Barbados, China, Italy, Thailand and more top summer festivals
Time Out Dubai staff
Having saved up your cash all year, now’s the time to go online and splurge on an exotic, wild or inspirational trip. Check out our top 25 events in long-distance destinations this season.
In the past year, Dubai International Airport has hosted so many arrival, departure and stopover flights that it has become the second busiest airport in the world, overtaking Charles De Gaulle in Paris for the number two spot. British Airways boss Willie Walsh is just one of the many industry experts who expect it to outreach Heathrow by 2015 to become the busiest. New routes are launched from the travel hub all the time, and next month alone will see Emirates introduce daily flights to Japan, while Flydubai will launch a new daily schedule for Sri Lanka. With the weather heating up, many airlines will also start to roll out their seasonal deals. To get you in the mood for your next trip, we take a look (in date order) at top events and festivals going on around the world in some of the most exciting destinations to spend a week or more this summer.
1 Island-wide, Barbados: Crop Over Dating back to 1780, this celebration, running from Saturday May 11 to Friday August 9, is designed to mark the end of the cane harvest and includes parades of Calypso, costumes and music. Taking place in the first week of August, the whole island comes to a halt to honour the colourfully dressed kings and queens of carnival.
Must visit: Cricket fans should head to the Kensington Oval to see the national sport. For more information visit www.cropoverbarbados.com
2 Sydney, Australia: Head On Photo Festival One of the world’s largest annual festivals, with more than 200 events across 100 venues, Head On Photo celebrates all things photography in the city’s galleries, museums, cafés, parks and beyond. Held this year from Friday May 17 to Sunday June 23, exhibitions range from wildlife images and those featuring works captured solely by mobile phone to more intriguing, unusual studies of people, places and eras, and everything else in between.
Must visit: No trip would be complete without taking in the famous Sydney Harbour, but the cliff-top coastal walk that runs 6km from Bondi to Coogee Beach is also highly recommended. For more information visit www.headon.com.au
3 New York, USA: Films on the Green Festival For film lovers and for those who enjoy the great outdoors, this is the time to take your dream trip to the iconic American state. Organised by the French Embassy in New York, parks across the city are transformed into improvised movie theatres, as classic French films (all with English subtitles) are shown free of charge from Friday June 2 to Friday August 2. Must visit: Classic movie buffs can’t take a trip to New York without whizzing up to the top of the Empire State building in homage to the 1957 Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr film, An Affair to Remember. For more information visit www.facebook.com/filmsonthegreen
4 Dublin, Ireland: James Joyce Bloomsday festival The Irish capital is well-known for its literary background and for producing the father of Irish writing, James Joyce, famous for his masterpiece Ulysses. Bloomsday brings the city to life with celebrations, held at various locations mentioned in the book and visited by the main protagonist, Leopold Bloom. The tradition has been running since 1954 and this year takes place from Sunday June 9 to Saturday 15. Must visit: Dress up in Edwardian costume, Joyce-style, and head to the Dawson Lounge, the smallest pub in Ireland. For more information visit www.visitdublin.com
5 China: Duanwu Jié (Dragon Boat Festival) Focused around the Chinese province of Húnán, the annual Dragon Boat Festival, taking place Wednesday June 12, sees the rivers populated with colourful crafts designed to look like floating dragons. The festival takes it roots from Qu Yuan, a well-known poet who jumped into the river in a bid to stop invaders. Since then, locals have taken to their boats to celebrate his heroism. Fast forward more than 2,000 years and celebrations along the riverside include traditional foods, firecrackers and dancing. Must visit: Dongting Lake, China’s stunning second largest freshwater lake. For more information visit en.cnta.gov.cn
6 Lisbon, Portugal: The Feast of St Anthony This annual holiday – from Wednesday June 12 to Friday 14 – sees the Portuguese capital go sardine mad, filling the air with the aroma of barbecued fish in honour of Anthony of Padua. According to tradition, when the 13th Century Catholic saint was in Rimini, Italy, he became fed up that the locals wouldn’t listen to his sermons and went to confide in the fish, which began to raise their heads from the water. The main event takes place on the first day of the holiday when a parade along Avenida de Liberdade fills the street with coloured lights AND streamers.
