The sun’s coming out and summer’s nearly here, which means the festival season is kicking off in style! Here we round up our top five eclectic festivals around the world, which all offer something a bit different in a spectacular location - making them perfect for fitting around a memorable holiday - from a celebration of art and music in New York to the wonderfully wacky Henley-on-Todd Regatta in Australia.
Museum Mile Festival, New York
This festival is a must for art lovers, as several top museums on New York's iconic Fifth Avenue, including the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) and the Guggenheim, throw open their doors for the evening for free. And as well as enjoying the artistic treasures inside, outside there’s a colourful mile-long street festival, a buzzing showcase of art and music, including live bands and entertainment and art activities for children. While you’re on Fifth Avenue, shop ‘til you drop and go to the top of the Empire State Building for panoramic views.
24 - 26 June
This is one of Europe’s biggest open-air festivals, and is expected to have 3 million spectators this year. Held on an island in the middle of the Danube River in Vienna (the name translates as ‘Danube Island Fest’), Donauinselfest features around 2,000 artists, including some of Austria’s and Europe’s top DJs, rappers and drum and bass stars. There’s also an X Factor-style Rock the Island contest during the event. When you’ve had your fill of music, explore the historic gems of this beautiful city and linger in ornate cafes where you can enjoy sachertorte cake beneath glittering chandeliers, accompanied by a pianist.
Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the place to be in August, as the city is taken over by a colourful riot of comedy, theatre, music, art and literature, taking place in hundreds of venues from theatres to phone boxes - whatever you’re into, there will be something for you here. Take a break and get some fresh air on a stroll up Calton Hill, where you’ll be rewarded with impressive views over Edinburgh and the mountains and sea beyond. The festival season ends with a bang with a spectacular fireworks concert.
4 - 8 August
Held in a secret cove on Croatia's picturesque Dalmatian coastline, with the idyllic fishing town of Tisno as the backdrop, the cool, laid-back Soundwave festival features some of the world’s most exciting musicians, from reggae to soul, including boat parties at sunset. There’s also street art, a film programme – and donkey racing! Combine your musical interlude with some blissful beach relaxation, or enjoy a scenic cruise around the islands.
Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs
As the seasons are the other way round in Australia, this is held in the UK summer and the Australian winter, although with the perpetual sunshine over there, we use the term ‘winter’ loosely. In a tribute to the famous Henley Regatta in England, sun-baked Alice Springs is home to the Henley-on-Todd Regatta – the big difference being that the boats have their bottoms cut out and are raced along the dry Todd River by people dressed in fun costumes. This wacky and wonderful spectacle is a highlight of the Northern Territory’s calendar – although it had to be cancelled in 1993 when there was actually water in the river (!).
Get to Alice Springs on the legendary Ghan train, which runs between Darwin and Adelaide, and combine your visit with a trip to the incredible Ayers Rock (Uluru), Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. These otherworldly red rock landscapes have a rich aborigine heritage, and you shouldn’t miss the chance to go on a guided walk to see centuries-old rock paintings.