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

Oktoberfest – Munich

MID TO LATE SEPTEMBER.

AH BEER, GLORIOUS BEER.

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If you happen to be partial to the amber ale, as millions of us are, then Oktoberfest is known to you. If you go to join the fun, you’ll discover it’s the beating heart of the beer-swilling world.

TELL US IT’S NOT ALL BOOZY LADS STUMBLING AROUND IN LEDERHOSEN.

Over six million visitors turn up to be a part of the festivities so chances are you’ll run into a few boozy lads but they won’t dominate the fun.

WE IMAGINE THAT WE MIGHT BE NURSING A HANGOVER AT SOME STAGE.

In that case, eat yourself out of a hole with traditional treats like hendl (roast chicken), schweinebraten (roast pork), or schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock).

ALRIGHT, WE’RE BACK ON THE HORSE.

Before you get into doing your bit with the nearly eight million litres of beer that is drunk here each year, have a go on the amusement rides and sideshow games. Your eye might be slightly out later.

MAD Symposium – Copenhagen

LATE AUGUST.

A SYMPOSIUM? SOUNDS SERIOUS.

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When famed Danish chef, Rene Redzepi (of Noma note), pulled the symposium together for the first time in 2011, we imagine he was hoping that everyone would take his efforts seriously. And they did: in the short time that the symposium has been running it has garnered a reputation as ‘the Food World’s G-20’.

A CHEF MASH UP?

The philosophy behind MAD is ‘to expand knowledge of food to make every meal a better meal… Good cooking and a healthy environment can and should go hand-in-hand’. So yes, there’s a healthy contingent of eager chefs, but the symposium draws in many others from the food industry, including farmers, food journalists, suppliers and food-service professionals.

DELICIOUS INSPIRATION.

The cast of guest speakers reads like a who’s who of the international restaurant world. Think David Chang, Albert Adria, Alain Ducasse, to name just a few – so you would be hard-pressed to come away from the festival without a mind packed with new culinary ideas.

Bordeaux Fête le Vin – Bordeaux, France

LATE JUNE.

WE SENSE A WINNING COMBINATION OF LOCATION AND THEME HERE.

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The viticulture gods do shine down on this UNESCO World Heritage site at the end of June each year. With an architecturally stunning setting and world-famous vineyards surrounding the town, this fabulous festival draws in wine aficionados from all corners of the globe.

WINE TASTING IN BORDEAUX? WELL, WE GUESS SOMEONE HAS TO DO IT.

You will most certainly not be alone; this shindig is known as one of the biggest wine festivals in the world and while the wine is first and foremost, the four-day fiesta includes barrel-rolling competitions, live music, fireworks displays and sound and light shows each night. That is, of course, if you get tired of all the tippling.

LET’S GET STARTED THEN.

The festival sets up on a two kilometre stretch of road between the historical old town and the river, with a string of tasting pavilions featuring more than 80 appellations from Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region. Make your way to the water.

The International Highline Meeting Festival – Monte Piana

SEPTEMBER.

IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE HERE…

Look up.

WHOAH, THAT’S A NEW ONE.

International Highline Meeting Festival-1

The festival goers that are suspended hundreds of feet above the ground in those colourful hammocks are called slackers, and they’re not your usual festival slackers; these guys earned their name from the slack wire helping to prevent them plunging to their deaths. The fiesta is a chance for lovers of the sport to meet up in a totally non-competitive environment.

WHAT IF WE PREFER THE VIEW OF THE DOLOMITES FROM SOLID GROUND?

Completely understandable; the aim of the get-together is to not only give enthusiasts a chance to hang out (boom boom) but to gently introduce newbies to the sport. Don’t feel pressured to get high (bam) – the festival organisers put on musical entertainment, an outdoor cinema, food stalls and yoga lessons for those not into the high life. At night there’s a dance party that even the slackers get in on.

World Body Painting Festival – Portschach

JULY.

A STEP ABOVE THE FACE-PAINTING STALL AT OUR LOCAL FETE.

This is a go-to destination for anyone who has ever been interested in body art. There is awe-inspiring body painting on show as well as airbrush and special effects artists working their magic. In some cases, it’s hard to even believe that there’s a human being underneath that paintwork.

THERE’S QUITE A BUZZ GOING ON – IS THAT A DJ ON STAGE?

Over the years, the body painting festival has broadened its horizons to become a self-proclaimed ‘multicultural, multimedia open air space’ and that’s why you can experience five different zones with a host of DJs playing anything from reggae to electronica, to dancehall to hip hop. There’s even a stretch of beach dedicated to activities for the kids and a whole market zone with fashion, craft and jewellery.

