Bestival is a fab fancy dress festival where people are laid back and it isn't too big. Yes last year was a complete wash-out, but overall because Bestival is in early September it has a brilliant sunshine record, which really helps with the party spirit.
We all know to take loo rool and wet wipes, but some less obvious tips for festival goers are:
- Take dry shampoo, or specifically Batiste Tropical. It's an amazing conditioning spray that takes away any greasiness and makes your hair full bodied and shiny. It's usually used by old ladies but don't let that put you off
- Take wine in a box and once finished, use the bag inside as an inflatable pillow to sleep on
- If you can carry them, fold away chairs are a god-send at festivals
- Dig out your sparkly sequin bolero or jacket: great for the cooler UK evenings but keeps you looking like you've made a festival effort
- Always bring a bikini, you never know when the sunshine will come out, but also useful for the festivals that have saunas. A good sweat in a sauna will cleanse you for the next night of partying
- Pitching your tent in the quiet zone can be great if you need a good night's sleep and to be fresh for work on Monday
- Take a small over the shoulder handbag so you can put all your valuables in there, sling it across your body and dance the night away!
- Choose a festival that has the right party vibe for you. It doesn't have to have the major headlining bands and you never know, at a smaller festival you may get to see the next big thing
Bestival is at Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
I took a trip to Mali in January this year. Our aim was the festival au desert, a Tuareg music festival north of Timbuktu in an oasis called Essakane.
Our journey was a bit ad hoc; arriving in Bamako, travelled by bus to Mopti, then boat from Mopti to Timbuktu, then 4*4 into the desert to get to the festival. On the way back we travelled via Mopti again, but headed into the Dogon country for 3 nights and four days of walking, before busing back to Bamako via Segou.
The festival was absolutely indescribably amazing, plus the fact that most of the tour groups that head out that way had been cancelled because of travel warnings in the area, so the ambiance was perfect! I particularily enjoyed evenings spent listening to the music around campfires. The people of Mali were welcoming, kind and generous, which made for a fascinating and dusty adventure (of which there are too many places/people to pick a favourite)!
At the annual East Neuk Festival it’s always music that leads to the interesting new discovery of places off the beaten track. Beyond the cries of the seagulls, the lapping of the waves and the chatter on the golf courses this beautiful coastal region of Fife resonates with a magical heritage deeply rooted in mystic sites and secret places. Whether in the deep recesses of an ancient cave, an eerie woodland dell, a candle-lit cliff-top church or the windowless dark of a local scout hut, you're sure to find yourself in the perfect place to appreciate and immerse yourself in the music on offer – from electronica to classical, from Stockhausen to Beethoven and Brahms.
Just an hour's drive from Edinburgh
If you fancy combining two of the most fun activities in the world, snowsports and clubbing, in a beautiful Austrian village with a few thousand like-minded fancy dressed loons, this is your bag baby!
For 10 years now at the end of the season the amazing Austrian resort of Mayrhofen gets transformed into party central. The crack Snowbombing team take over virtually every hotel and venue for miles around and pack them full of the hottest DJs and bands you can think of providing a frenzied atmosphere of piste by day and beats by night. To drop a few names from this year's line-up, we've got the legendary Fatboy Slim, Dizzee Rascal, Reverend and the Makers, Grandmaster Flash, Fabio & Grooverider, Zane Lowe, and the list goes on...
If you're serious about your riding you'll find 625km of pistes, a world renowned funpark, and the Tux glacier, offering piste and off-piste action all year round. Just don't be put off if Batman or a herd of boarders wearing only their pants pass you on the slopes!
And my hottest tip for Snowbombing? Get accommodation in the Hotel Strass! This is the epicentre of the whole festival. Three of the main apres and nightlife venues are in the same building, it's right next to the lifts, one night of the week there is a street party right outside, and it has a naked sauna in the basement - the perfect way to wind down and make new friends after a hard day on the slopes or a hard night on the tiles.
The Giostra is a great experience but from the square it is a nightmare. I go every year and it took me two years to find some spot from where I could really enjoy it, from a competent local enthusiast.
Well, how to sum up the event last year. . . AMAZING!!!!!
The animal-party night was such a laugh, props to everyone who made it out last year in the hot fancy dress outfits, my horse salutes you!
The faces of the locals were a picture. Oh, and the snow! The mountains are made of the stuff. It's quite a sight to behold. With all the slopes open, whenever I went over to them it was a winter wonderland combining my love of snowboarding and my passion for music!
Do's and Don'ts
DO bring a costume - you'll have much more fun if you do
DO get a six-day pass for the slopes - you'll appreciate the flexibility
DON'T over-do the slopes so that you're exhausted and miss out on the parties
DON'T over-do the parties so you miss out on the slopes
DO go four-star
DO remember to bring sunscreen and chapstick!
I guarantee that you'll look back at this festival for the rest of your life.
Get along - get involved and get into it!
On January the 15th, or the nearest full moon on the lunar calendar. Thousands of people take a stroll up Hwawangsan and burn some very flammable reeds.
I'm not too sure why they do this, may be some, thing ridiculous to do with spirits. You could probably Google it if you really want to know. I'm happier in ignorance.
It's worth seeing, young and old flock from south Korea to do so.
The surrounding town is about as interesting as a mute standup, but it has a wonderful BBQ restaurant at the bottom of the mountain, owned by a Korean gent who spent many years in Boston and will provide free alcohol at the chance to brush up on his English.
Get a bus from Daegu to Changnyeong, takes about 45 mins. I think the bus is from Daegu's west terminal, can't really remember.
A taxi would cost around 45000 won.
