Glastonbury may be sold out months in advance, but there are plenty of fantastic festivals which could make the perfect centrepiece of your short break this summer.
Whatever your taste, from Wagner to waltzes, from death metal to sun-drenched europop, from running with the bulls to running away from a barrage of overripe tomatoes, you’re bound to find something that appeals.
Try one of our pick of the most intriguing festivals at home and abroad…
26th JUNE Festival di Spoleto
The classical music event combines the charms of a medieval hilltop town with a series of open air concerts in the main piazza throughout June and July. Conducted with typical Italian warmth, style and a slightly chaotic edge, the programme features young musicians, modern opera and some big league performers. Spend the days exploring ancient hamlets and olive groves, palazzos and picking up cashmere, silk and Italian leather goods at the region’s designer outlet stores. www.festivaldispoleto.com for details.
7th JULY PAMPLONA BULL RUN
One for the boys now, since the Pamplona Bull Run seems to appeal to masculine sensibilities, though women can and do participate. The route covers 825 metres to the bull ring, with runs being conducted each morning from 7th-14th July. Outwith the thrills and spills of running with bullocks, the Navarre region of Spain offers gorgeous countryside with the Parque Natural Urbasa Andia filled with tranquil waterfalls and hiking trails just an hour or so from the bustle of Pamplona.
10th JULY T IN THE PARK
Thankfully, a festival break needn’t be all knee deep mud and hour long queues for Stygian loos. Hire a camping pod, campervan or even a luxury Winnebago if slumming it isn’t your style. If you book well in advance, you can stay off site in luxury – this year, T in the Park is moving to Strathallan Castle, almost on Geneagles’ doorstep, so you can nip back for a quick spa treatment if you don’t fancy what’s on the main stage.
30th JULY WACKEN 2015
Grab those leather trousers from the back of the wardrobe, abandon your hair conditioner and start practising your air guitar for Wacken 2015, where heavy metal behemoths like Judas Priest, Sepultura, My Dying Bride and Queensryche will be turning up the speakers to 11.
27th AUGUST LA TOMATINA
For a more upbeat weekender, try Ibiza, which is Europe’s party central over the summer season. For something different, the town hosts a Medieval Fair over several days in early May, or you can take part in the celebrations of Sant Ciriac on 8th August which culminate in a huge watermelon fight followed by a fireworks display. If you get a taste for massive food fights, you’ll love La Tomatina in Bunol, near Valencia on 26th August. Over 125 tonnes of squishy, over-ripe tomatoes are hurled by an ocean of goggle-wearing revellers in what must be the world’s biggest mosh pit. It’s not for the faint hearted though.
30th AUGUST BURNING MAN
Less a festival and more an alternate reality, Burning Man takes place from 30th August to 7th September in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. An entire city and culture spring out of the sands as thousands of people gather to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. Art, performance and music seamlessly blend into a hedonistic spectacle where everyone’s a star. Couple Burning Man with a stay in Las Vegas to get kitted out for the trip and you either have a week to remember, or one that will remain a mystery for years to come.