Must visit: The steep Barrio Alto district, famed for its nightlife, atmosphere and fantastic array of Portuguese restaurants. For more information visit www.golisbon.com
7 Barcelona, Spain: Sónar A music and multimedia festival, Sónar began in 1993 and now attracts around 80,000 electronic music fans. What better reason to check out the Spanish city of Barcelona, which is also famed for its Gaudí built psychedelic buildings? The festival runs from Thursday June 13 to Saturday 15 this year. Must visit: Check out Parc Güell, with gardens reminiscent of something from Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or head out of town to Montserrat for great mountain views and a beautiful little monastery. For more information visit www.sonar.es
8 St Petersburg, Russia: White Nights midsummer festival Russia’s second city celebrates midsummer with concerts and fireworks, and the bars and clubs open late. The International White Nights music festival takes place Thursday June 13 to Saturday 15 in the lavishly named Ice Palace. Last year saw artists including Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul, Anastacia, Mika, Simple Minds, David Hasselhoff and Spandau Ballet entertain guests. Must visit: The Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace is the city’s biggest draw, holding approximately three million artworks. For more information visit www.wnfestival.com
9 Cuzco, Peru: Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) Celebrated on June 24 each year, this is the Peruvian offering to the sun god, which hundreds of years ago involved mass sacrifice. While no real blood is spilled now, the re-enactment shows what it was like 500 years ago in ancient Inca times. Must visit: The main event takes place in Cuzco near the ruins at Sacsayhuamán, where you can watch a parade of golden chariots, lavish ceremonies and soak up the atmosphere. For more information visit www.peru.info
10 Grahamstown, South Africa: National Arts Festival Taking place Thursday June 27 to Sunday July 7, the annual National Arts Festival is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Taking to the stage will be various theatre productions, poets and artists, with some focusing on Middle Eastern conflicts this year.
Must visit: Check out private game reserves to see some of Africa’s big five: elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions and leopards. For more information visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za
11 Marrakech, Morocco: Marrakech Popular Arts Festival This five-day festival from Saturday June 29 to Wednesday July 3 hosts everything from snake-charmers and fire-swallowers to performances by artists from all over Africa. The events start in the morning and run at al-fresco venues throughout the day.
Must visit: Souks at Place Djemaa El-Fna where you can buy an eclectic range of trinkets – remember to barter. For more information visit www.visitmorocco.com
12 Seeboden, Austria: World Bodypainting Festival When you think of bodypainting you probably don’t automatically think of the Austrian town of Seeboden. But each July it comes alive with activities designed to celebrate everything to do with decorating the skin. Last year’s theme was ‘chaos versus control’ and involved a bodypainting bungee jumping event. This year, the festival will be held from Monday July 1 to Sunday 7, with participants attending from as far away as New Zealand.
13 Alberta, Canada: Calgary Stampede This festival, which takes place Friday July 5 to Sunday 14, sees the Albertan city embrace its cowboy and Wild West roots. A list of the world’s best cowboys compete in the richest rodeo on earth – it sees visitors spend around $345m each year – and there is also chuckwagon racing, fairgrounds, markets and as much deep-fried produce as you could possibly eat. Must visit: Check out Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park for some of the largest and best dinosaur fossils on earth. For more information visit www.calgarystampede.com
14 Pamplona, Spain: Fiesta de San Fermin (Running of the Bulls) This controversial event, which runs Saturday July 6 to Sunday 14, sees raging bulls race through the streets of the small Spanish city as hundreds of runners sprint along the 800 metres of street pavement. Each year injuries (some fatal) occur, but the race always goes ahead. At around the same time, a Running of the Nudes protest against animal cruelty usually takes place.
Must visit: Plaza del Castillo inside the walled city is where the locals congregate to unwind. For more information visit www.sanfermin.com
15 Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddha Tooth Festival Legend has it that when Buddha died one of his teeth was rescued and smuggled back to Sri Lanka. The local king was so proud that he paraded it around the island and it soon became an annual celebration as part of the Perahera Festival. Held Thursday July 11 to Wednesday August 21, the parade consists of an elephant procession by torchlight, while parties are held across the country, with the town of Kandy a main focus. Must visit: Head over to the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage to see more of these magnificent creatures. For more information visit www.srilanka.travel
16 Paris, France: Bastille Day Each July 14 the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille prison, which heralded the start of the French Revolution. In a mix of pomp, ceremony and uninhibited fun, each town and city in France erupts with dancing, parties and fireworks, which all run late into the night.
