30 thrilling festivals for a sizzling summer

Whatever your passion in life, there’s a festival in Europe just waiting for you and your friends to get together and enjoy. Whether you’re craving the chance to dance your nights away to world-class acts, sample the best in food and drink, take an art odyssey, or discover local colour and customs, we’ve rounded up some of the region’s top events. Upgrade your festival-going experience with our insider tips and a holiday rental perfect for your whole group.

Swing in style at the Sziget Festival, Budapest

8–15 August 2018

High summer in the Hungarian capital is the time to catch more than 1,000 rock, pop, electro, jazz, blues, and world music acts as they converge on an island in the Danube to deliver a full seven days and nights of partying. (Passes of different durations let you take in part or all of it.) There are also dance performances, street theatre, art installations, volleyball on the sandy beach, funfair rides, and kids’ activities. If you’ve any energy left after all that partying, explore stately Buda Royal Palace or make a beeline for one of the city’s famous thermal baths for recuperation local-style.

Photo credit: Sziget.hu

Get into the groove at 5 more merry music festivals

1 Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, England, 26–30 June 2019: Music and performing arts
2 NOS Primavera Sound, Porto, Portugal, 7–9 June 2018: Rock, pop, and electro
3 Rock en Seine, Saint-Cloud (near Paris), France, 24–26 August 2018: Rock music
4 Sónar Festival, Barcelona, Spain, 14–16 June 2018: Electro music and multimedia arts
5 Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, 29 June–14 July 2018: Jazz

Go gastronomic at Taste of London, UK

13–17 June 2019

Held over five days in verdant Regent’s Park in the heart of the British capital, this event ranks highly on foodies’ calendars. There are free tastings of artisan foods, wines, whiskies, and craft beers; pop-up versions of some of London’s most popular restaurants, from Bubbledogs to Oldroyd; and live demos by Nathan Outlaw and other celebrity chefs. There’s also the opportunity to get your own culinary kicks in interactive workshops and to snap up treats from 200 boutique stall-holders in the on-site market. Also running in the park during the festival is Leonard Bernstein’s dance musical “On the Town” in the delightful Open Air Theatre.

Photo credit: Taste of London, IMG Arts & Entertainment

Feast at 5 more tasty food festivals

1 Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival, Denmark, 24 August–2 September 2018
2 Taste of Stockholm, Sweden, 5–10 June 2018
3 Sardine Festival, Portimão, Portugal, 1–5 August 2018
4 Dorset Seafood Festival, Weymouth, England, 14–15 July 2018
5 Swiss Food Festival, Zermatt, Switzerland, 17 August 2018

Bottoms up at the Berlin International Beer Festival

3–5 August 2018

The world’s longest beer garden (2,200 metres) is just one of the attractions of this annual weekend dedicated to one of Germany’s most famous products. Held along Karl-Marx-Allee, renowned for its socialist architecture, it draws around 800,000 beer lovers from around the globe to taste the offerings of 340 breweries from 87 countries. All this is accompanied by live folk and other music on several stages. Entrance is free; invest in a festival kit with a beer glass on a strap-holder to tour the stalls, divided by state, country, or world region. The surrounding Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district is one of the city’s most fascinating, with must-sees including the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall and the Jewish Museum.

Photo credit: Frank-Peter Bürger, 20. Internationales Berliner Bierfestival

Summer sipping at 5 more drink festivals

1 Chianti Classico Wine Festival, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy 6–9 September 2018
2 Madeira Wine Festival, Portugal, 26 August–9 September 2018
3 Budapest International Wine Festival, Hungary, 6–9 September 2018
4 The Great British Beer Festival, London, England, 7–11 August 2018
5 Õllesummer (Beer Summer), Tallinn, Estonia, 4–6 July 2018

Saddle up at the Palio di Siena, Tuscany

2 July and 16 August 2018

Twice each summer, Italy’s world-renowned horse race brings thrills and medieval pageantry to the city’s main square, stunning Piazza del Campo. After a parade in historic costumes, accompanied by lots of flag waving, 10 bareback riders each representing a city ward vie for speed over three circles of the piazza, lasting around 90 seconds—some taking a tumble due to the tight cornering. While you’re in this stunning city, don’t miss the cathedral and the adjoining Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana with its artworks and views of the Tuscan countryside, or a mooch through the charming historic centre.

Take part in the traditions of these 5 local festivals

1 Tomatina Festival, Buñol, Spain, 29 August 2018: Giant food fight involving tomatoes
2 Festa de São João, Porto, Portugal, 23 June 2018: Street festival with concerts and fireworks
3 Fiesta de San Fermín, Pamplona, Spain, 6–14 July 2018: Folklore festival best known for the Running of the Bulls through the streets
4 Les Fêtes de Bayonne, France, 25–29 July 2018: Series of festivals with street performances, traditional dance, and fireworks
5 Notting Hill Carnival, London, England, 26–27 August 2018: Caribbean-inspired street party

Festival Avignon, France

6-24 July 2018

Europe’s largest theatre festival puts contemporary performing arts at the fore in the Provence city for a lively and thought-provoking three weeks, with atmospheric venues such as the courtyard of the vast 14th-century Papal Palace. The official “In” festival is shadowed by an “Off” program of performances in theatres, schools, and streets. Capital of Christendom during the Middle Ages and with a UNESCO–listed historic centre, Avignon is a fabulous place to simply wander, with medieval monuments, including the Pont d’Avignon, the cathedral, and 4.3 km–long ramparts that encircle the city.

Enjoy entertainment at 5 more art and culture festivals

1 Festival Grec de Barcelona, Spain, 1–30 July 2018: Theatre, dance, music, and circus
2 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland, 3–27 August 2018: Theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, musicals, opera, children’s shows, and more
3 Stars of the White Nights, St. Petersburg, Russia, 23 May–29 July 2018: Classical ballet, opera, and music
4 Museumsuferfest, Frankfurt, Germany, 24–26 August 2018: Art, theatre, dance, and music
5 Upfest—The Urban Paint Festival, Bristol, England, 28–30 July 2018: Street art and graffiti

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