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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in the Europe.

Buso Festival – Mohács

FEBRUARY.

HUNGARIAN HALLOWEEN?

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The creepy costumes donned by the revellers at this eccentric Magyar carnival certainly give Halloween ghouls a run for their money.

WHAT ARE THESE MASKED MEN DOING? AND WHY?

Dressed as horned monsters with woollen pelts, these costumed fiends are entrusted with the job of frightening off the freezing winter weather. It’s a symbolic nod to a significant Hungarian historical event. In the 16th century, the townsfolk of Mohács dressed in disturbing get-up to frighten away the invading Turkish army.

ONCE THE AWFUL WEATHER HAS BEEN SENT PACKING, WHAT’S NEXT?

The festival lasts six days and over the course of this time there are lots of activities, open to all, that won’t scare you silly. There’s a costume competition for little monsters, a street procession that starts off on boats on the Danube and ends with horse-drawn floats in the centre of town, and a burning man effigy to signal the end of the cold. Everyone walks around drinking mulled wine and brandy and toasting their success at seeing in the imminent end of winter.

Air Guitar World Championships – Oulu

LATE AUGUST.

IS THIS JUST GOING TO BE LIKE EVERY STUDENT HOUSESHARE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT?

You can expect a superior standard to your mate Dave’s beer-fuelled rendition of ‘Back in Black’. The competitors who make it to this, the holy grail of air guitar competitions, take their craft very seriously.

HOW SERIOUSLY?

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If you’re in any doubt as to the earnestness of the ideals of the competition, then have a read of the organisers’ ideology. These peaceful rockers believe that if everyone in the world played air guitar, wars would end, climate change would stop and all bad things would disappear. Now that’s got to be worth a riff, right?

HOW DO WE GET IN ON THE FUN?

Choose your song, practise like crazy, then send in a one-minute edited clip of your best effort. Or work your way through your national ranks. Be sure to play with technical accuracy and unbridled passion. Remember that your instrument must be invisible, although it can be either electric or acoustic in make (believe), and you are not allowed any air roadies or air back-up bands – that would, of course, be a totally unfair advantage.

Sonar – Barcelona, Spain

JUNE.

THE DOOF DOOF COMES TO TOWN.

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Don’t come expecting your run-of-the-mill dance club acts: Sonar brings you back to the future of electronic music. The performances are a mash-up of everything that is hot in the sound scene. You can expect to see some familiar names showcasing new adventures and some artists who are so fresh they haven’t yet been defined.

OK, LET’S DO SOME TIME TRAVEL – TAKE US TO THE FUTURE OF SOUND.

Sonar doesn’t just stick to the standard ‘artist on stage in front of audience’ formula. The festival mixes it up with interesting exhibition and installation spaces in which to showcase electronic and advanced music sounds. Take for example the L’Auditori, a venue which is traditionally used for orchestras but which substitutes strings for sub-woofers when Sonar is in town.

GIVE US A HINT AT THE KIND OF HEROES AND PIONEERS WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE.

The festival-kick started in 1994 but it wasn’t till 1997 that it really started to attract some big electronic dance music artists. The line-up from that year lists the crème de la crème of EDM with names like Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Deep Dish, Herbert, Death in Vegas, and Coldcut. In 2016 the acts included Santigold, Underground Resistence, Richie Hawtin and James Rhodes.

Roskilde Music Festival – Roskilde

LATE JUNE TO EARLY JULY.

WHAT MAKES A MUSIC FESTIVAL IN A SMALL TOWN IN DENMARK SO SPECIAL?

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Who knows exactly why Roskilde became the biggest North European culture and music festival. We do know that being a completely not-for-profit event certainly helps. All the proceeds of the festival go towards charitable initiatives in support of children and young people. The initiatives are entirely independent and are not limited to Europe. This said, though, it has something to do with rock and roll.

AH YES, ROCK AND ROLL. GETS US EVERY TIME.

Since 1971 in this case. From the early days of live bands on one stage, the festival has evolved to include different arts and culture-themed camps, like the Street Camp which features some of the world’s best skaters and games of street soccer and volleyball; the Rising City, which showcases up-and-coming artistic and musical talent; and the Graffiti Zone, a huge area filled with graffiti, murals, and other art installations.

YOU HAD BETTER GET AROUND TO TELLING US ABOUT THE MUSIC.

Nine stages with over 180 international and local acts. It’s a star-studded line-up that includes artists of the moment like Tame Impala and Wiz Khalifa, and musical legends like Neil Young and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Glastonbury Festival – Somerset

LATE JUNE (WITH A BREAK EVERY FOUR YEARS) BETTER PACK OUR OBLIGATORY GUMBOOTS.

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Each year, Glastonbury makes the headlines with images of British celebrities trudging through the mud in gumboots and hot pants. However, despite the cheap tabloid shots, this long-running festival maintains a focus on social activism and environmental issues, as well as a serious emphasis on music and the performing arts.

WE’VE HEARD THE HEADLINE ACTS DRAW A BIG CROWD.

It has a reputation as the biggest greenfield festival in the world – since the inaugural get-together in 1970, it now runs over five days and attracts more than 175,000 attendees.

THESE MUST BE SOME SERIOUSLY POPULAR POP STARS.

