Billed as the biggest music and camping festival in Greece and now in its 39th year, River Party has become the annual meeting place for over 50,000 people for almost four decades. Six days of events take place in Nestorio, at the foothills of mount Grammos, close to the headwaters of Aliákmonas River – the longest in Greece at almost 300kms. Incorporating Happy People Dance Festival, attending River Party effectively gives festival goers two for the price of one, boasting four stages filled with well-known DJs, musicians and live acts, with pretty much something for everyone, locals and tourists alike. What makes River Party unique is that visitors have the opportunity to camp by the river in a magnificent area of natural beauty, adjacent to the performance stages. This year’s musical line-up includes celebrated Hellenic singer and composer Miltos Pashalidis, psychedelic rock band 1000mods, Greek rock singer Vasilis Papakonstantinou and celebrated Athenian band Imam Baildi, who’s music is based on remixing old Greek tunes of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
2-6 August 2017
There aren’t many large-scale music festivals in the world today that are completely free to attend. Woodstock in Poland is one of them, which almost certainly guarantees the festival’s mantra of “Love, Friendship and Music”. Inspired by America’s famous Woodstock of 1969, the Polish decedent’s runaway success and massive European popularity is due to the festival’s very simple approach that one of act of kindness will surely lead to another and another. Organised by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity to acknowledge all the supporters who participate in its massive annual fundraiser, and masterminded by Polish journalist and social campaigner Jerzy Owsiak, Przystanek Woodstock is a peaceful gathering and much more than just a festival. It’s mission is to be “as much about music as harmonious co-existence”, where the huge strain of social and economic hardship dissipates, and love, awareness and understanding permeate throughout.
3-5 August 2017
Now in its 72nd year and attended by approximately 30,000 people annually, La Tomatina basically involves participants hurling more than 100 tons of overripe Spanish tomatoes at each other. Held in the pretty Valencian town of Buñol, on the east coast of Spain, La Tomatina is essentially a giant food fight held on the last Wednesday of August. The firing of a water canon heralds the start of the tomato throwing, and exactly one hour later a second firing signals the end of the mayhem. There are conflicting stories about how the festival first began: some say it happened when two boys got into a fight during a parade and began lobbing tomatoes from a vegetable stand at each other. Others believe that the tomatoes were thrown to protest about an unfavourable decision by the city council, or launched at a particularly bad musician!
30 August 2017
Born in 1981, Boardmasters is a five-day grassroots outdoor summertime surfing and music fest, that takes place along the Cornish coastline in the UK’s premiere surfing mecca of Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay. Offering music-led parties that continue until late night and beautiful beaches upon which to relax and recover during the day in preparation for the next evening’s festivities, as well as the partying Boardmasters celebrates the region’s beloved watersport with numerous professional surfing competitions. Meanwhile amateurs and even non-surfers come out to enjoy the diverse beachside fun. Since this year’s Boardmasters will be headlined by none other Grammy award-winning British electro funk band Jamiroquai, together with English indie rock band Alt-J, not to mention DJs Pete Tong, Armen Van Helden and Roger Sanchez, expect the festival to be a complete sell out and the parties more raucous than ever. This is a part of the British Isles that plays hard and parties even harder!
9-13 August 2017
Every September the 500 townsfolk of In-Gall, in the Agadez region of northeast Niger, grows to upwards of 50,000 as nomads and their herds make the pilgrimage to the tiny West African town to celebrate the annual gathering that serves as a harvest festival, a marketplace, a gathering of the tribes, and most importantly a spectacular male beauty parade in an effort to be named the most attractive man of their clan. Here the roles are reversed and it is the men who paint their faces, don traditional ceremonial costumes, and sing and dance in an effort to impress the female judges. The talent portion of the show, known as Yaake, is akin to line dancing, with men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying, singing and chanting in a hypnotic fashion, fuelled by a stimulating tea made of fermented bark, rumoured to have a hallucinogenic effect, enabling them to dance wildly, often for hours on end. The exact date in September of Cure Salée changes every year, dependent upon the strength of the rains, and is announced approximately one month before.
Billed as “Four Fabulous Days of Free Fun”, Bristol’s annual hot air balloon extravaganza takes place in the delightful surroundings of Ashton Court Estate, which was once the gracious home of the Smyth family, and is now a historic 850-acre park just 10 minutes from the city centre in beautiful South West England. North Somerset’s annual hot air balloon extravaganza is Europe’s largest yearly meet for ballooning enthusiasts, attracting more than 150 hot air balloons from across the globe. Witnessing a mass ascent of balloons in all shapes and sizes, lifting into the sky at once and instantly filling it with glorious colours, is truly a spectacular sight to behold. Not to be missed is the festival’s famous “Night Glow” on Saturday evening 12th August, which sees the balloons inflated and glowing to music after the sun has set, followed by a dazzling fireworks display. A variety of entertainment, arena events and a giant fairground complete the weekend’s carnival-like feel.
