4 years, 10 months ago
Summer is always the season of festivals. We know that. But every year we end up missing out because we aren’t prepared. Before we can say glow stick and solstice, everything is over and we’re back on the couch watching autumn TV.
Not this year. It might just be spring and not wearing a body warmer still feels a bit optimistic, but we’re looking ahead (booking where necessary) and making plans to miss nothing this June, July and August.
It’s a work in progress, but here are our summer unmissables so far.
When 20,000 plus people gather peacefully together and don’t even need a food truck, you have to be impressed. There’s no live music, no overpriced booze and definitely no merchandise at Stonehenge for the annual summer solstice celebrations. It’s just harmony and contemplation and we can’t think of a better reason to put it on our 2015 to-do list.
A festival you reach by ferry, who could resist? This year the Isle of Wight Festival is 14 and the line-up is as eclectic as ever. Confirmed are Pharrell Williams, veterans Fleetwood Mac and Ian Anderson, Paulo Nutini, The Charlatans, dozens of indie names, DJ sets from the likes of Groove Armada and that’s just so far. The Rainbow Stage for kids returns this year and pretty much epitomises the relaxed, family friendly, good time feel of the whole festival.
If you don’t make it to Stonehenge for the solstice, you might think about spending Midsummer Night in Paris instead. On the same night every year the entire city is focused on free music. And it’s everywhere in the bars and cafés, spilling out of clubs, rocking shops and filling almost every boulevard, avenue and square. So try to forgive France for Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Hallyday and Fatal Bazooka for one night at least, and just enjoy the spectacle.
Running with the bulls in Pamplona might be a fictional rite of passage for middle aged movie stars, but it’s just a very small part of Pamplona’s astounding San Fermin. The annual fiesta is just as much about family and eating and drinking and parties and fireworks and ceremony as it is about the tradition of the corrida. Go for the Parade of the Giants and the ancient Basque loveliness of the city itself. And the bulls are easy to miss, just avoid crowds of mindlessly drunk men first thing in the morning.
If you keep out of the way of the mime artists and sidestep the worst luvvie excesses, Edinburgh Festival is a fantastic and surprisingly good value way to spend some days this summer. There are hundreds of free performances, amazing exhibitions, endless entertainment for children and it’s 24/7 relentless for nearly a month. Start by asking the 2015 Festival website for interactive inspiration.
The only carnival (that we know of) which has nothing to do with Mardi Gras and everything to do with celebrating Caribbean culture in every way possible. Famous for its parades and fabulous floats (Sunday is family day and it’s an unforgettable experience for children), steel band music, fantastic street food and blinding, all out, eye searing colour, Notting Hill Carnival is the best type of excess – it’ll wear you out, but you’ll love it.
Unless you eat, sleep and breathe classical music you aren’t going to spend almost your entire summer in Salzburg, but it’s good to know you could if you wanted. One of the longest and most celebrated music festivals in the world, Salzburg is naturally associated with Mozart but goes well above and beyond its native son. And if you need a break from all the noise (lovely as most of it is) it’s worth remembering Salzburg is almost as famous for its exquisite mountains spas as it is for its music festival.
Well that’s us out of words for now, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s happening and where this summer. So expect us back with some more must-dos soon and if you’ve got anything to add we’d love to hear from you.