Since the summer festival season is starting up, I asked a few travel bloggers what their favourite festivals were. If you missed it here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series. In this 4th and final (for a while) edition two travel bloggers share their favourite festivals.
After going to Benicassim Festival a few years back, I’ll never get excited about a UK music festival again. Spain just does it better!
With four days and nights of music, a beachside location on the east coast of Spain between Valencia and Barcelona, and an incredible vibe – Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB 2015) should be on every festival-goers bucket list. Campers spend their hours after dark pulsating with the crowds and listening to top international DJs and bands, then fall asleep outside their tent after sunrise – or just head straight to the beach to sleep off the previous night’s antics.
The short walk between stages was a welcome relief after a summer spent trudging through mud for what felt like miles at UK music festivals to see the next act. At Benicassim, music doesn’t start until sunset, because it’s too hot during the day to rave. The atmosphere in the campsites is so much friendlier than at British festivals, with everyone sharing beers and after sun. After a night of drinking and singing, the heat can really get to people, and that’s when the outdoor showers become a great place to hang out in the afternoons!
I hitchhiked from Barcelona to the festival, and once the music was over, I got a ride to Alicante from a Spanish couple I met at the campsite. You can fit Benicassim into a Spanish road trip or enjoy it as a beach holiday – lots of people stay in hotels nearby rather than sweat it out in a tent!
Hay on Wye Festival
Hay, Hay, Hay – it’s magic.
To the outsider, the Hay on Wye Festival of Arts and Literature might look like another parochial middle-class distraction; especially given its obscure location in a quiet Welsh market town at the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
Glance quickly at Hay’s alumni, and you realize this festival is anything but small time: Bill Clinton, Martin Amis, Jung Chang, Salman Rushdie have all spoken at Hay over the years. In fact, Hay Festival is one of the world’s top literary events; Bill Clinton famously endorsed it as, ‘The Woodstock of the Mind’ and Labour MP Tony Benn once said, “In my mind, it’s replaced Christmas.”
Despite attracting the kind of world-class literary brilliance you’d expect to find in New York or Sydney, Hay Festival has the same humble village vibe that you’d get at a fete. It’s an atmosphere that sees families kick off their shoes and grab some R&R in deckchairs, while alongside them erudite performances, film screenings and readings ignite minds.
The main festival is set amongst fields of the juicy-ripe Welsh countryside, ten minute’s walk from the quiet village of Hay on Wye itself, under a lattice of tents and green-felted walkways. And it lasts for ten days during May – June.
No festival is an island (didn’t someone once say?), and the carnival ambience drifts on the soft Welsh breeze all the way into the town. Drift in its direction, and you’ll discover a town that’s more than happy to tap along to the festival rhythm – bands play, food stalls sizzle, and ‘families kick off their shoes and grab some R&R’ on any spot that’s free.
Better still, two-dozen second-hand bookshops await to titivate your grey cells –for Hay on Wye is nicknamed the ‘Town of Books’ and claims the mantle as the world’s second-hand book capital.
Thanks to Claire and Danielle for sharing their experience with these festivals.
Have you been to any of these festivals? What’s your favourite festival?