10-13 August 2017
During five days towards the end of summer, what is billed as “the largest sound system culture festival in Europe” brings together some of the biggest names from the most vibrant and cutting edge hip-hop, grime, reggae, techno and dub music scenes in a celebratory fusion of musical genres. Held in the abandoned 19th century Fort Punta Christo, perched over the dazzling Adriatic Sea close to the historic city of Pula in Croatia’s northern region of Istria, party goers can chose to let rip in a collection of truly spectacular locations set in and around the fort, including a dungeon, a courtyard, a moat, a boat, the beach or the festival’s main stage set on a harbour. Outlook combines a heady mix of fun in the sun and under the stars sound sensations. Celebrating its tenth year in 2017, this year’s bass-infused music line-up includes Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow and The Outlook Orchestra.
6-10 September 2017
Feast on traditional Bavarian foods (including 15-inch pretzels), drink beer by the litre, be entertained by live brass bands and carouse away the days and nights with hundreds of other revellers from all over the globe at the world’s largest Volksfest, held annually in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest is a 16-day folk festival running from mid September through to the first weekend of October, held in the Theresienwiese area (often called the Wiesn for short) located near Munich’s city centre. If you want to catch the official opening ceremonies on 16th September the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, since it is here, at 12 noon, that the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Now in its 184th year this mammoth drinking fest now boasts a slightly more international flavour, characteristic of the 21st century, featuring added speciality German beers accompanied by more Sauerkraut and Weisswurst than one can possibly imagine!
16 September – 3 October 2017
An occasion to commemorate one’s ancestors and celebrated in Japan for more than half a millennia, Obon is based on a Buddhist legend that tells of the spirits of the deceased returning to earth to visit their families. The main Awa Odori part of Obon lasts for three days every 13-15 August at Tokushima on Shikoku Island. Obon involves the rituals of hanging chochin lanterns in front of houses to guide in the ancestors’ spirits, visiting graves, making food offerings at home altars and temples, and performing the traditional folk dance, bon odori. Obon ends with the beautiful ritual of Toro Nagashi, during which hundreds of candlelit lanterns are released into the ocean, rivers and lakes, floating away and carrying ancestors’ spirits back to the afterlife. Since Obon week is one of Japan’s three major annual holiday seasons, travelling around the country during this time can be difficult.
13-15 August 2017
For the 2017 tenth annual outing of the Greek island of Syros’ popular animation fest, Animasyros is dedicated to the animation narrative for Europe. This theme will be activated via a special screenings programme and a roundtable highlighting the current state of affairs in the European Animation Industry, within the common framework of the EU. The artistic programme will be completed with special tributes, screening events & curatorial programmes celebrating the 10th anniversary of the festival. More than 260 animation films will also be screened, plus the festival features three separate international competition sections, for professional, student and feature films. Animasyros is free to the public and takes place at the imposing Apollo Theatre (pictured), the Hermoupolis Cultural Centre, the University of the Aegean, Miaouli Square and other locations within the beautiful neoclassical town of Hermoupolis.
27 September – 1 October 2017
Deeply rooted in religion, for two days every year Italy’s most famous annual sporting event, Siena’s Palio, takes over the city with its epic horse race. As much about pageantry, civic identity and Sienese pride as it is about bareback horse racing, whilst the three-lap race lasts for barely a minute-and-a-half the celebrating lasts for days. But the sight is truly epic and worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. The 16th August race – Palio dell’Assunto – honours the ascension of Mary into heaven, and has been held almost uninterruptedly in Siena’s civic hub, Piazza del Campo, since 1644. Ten of the city’s seventeen districts are represented by a horse and jockey in the race. The seven districts that didn’t race in the previous July or August compete by right and are joined by horses from three lucky repeat districts drawn by ballot. More than half the riders get bucked from their horses which entertains the 40,000-strong Sienese crowd squeezed into the piazza on race day.
16 August 2017
According to popular legend, Onam harvest festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the beginning of Chingam, the first month of the Hindu Malayalam calendar, at a time when – after three months of heavy rains in India – the skies become clear and blue again, forests turn a lush deep green, lakes and rivers overflow and lotuses and lilies are in full bloom. People put flower mats in front of their houses to welcome the King, reap the harvest, celebrate and rejoice. Activities during Onam are centred around worshipping, music, dancing, sports, boat races and above all else, eating good food. The most impressive part of the festival is the grand nine-course feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruvonam, consisting of up to thirteen essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to partake of the vast lavish meal.
25 August – 6 September 2017