How to Talk about Festivals in English

How to Talk about Festivals in English featured image

I want to show you how to talk about a festival in English.

You might need to talk about a festival in the IELTS test — it is a very common topic in Part One, Two and Three.

Or maybe you need to talk about a festival as part of a presentation or in just a simple conversation.

Whatever your needs — allow me to help you.

Are you ready? Then let’s begin!

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English what is a festival

 

What Is A Festival?

 

The dictionary definition of festival says that it is a day or period of celebration, typically a religious commemoration.

Most festivals are in the form of a religious theme. For example, Christmas, Hanukkah or Diwali.

But there are cultural festivals too, such as the Naadam Festival in Mongolia or the Holi Festival of Colours in India.

Then there are the seasonal festivals that take place at certain times of the year. These include Halloween, Thanksgiving, Oktoberfest and the many Spring festivals or Cherry Blossom festivals around the world.

One common idea for all festivals is that they are a gathering of people or a family get together.

During a festival, friends, family and other people like to get together to celebrate it.

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English festivals around the world

 

Festivals Around the World

 

Here are some examples of festivals from around the world.

 

Chinese New Year

 

Where is it celebrated?

China and any other places with Chinese communities

What is the festival about?

To celebrate the new year at the beginning of the Chinese calendar.

When is it?

Usually between 21 January and 20 February.

How do people celebrate it?

Families get together, there are lion dances and people let off fireworks and firecrackers. There is a big television event and people often go outside to welcome the new year.

Who celebrates it?

Chinese people. Chinese families like to be together to celebrate this special time.

Why is this festival so important?

It is considered the most important festival of the year in China. There is a seven-day holiday and many people travel to their hometowns to be with their families. It may be the only time of the year that all the family is together.

 

Diwali

 

Where is it celebrated?

It is celebrated in any place where there are Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. Mainly in India, but also in Fiji, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore. And in America for all the Indian-American communities.

What is the festival about?

It is a religious but also cultural festival to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil.

When is it?

Sometime between mid-October and mid-November, according to the Hindi calendar. It is celebrated for five days.

How do people celebrate it?

People get together in their family homes and eat traditional food. They also let off fireworks and light up their homes with diyas and rangoli. There is also a tradition to wear your best clothes.

Who celebrates it?

Any people who practice the Hindu, Jain or Sikh faith. Mainly in India, but also in other countries in Asia and in America too.

Why is this festival so important?

It is the most important festival of the year in India. It is celebrated by all the family.

 

Christmas

 

Where is it celebrated?

Christmas is celebrated by many people in the West. People like to celebrate Christmas in many countries in Europe, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You can see it celebrated in other parts of the world too.

What is the festival about?

Christmas is a religious festival from the Christian church to celebrate the birth of Christ.

When is it?

Christmas Day is on the 25th of December. But many countries celebrate Christmas the day before on Christmas Eve. There is also Boxing Day on the 26th — this is mainly celebrated in the UK.

How do people celebrate it?

People get together with their family or friends and have Christmas dinner together. This is often roast turkey. They also drink wine and exchange gifts.

Who celebrates it?

People in western countries but also people in other countries too. It is a Christian festival but many people who are not practising Christians celebrate Christmas.

Why is this festival so important?

It has a long history, and it is usually the one time of the year when all the family can get together.

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English now you try

 

Now You Try!

 

You can talk about a well-known festival in your own country or culture just by asking and answering some questions.

Look at the questions in the section above. Now try to provide your own answers about a festival that you like to celebrate.

  • Where is it celebrated?
  • What is the festival about?
  • When is it?
  • How do people celebrate it?
  • Who celebrates it?
  • Why is this festival so important?

Try to answer these questions by talking about a festival you like.

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English useful phrases to use

 

Useful Phrases To Use

 

Here are some phrases you can use to talk about festivals. I am using Christmas as an example throughout, but you should use your own ideas.

 

  • Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December.
  • We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.
  • Christmas is celebrated in December.
  • We celebrate Christmas in December.
  • Christmas is celebrated every year.
  • We celebrate Christmas every year.
  • Many people in Western countries celebrate Christmas.
  • Christmas is celebrated by many people from Western countries.
  • Christmas is a religious festival to celebrate the birth of Christ.
  • We celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas in England.
  • Families like to get together on Christmas Day.
  • On Christmas Day, all the family like to get together.
  • We like to eat roast turkey on Christmas Day — it’s a tradition.
  • We also drink wine and exchange gifts on Christmas Day.
  • We like to give gifts to each other on Christmas Day.
  • Christmas has a very long history.

 

Try to take these phrases and adapt them to the festival you want to talk about.

Now use all the sentences and phrases you have and say them out loud.

