One possible topic in part one of your IELTS Speaking test is festivals. And you might be asked, “What is your favorite festival?”
Read on to learn the best way to answer this question, including 10 great example answers (go straight to the answers here).
Two Kinds of Festivals
There are two kinds of festivals.
The most common meaning of ‘festival’ is a traditional day or week of celebration, which is usually religious or historically important, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Saint Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest in Germany, Carnival in Brazil, or Songkran in Thailand.
The second kind of ‘festival’ is a yearly event to celebrate some form of art.
This might be several days of musical performances, theatrical plays, or movies, such as the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in the USA or the Cannes Film Festival in France.
For this question about your favorite festival, it’s usually easier to talk about a traditional religious festival in your country. But you can talk about any festival you like: whatever comes to your mind first.
Tip: Talk About Your Memories
The easiest way to answer is to say one festival you like. Then describe why you like it.
List a few things that people do during that festival, such as special customs, traditional food, family things, parties, and other entertainment.
This kind of question is also a good opportunity to use the past tense (and show the examiner you can easily use good past tense).
So you might talk about your memories from the last time you celebrated that festival. You can also talk about why you enjoyed it so much when you were a child, or when you experienced a festival on vacation.
Focus on Fluency, Not Vocabulary
In part one of the IELTS Speaking test, the most important thing is to speak quickly and fluently (without hesitation).
This will impress the examiner.
Don’t hesitate while you try to think of clever festival-related vocabulary. This will slow you down.
Just speak as quickly as you can, using simple English. That’s great for part one.
Remember, part one is only to warm you up. You can focus on using amazing vocabulary in part two when you have more time to think.
Use the Three-Step YES Method
Your part-one answers should be quite short, not longer than 10 or 20 seconds.
This is because the examiner has to ask you 10 to 12 questions in only four or five minutes. That’s not a lot of time.
So help them out by keeping your answers short and sweet.
You can use the three-step YES Method to help you do this. Just say:
- Your answer (say a festival you like)
- Explain your answer (say why you like it) or add more details
- Stop talking (patiently wait, and let the examiner know you’re ready for the next question)
Let’s look at 10 example answers to this festival question. When you read them, think of ideas you can borrow for your own answer.
1. My favorite festival is Christmas Day because I love all the traditional festive Christmas music and decorations. When I was younger I was always so excited about Santa Claus and what presents I would find under the Christmas tree in the morning.
2. In China, our main festival is Spring Festival, which is also known as Chinese New Year. It’s my favorite festival because it’s a time when all the family gathers together, eating good food and having fun.
3. My favorite festival is Carnival in Brazil. I traveled to Brazil three years ago and had an amazing time. There was so much music and dance, and the streets were full of people in beautiful costumes.
4. I suppose my favorite festival is Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. It’s a huge beer festival that lasts for a whole month. Everyone drinks lots of beer and has a fantastic time.
5. I’m from India and my favorite festival is Holi Festival, which is a Hindu festival held in spring each year. Everybody sings and dances in the streets, and it’s very colorful because we all throw multi-colored dyes and water over each other. It’s a lot of fun.
Cannes Film Festival
6. I’m a big fan of movies, so I think my favorite festival is the Cannes Film Festival. I’ve only been there once but I had a really terrific time. I watched a few excellent Indie movies and I saw a few celebrities as well.
Day of the Dead
7. My favorite festival is the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It’s a very sad and beautiful festival to honor our ancestors who have passed away. The locals wear incredible costumes and quite scary face paint that makes them look like dead people.
8. When I was traveling in Spain, I went to a festival called La Tomatina. I think it’s the most fun festival I’ve ever experienced. Thousands of people go crazy throwing tomatoes at each other in a huge tomato war.
Glastonbury Music Festival
9. My favorite festival is definitely Glastonbury Music Festival, which is a British festival. You can see amazing bands playing live there, and the atmosphere is really relaxed, cheerful, and friendly.
Saint Patrick’s Day
10. Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin is my favorite festival because it’s a great opportunity to see street performances, live music, and other fun things. It’s also a big day for drinking Irish beers like Guinness, which is my favorite beer.
Your Turn To Answer
Now give this question a go yourself.
It’s best to record yourself, so you can listen back and hear any mistakes you’re making.
Set up the voice recorder on your phone and ask out loud, “What is your favorite festival?”
Listen to your answer, notice any mistakes, and then answer it again.
Keep trying to improve each time.
This is a very effective way to prepare yourself for a band-seven score in part one of your IELTS Speaking test.