Visit english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/TR_EN_5_1_3_1_1.jsp for bus timetables
1. Do I like to party in a big way?
2. Am I WELL up for a laugh and partial to a bit of fancy dress?
3. Do I like snow and beautiful mountain scenery?
4. Does speeding down a slope and stopping for the odd rum hot chocolate with strudel sound perfect?
If you answered YES - and you really should do - then SNOWBOMBING is for you!
Imagine 4 adrenaline packed days of pure fun. The festival is one of the friendliest I've ever been too - people are there to really burn the candle at both ends. Go hard or go home is the slogan of the weekend and the energy is infectious. Dressed in some of the most imaginative costumes, people from all over Europe and beyond take over this Austrian resort and go wild.
All I can really say is if this appeals then DEFINITELY go! This is something you won't be able to do in 10 years unless you are REALLY hardcore, so go now before the thought of 4 days without sleep is too scary!! this is possibly the best weekend of your life.
It is here that you see the traditional Breton costumes in the parades associated with the church services where the faithful seek forgiveness. Held across the year but peaking in the summer, they are a "must see" for visitors to that region of France.
The Michelin Green Guide to Brittany lists the dates and locations of the main Pardons but do keep a look out for local notices giving specific times.
Every July the tiny little village of Nant near Millau in the south of France holds a brilliant music festival in true 'local' style. They get a fun fair out on the green, you can drink red wine until the very early hours and they clear the boules pitch for dancing - and of course it's the oldies who are first to hit the dancefloor.
There is beautiful little square qith foutains running through it and it's just magic on a warm night to sit there and people watch. As it's usually such a peacful village, it's great seeing all the local characters come out to play.
On 15th May, every year the town of Gubbio comes alive with the most amazing pagan-converted-to-catholic festival: the Ceri. The local enthusiasm gets very high as the three ceri (three very heavy wooden structures topped by three saints) are carried around all day by the ceraioli (the people who carry the ceri) in a town decorated by banners and flags. Everyone dresses up according to the saint they support and start the day at 5am till night when people eat, drink and dance till very late in the piazzas. It is called a race but the winner is not the first to arrive in the church at the top of the mountain (a 7 minute run up a very steep mountain), the winner is the cero (singular of ceri) that falls the least. A bad fall of a saint is considered a bad omen. Read more and see videos on www.ceri.it
Gubbio, near Perugia and Assisi in Umbria. Central Italy.
Closest train station: Fossato di Vico.
Buses to Gubbio from Perugia. Ryanair flies to Perugia from the UK.
A picturesque medieval walled town of white houses and narrow cobbled streets where the famous chestnut festival is held at the begining of November.
The streets are lined with stalls selling genuine Portuguese handcrafts, artists demonstrating their traditional skills, various street artists and folk music.
Join in the fun with a glass of local wine and of course chestnuts and delicious chestnut cakes.
Between the 9th and 24th of May there is a walking festival on the Isle of Wight. There are lots of events on the website. Island Cottage Holidays have a special selection of self-catering cottages and holiday homes.
If you've always wanted to experience Carnival but can't make it to Rio di Janeiro in February, Lisbon hosts a great European alternative every year, with floats, traditional parades, costumes and parties all night. Rent near the Parque das Nações for the buzzing Carnival at your doorstep.
Lisbon is one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe and one of the prettiest. Carnival is a glamorous time to visit the city.
A picnic-esque, Afro-based music festival which has already had rave reviews from Capital FM Kenya, the next jazz-soul fusion collective featuring rising star Valerie Kimani, Hellon and Muthoni.
Nairobi on 07 December - at the Tayiana Stables, from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm (www.facebook.com/pages/MUTHONI/11760652297)
Between Managua and Granada, Masaya is an overlooked town for visitors.
If you're there in Nov/Dec the town has almost daily festivals, the best is San Jeronimo. The rest of the year you can visit a volcano, arts market, baseball stadium and the enjoy the view from nearby Catarina which is one of the best in Nicaragua.
We are standing in searing 38ºC heat in a small Spanish village square with goggles on. We are amongst a staggering 30,000 people and are being doused with water, buckets of it, from the flats above. Meanwhile, there are people trying to climb a greasy pole to reach a Serrano ham at the top.
BANG! A cannon fires.
The crowd roars and dumper trucks arrive, tipping tomatoes into the street. The crowd surges, grabbing tomatoes and hurling them at anything in sight. Within minutes we are ankle deep in tomatoes, water and assorted t-shirts. All three are also hitting us from all sides.
This is the madness that is La Tomatina, the biggest, messiest food fight in the world. For just one hour, the streets are filled with half-naked people covered in the sticky smelly mess. Then, the cannon fires once again and the wonderful Tomatina is over for another year and the cleanup begins.
Just where did it all begin? The story goes that one day in the 1940s a resident of this little town was walking across the town hall square singing, badly, and through a makeshift megaphone. Market stallholders and shoppers expressed their views of his bad singing by hurling tomatoes at him and a salad fight ensued. It was such fun that they decided to do it annually. It has survived bannings and public uprisings over the years to become one of the best known of the Spanish Fiestas of the year.
Oh, and why the goggles? Just try rubbing squashed tomato in your eyes!
Long live La Tomatina!
Buñol, Comunitat Valenciana, Spain
Barretos, a small, sleepy, typical Alentejo village near Marvao, comes alive on the 2nd weekend in August with a bull run through the village, followed by a festa (festival) which continues well into the night. See the real Portugal and join the friendly locals in their tradition (they do not kill the bulls here in Portugal).
Massive electronic music festival at the beginning of July each year which transforms Amsterdam into a hub of dancing and revelry! 50 Euros for a ticket is a steal, with loads of concerts and experimental films, electronic music videos and art installation all available over five days.
This year’s highlights were Justice and Erol Alkan. Awesome performances!
Around the city
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