WHERE CAN WE SEE THE BEST OF THE BODY PAINTING?

world-bodypainting-festival

The best body artists from over 50 countries around the world are on show, so everywhere you look there are stunning pieces of art. However, for something a bit different, stick around until the evening show of the best UV body paint, spectacularly lit up under lights.

White Nights Festival – St Petersburg

MAY TO JULY.

THE SUMMER MAY BE SHORT IN RUSSIA BUT THEY KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT IN ST PETERSBURG.

st-petersburg

Do they! In what should be described as a series of many major artistic events and not just one festival, White Nights runs over the longest days of the year and features a staggeringly varied array of performances and exhibitions.

WHAT SORT OF THINGS CAN WE EXPECT?

There is classical music, opera, dance, film, circus acts, comedy, theatre, sculpture, jazz concerts and myriad other performing arts pieces on show. Many performances are outdoors, so strolling around the city centre or along the banks of the River Neva you’re likely to catch a free show.

GIVE US A COUPLE OF MUST-SEES.

One of the most justifiably popular events is the Scarlet Sails – the recreation of a child’s storybook. A giant crimson-tailed longship is sailed up the River Neva towards the Tsar’s palace, with accompanying fireworks and lightshows. This spectacle draws crowds in their millions. Also, make sure to be at the opening of the drawbridge at least once – a street party erupts at 2am each night the drawbridge is retracted.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Scotland

AUGUST.

THIS IS ALL WEIRD PERFORMANCE ART, ISN’T IT?

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This is the granddaddy of performance art festivals and you can bet on seeing some weird and wonderful acts over the month it’s held. But it’s not all Shakespearean plays performed by dangerously drunk actors, and grim, ironic, post-modern, pre-future fairytales. The entertainment on offer is unbelievably diverse: musicals, kids’ shows, dance, circus, cabaret…

… I THINK I REALLY JUST WANT A LAUGH. …

and comedy. The Fringe has a strong humour focus; you’ll find a laugh or two for sure. Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly made names for themselves here.

THAT DOESN’T SOUND FRINGEY AT ALL!

Maybe not at their current levels of fame. But here there’s some genuinely groundbreaking stuff going on. You’re likely to experience acts that might not make it into more mainstream arts festivals – at least, not until Fringe-found fame opens those kinds of doors.

AgitAgueda Art Festival – Agueda, Portugal

JULY (EXACT DATES VARY).

WOW, THE UMBRELLAS IN THE SKY.

AgitAgueda Art Festival-1

One of the most recognisable symbols of this vibrant Portuguese festival is the installation of hundreds of colourful umbrellas suspended above one of the city’s streets. Other parts of the urban landscape, like park benches, stairs, and power poles, are also painted in colourful examples of street art, creating an enchanted atmosphere.

WHAT’S IT ALL IN AID OF?

The festival aims to promote new musical and artistic projects with the ‘Talentos AgitAgueda’, a competition for emerging artists. As well as new hopefuls there are many established national and international acts that grace the stage.

DO WE HAVE TIME TO CHECK IT ALL OUT?

The festivities extend over three weeks so there’s plenty of time to pack it all in. Many of the musical acts perform in the main tent, which is free. And there’s nothing stopping you from walking around the streets to see all the amazing outdoor installations, murals and sculptures

Rouketopolemos (Rocket War) – Chios, Greece

MARCH OR APRIL (EASTER).

EASTER CELEBRATIONS IN GREECE CAN GET PRETTY LARGE, OR SO WE’VE HEARD.

It may well have been the Rocket War on the Greek Island of Chios that you’ve heard ringing in this important date on the Christian calendar.

ROCKET WAR DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOUR TYPICAL EASTER CELEBRATION.

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The story goes something along the lines of a traditional rivalry between two places of worship, and their respective congregations deciding to settle their differences by firing cannons at one another from opposing hilltops – all very Christian-spirited, right? Over the years it was sensibly decided that firing actual cannons was a tad too dangerous and the practice became what it is today. A massive display of large bottle rockets careening across the sky, the object of which is to hit the opposing church’s belltower.

IT STILL SOUNDS LIKE CONTROLLED CHAOS.

Locals know that it’s important to batten down the hatches and cover their houses and cars with a wire mesh cover before the battle begins. It’s advisable for tourists to stay at a safe distance from the ‘festivities’, which is where the best views are anyway.

