Festivals around the world have been forced into a hiatus in the last few years due to the pandemic. But with the world taking the first steps toward normality, we can once again start to dream about enjoying world-class entertainment under bright blue summer skies. 

    Here’s a selection of the best festivals and outdoor events from across the UK, Europe and the US taking place this summer.

    1

    Edinburgh Fringe Festival

    Edinburgh, Scotland: 5 August–29 August 2022

    The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes over the Scottish capital city for 3 weeks in August every year. It includes tens of thousands of performances by artists from across the world, from big-name talent to unknown creatives hoping to forge their careers. Considered one of the greatest platforms for artistic freedom in all of Europe, it has an open-access ethos with more than 300 venues welcoming an incredibly diverse line up. You might see Jacobean theatre, African dance, and folk parody all in a single day.

    The host venues of The Fringe are all part of the unique experience. Traditional theatre spaces are in the minority throughout Edinburgh, so performances take place in opulent circus tents, churches, clubs, pubs, tunnels beneath the city, and even inside moving buses.

    Map

    photo by Festival Fringe Society (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Sziget Festival

    Budapest, Hungary: 10 August–15 August 2022

    Sziget Festival is one of Europe’s biggest music festivals, attracting world-class musicians from genres spanning rock, hip-hop, heavy metal, EDM, blues and jazz. Headliners in 2022 include pop sensation Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, British rock band Arctic Monkeys, along with DJs Calvin Harris and Nina Kravitz. The festival is scheduled over 5 days on Obuda Island in northern Budapest. But don’t worry if you can’t make the whole festival – tickets range from day passes to full festival passes.

    Sziget Festival also has plenty of activities for you to enjoy while waiting for your favourite musicians, including a cinema, theatre, circus shows, dance stages, and sports such as volleyball, tennis, football, indoor rowing, and rock climbing. The camping ground of the festival opens onto a sandy beach along the Danube River, so you can lay back and enjoy the sunshine between performances.

    Location: Óbuda Island, Óbudai-sziget, Budapest, Hungary

    Map

    photo by Steven Lek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Les Festivals d'Été

    France: throughout August 2022

    Les Festivals d'Été (summer festivals) are summer festivals that take place throughout the month of August all over France. It’s not just 1 particular city or region, either. You will find a diverse range of summer fêtes all over the country, dedicated to anything from live music to photography.

    Typically, a summer festival in France is comprised of family-friendly fairground rides, such as a Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds, and bumper cars. Food stalls sell crêpes, beignets and cotton candy, while musicians perform jazz and folk songs. One of the best examples of a Festival d'Été can be found in central Paris, close to The Louvre, called Fête des Tuileries – you’ll find over 60 different rides and attractions here.

    Map
    4

    Gràcia Festival

    Barcelona, Spain: 14 August–20 August 2022

    Gràcia Festival (La Festa de Gràcia in Catalan) is an enormous, free block party in Barcelona. The Gràcia neighbourhood is renowned for its bohemian spirit and local vibes. You’ll find a convivial atmosphere here throughout the year, but things get taken up a notch during this annual summer festival.

    This is a celebration of art, music, and Catalan heritage. The main throughfare of the neighbourhood, Vila de Gracia, is decorated with bright flags, baubles and surreal sculptures. Dinosaurs, giants, and fairy-tale characters will also be seen dancing through the streets. Restaurants and bars lining the street all join in with the festivities. A highlight of this festival is tradition of human towers, known as castells. If you party late into the night, you’ll get to take part in a correfoc, a fire run past demon characters holding sparklers – it certainly gets the heart racing.

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    photo by Dbascones (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    The Rose of Tralee

    Kerry, Ireland: 19 August–23 August 2022

    For a festive weekend of Celtic traditions, few summer events can compare to the Rose of Tralee in southwest Ireland. The name was inspired by the Irish folk song from the 19th century about a lady so famed by the local community she was known as the "Rose of Tralee". Every year, eligible women who live up to the “ambitions, intellect and social responsibility” of Irish heritage compete to be crowned as the year’s rose.

