12 Festivals Worth Traveling for in June

June 4, 2014 by

Places to Go

June begins the summer travel season for the northern hemisphere, arguably the most popular time for most people to take their annual vacations. June is more than just another month in summer, however. It’s also when outdoor festival season kicks into high gear.

We’re highlighting a dozen festivals worth traveling to attend – and we’ve barely scratched the surface. If none of these destinations is on your travel list for June, a quick search will deliver even more festivals (particularly outdoor music festivals, which are plentiful in June). And that means you’ve got no reason to sit at home and let others have all the fun.

Here’s a look at 12 of the many fun festivals worth traveling for in June.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival – Manchester, Tennessee

Crowds at Bonnaroo

Crowds at Bonnaroo. Photo Credit: stab at sleep via Flickr.

This music festival was first held in 2002, and these days it regularly draws more than 80,000 people to what is essentially a farm in the middle of nowhere. Bonnaroo takes place over the span of four days, and musical acts vary widely across genres – you’re sure to find something that suits your musical tastes.

In addition to the musical offerings there’s a comedy tent, a cinema tent, and plenty of public art displays. Many attendees camp overnight in the “tent city” that arises out of the fields. The 2014 Bonnaroo Festivals runs from June 12-15 and performers include Elton John, Kanye West, Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips and Lionel Richie.

Donauinselfest – Vienna, Austria

Austria’s Donauinselfest – which translates to “Danube Island Festival” – is Europe’s largest outdoor festival, with attendance figures hovering just below three million in recent years. The festival covers more than four miles, which is more than a third of the entirety of Danube Island. And perhaps the best part? It’s free.

Donauinselfest began in 1983 as a one-off event, but attracted such a crowd that they held it again the following year – and then made it annual. There are 11 stages spread out over the island, so wear comfortable shoes. The 2014 Donauinselfest runs from June 27-29 and more than 2,000 artists are in the lineup – including Macy Gray and The Commodores.

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music – Fes, Morocco

As the name suggests, the World Sacred Music Festival in Fes is about music — but it’s also about so much more. The festival is a celebration of world religions and their musical styles, both in their pure form and in fascinating mixtures of cultural sounds brought together in Fes like they are in no other.

One of the highlights of the festival is the nightly concert held in Bab al Makina, a square in Fes with the dramatic backdrop of an ornately-decorated gate that serves as the main entry to the Royal Palace. In 2014, when the Fes World Sacred Music Festival celebrates its 20th year, the program runs from June 13-21. Performers include Johnny Clegg, Buddy Guy and Youssou N’Dour.

Pride Week – International

San Francisco Pride Parade

San Francisco Pride Parade. Photo Credit: Patricia Montes Gregory via Flickr.

June is Pride Month all over the world, and several cities have Pride Parades that are absolutely worth traveling for. San Francisco boasts the largest Pride Parade in the United States, with 200 groups participating in the parade, 20 stages, and more than one million spectators. Since 2006, São Paulo has laid claim to the Guinness Book of World Records’ title of the biggest Pride Parade in the world, with more than three million spectators.

Berlin’s Pride Festival often lasts the entire month, with a massive parade as the grand finale. Amsterdam’s weekend of events includes music performances, and their parade is (naturally) on canal boats. Sydney’s celebration goes by the name of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, which should give you an indication of the festive atmosphere. And New York City’s Pride Parade has historical significance, since it was the Stonewall Riots in New York’s West Village in June 1969 that led to June being declared Pride Month. The first Pride March was held in New York in late 1969.

Roskilde Festival – Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Festival

Roskilde Festival. Photo Credit: Hunter Desportes via Flickr.

From its relatively humble beginnings in 1971 — one stage and 20 acts — Roskilde has become one of the major European music festivals. These days, more than 100,000 people show up each year to watch 180 performers over the course of four days. There’s actually a four-day “warmup” to the festival that includes movies and other performances as you get to know your fellow campers.

Roskilde usually begins on the first Thursday of July or the last Thursday in June, and in 2014 it runs from June 29 through July 6. Proceeds from the festival go to the Roskilde Foundation, a non-profit that promotes music, culture and humanism projects.

