This spring and all throughout summer, Europe showcases various festivals that draw huge crowds of locals and international tourists. Skiddoo together with Malaysian Airlines are featuring Europe this season. Here are some of the top festivals and destinations in Europe that you might want to witness and explore, if you are going to spend some early vacation time and wondering where to go.
Fly me to Prague
Prague, the largest city and the capital of the Czech Republic is chockfull of architectural and aesthetic wonders. Prague’s historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Old Town Square as the main attraction. Prague is also called the City of a Hundred Spires due to the number of palaces, churches and other tall buildings with spires. The medieval Charles Bridge looks magnificent in the early morning light, with its 30 saints and statuaries (15 on each side) lining its 621-metre length, still shrouded in mist. The Prague Castle is certainly worth a look for it is the world’s largest ancient castle. It is very expansive, covering an area that is nearly 70,000 square metres in size, which comprises all the buildings that could be seen on top of the hill.
Aside from the magnificent attractions in Prague, it is also the venue for the annual Spring International Music Festival, a prestigious music event where the world’s top orchestras and soloists participate. The festival’s performances are held in various venues, including the Dvorak Hall or the Rudolfinum and the Smetana Hall at the Municipal House. Usually, the opening ceremony is at the Municipal Hall, with the performance of “My Country” by Bedrich Smetana. This year’s event will be on May 12, 2015 to June 3, 2015. If you’re a lover of classical music, the Prague Spring International Music Festival is a must-see.
Fly me to England
What would you see and do in a place called Bath? It is not a misnomer because Bath, which is located in Somerset, England, is home to some of the best preserved Roman bathhouses in the world. Bath is one of the most gorgeous cities in England and has some of the most magnificent Georgian architecture you can find across the country. The city was founded over natural hot springs, and became a spa in 60 AD. It is a centre of culture and a heritage site where visitors could find plenty of things to admire and explore such as the snaking Royal Crescent that comprises a long row of 30 buildings in the Gregorian style, the Roman Baths, various museums and galleries, and several festivals.
And speaking of festivals, each year from May 15 to May 26, Bath plays host to the biggest free international music show featuring some of the best in World, Electronica, Folk, Jazz, Classical, Chamber and Orchestral performances. The performances are spread over 43 venues, featuring over 150 performers, singers and bands. The first weekend will showcase a Party in the City in the Parade Gardens and the Family Music Day on the following weekend. The museums at Bath are also joining, so you can visit the museums well into the night.
Fly me to Spain
The city of Valencia in Spain usually maintains a low-key demeanour, and does not mind being overshadowed by the more flamboyant and popular destinations, Barcelona and Madrid. Valencia has some gorgeous and futuristic buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava, a local boy-wonder at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. Valencia is a very lively city bordering the Mediterranean Sea, with several beaches, entertainment and sports venues and cultural offerings. It is the home of the world-famous Paella Valenciana.
Although Valencia celebrates a number of festivals, one of the top draws is the Fallas or Falles in Valencian dialect. The festival commemorates Saint Joseph, the city’s patron saint and the term refers to the monuments created during the event and the celebration itself. It is the culmination of the year-long fundraising campaigns of various Casal faller, where paella is the main feature during the dinners and parties. Each casal faller later constructs a falla, composed of very creative, satirical and large thematic “ninots” (dolls or puppets), made of paper-mâché and filled with cardboard and firecrackers. Each falla could be composed of several figures, arranged in a gravity-defying tall tower and has now evolved into a creative and artistic competition.
The four-day festival is surrounded by several daily events where firecrackers and fireworks are featured. Its final night is started with a huge procession of the fallas and the event’s culmination, La Cremà or The Burning, where all the fallas with be burnt. The entire event is highly festive, very noisy and crowded.
Flights to Morocco
Out of the many countries in Africa, Morocco is one of the most diverse. It’s pulsating, exotic, mythical, mystical and magical. It has enough natural and man-made attractions to draw millions of tourists each year. It has vast desert areas, tall mountains, magnificent Moroccan architecture, traditional souqs and medinas, and flavourful cuisine such as couscous, harira, tajine, pastilla and mint-flavoured green tea called atai.
Morocco is busy reshaping its image, making the country one of the major destinations for world music festivals. The eight-day huge pop music festival called Mawazine in Rabat is one such festival. Mawazine, which means Rhythms, is truly a huge festival that attracts millions. Held on eight stages around Rabat, you are in for a treat of a lifetime, with over 100 concerts happening during the event. Performers are not only Moroccan artists. More and more performers from the Middle East join the festival, which is known for the performances of some of the top musicians in the world since its inaugural run in 2001. Happening from May 29 to June 6, this year’s headliners include Sting, P-Square, Sean Paul, Avicii, Placebo, Maroon 5, Usher, Akon, Jennifer Lopez and Pharrell Williams. Close to 100 performers are slated to set the stages of Rabat with heart-pounding, foot-stomping rhythms come Mawazine time.
Fly me to Russia
Russia seems such a faraway land if you are from the Southern Hemisphere but the country is intriguing enough to warrant a visit. There are so many grand things to see in Russia, especially in its cultural capital, St. Petersburg, a very Westernized city teeming with historical and cultural landmarks, from the colourful onion domes of churches, to grand palaces and great monuments. It’s got several canals, earning the city the nickname, “Venice of the North,” 342 elegant bridges, fantastic museums and art galleries, not to mention a mid-year grand international festival.
Without fail since 1993, the Stars of the White Nights, a performing arts extravaganza consisting of film, classical ballet, opera and orchestral performances has been staged at St. Petersburg during the midnight sun season, from mid-May until mid-July. Stars of the White Nights comprises a series of festivals, the oldest of which is the Scarlet Sails, a popular children’s tale. The indoor performances (orchestral performances, the opera and classical ballet) are held at the Mariinsky Concert Hall and the Mariinsky Theatre. 2015 marks the 23rd year of the festival, which will open with the staging of the three-act The Queen of Spades opera. Aida will also be performed, as well as fantasy ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle and Cinderella. It’s a cultural feast for the senses each night during the festival’s run. You better pre-book your tickets for the performances if you plan to go to St. Petersburg.
Flights to France
France has always been an exciting destination for tourists from all over the world. Through the years, the country’s charm and allure, its mystique and its rich history and culture continue to fascinate. Of course, shopping is one of the best things to do in France, alongside its culinary delights, its art circle and its many iconic landmarks and cities such as Cannes. The city is obviously a rich man’s playground and is known as a place made for relaxing. It’s on the coast of the French Riviera, with the city surrounded by ancient history and proudly bearing a regal permanence that it had earned through the years. It is not a sleepy town but rather a laid-back city. It comes abuzz during one of its main festivals.
From the 13th to the 24th of May 2015, the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival will be running. It annually previews new films covering all genres coming from around the globe. It is one of the world’s most well-attended, well-awaited, highly publicised and most prestigious film festivals. It is not only the film that vies for the jury’s recognition but also the country of origin as a whole. The festival gives out the much-coveted Palme D’Or for films and the International Critics Week has been created to give attention to the first and second works of international directors. It is also a film sellers and buyers’ market. Although the festival is by-invitation only, there are many chances of seeing film stars around Cannes.