    The pageant part of the festival lives on today, though it’s only a small part of the overall festivities. Rather, this summer event celebrates Irish cultures and traditions, with street performers, artisanal markets, live theatre, and a grand fireworks show.

    photo by John (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    US Open Tennis Championships

    New York, USA: 19 August–11 September, 2022

    The US Open Tennis Championships take place at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. Even non-tennis fans will be enthused by the cheering crowds that descend on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The 2-week event is held at the end of August/beginning of September. Labor Day Weekend also happens to fall in the middle of the tournament, calling for a much-loved mixture of sunshine, booze, and tennis. The hard-court tournament sees the world’s best male and female tennis players battle it out for the final Grand Slam title of the season.

    The finals take place on the central court, named Arthur Ashe Stadium after the American tennis legend, but tickets are like gold dust. For your best chance to see the tennis stars, book matches early in the tournament when matches are played on the smaller outside courts.

    Location: Flushing Meadow Corona Park, Flushing, NY 11368, USA

    Map

    photo by Steven Pisano (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Notting Hill Carnival

    London, England: 27 August–29 August 2022

    Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street festival in Europe, held annually in August on the streets of West London. True to its Caribbean roots, calypso and steel bands are the soundtrack for the colourful dancers in the carnival parade. Floats and stages entertain thousands of revellers, while street corner sound systems keep the crowds moving to ska, reggae, hip-hop, soul and house music. Official guides map the layout of the sound systems. Or, you can just let your ears and feet guide you.

    Tempting aromas of authentic Caribbean cuisine and international dishes spill out from hundreds of street stalls. Barbecued jerk chicken, well-seasoned in a spicy marinade, is a carnival favourite, while roti and fried fish, curry goat, and rice with peas are perennially popular. If you’re bringing little ones, Sunday is officially Children’s Day at the carnival.

    8

    La Tomatina

    Valencia, Spain: 31 August

    Imagine a scene where 20,000 people throw truckloads of tomatoes at each other and you’ll get the feeling of what La Tomatina is all about. The town of Buñol on the outskirts of Valencia hosts this famed food fight, though the tomato throwing is actually the final event of the week-long celebrations.

    The tomato fight lasts around 1 hour, taking place at Plaza del Pueblo on the last Wednesday of August. Trucks of fresh tomatoes are brought to the square, with the firing of water cannons officially kicking off La Tomatina. There’s also a contest that involves climbing to the top of a greased pole to grab a smoked ham leg at the top. If you want to participate in this fun battle, book well in advance as tickets are limited. The main event is not suitable for children, but little ones between 4 and 14-years-old can participate in “Tomatina Infantil” that takes place a few days before.

    Location: Plaza del Pueblo, Buñol, Valencia, Spain

    9

    Venice Film Festival

    Venice, Italy: 31 August–10 September 2022

    The Venice Film Festival is one of the world's oldest and most iconic celebrations of cinema. Running since 1932, a red carpet is rolled out annually for A-listers to showcase their work. Many of the events take place on Venice’s Lido Island, but you’ll find exclusive showings right across the island city.

    Chic but carefree, the festival typically focuses on mainstream Hollywood productions, with a spotlight shined on a selection of international and art house films, too. Tickets can be purchased for individual films or multiple screenings. One not to be missed for film buffs, the Venice Film Festival offers an amazing opportunity to see the latest movies while indulging in some celebrity spotting.

    Map

    photo by nicolas genin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Salzburg Festival

    Salzburg, Austria: 18 July–31 August 2022

    If you’re a fan of classical music and live theatre, Salzburg Festival should be high on your list of favourite summer events in Europe. Famed as the birthplace of Mozart, there are whole tours devoted to the musical prodigy. During the Salzburg Festival 2022, there will be operatic performances of Verdi’s Aida, Puccini’s Il Trittico and Mozart’s perennial favourite Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). As well as world-class opera, you can enjoy musical recitals from the Vienna Philharmonic, Mozart matinees, and children’s theatre based on the fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm.

    Away from the stage, this compact city is crammed full of beautiful historical landmarks, especially in the pedestrianised Old Town and along the River Salzach. And there isn’t a better time to visit Salzburg. August is peak summer in northwest Austria, when you’re practically assured of warm temperatures and bright blue skies.

    Map

    photo by Andreas Praefcke (CC BY 3.0) modified

    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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