scheduled to be held at the newly opening CPKC Stadium this year. The CPKC Stadium, which boasts 11,500 seats, is the first in the world to be built exclusively for women’s professional sports teams.

Visitors can taste Kansas City’s unique barbecue. Restaurants offer a variety of smoked dishes, from pork, beef, and chicken to jackfruit, mushrooms, and fish. If you visit here in the fall, you can also see “The American Royal,” the world’s largest barbecue competition with over 600 participating teams.

Kansas City, located near the border of Missouri and Kansas, is popular with locals who want to enjoy the tranquil rural landscape of the U.S., as it has many gourmet restaurants offering cheesecake and is a good place to travel in Missouri and Kansas.

Street view of Santa Fe. /Photo: Go USA

Beneath the breathtaking scenery of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is a mysterious and unique city. This place forms a creative community where Native American, Spanish, and Anglo-American cultures blend harmoniously.

Santa Fe is well-known for the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the “Meow Wolf” exhibition that presents fantastic media art. Meow Wolf offers an immersive art experience called “House of Eternal Return,” consisting of over 70 rooms created by local artists.

Santa Fe is planning to host the world’s largest Native American art show, the “Santa Fe Indian Market,” with the participation of artists from over 200 tribes, including eight Native American Pueblo tribes, on August 17-18. Don’t miss the “Art + Sol” winter festival either, where you can enjoy art, culture, and cuisine together.

By. Ji Yeon Choi

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