Can’t-Miss Summer Festivals Around the World

These 5 events are worth planning an entire summer vacation around.

Basel, Switzerland

The city of Basel, Switzerland, plays host to Art Basel, a historic annual art event each summer.

The warm breezes and long days of summer make it a prime time to take advantage of festivals, concerts, and art events — in both your own neighborhood and across the globe. In fact, a noteworthy international festival can inspire an entire summer vacation. If you're looking to travel someplace new this year, consider one of these five activities to anchor your trip — then explore the region while you're there.

Art Basel
Take part in a historic annual art event at its birthplace: Art Basel's 2016 exhibition is June 16–19 in Basel, Switzerland. Originally started in 1970 with 90 contributing galleries, this year Art Basel will include work from 286 of the world's leading galleries and showcase more than 4,000 artists, from emerging stars to renowned masters. Don't forget to check out the associated events as well: artist talks, garden parties, and cocktail hours are open to the public.

Food & Wine Classic
Colorado may not be the first place that comes to mind for a summer vacation, but if you find yourself in Aspen this June 17–19, you won't be disappointed. The Food & Wine Classic promises to be, as always, star-studded, fun, and delicious (Denver magazine dubs it the "Food Olympics"). The event's namesake magazine, Food & Wine, hosts more than 80 events with top-notch sommeliers, culinary masters, and celebrity chefs. Panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and seminars are part of the atmosphere, but let's be clear — you're there to taste some amazing culinary creations. 

Lucca Summer Festival
The Lucca Summer Festival is a month-long series of musical concerts — typically late June through July — located roughly 50 miles outside of Florence. This means if you're already planning to be in Italy this summer, you may be able to work one of the musical events into your itinerary. Some of the impressive acts in this year's lineup include Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie, Neil Young, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Performances take place in Lucca's open-air Piazza Napoleone — the perfect place to unwind after a day in the Tuscan sun.

Live music at the Rainforest World Music Festival

Rainforest World Music Festival
Malaysia's Rainforest World Music Festival spans three days (August 5–7, this year) and brings together musicians from all over the globe to celebrate the diversity of musical styles. Musicians are encouraged to use traditional or indigenous acoustic instruments, though electric instruments do make appearances. The festival takes place at the Sarawak Cultural Village and is very relaxed: concert-goers can come and go as they please. The performances are primarily in the evening, but during the day visitors can meander around music workshops, cultural displays, craft fairs, and food stalls.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Held annually in the U.K. since 1979, the Bristol Balloon Festival is Europe's largest hot air balloon event. The four-day festival (August 11–14, this year) is expected to have more than half a million visitors, and it's easy to see why: As many as 100 balloons of all different shapes, colors, and sizes are released into the sky all at once. The memorable launch spectacle takes place daily at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and there's also a night launch on Thursday and Saturday known as "night glow" where the balloons glow to the beat of music.

Liz Olech is a Digital Editor for Conversations.

Image by iStock; photo courtesy of the Sarawak Tourism Board

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