5 best backpacking parties around the world

If you’ve gotten your beads at Mardi Gras, drank until you dropped at Oktoberfest, and brazenly ran with the bulls, here are your next challenges.


Full Moon Party

When: During the full moon, every month

Where: Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand


The first full moon party started reportedly as a birthday party at a makeshift disco in 1985. There were about 20-30 guests. Through word of mouth, this infamous party has exploded to 20,000-30,000 attendees in recent years. Everyone flocks to Haad Rin beach for a wild night of dancing, drinking, and debauchery. There are giant jump ropes made of fire, a long row of stands serving up buckets of booze, music for all tastes, and enough neon to blind you. The party continues until sunrise… then the after parties begin.


Queen’s Day

When: April 30th

Where: The Netherlands


Orange madness awaits. Orange clothes, orange hair, orange body paint, it’s the color of the Dutch Royal Family and everyone’s wearing it on the Queen’s birthday. In Amsterdam, 800,000 people crowd into the city for a day of revelry. The city hosts a slew of events and neighbors trade their unwanted items at Vrijmarkt, the free market. As the sun sets, the sweet smell of white widow fills the air as everyone parties in the streets, squares, and canals—where boats of young people dance wildly through the night.


Burning Man

When: Last Monday in August to first Monday in September

Where: Blackrock Desert, Nevada, United States


It began at in Baker Beach in 1986 as a bonfire with 20 participants. Like all good happenings, more and more people began showing up. Attendance is now capped at roughly 50,000 people who all descend upon the scorching dessert for a mind-bending eight-day festival. Burning Man totes itself as being “an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance.” Impressive art installations, mutant vehicles, and wildly dressed attendees adorn the dusty landscape. It all culminates on Saturday night with the burning of a large effigy, a man over 100 feet tall.


Bay to Breakers

When: The third Sunday in May

Where: San Francisco, California, United States


What started as a morale booster in 1912 after the devastating earthquake has grown into one of the wildest footraces ever seen. A 12km race through the city, some participate seriously. The rest don wild costumes (giant salmon come to mind) or go in their birthday suits while pulling shopping carts with kegs.  In line with tradition, tortillas are tossed before the race, and then over 100,000 people begin to run. Many more spectators flank the sides, cheering the racers on while local bands perform all along the route.


La Tomatina

When: The last Wednesday in August

Where: Buñol, Spain (near Valencia)


Nobody knows how it started in 1945, but it’s been going strong ever since. 50,000 people charge the tiny town of Buñol, whose population is only 9,000. A weeklong affair, there are parades, fireworks, a paella cooking contest, and of course, the legendary tomato food fight. The day of the main event more than one hundred metric tons of tomatoes are imported from nearby towns. Once the coveted ham is nabbed from the top of a greasy poll (no easy task) and the water cannons have fired, thus begins an hour of chaos one as splattered tomatoes paint the town red. It’s every man for himself.