Ready for a summer you’ll never forget? One that’s filled with culture, ambience, activity, energy and charm? Our shortlist of the best festivals and events coming up in Europe ticks all of these boxes and more: showcasing only the most irresistible musical, artistic and historic fiestas, coupled with hotels that are sure to deliver a sumptuous stay. It’s time to make some memories…
Ansbach Rococo Festival: Germany
2 – 4 July 2021
What’s on? For those who like their festivals with lashings of flamboyance, Ansbach Rococo Festival will deliver. This Venetian-carnival-esque party delivers days of high-energy fun: think music, magic, juggling, dancing and big Baroque fireworks.
Where to stay: Pair your festival theme with your stay – Hotel & Ristorante Schwarzer Bock is a Rococo match made in heaven. First built in 1100, the family-run stay brings homely traditions into the 21st century magnificently.
Umbria Jazz Festival: Perugia, Italy
9 – 18 July 2021
What’s on? Italians love their jazz, too. Umbria Jazz Festival is another goose-bump inducing jazz-a-thon with an all-star line-up: the likes of Wynton Marsalis & Jazz Orchestra, Stefano Bollani and Brad Mehldua Trio.
Where to stay: From smooth jazz to sweet silence, former monastery Relais San Biagio is conveniently located in Perugia, at the slope of the natural park of Mount Subasio. The peaceful haven will steal you from the chaos, so you can take time out for peace, serenity and natural wellness treatments.
Cactus Festival: Bruges, Belgium
9 – 11 July 2021
What’s on? Bruges knows how to put on a party. Located in the fairytale Minnewater Park, with giant trees and healthy food trucks, Cactus Festival has won awards for its dedication to eco-friendly festival-ing. Its motto: “Small is beautiful”. But while the carbon footprint is small, the musicians playing are big. Previous acts include: Gnarls Barkley, Massive Attack, Patti Smith, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry and Tracy Chapman.
Where to stay: Forget tents and portaloos – let Flanders Hotel pamper you during the feel-good festival. Just a short distance from the festival – and the rest of the UNESCO-famed sights of Bruges – it’s the ultimate base for in-the-know travellers.
Ljubljana Jazz Festival: Slovenia
28 – 31 July 2021
What’s on? For more than five decades, Ljubljana Jazz Festival has wowed and entertained locals and tourists alike. Bringing in magnificent musicians from Europe, Japan and America, the festival’s vibrant spirit, carefully chosen performers and old-age charm make it one of the world’s leading jazz festivals.
Where to stay: Let charisma and culture flow into your festival stay. Reaching Antiq Palace from the jazz festival is easy: soon you’ll be immersed in 16th-century luxury in the beating heart of Old Town Ljubljana.
Galway International Arts Festival: Galway, Ireland
28 August – 18 September 2021
What’s on? Culture from all walks of life, in the European Capital of Culture 2020. Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) is an annual multidisciplinary arts festival where people come together for an extraordinary infusion of music, theatre, comedy, literature and all kinds of other art forms. This year’s line-up includes Medicine, a highly anticipated new play by Enda Walsh (2-18 September, Galway city) and John Gerrard’s thought-provoking art installation, Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work (28 August-18 September, Derrigimlagh Bog, Connemara).
Where to stay: Keep the culture flowing by surrounding yourself in the charm and luxury of Gregans Castle Hotel. A little more than an hour’s drive from GIAF, this 18th-century castle is rumoured to have influenced writer J.R.R. Tolkien for his Lord of The Rings novels.