From salsa to samba and jazz to jive, the heritage of a country comes to life during a music festival. Find yourself foot tapping to a live orchestra in Cape Town, dancing under the midnight sun in Reykjavik or sitting in the ancient amphitheatre of Verona’s opera house for a unique way to experience the cultures at the beating heart of each and every destination. We’ve handpicked a few of our favourite festivals to get your hips swaying, hearts pounding and heads bopping.
Taking place every year on the last weekend of March or first weekend of April, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. Famed for its line up of both local and international artists, the festival is a celebration of jazz which is unprecedented elsewhere. It's no wonder then that it has been coined Africa's Grandest Gathering, celebrating the rich musical heritage of the country.
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary in 2017, the Nuits du Sud festival celebrates music from the whole gamut of genres, welcoming international artists as well as promoting up and coming local talent. Each year, Vence, located on the Cote d'Azur, comes alive with open air music venues which host myriad of concerts over the course of eleven days.
Embracing the cultural and musical heritage of Louisiana, the New Orleans Jazz Festival is a colourful explosion of the city's vibrant music scene, nightlife and cuisine. From crafts and food to music and culture, there is something to satisfy every cultural appetite. With humble beginnings in 1970, the parade has become a giant celebration of the birthplace of jazz music, where revellers can immerse in the fervour of gospel hymn and the buzz of a jazz parade.
Held within the walls of the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival is an annual event, timed to coincide with Sharad Purnima, when the brightest full moon of the year shines over the region. Recognised by UNESCO as a platform for creativity and sustainable development, RIFF is a jubilant celebration which involves the whole community. Here, you can witness traditional dance and musical performances, enjoy a spot of meditation or simply soak up the atmosphere at a festival which is at the beating heart of the state.
Since its beginnings in 2003, the Sauti za Busara festival has sought to bring together the diverse artists and audiences of eastern Africa, giving the music of the region an international platform. Hosted inside the ancient walls of Zanzibar's Stone Town, the five day event showcases the incredible music and culture of Africa, with over 400 artists performing across the festival. Expect an exuberant mix of styles and genres, ranging from the traditional to the modern, all celebrating the incredible talent of the island and further afield.
Also named the Midnight Sun Music Festival, Secret Solstice is Iceland's most famous music festival, offering a glittering array of international DJs and artists on the summer festival circuit. The stunning backdrop of the festival makes it stand out from the pack confirming it as a truly unique festival to tick off the bucket list. Spanning a range of genres from folk to indie, to hip hop and urban, not forgetting dance music, this festival has something for everyone to party where the sun simply doesn't set. Whilst also one of the newest festivals on the block, it has quickly established itself with a line up of real headliners. Secret Solstice offers revellers the added bonus of partying inside a glacier for the ultimate festival experience under a never setting sun.
The island of St Lucia comes alive for an annual celebration of jazz each year, attracting local and international artists to its shores. The whole island is engulfed in festival fever and events take place from dawn 'til dusk throughout the festival. The festival's headline concert takes place on Pigeon Island, a small islet linked to the mainland via a small causeway. Framed by volcanic peaks, the setting of this vibrant festival is simply spectacular and the perfect place to soak up the very best of Caribbean culture.
Throughout the summer, expect a calendar of showstopper performances taking place inside the ancient amphitheatre of Verona Opera House. Alongside the timeless classics of Carmen and Aida, the line up also includes an array of lesser known productions. The iconic setting of the opera confirms it as one of the most prestigious arts festivals in Italy, and the incredible production of each performance ensures a spectacle you will never forget. Sit back, relax and enjoy al fresco theatre at its finest.