As summer travel season amps up, so too does the festival circuit. All over the world, crowd-pleasing events are taking shape for summer and fall. From food-filled fests to offbeat concerts and even bourbon-fueled affairs, there’s something for everyone these days. Here are some of the most unique and destination-worthy festivals taking place in the coming months.
Chicago loves a good festival. All summer long, there’s an event seemingly every day, so there’s no shortage of options. But not all festivals are created equally, so it pays to suss out those worthy of your time, money and tolerance for crowds. Ribfest Chicago is such a fest. Kicking off the summer season in style, the highly popular annual event (and the city’s largest cookout) takes place June 9-11 in the city’s North Center neighborhood. Considering Chicago’s mutual adoration for all things meat and music, it’s no wonder that Ribfest remains one of the city’s most attended shindigs. Along with ribs and other barbecue dishes from a dizzying array of vendors, the event features 19 bands and artists across two stages, including Grizfolk, SUSTO and Magic Giant. Over the course of the weekend, Ribfest will welcome around 65,000 attendees and sling upwards of 50,000 pounds of barbecue.
Sedona Hummingbird Festival, Arizona
Not all summer festivals involve bingeing and boozing. For proof, head to Arizona next season to partake in one of the cutest events of the year, the Sedona Hummingbird Festival. Held July 28-30, the event brings together the world’s foremost authorities on hummingbirds for presentations, activities, tours and more, during the time of year when Sedona’s hummingbird population is at its peak—around this time, hummingbirds in the region outnumber people five to one. Ideal for kids, families and of course ardent bird enthusiasts, activities run the gamut from garden tours and birding tours to different hummingbird habitats, numerous presentations and even a “hummingbird marketplace” stocked with all kinds of hummingbird paraphernalia imaginable.
Haldern Pop Festival, Germany
This one puts the “pop” in “popular,” and for good reason. It’s the rare music festival that combines mega-talents like Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver and The National with an intimate venue—intimate at least by juggernaut music festival standards. The German festival has been delighting fans for more than 30 years, each season bringing in top-tier artists for a few days of wholesome summer fun. This year, it takes place August 10-12.
Pangea Festival, Germany
The fifth annual Pangea Festival is far from your average music festival. Unless you’re accustomed to music festivals with wakeboard pools and bouncy castles. Complete with summery sports and child-like nostalgia, this four-day spree indulges the kid in all of us, while also fueling adult desires for dancing into the wee hours and extreme sports. It all takes place on Pangea Island, a small getaway at the northern tip of Germany. With more than 70 bands, DJs and five floors, the music component is substantial enough on its own, featuring the likes of Moop Mama, Marek Hemmann, Waving the Guns, Captain Cosmotic and lots more. In between performances, feel free to dive into the ball pit, go swimming, blow giant soap bubbles, go go-karting or try blubbing, an activity that entails launching people off inflatable rafts into the water. Pangea Festival takes place August 24-27.
Bourbon & Beyond Festival, Louisville
Considering Kentucky is essentially bourbon wonderland, it was only a matter of time before a bourbon festival took place there. A veritable ode to all things Kentucky, Louisville’s forthcoming Bourbon & Beyond Festival serves to showcase everything the state is most loved for. The handiwork of acclaimed music festival vet Danny Wimmer, the event goes above and beyond with the help of Louisville chef Edward Lee and bourbon authority Fred Minnick. Taking place September 23 and 24, attendees can expect a huge variety of bourbons to sample (more than 50 in fact), food to eat from local and national chefs and an abundance of live music. This isn’t a modest music festival by any means, either. Headliners include A-list talent like Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder and Band of Horses. Altogether, Bourbon & Beyond captures the soul and spirit of the Bluegrass State.
Innsbruck Nature Film Festival, Austria
When it comes to film festivals, everybody already knows about Cannes and Sundance, which means crowds and expensive entry. For something a little more offbeat and intimate, try the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival in Innsbruck, Austria. Held October 10-13, the cinematic affair shines the spotlight on independent films relating to nature and the environment. Directors both renowned and up-and-coming showcase their work, which goes to impressive lengths around the planet to demonstrate the dangers of climate change, celebrate the planet’s natural beauty and examine our ever-evolving world from a fresh perspective. It’s fitting that such an event should take place in the heart of the Alps, one of the world’s most awe-inspiringly beautiful settings. Exhibitions, lectures and workshops round out the film festival.
While many summer food festivals are geared towards barbecue, burgers and other meaty fare, this increasingly popular event in London goes in the opposite direction with a focus on vegan food, cooking and lifestyle. Taking place October 21-22, attendees can expect meat-free cooking demos, summits, workshops, films, speakers and of course plenty of vegan eats. There’s also a kids’ area, an animal rights summit, juice bars, musical performances and tons more, spread over 250 stalls with more than 14,000 attendees.