Memorial Day is the unofficial shot gun start to summer and also mad dash to squeeze in three months of hot and sticky bliss before cold weather once again wraps its arms around much of North America and Europe. With the first long holiday weekend nearly upon us, the time is now to get yourself to one of these fantastic summer events spanning all matters of fun. Keeping in mind that certain megawatt happenings like Lollapalooza, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Tour de France and Summerfest are already on your radar, here are 19 of summer’s best events.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon: San Francisco, CA (June 12)
If you’re a hearty enough soul to brave this chilly annual triathlon then you’ve got true grit. The showof strength comes not from the 18-mile bike ride and
8-mile run through lovely Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but rather the 1.5-mile swim through the chilly waters separating Alcatraz from San Francisco. Then again if the fog lifts, you couldn’t ask for a much prettier urban sporting event.
What the Festival: Dufur, OR (June 17-20)
The farming community of Dufur (population 600) gets an annual jolt each June when this EDM festival brings more than 100 acts and thousands of revelers from Portland and elsewhere to town for three days of interactive art and music set on a sprawling 250-acre ranch with full views of MountHood. Think Coachella meets Burning Man. Thievery Corporation headlines this year’s fest.
Politicon: Los Angeles, CA (June 25-26)
Only in its second year, this two-day convention geared toward political junkies nevertheless brings a megawatt lineup of both red and blue state all stars to the City of Angels this June including Sarah Palin, James Carville, Ann Coulter, Wendy Davis, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Van Jones, Paul Begala, S.E. Cupp, Daily Show co-founder Lizz Winstead and more. Bring your boxing gloves!
Roskilde: Roskilde Town, Denmark (June 25-July 2)
One of Europe’s largest music festivals, this Lolla-like extravaganza includes more than 180 bands spread out like creamy Nutella over the course of eight noisy days and located a mere half hour from Copenhagen. Headliners at Roskilde 2016 include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, New Order and others.
Singapore Food Festival: Singapore (All of July)
We’re sick of any food festival that crams itself into a day or two and forces us to shove more food into our gullets than we can properly handle so we love that this epic festival spans an entire month and includes food stalls, celebrity chefs, opera performances, cooking workshops, themed celebrations, competitions, introductions to local cuisine and pop-up dinners all across Singapore.
World Body Painting Festival: Portschach, Austria (July 1-3)
As much a music festival, attracting the likes of more than 50 bands, as it is anything else, the true hype over this annual Alpine extravaganza is its gratuitous use of body paint. Revelers from all over converge to reinvent their bodies as artistic works of art and then hit up the Body Circus Ball where burlesque performers, fire breathers, drag queens and more gather for a night of unreal stageshows and revelry.
Nowhere: Zaragoza, Spain (July 5-10)
Wondering what Burning Man’s experiment in creative expression, participation, self-reliance and a cash-free community looked like twenty years ago? Check out this offshoot (one of many) which takes place every July in northeastern Spain and last year attracted more than 1,500 participants. Join a themed barrio—including party camps, a healing space and more—but remember to leave no trace!
Walker Stalker Con: Edison, New Jersey (July 9-10)
There will be blood at this traveling convention which hits various cities throughout the year and this summer will bring past and present Walking Dead cast members to the Garden State including Chandler Riggs (Carl), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), David Morrissey (the Governor) and many more. Nerds can also delight in meeting cast members from other shows including Bates Motel and Gotham.
Underwater Music Festival: Florida Keys (July 9)
Everything weird happens in Florida, right? At this annual subterranean music festival (now entering its 32nd year if you can believe it), musicians and spectators don snorkel masks and diving gear as well as outrageous costumes and dive deep for several underwater hours of live musical merriment. The party continues afterwards on dry land with kid-friendly games, painting classes and more.
