Is this a trick question? The best festival in the world has to be Glastonbury – not for the main stages you see on the BBC, but for all the other interesting, eclectic and sometimes weird acts going on across the vast site. I never take food as you can sample great dishes from across the globe, though the vegetarian options are best. I have come across major stars doing acoustic sets in small tents before appearing on the main stage the next day, and lots of people having a great time.
The only difficulty is that tickets for next year are sold out, but there are other ways. I have worked as a volunteer at Glastonbury for the past 20 years and if you are DBS checked [for any criminal record or child safety issues] and appropriately qualified, medical or welfare roles are options, though hard to get. Otherwise there are jobs ranging from manning stalls to litter picking. The best way, however, must be performing and being invited to appear at Glastonbury – so get creative.
Chris Allen, Buckinghamshire
At Glastonbury, I followed certain rules and would urge others to do the same:
1. Buy a decent padlock.
2. Take a second, pay-as-you go phone in case your smartphone runs out.
3. Download the Find my Tent app – very useful.
4. Take your own long-lasting food as the prices there are extortionate.
Shane Weir, Flintshire
Saint-Louis – the former colonial capital of Senegal – hosts an international Jazz Festival in late May/early June each year. Musicians arrive from all over the world to play at al fresco venues around the city – a Unesco World Heritage site – which is built on an island at the mouth of the River Senegal. Old colonial buildings with wooden balconies, bright with flashes of pink hibiscus and bougainvillea, are picturesque in a faded, nostalgic way. Fishing boats line the quays, the smell of smoked fish hangs in the air and music is everywhere.
Jane Sparrow, Bath
I recommend the Kirunafestivalen, a music festival held in Kiruna, northern Sweden, at the end of June. My husband and I finished a tour of Sweden here, and didn’t realise the festival was on (nor did our travel agent). Held in the town centre, the festival is family-friendly and provides a chance to mix with Swedes and listen to a wide range of music from pop through to thrash rock. Guests staying at the local hotel, which is within the festival area with its beer and food tents, are admitted free. The top act for us was Alcazar, which got the crowd dancing in the midnight sun.
Janet Humphrey, Oxfordshire
By coincidence we were in Yangon during Thingyan, the four-day New Year Water Festival held every year in Myanmar (Burma). We were warned we’d get wet, so we donned lightweight, quick-drying clothes – and just as well. Small children, with gleams in their eyes and egged on by their mothers, took great delight in soaking us from buckets filled with water. There was no escape.
The only people exempt were monks, nuns, pregnant women, policemen and, according to the newspaper I read, postmen who work over the holiday period.
At City Hall, a huge stage with music blaring was crammed with students wielding hoses. Truckloads of people queued to drive past and get soaked. Everyone was in good humour: a man shook us by the hand, wished us Happy New Year and poured water down my neck.
Later, in Bangkok, the New Year greeting was being doused with water mixed with a white powder into a paste.
Roy Messenger, London
Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham is the festival for me. The racecourse is the perfect backdrop for this popular festival, which is growing every year yet still retains its friendly, personal touches. It’s a safe, fun place to take the family but also rock ’n’ roll enough for the most hardened of music fans.
There are quirky little extras such as hot tubs with a view of the main stage, an Indian shaving station, foods from all over the world and workshops for children.
Wychwood is a beautiful addition to Cheltenham, providing a platform for local musicians and well-known artists and comedians.
I know festivals are becoming increasingly expensive – but if you visit just one, make it this.
Claire Sen, Gloucestershire
Set in the wooded foothills of the Pyrenees, the 13th-century château at Chalabre celebrates its history with a historic pageant held in the grounds near the end of June each year. There are also daily lessons and demonstrations of life in medieval times, covering such skills as music, dancing, riding and archery.
Taking place in the late afternoon and evening, the pageant itself replicates the fight against the Moors who invaded from Spain, together with battles against later Spanish invaders.
The spectacle includes charging the quintain (a target for lances) and archery, both on horseback, plus gripping displays of swordsmanship, the use of medieval battle engines, the presentation of the colours of the various knights and a final fireworks display. Food and drink are available from stalls, completing the experience.
David Brown, Essex
Majorca: a warning
Although Es Firó in Sóller is reputedly the most exciting festival weekend in Majorca, we deliberately avoided it and arrived by wooden train from Palma to enjoy the town’s tranquillity. Or so we thought. We quickly realised the festival wasn’t over when we were engulfed by hordes of “pirates”.
The tram down to Port de Sóller was delayed, and what should have been a peaceful port was ruined by these drunken pirates singing loud football-style songs, letting off “bombs” and firing blank shotgun rounds.
During lunch in one of the quieter restaurants, ironically named El Pirata, we decided that because of the delays, the crowds and the noise we would cancel the boat trip we had planned for later that day.
As we waited for our tram back up to town, the pirates became intent on smearing soot on the faces of unsuspecting tourists.
My tip? Avoid Sóller in May.
Helen Jackson, London
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