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English stories behind festivals

 

Stories Behind Festivals

 

Festivals often have a story attached to them. This is a great way to talk about festivals.

Let’s take a look at three stories about festivals.

 

Chinese New Year

 

There is a story from thousands of years ago that says a monster called Nian (year in Chinese) would come down to the village every year. Nian would attack the people of the village and eat their children.

But the villagers found out that Nian was afraid of loud noises, bright colours and the colour red. So they used these things to frighten him away.

So nowadays Chinese people like to set up fireworks and firecrackers. They also like to wear the colour red for the New Year. And they give the children money in a red envelope.

 

Diwali

 

There is a story in Hindu culture that says Diwali is the day when Lord Rama, his wife Sita Devi and brother Lakshmana return to their home after 14 years in exile.

In honour of his return, the villagers lit a path alongside the road for Rama. He had defeated the demon king Ravana.

During Diwali, you can see many performances of this story.

 

Christmas

 

Children are told that Father Christmas will come to their home on Christmas Eve and leave gifts under the Christmas tree. The children leave mince pies and a glass of wine for him to eat and drink.

Father Christmas travels from house to house on a flying sledge pulled by twelve reindeer.

Christmas cards and children’s television shows often show this story.

 

Now think of the festival you want to talk about.

  • Is there a story about this festival?
  • What is it about?

Research this story and try to tell it in English.

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English what people do during the festival

 

What People Do During The Festival

 

The common thing about festivals is the family getting together and celebrating.

Many countries have festivals where it is the only time of the year for all the family to be together.

But what are some other things that people do during festivals?

Let’s take a look.

 

Eating and Drinking

 

Eating specially prepared food is a common way for people to celebrate any festival around the world.

People often eat very traditional food from their own country during a festival.

For example, in England, people often eat roast turkey or roast chicken on Christmas Day. They don’t eat pizza or hamburgers!

 

Questions

 

What kind of food do people eat during festivals in your country?

Describe some special dishes that people eat at this time.

Are there any snacks that people like to eat?

What do people like to drink during festivals in your culture?

When do they eat these meals?

Is there a special day or time to eat these meals?

 

Giving Gifts

 

Giving gifts is another way for people to celebrate festivals.

In England, people like to give gifts to their family, friends and loved ones. The gifts could be anything the person likes — maybe a book or some clothes.

 

Questions

 

Do people give gifts during festivals in your country?

What kind of gifts?

Sometimes people like to give money. Do people do this in your country?

Is there a special time to give the gifts?

When you give or receive the gift, are there any special words that people like to say?

 

Parties and Events

 

Going to special parties or events during a festival is very common.

In England, people might have a special party on Christmas Eve. And on New Year’s Eve, there are many parties to bring in the new year.

 

Questions

 

Do you have special parties for festivals in your culture?

When are these parties? Is there a certain day for the party?

What other events do you have for festivals?

Do people gather in city squares? Or at other places in the city?

 

Clothes and Costumes

 

Sometimes, people like to wear special clothes for a festival.

For example, in China, people like to wear red for the Chinese New Year. Everyone likes to wear red in China at this time.

 

Questions

 

Are there any special kinds of clothes that people like to wear for festivals where you live?

Are there certain colours that people like to wear?

What about special costumes? Do people wear these at festivals in your country?

Go through each section above and try to answer each of the questions.

Write your answers down and then say them out loud!

 

How to Talk about Festivals in English questions about festivals

 

Questions About Festivals

 

What are the most important festivals in your country?

When are they?

Does your family like to celebrate these festivals?

Are these festivals religious? Or cultural? Try to explain the difference.

If these festivals are religious, does your family go to a church, a temple or a mosque at this time?

Are there special religious services for these festivals?

Are there special prayers for these festivals?

What kind of food do people eat during these festivals?

Can you make this food yourself? Who makes it?

Do you like this food? Why/why not?

Is the giving of gifts important during festivals in your country?

What kind of gifts do people give?

Who gives them?

Who receives them?

During big festivals in your country, are all the banks and post offices open?

Are all businesses open or closed during this time?

What stories or myths are associated with festivals in your country? Try to talk about them.

What kind of decorations do people put up in their homes during festivals?

Are there special songs that people sing during festivals? What are they? What do they mean?

Are there parties or special events for festivals in your country?

Are these parties for adults or children? Or both?

Do you like celebrating festivals in your country?

What do you like to do during festivals?

Do you like to just be on your own and relax during festivals? Or spend time with others?

 

Conclusion

 

Talking about festivals is a very common topic in the IELTS test.

This guide could be useful to you if you have a test coming up.

But maybe you just want to know how to talk about festivals in your country.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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