Must visit: See what the revolution overturned with a trip to Château de Versailles on the outskirts of Paris. For more information visit www.parisinfo.com
17 Kae Kuu, Zanzibar: Mwaka Kogwa During the penultimate weekend in July – this year Friday July 19 to Sunday 21 – Kae Kuu in Zanzibar stages Mwaka Kogwa, a festival where locals slap each other with bananas in a bid to purify themselves. As well as this fruitful show of force, the women sing and dance in colourful costumes. The aim is the release of aggression and, of course, to have fun.
Must visit: Jozani Forest for nature trails and to see the nearly extinct Red Colobus Monkeys. For more information visit www.zanzibartourism.net
18 Venice, Italy: Festival of the Redeemer Towards the end of July, the Italian canal city hosts an even greater number of gondolas than usual for Festa del Redentore (Festival of the Redeemer), which thanks Jesus for ridding the city of a terrible plague that killed thousands of people in the 1570s. This year, the festival takes place on Saturday July 20 with plenty of fireworks, celebrations and gondola regattas to behold.
Must visit: Spend sunset at St Mark’s Basin, which is filled with colourful boats, flowers and balloons. For more information visit www.visit-venice-italy.com
19 Montego Bay, Jamaica: Reggae Sumfest Renowned as the home of Bob Marley, his musical heritage lives on each summer in the form of the annual Reggae Sumfest, taking place this year from Sunday July 21 to Saturday 27.
Must visit: Nine Mile where Bob Marley was born and is now buried. Located up in the mountains, it also offers some great island views. For more information visit www.reggaesumfest.com
20 Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, and Royal Military Tattoo The Edinburgh International Festival brings together performances of classical music, operate, theatre and dance, and this year runs from Friday August 9 to Sunday September 1. The Fringe, meanwhile, runs from Friday August 2 to Monday 26, and hosts performers ranging from amateurs to professionals in theatre, comedy and dance, with a number of exhibitions running alongside. The 2013 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a display of music and colour, performed by military bands and dancers, and is this year held from Friday August 2 to Saturday August 25.
21 Memphis, USA: Elvis Week Held on Saturday August 10 for seven days to mark the anniversary of the death of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis impersonators from around the world descend upon Memphis to see where the great entertainer lived out his final days. The focal point is his mansion at Graceland and Tupelo where he spent his very last hours. Must visit: The National Civil Rights Museum, built on the spot where Martin Luther King Jr was shot in 1968. For more information visit www.elvis.com
22 Buenos Aires, Argentina: Tango Festival The Argentinean capital comes alive in August to the sound of sultry tango. Events are spread across the city over two weeks from Tuesday August 13 and the best tanguistas from around the world take part in the festival’s annual tango competition.
Must visit: Argentinians are passionate about football, so head to the La Bombonera Stadium for a tour or catch a game. For more information visit www.tangobuenosaires.gob.ar
23 London, England: Notting Hill Carnival Taking place on Sunday August 25 to Monday 26, the English capital erupts in Caribbean-style colour as part of an event that has taken place since the 1950s, and features reggae, Rastafarians, calypso, samba dancing and nearly two million party people. A three-mile parade of floats and costumes make up the main event. Must visit: The restored Electric Cinema shows a range of films – from classics to cult to Hollywood – with a bar in the theatre for refreshments after each show. For more information visit www.thenottinghillcarnival.com
24 Valencia, Spain: La Tomatina (Tomato-throwing Festival) Pack some old clothes if you’re heading to Valencia in late August, as on the last Wednesday of the month each year (Wednesday August 28 this year) getting pelted with tomatoes is a normal part of national celebrations. La Tomatina is one of the world’s biggest food fights, with around 140 tonnes of tomatoes and thousands of visitors involved. Must visit: Approximately 90km north in the mountains are some hot springs, deep gorges and great views. For more information visit www.latomatinatours.com
25 Phichit, Thailand: Phichit Long Boat Race Held every year on the first weekend of September, this two-day competition on the Nan river in North Thailand sees 40 traditional long rowing boats compete in categories with varying numbers of paddlers, from less than 30 to 55. A colourful fair runs alongside, featuring everything from musical performances to market stalls selling the best of local fruit and vegetable produce.
Must visit: Utthayan Mueang Kao Pichit, home to the remains of a 900-year-old town, built during the Sukothai and Ayutthaya eras. For more information visit www.tourismthailand.org