The Costal Place Where You Shoud Be – New Forest, Lymington

On the coast but also part of the New Forest, Lymington – once named the most desirable place to live by the seaside – celebrates its nautical and countryside heritage

It’s the epitome of coastal and countryside living. A quick scan of what’s on in Lymington, the port town on the New Forest’s coast, sums up everything about this attractive Georgian town – 105 forthcoming events listed on one page alone. It’s a vibrant, dynamic community with something for everyone.

Naturally for a coastal resort, much revolves around the sea and its nautical history, but the picturesque Hampshire town is so much more.

Its cobbled streets – complete with an Olympic gold postbox in honour of famous sailing son Sir Ben Ainslie – who won medals at five consecutive Olympia from 1996 – and stunning architecture are home to a healthy mix of designer boutiques, independent shops and high street brands. Indeed, (in 2008) it was once named as the most desirable place to live by the seaside by the TV programme Property List.

Every Saturday the high street plays host to a bustling market – as it has every week since 1315 – and locals and visitors alike throng to the stalls selling everything from food to furniture and most things in between.

The New Forest has long been a famous food haunt and Lymington (population 15,500) boasts a feast of options for hungry holidaymakers. From grabbing a bag of fudge or a generous scoop – or two – of delicious ice cream while strolling around the quay, to tucking into a traditional hearty Sunday roast by the log fire at the Monkey House pub, Lymington caters for all taste buds.

No waterfront town would be worth its salt if it didn’t offer fine, fresh fish. Lymington – which, historically, made much of its wealth from the sale of salt around the world – does not disappoint on this score.

The new Shipyard – Fish Market is exactly what its name suggests, offering locally-caught catch of the day to shoppers and restaurants. One step through the doors takes you into the Shipyard – Bar and Restaurant (with another clue in the title) where diners are treated to fish ‘cooked s imply with seasonal produce’.

The restaurant’s bar is made from reclaimed wood from disused boats, mileage is reduced and New Forest businesses supported by using locally-sourced supplies; coffee cups, menus and napkins are made from recycled paper and staff uniforms are made by Vivanaut which creates aprons from old boat sails.

As a celebration of all things sea and food, the town, which sits at the mouth of the Lymington River, is hosting its inaugural Seafood Fayre Festival on August 12 and 13.

lymington-river

Lymington River

Featuring local chefs working with local produce in a series of cookery demonstrations and offering visitors the chance to buy any number of delicious food items, the festival is partnering with the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) to support its Solent Oyster Restoration Project.

“I couldn’t contemplate living anywhere else now”

The UK-based marine conservation charity is aiming to raise £250,000 to restore the native oyster to the Solent, which will provide wide-ranging ecological and social benefits for the region over the long-term. These include helping to improve water quality, foster valuable habitats and re­establish a vital strand of the economy on the South Coast.

Lymington boasts a proud marine heritage dating back to 1346 when it provided war ships to Edward III and again a couple of centuries later for Henry VIII.

However it is the Solent’s oyster fishery which, dating back to Roman times, was once the largest fishery in Europe for the native oyster, until as recently as 1978. At its peak, the area would land up to 15 million oysters a year, but overfishing together with the effects of habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and disease led to a collapse in numbers and a limited fishery has operated since 2013.

But while the town has a social conscious, it also likes to live it up – in style. Step forward a rather glamorous event on the calendar – the Lymington Italia Festival where that most famous combination of classic cars and quality food will be served up.

More than 50 Ferrari owners are expected to descend on the town on July 2 for a grand procession through the streets which will be otherwise pedestrianised for the day.

Visitors will then be able to admire the cars parked in the town centre and feast on mouth-watering offerings from an Italian food market setting up stalls for the event.

Mayor of Lymington and Pennington, Cllr. Barry Dunning, said: The Lymington Italia Festival has gone from strength-to-strength since its launch in 2014, and is now a major attraction. It’s a real feast for the eyes, not to mention the taste-buds, and we’re very pleased to be staging it in aid of the Stroke Association this year.’

Keeping with the international flavour; few small English towns (or larger ones, come to think of it) can claim to have an Icelandic cafe as one of its resident businesses.

Cue Oskubox – Lymington’s very own award-winning Nordic deli which claims to be ‘the home of Viking food in the heart of the South Coast’ and serves, among a range of other tempting dishes, a breakfast Viking platter with organic volcano treacle bread. Curiosity, if nothing else, gets people through the doors initially – great tasting food keeps them coming back for more or to test the menu’s theory of providing ‘enough energy to sail to Sweden’.

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