Duanwu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival) – Hunan Province, China

Depending on what you read, China’s Dragon Boat Festival dates back to either the fourth or fifth century B.C.E. — but either way, it’s a long-running tradition. In addition to the dragon boat racing that you’d expect to see during a festival with this name, participants also drink a particular kind of alcohol that includes an arsenic sulfide, believed to ward off illness and evil.

The Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese calendar, which means the date changes every year on the Gregorian calendar. In 2014, the festival is on June 2.

Summer Solstice – Stonehenge, England

June 21 marks the summer solstice, the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year, and that’s often reason enough to spend as much time as possible outdoors so you can enjoy all that daylight. Taking it to the next level, however, involves saying up all night to see the sunrise on June 21 through the prehistoric monoliths of Stonehenge.

No one knows what Stonehenge’s purpose was (though everyone who attends the Summer Solstice celebration at the monument will happily give you their theory), but the Solstice sun does rise over what’s known as the “heel stone” just outside the circle. Spending the Solstice at Stonehenge is free, and regularly draws some 20,000 spectators.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) – Cuzco, Peru

Inti Raymi in Peru

Inti Raymi in Peru. Photo Credit: jack_g via Flickr.

While the northern hemisphere celebrates the Summer Solstice in June, the southern hemisphere celebrates the Winter Solstice – which, in Cuzco, is Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun. The Incans honor their god Inti with music, dances and ancient rituals, including the massive procession to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

The festival lasts for nine days, with the final day on June 24 (the procession to the fortress) being the biggest attraction. The ancient ritual once involved sacrificing a white llama, but today they go through the motions without actually killing any llamas.

Battle of Wine – Haro, Spain

During the annual Haro Wine Festival in this Rioja town, celebrants can see (or take part in) wine drinking competitions as well as a low-key version of bullfighting. But the main event each year is the “Batalla de Vino,” the Battle of Wine, in which participants splash and spray the local red over one another – right after mass.

The Battle of Wine takes place on June 29 each year, which is Haro’s patron saint’s feast day. Participants – all wearing white with red neck scarves – parade through the town to the Hermitage of San Felices de Bilibio, all toting containers full of red wine. After mass at the Hermitage, the wine-spraying begins. The traditional method of carrying wine is in a leather “bota” bag you can fling over your shoulder, but you’ll also see water pistols full of wine, too.

King Kamehameha Hula Competition – Honolulu, Hawaii

Kamehameha the Great is responsible for unifying what we now think of as the Hawaiian Islands into what was, in 1810, the Kingdom of Hawaii. King Kamehameha is honored each year on June 11, Kamehameha Day, with events like floral parades and traditional Hawaiian food and music. Also in June, though not always on Kamehameha Day, is the King Kamehameha Hula Competition.

This international hula competition began in 1973 to highlight yet another aspect of traditional Hawaiian culture, and to give hula dancers another place to demonstrate their skills. There are group dances and individuals. The hula competition takes place in Honolulu, and in 2014 it’s on June 21.

Midsummer – Scandinavia

Midsummer is an enormously popular festival throughout Scandinavia, where the sun either doesn’t set at all by late June or, if it does, it’s only for a few hours. In Denmark and Norway, Midsummer’s Eve is marked with bonfires and parades. In Finland, the city of Sodankylä hosts the five-day Midnight Sun Film Festival.

It’s in Sweden, however, that Midsummer really shines. All over Sweden, celebrants raise a maypole and then dance around it, singing traditional songs. Many Swedes wear traditional costumes, too. There’s plenty of seasonal food, beverages, bonfires, and ancient rituals performed for luck. In Sweden, Midsummer is celebrated from June 19-26. In Denmark and Norway, it’s celebrated on June 23. Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival runs from June 11-15 in 2014.

Wimbledon – London, England

London hosts the world’s oldest tennis tournament each June – Wimbledon started in 1877. Officially called “The Championships, Wimbledon,” the tournament takes place at the All England Club in the Wimbledon suburb outside London. It’s one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only one that’s still played on grass.

Players at Wimbledon must wear white from head to toe, and one of the traditional snacks for spectators is strawberries with cream. The Wimbledon tournament lasts for roughly two weeks, starting in late June and going into early July, and in 2014 the dates are June 23-July 6.

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