If you choose your late-summer getaway solely based on the amount of good food, music and culture, Europe will come up trumps. Boutique happenings and new imaginative events are exploding all over the continent, drawing travellers from all over the world to the party. Here’s the best of the bunch this summer – and you haven’t missed them yet.
Wine heaven in Italy
Where: Panzano’s main square (Piazza Bucciarelli) in Chianti, Tuscany
When: 13 – 16 September 2018
Any oenophile worth their salt will grab a ticket to Tuscany for Vino al Vino Festival, a summer extravaganza in the laidback hilltop town of Panzano. Yes, there’s plenty of wine – but there’s also music, food and an infectious festival ambience. Buy your tasting glass and get to work sampling the finest grapes from local wineries – it’s a hard job but someone has to do it. Check into Villa le Barone during your vino-based break: the 16th-century farmhouse is a beautifully authentic way to experience Tuscan life. Tuck into a candlelit dinner, sip classic Chianti wines and spend the night in a terracotta-tiled guest room with antique furniture, fresh flowers and comfort galore.
All of the arts in Slovenia
Where: Križanke Summer Theatre, Ljubljana (and surrounding areas)
When: 28 June – 10 September 2018
The Slovenian answer to Edinburgh’s Fringe, Ljubljana Festival has it all: music, dance, theatre, opera, workshops and exhibitions. It’s the oldest, biggest and most important festival in the country – dating back to 1953. Locals and tourists alike flock to the three-month party every summer for its vibrant spirit and carefully chosen performers. Let the charm and energy flow into your sleepover, too: Antiq Palace is a meticulously restored hotel dating back to the 16th century. In the beating heart of Old Town Ljubljana, it’s easy to reach from the festival, yet provides the intimacy and tranquility of a far-out hideaway.
Storytelling and stars in Wales
Where: Portmeirion, Wales
When: 6-9 September 2018
It’s now or never to book a ticket to this unique boutique experience, as Festival No.6 is taking a hiatus after this event. A mutiny against the mainstream, the festival is a quirky blend of music, art, food, storytelling and theatre. Expect a balance of serious and silly from pop-up stages, art exhibitions and more. Another truly one-off experience is a night at Hotel Portmeirion & Castell Deudraeth: tucked into a mindblowing Italianate village with a good dose of Welsh character. It’s got theatre of its own – the hotel’s setting was used in cult ‘60s TV series The Prisoner.
Music, yoga and boat parties in Portugal
Where: Lisbon, Portugal
When: 14-16 September 2018
It may be new to the festival scene, but the organisers behind it are the same people responsible for Soundwave festival in Croatia as well as Soundcrash events. The artists this year – including Mount Kimbie, Maribou State, Max Cooper and George FitzGerald – have the enviable task of competing with the scenery for attention. Nova Batida sits on the old docks of Lisbon, in a super-cool converted factory. Between sets, festivalgoers can snack on grilled sardines, get their downward dog on in a yoga class, partake in a surfing lesson or jump aboard a boat party. Combining modern technology with Portuguese tradition, Solar Do Castelo is the perfect 18th-century palace for party-goers to rest up. Sitting in the walls of São Jorge Castle, it’s Lisbon’s prettiest hotspot.
Oysters in Ireland
Where: Galway, Ireland
When: 28-30 September 2018
Arrive hungry, because Galway International Oyster Festival is not for the faint-hearted. Perfectly located in Galway, close to historic hotspots such as Blarney Castle and Cliffs of Moher, this oyster-and-beer celebration is the oldest of its kind in the world. Prepare for cooking demos, nail-biting cook-offs and the famous oyster-shucking championships. For a taste of rural Galway, book into Cashel House Hotel. The quaint country house is deep in a 40-acre estate, where you’ll find yourself wonderfully at home surrounded by woodlands and florals.