All the world’s a stage- A mini guide to some of my favourite world calendar events
- Los San Fermines
Also known as the running of the bulls, held in Pamplona, Spain, this festival runs for just under two weeks at the
beginning of July annually and is dedicated to San (saint) Fermin who was killed by a bull. People come from all over the world to wear red and white, drink calimocho, and do their bull run. The festivities include the best fireworks display I have seen in the world, head-lining acts from the Spanish speaking world such as the fabulous Gypsy kings, street parties, and relaxed/late opening clubs (that let us take our picnic bag of shopping in with our own drinks and lettuce that was a great clubbing companion). Ezcaba campsite was a great place to stay during this festival and also had a festival program of its own.
Held in August the Edinburgh fringe is one of the world’s greatest tributes to the art of stand up and theatre-based comedy. The festival program includes theatre, music, comedy and a children’s festival. A large number of outdoor beer gardens are temporarily set up to add to the festive atmosphere and give people somewhere to socialise before and after their gigs. The free part of the festival presents over one thousand free shows during the Fringe and many up and coming acts make their debuts here. My personal favourites from last year include the 90’s in half and hour and Craig Hill, ‘blown by a fan’. Get in early with your accommodation bookings as you won’t be the first to think of it. Also visit the half price (ticket) hut next to the national gallery for some cheap and random discoveries.
- The Australian National Folk festival
Held in Canberra over Easter this festival is an international calling for folk musicians of all kinds. The special feature of this festival is the session bar where programmed artists come to drink, Jam and just mingle with other ‘folkies’ that have come to enjoy the festivities. Most people camp, the festival is held at the Exhibition Park In Canberra (EPIC) site and is one opportunity for your everyday Australian to see the inside of the national tally room. Volunteering is a great way to help out, keep the festival running and to get a free ticket. Each year has a theme which is strongly reflected in the headlining acts and array of dance workshops. This festival is also known for its above average children’s festival and is very family oriented. Strong note to folk music groupies, keep your cool and you may have the festival of a lifetime!
Woodford can be described in three words as ‘hot, hippie, heaven’. Held on a purpose brought property 2-3 hours north of the Australian (Queensland) city of Brisbane, Woodford may be one of the world leaders for world and alternative music. From bollywood dance workshops to a world class blues tent this festival knows how to mix it up. Expect anything from 45 degree dry heat to torrential rain and a campsite that can change from a dustbowl to a swamp. This festival is known for its variety of music and its stellar fire event which begins the finale concert. The traditional spirit of (particularly celtic) folk music is still strongly present but the festival has expanded to encompass anything worldwide with talent. Expect a strong street performance talent base and a heavy environmental theme. If you look carefully you may find the tree I bought for 5 dollars years ago when they were planting up the site to cool it down and reduce the dust levels.
- Semana Grande
Semana grande from my understanding is a local week-long celebration that occurs in many Spanish, cities, towns and villages. I was lucky enough to be present in Santander during their Semana Grande in July 2009 and loved it. With a strong local involvement, highlights of this week included a large array of pinchos/tapas and summer drink stalls, fireworks, outdoor stages, and again relaxed and happening night-life. If you have a trip to Spain planned, why not check if your timing will coincide?
As the world’s leading gay and lesbian festival, Mardi Gras began originally in Sydney as a protest march in support of GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Trans-gender) rights. Since then it has developed into a 2-week celebration beginning with ‘fairday’ which is a GLBT picnic in Sydney’s Victoria part (with a fabulous drag competition and some groomed pooches to die for), finishing with the famous televised parade and a 24 hr after party often held at Sydney’s fox studios. The festival is usually held in March and encompasses, theatre, film, comedy and of course dance parties. A not to miss for anyone feeling a little pink down under.
- Celtic connections (Glasgow)
This is the perfect festival for anyone who has been living in the UK and has gotten caught up in the daily grind of it all and wants to remember where they are. Held across a number of venues in central Glasgow, Celtic connections features acts from all parts of the Celtic word ranging from auditorium concerts to small workshops. Sessions, Ceilidhs, Gaelic language events, and afternoon showcases of up and coming talent are all features of this organically- minded folk festival.
- Yokohama Hanabi
Held in Yokohama’s ‘Aka Renga’ or red brick park, the annual fireworks display is held on a waterfront with a magnificent setting. Situated 30-40 mins south of Tokyo, this event is the perfect opportunity for non-Japanese and Japanese residents to get together, have a few tinned mix drinks or ‘chu hi’ and put on their ‘yukata’ (summer kimonos). Check local guides or Metropolis magazine for dates of when this will be held. Being a one night festival it is ideal for those living in the Tokyo and Kanagawa region but if you happen to be in the region at the time then I wouldn’t miss it.
- Hanami or ‘Cherry blossom viewing parties’
Hanami is where the Japanese allow themselves to relax and enjoy the good weather in a reflective atmosphere. This season occurs in April over a 2-week period at each point but will begin in the south of Japan and follow the blossoming of the cherry blossoms north for the duration of the season. Get your picnic mat, get your friends, get your drinks and your poetry notebook on and enjoy.
Held in the petrovaradin fortress of Novisad Serbia, Exit is one of Europe’s many fabulous dance music festivals. Accommodation is camping, hostel, or in one of the university campus residences. Prepare yourself for the heat, and ambient atmosphere that can both be felt in there in equal measures. With a world-class line-up, previous acts include Jamiroquai, David Guetta, MIA, house of Pain, Groove armada, Steve Aoki, and Fedde Le Grande amongst many others. Although it is a dance festival, stages dedicated to local music, metal, latin and reggae are just some of the other treats on offer.
- Beltane Fire Festival
Held on Edinburgh’s Calton hill, Beltane is a modern ‘tribute’ to an ancient pagan pre-solstice celebration. Many different arenas with different groups of people painted as mythical characters present fire processions, dancing, drumming and storytelling. Basically a night of novel entertainment, scantily clad youths and pretty fire. Ideal for Edinburgh residents or visitors with an open mind and an open agenda.
- Street performance world championships
Held in Dublin’s Merrion square, the SPWC are a delightful opportunity for people to witness a select handful of the world’s one-offs in an ideal setting. From Victor Rubilar, the Argentinian world record holder for his ability to juggle 5 soccer balls to a New York based break dancing crew this festival is guaranteed to impress and entertain. Enjoy the sun, the weekend, the square and the serendipity. Ideal for those living in Ireland or anyone planning a nice weekend, albeit in the high season (book accommodation etc).
- Jazz in the vines
Playing host to Jazz in the vines is the idyllic Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia. As Australia’s premier wine growing region the Hunter is abundant with well established vineyards and vineyards that entertain. Jazz in the vines is one of the many festivals held in the valley throughout the year and is a drawing card for both Australian and international Jazz artists. Enjoy an afternoon (or two) of top quality wine, music and charm. Whilst in the valley you may want to take advantage of the other available activities such as hot air ballooning and horse riding.