Just for Laughs: Montreal, Canada (July 13-31)
The largest comedy festival in the world manages to somehow be off the radar of the masses even though it literally takes over all of Montreal for the better part of July. Expect everything and everyone from the world of comedy including superstars of sketch, standup and improv. Recent festival headliners have included Joan Rivers, Dave Chapelle, Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah and, well, just about everyone who’s ever made you chuckle.
San Diego LGBT Pride: (July 15-17)
If you’re hankering for a Pride Parade you literally have hundreds to choose from these days, but we happen to like San Diego‘s version. By shifting to July it doesn’t compete with bigger cities like New York and San Francisco, the weather is always dreamy, the parade doesn’t go on forever and it all culminates in a two-day festival of food, music and arts and crafts in lovely Balboa Park. Oh, did we mention that Kesha is this year’s headliner?
Luminaria e Palio di San Ranieri: Pisa, Italy (July 16-17)
Imagine more than 70,000 candles illuminating the historic riverfront city of Pisa on a beautiful summer night and culminating in a giant fireworks display followed by a medieval regatta the following afternoon. This annual event has been happening since 1688 and commemoratesthe patron saint’s feast day. The candles, by the way, are held in glass containers and when placed in the windows of buildings lining the River Arno are a majestic sight.
Panorama: New York, NY (July 22-24)
Who says NYC isn’t any fun in the summer? Naysayers will be shutting their mouths quickly when they see the killer lineup taking place at this annual music fest happening on Randall’s Island (a teensy island squished between Spanish Harlem, South Bronx and Queens). Spend a long weekend rocking out to Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Alabama Shakes, Sia, Arcade Fire and many more.
Renegade Craft Fair: Seattle (July 23-24)
If you live in a city with a sizable hipster population, you can be certain this arts and craft fair will be taking up residency. Renegade brings to the Emerald City dozens of local and regional artisans whose handmade wears include clothing, jewelry, accessories, bedding essentials, home decor, handbags and so much more. You can also count on artisanal food and drink at this al fresco affair.
Darwin Festival: Darwin, Australia (August 4-21)
While it can be downright chilly in places like Sydney and Melbourne in July and August, balmy Darwin in the tropical far northis smack in the middle of its dry season and thus it’s the perfect time to check out this laid-back frontier city as it revels in this 18-day arts fest consisting of food and beverage vendors and free live performance including theatre, cabaret, dance, music and visual art.
OppiKoppi: Cape Town, South Africa (August 5-7)
This annual music festival, celebrating its 22nd year in August, boasts more than 100 live acts stretching across every musical genre imaginable and more than 20,000 spectators to South Africa’s coolest city. This year’s theme is “The Lovely Young Taken to theUnsea,” and while we’re not entirely sure what that means (it was inspired by a Gert Vlok Nel song), we can tell you that a festival highlight is the annual—and highly photographed—naked dash.
Twin Days: Twinsburg, OH: (August 5-7)
Akin to chewing a stick of Doublemint gum or having your vision blurred after a night of heavy imbibing, the world’s largest gathering of twins (and other multiples) will surely double your pleasure. The theme for 2016’s 41st annual event is “Outer Space” (just imagine two Chewbaccas!) and the festival lineup includes a golf outing, a 5k run and walk, a talent show and the aptly named Double Take Parade.
Great British Beer Festival: London, England (August 9-13)
More than 60,000 beer guzzlers converge under one roof within the English capital for five days of imbibing including more than 900 varieties of ales, ciders, perries and international beers from noon daily until well past sundown at this annual brew gathering. Food offerings include a smorgasbord of traditional pub fare and nouveau street food while entertainment ranges from pub games to live music and auctions.
Northalsted Market Days: Chicago, IL (August 13-14)
Come mid-Augustthe gays will gather at this ebullient outdoor street festival—the largest in the entire Midwest—for two days of outdoor drinking, eating, rocking out to nostalgia bands (past entries have included En Vogue, Olivia Newton-John and the Pointer Sisters) and general revelry. If you’ve ever wanted to see 100,000 shirtless men within a four-block radius, this Chicago street party is your jam.