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International Festivals

Cultures the world over have always found plenty of reasons to celebrate. Be it mass food fights in the Spanish sun or impromptu comedy in a historic Scottish tavern – or even dancing hot desert nights away inside an art installation the size of a multi-story car park – there are plenty of weird and wonderful festivals around the globe to tickle even the most eccentric of fancies. Here’s our top picks…

La Tomatina International Festival

La Tomatina

Just outside Valencia is the small, sleepy town of Buñol. With terracotta roofs, narrow passageways and whitewashed walls, it seems the most unlikely location for a fight - especially one involving 100 tons of tomatoes.

It seems unlikelier too that those prepared to take a pulping should wear all white. But when the trucks of tomatoes turn into town on the last Wednesday in August, there’s no time to think: simply grab some handfuls and start flinging fruit.

Burning Man

Neon may illuminate nearby Las Vegas, but for one week a year there is another (temporary) Nevadan city lighting the dark of the desert. Black Rock City is home to Burning Man festival: a celebration of creativity and community.

Through skill sharing and self-expression, festivalgoers raise a city of giant sculptures and art installations from scratch, to be partied in, clambered up and lounged on at leisure. This magical festival culminates in the lighting of a giant wooden effigy.

Burning Man International Festival
Koningsdag International Festival

Koningsdag

If you’re visiting Amsterdam for Koningsdag, note the dress code: orange. This is King’s Day, and the capital is suitably awash in the Royal Family’s colour, from tangerine t-shirts and inflatable crowns, vibrant apricot banners and even bobbing oranje boats.

Boogie in the brightness at one of the many street parties or find a bargain in the public parks, which, for one day only, transform into giant second-hand markets.

Galways Oyster Festival

Galway is a pearl of a city just over an hour from Knock airport, with cobbled and colourful medieval streets and lively wood-paneled pubs. September travellers have an extra special treat with its famous Oyster Festival, featuring the World Oyster Opening Championship.

As well as the chance to wash down an endless supply of fresh molluscs with a traditional porter, a big festival highlight is the fun and fabulous Masquerade Mardi Gras, where masked revelers take to the city’s streets feasting on a fine array of culinary delights.

Galway Oyster Festival
Edinburgh Fringe International Festival

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Welcome to the world’s largest arts festival, that sees the Scottish capital bursting at its seams with organized and impromptu performance art. Festivities start in the street: jugglers throw swords, burly bagpipers blow and glove puppets jive dance, urging you to grab a flyer.

In under an hour you may have bumped into Britain’s finest theatre writer, bought tickets for sidesplitting comedy show or arranged to see a mime artist perform Shakespeare’s sonnets. All 154 of them. The beauty of the Fringe is revelling in the unexpected. And there is oh-so-much unexpected to be had.

Taormina Film Festival

The setting for Taormina Film Festival is as dramatic as any big screen car chase: a stunning ancient Greek amphitheatre sat high in the Sicilian hills, overlooking bays below. The festival brings huge stars of the silver screen to the Italian isle, with film premiers and parties galore.

Fly into Palermo and take the coast road as it winds away from crystal seas, climbs towards Mount Etna and reveals Taormina’s neat lanes of designer shops and cafés.

Taormina Film Festival