Glastonbury brings out the big guns – headline artists over the years have included such rock and pop behemoths as David Bowie, Van Morrison, The Smiths, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Neil Young and U2. In more recent years, the festival has widened its musical appreciation to include rap and R&B artists like Jay Z and Dizzie Rascal, and on some of the smaller stages you’ll be treated to up-and-coming acts before they hit the big time.

Up Helly Aa Fire Festival – Lerwick

LAST TUESDAY IN JANUARY.

IT’S WILD AND WOOLLY UP HERE ON THE SHETLAND ISLES.

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Which might explain this festival’s obsession with fire. Sitting at the same latitude as the bottom half of Greenland, the locals know all about the cold, so don’t expect any sympathy if you’re a sensitive mainlander.

OK, WE WON’T LET THE WEATHER GET THE BETTER OF US. BUT WE STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT’S GOING ON.

It’s easy to see why the whole thing comes across as just a wee bit crazy – rowdy local men dressed as Vikings, tramping shoulder-to-shoulder through the centre of Lerwick carrying flaming torches. It’s a fiery, boozy, boisterous celebration of the island’s Viking heritage and cultural ancestry, which culminates in the burning of a life-sized replica of a longship.

FORGET THE FIRE, IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE IT’S TESTOSTERONE-FUELLED TO US.

The parade is men-only (must be a Viking thing) but don’t think that women won’t get in on the partying that happens after the bonfire. The whole thing only lasts 24 hours, but it’s non-stop from start to finish.

St Patrick’s Day – Dublin

17 MARCH.

LIKE THE IRISH NEED AN EXCUSE FOR A GUINNESS AND A GOOD TIME.

Friday is a good excuse for a Guinness. St Patrick’s Day is the best excuse for Ireland’s biggest knees-up of the year.

THROUGH A BOOZY HAZE WE CAN ALMOST MAKE OUT THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE.

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The Feast of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s foremost patron saint, is held every year on the anniversary of his death, to commemorate his influence and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Traditional Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking are relaxed for the day – hence the rush to the bar.

ASIDE FROM THE DRINKING, WHAT DOES OUR ST PATRICK’S DAY HAVE IN STORE?

Expect to see lively street parades with marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organisations and others, often swathed in green. There are well-attended church services and day-long festivities with traditional Irish music and dancing sessions. It is customary to end the day by putting a shamrock in the bottom of your glass of beer or whiskey and toasting to the Saint, Ireland and those around you. Swallow the shamrock or toss it over your shoulder for good luck.

Carnevale – Venice

LATE JANUARY TO EARLY FEBRUARY.

OLD-WORLD, MASKED ELEGANCE.

Aside from dapper gondoliers cruising the city’s canals, there are few images as iconic to Italy’s water-circled city as the masked partygoers at the world-famous Venice Carnevale. Officially recognised as a festival from the Renaissance period, Carnevale was a licence to indulge in heedless pleasure, with masks to protect participant’s identities. However, when all this licentiousness became too much, the King of Austria outlawed the festival and it was only in the 20th century that Venetians brought the party back..

SO DECADENCE IS BACK ON THE TABLE?

With bells on. More than three million visitors crowd Venice’s cobbled streets during Carnevale for the chance to be a part of the festivities.

MUST WE COME MASKED?

Not all participants are masked, but donning a disguise certainly amps up the fun. If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out the costume parade on stage in St Mark’s Square – the winners each day go head to head for the title of festival finest on the last day of celebrations.

Amsterdam Gay Pride/Europride – Amsterdam

LATE AUGUST TO EARLY JULY.

THERE ARE GAY PRIDE PARADES ALL OVER THE WORLD – WHY AMSTERDAM?

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Trying to choose the best gay pride party in the world is kind of like choosing a favourite child. There are so many cities that turn on a tremendous event – Sydney, San Francisco, London, New York, the list goes on. However, Amsterdam gets the vote having rolled the event into the supersized ‘Europride’, a three-week long LGBT celebratory extravaganza.

THREE WEEKS! THAT’S A HELL OF A PRIDE.

If three weeks off work is too much to ask, make sure you’re there for the last weekend (early August) – that’s when most of the major events take place.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR US AS PART OF THESE FINAL FESTIVITIES?

Street parties, the Drag Queen Olympics, the Canal Parade, the Funhouse dance party, and the enormous Pride Closing Party. Some events are divided into either gay or lesbian, and some are themed, like the Bear Necessities, but the vibe is generally inclusive and fun for all.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – Speyside, Scotland

APRIL OR MAY.

THIS MUST BE PARADISE.

 

If your idea of paradise involves more whisky than you could poke a caber at, then yes, this is paradise.

A CABER? WHAT?

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

You know, the caber toss? Never mind. The point is that you’re in Scotland, and is there anything more Scottish than whisky? And this is where the spirit comes to life, a five-day celebration of the art, craft and business of making and drinking the water of life.

I’VE ALREADY BOOKED A TICKET.

You won’t be disappointed. The festival takes place in the towns, villages and 50 distilleries of Speyside, with some 400 events over its five days. There are distillery tours and tastings, talks, whisky fairs, fine dining dinners, live music…

MY MOUTH IS WATERING.

It’s a truly satisfying festival, blending single malt with the singular beauty of rural Scotland and its convivial hospitality. You’ll go for the whisky but stay for Speyside itself. Ok, and the whisky. But you’ll stay, that much is certain.