IELTS Speaking topic - Holidays and celebrations #2 -
IELTS Speaking topic - holidays celebrations 2, with IELTS Part 2 and 3 questions, sample answers and useful vocabulary

IELTS Speaking topic – Holidays and celebrations #2

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Describe a holiday or celebration that you have attended and enjoyed
You should say:

  • what was celebrated
  • where it was celebrated
  • who you celebrated it with

and say why you enjoyed this holiday or celebration.

Model answer

I have a soft spot for weddings, it is a guilty pleasure of mine. So when I got invited to one as a best man I jumped at the opportunity. This kind of honour comes with at a price – one of them is that you have to give a speech. Anyway, it was my friend who was getting married, I knew the guy in and out so it wasn’t a problem. I went there with my wife who knew the bride and the groom just as well as I did.

The celebration was to take place in a small local restaurant that was booked for the occasion. It wasn’t a grand event, the newly-weds wanted to keep it nice and cozy with family and closest friends as guests. It did work out miraculously well. I thoroughly enjoyed the event, it felt very wholesome and honest. I guess it was mostly owing to the smaller scale of the event and the fact that everyone knew each other to some extent.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Family celebrations

Why do you think it’s important to have family celebrations and what benefits do they have?

They are as important as ever. If anything, they are much more important nowadays for at least one reason – social cohesion. Given the rapid pace of today’s life, people are usually short on time. This means they don’t get to meet that often, so they have to resort to texts. So nowadays there has to be a bigger reason for people to get together. And thankfully, it exists – family celebrations.

Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries – these have always warranted a small party to be thrown up. More importantly, today the bring the relatives closer together. The relatives that would otherwise be stuck at home swiping through their mobile apps. Therefore I am strongly convinced that such celebrations help keep family bond stronger.

How have traditional family celebrations changed over the years?

Well, in the past, families used to gather around the table, share a meal, and engage in various activities that strengthened their bond. However, with the advent of technology and a fast-paced lifestyle, many families now prefer to celebrate separately or in smaller groups.

Additionally, cultural and societal changes have also impacted traditional family celebrations. The family structure has changed from the nuclear family to blended families, single-parent families, same-sex couples, and more. This has resulted in a shift in the way families celebrate special events. So I guess we could say that the way family celebrations have evolved is a good display of the general cultural evolution.

Some cultures have more family-centered celebrations than others. Why do you think this is the case?

I can say that this could be attributed to different factors such as historical traditions, cultural values, societal norms, and beliefs. In the majority of cultures, the family is seen as the fundamental unit of society. Owing to this fact, family-centered celebrations are given great importance. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as gatherings centered around family promote bonding and solidarity.

This, however, is not without exceptions. Some first-world countries experience an opposite phenomenon. Family members slowly drift apart due to difference in interests, beliefs and lifestyle in general. It is an unfortunate fact of life that not everyone holds family traditions as sacred. This could be attributed to free-thinking and overall independence seen as greatest values in the more developed part of the world. While these are good notions per se, anecdotal evidence suggests that sometimes they might backfire and undermine fundamental family values.

Holidays and celebrations

In many countries, national holidays are synonymous with large gatherings and festivities. Are there any possible negative effects of that?

There are two consequences that I’d like to point out. The first one is littering caused by the masses. Well, you know how people can be. After any major public celebration the city is a literal mess, garbage bins filled to the brim. Public services just can’t handle the influx of people and associated by-products of their consumption, I guess. This is an issue worth looking into, proactivity could be key here.

Another concern is that people tend to consume alcoholic beverages at such events. Some get all uppity and aggressive, eventually it all degenerates into petty conflicts. This naturally puts some people off and they feel less inclined to attend such gatherings in the future.

Do you think that traditional celebrations are still as important in modern society?

Traditional celebrations are still important in modern society as they help people to connect to their culture, history and community. They bring people closer together to celebrate common values, beliefs, traditions. Traditional celebrations also play a vital role in preserving cultural heritage and passing it on to future generations. As we witness the world globalise, which is not necessarily a bad trend, the cultural aspects come under threat, blending and slowly fading away. Said celebrations can act as a safeguard against homogenization. 

What are some of the main differences between a formal event and an informal one?

I guess we have to draw the line between the two to avoid any further confusion. A formal event is one where you have strictly-defined dress code, a list of guest and other boundaries. You are expected to show on time, socialise with others, act in a reserved manner. This doesn’t sound like much fun, and it usually isn’t!

An informal gathering is much more lax in terms of rules and generally less uptight. You are expected to dress and act casually and even crashing the party is acceptable. The food and drinks are going to be less fancy, and you bringing your own bottle can be expected, depending on cultural context. All of this lends itself nicely to people of all walks of life mingling in a relaxed manner. This seems to be proper party, if you ask me!