Describe Your Favorite Holiday: IELTS Speaking (Cue Card With Example Answer)

You might be asked to describe your favorite holiday (or favorite public holiday) in part two of your IELTS Speaking test. The holiday cue card will give you suggestions on what to say, but you can talk about anything you like, as long as it answers the question with good English.

Read on to learn how to give this question a great band-seven answer, including an example answer (go straight to the answer here).

The Two Meanings of ‘Holiday’

Be careful with this question because the word ‘holiday’ has two meanings. 

  1. In the first meaning, a holiday is a special day which everyone in the country celebrates, taking time off work, like Christmas Day (in the past, this was called a ‘holy day,’ which became ‘holiday’).
  2. In the second meaning, you can ‘go on holiday,’ which means take time off work to travel and relax (but maybe it’s not on a special day). In the UK, people often say ‘go on holiday,’ and in the USA people usually say ‘take a vacation.’

If someone asks you what your favorite holiday is, they usually mean the first meaning: a special day when everyone takes time off work to celebrate that special day.

So for this question, you should talk about Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year, Lim Festival, Oktoberfest, or whatever special day or festival you like in your country.

What You Can Say

First, choose a holiday that’s easy to talk about. Then you could explain:

  • What happens during this holiday or festival
  • What this holiday celebrates
  • Any historical stories behind this holiday (how it first began)
  • What time of year it is held
  • Where in your country it’s celebrated
  • Any special food people eat
  • Why you like this holiday or festival so much
  • When you last celebrated it or experienced it
  • Happy memories you have of this festival from childhood
  • Anything else that comes to mind

Use Interesting Vocabulary

It’s important to use interesting, uncommon vocabulary in part two of your IELTS Speaking test. 

To help you with this, you can prepare several word groups in advance. 

A word group is a collection of interesting words and phrases that describe a certain characteristic of an event, place, person, activity, or thing. 

For example, to describe a very interesting holiday, you could use an ‘interesting event’ word group. This would include words like ‘fascinating, intriguing, spellbinding, thought-provoking, it gave me food for thought…’ and more. 

If you use these advanced words during your part-two answer, the examiner will be impressed with your vocabulary.

You could also use this same ‘interesting event’ word group to describe many different events and experiences. So a single word group can be used for many different part-two questions. 

Use Uncommon Adjectives

An easy way to show off interesting vocabulary is to memorize many uncommon adjectives. Then in part two, you can use these adjectives to describe things in a more colorful way. 

For example, rather than always saying ‘really big,’ you could say ‘immense’ or ‘gigantic.’

Rather than saying ‘beautiful,’ you could sometimes say ‘exquisite’ or ‘stunning.’

Rather than amazing, you could say ‘extraordinary’ or ‘marvelous.’

During part two, try to pepper in a few of these interesting adjectives.

You can use an online thesaurus like Power Thesaurus to begin collecting more interesting adjectives. Memorize as many as you can. 

Tell a Story in Part Two

In part two, you have to keep talking for one or two minutes, without hesitation. 

Many students struggle with this.

A great way to help yourself is to tell a short story. This will keep you talking for 30 or even 60 seconds. 

For this ‘holiday’ question, you can easily tell a story about: 

  • Why you enjoyed this holiday as a child
  • What you did last year on this holiday
  • One time in the past when you really enjoyed this holiday
  • Why this holiday started in your country, or how it became popular
  • How the holiday has changed since you were younger
  • Anything else you can think of…

Prepare your stories in advance. If you have lots of stories prepared, you’ll find them very useful in part two of your test.

Now let’s look at one example cue card and answer to this question.

Holiday Cue Card

Describe Your Favorite Holiday.

You should say:

  • What holiday it is
  • What this holiday celebrates
  • What people do on this holiday

And say why you like this holiday so much.

I’m going to talk about Lim Festival, which is a very popular public holiday in Vietnam. Lim Festival is held in February each year, at the beginning of spring. It’s held in a town called Lim, which is really close to my hometown. Because I live in the same province, my hometown has a public holiday at the time of the Lim Festival. People come to our region from all over Vietnam on a kind of pilgrimage to see the festivities. 

Lim Festival is a time-honored tradition that celebrates many of the region’s most wonderful customs, including a beautiful kind of traditional folk singing called Quan Ho singing. In my opinion, Lim Festival is part of our country’s rich historical heritage. Something we’ve been celebrating since time immemorial. 

Originally, if I remember correctly, the festival was created to commemorate a famous female Buddhist monk called Ba Mu, who saved the village from danger. That was hundreds of years ago. So it’s a holiday steeped in history and ancestral traditions. It’s as old as the hills, with special cuisine, customs, activities, and fun games that have been passed down through the generations. 

What I love about Lim Festival is how we can really gain a sense of how things once were when we see all the traditional activities and costumes. I also love the many different kinds of entertainment. There are plenty of contests such as human chess games and wrestling. There are parades and floats, and lots of dancing and singing, and there are also more formal ceremonies and processions, which are very dignified and elegant. 

When I was a child, my parents would take me to Lim Festival each year. I remember enjoying all the colorful costumes and performances. There’s a really fun lion dance every year, which I loved. I also enjoyed all the scrumptious street food. 

(Word Group Used: ‘Traditional Event’)

Traditional, Ancient traditions, Customs, Ancestral traditions, Time-honored, Steeped in history, A rich historical heritage, A celebration of ethnic culture, Celebrate, Commemorate, Spiritually significant, Ceremonies, Processions, Folk music, Parades, Floats, Contests, Cultural activities, Rember our forefathers, Hasn’t changed in centuries, In remembrance of our ancestors/forefathers, Passed down through the generations, As old as the hills, Old-fashioned, Behind the times, Gain a sense of how things once were, Social convention, Cultural heritage, Something we’ve been doing since time immemorial.

See many more word groups here.

Now, You Give It a Go

Prepare to answer this question yourself. 

Think of a holiday you know and can describe easily. 

Prepare a word group. Also, prepare a story or two to tell.

Then set up your recorder and ask yourself aloud to describe your favorite holiday. 

Prepare your answer for just one minute. Then start speaking and try to keep speaking for two whole minutes. 

Afterward, you can listen to your recording and try to improve upon your answer.

If you keep repeating this process, you’ll be well prepared for part two of your IELTS Speaking test. 

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