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Festivals: Let's talk about them in English!

Festivals: How to talk about festivals in English

With the celebration of the Lunar (Chinese) New Year upon us, we thought it was fitting to help you navigate the murky waters of "festival talk."

First of all, what IS a festival?

A festival involves celebration, food, and fun.  They are special times that are marked by people for various cultural, societal, or religious purposes.  But with these special days, also comes a host of terms which might be difficult for non-native English speakers to understand in context. So, here are some of the terms that are often used when discussing festivals (and other terms for a festival, too!)

Festivals can be spectator events or of the participatory variety. 

Other terms some times used for festivals can include:

  • ceremonies
  • competitions
  • contests
  • fairs
  • parades
  • parties
  • races
  • speeches
  • parties
  • performances
  • reunions

One example, as before stated, of a festival is the celebration of the Lunar (Chinese) New Year.


To Celebrate

To celebrate: a verb which means, "to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc."

Examples: The city of Chicago celebrates the Chinese New Year with a big parade and festival every year.

The Denver Broncos celebrated their recent Super Bowl win by dumping Gatorade on the coach.

Celebration: a noun that often times is used inter-changeably with the term 'festival'.

The celebration lasted late into the night. We didn't get home until the early morning!


A reunion is a gathering of a group of people who have been separated, it is also the act or process of coming together. A reunion can be family, friends, or associates.

Examples: The whole family is coming to the reunion. I can't wait to see everyone!

We shared lots of great stories at our high school reunion because we had not seen each other in so long.


An informal meeting is often called a 'get-together.'

Example: We are having a small get-together for New Years, instead of going out on the town this year.

You might have also heard the term get-together to mean two people have become romantically involved. For example: Sally and Johnny finally got together after months of flirting.


Now that you have had a chance to learn the lingo, you can go out and confidently celebrate any festival and know exactly what everyone means!

What other terms have you come across at a celebration that you have been unsure of?

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