What: Pesta Kesenian Bali
Where: Bali, Indonesia
When: June 13 to July 11
The peaceful and idyllic tropical island of Bali is probably best known for its resorts, surfing, and laid-back beach vacation lifestyle, but it is also rich in cultural heritage and a largely Hindu traditions. Each year Bali celebrates its diversity and cultural prowess with a month-long performing and visual arts festival in its capital city Denpasar at the Denah Taman Budaya Arts Center complex. The Bali Arts Festival features dozens of events including food contests, traditional puppet shows, musical concerts, dance, painting competitions, parades, song competitions, handicrafts, fashion shows, and children's activities. It is an opportunity to see and experience traditional Balinese village culture including performances of classical dances of the island such as legong, gambuh, kecak, barong, baris, and mask in large arenas and smaller more intimate outdoor amphitheatres. For a full schedule of daily events and activities of the 31dt annual festival, visit the festival's website at www.baliculturefestival.com.
What: Fête de la Musique
Where: Paris, France
When: June 21
What started as a way to celebrate the joy of music and live performance in Paris some 28 years ago has now spread to become a global phenomenon, an event that takes place in over 330 cities in 110 countries on five continents. Fête de la Musique is now a massive international event, but experiencing it in Paris is a must. For a whole night, starting at dusk on the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice, the city is transformed into one giant music venue -- every park, street, café, bar, train station, museum, and outdoor venue offers free concerts and world-class musical performances by professionals and amateurs alike. Even prisons, hospitals, and cathedrals get in on the act bringing people into unusual locations to experience to spirit of the festival. Big stages are set up in areas like Place de la Republique, Place Denfert-Rochereau, Palais Royal, Hôtel de Ville, Montparnasse, Palais de Tokyo, Bastille, and Tuileries. Everything is free and open to the public including large scale concerts by major music institutions like orchestras, opera companies, and choirs, who perform outside their usual locations. More information is available on the festival's website (www.fetedelamusique.culture.fr; French language only). This year's theme is 50 years of French song, but music from around the world and from different eras and genres are all represented -- classical to gospel, techno to jazz, and everything in between.
What: Boulia Camel Races
Where: Boulia, QLD, Australia
When: July 17 to 19
The tiny town of Boulia, Queensland, population 300, lies on the edge of Australia's remote Simpson Desert and is surrounded by cattle and sheep grazing country. This is Australia's true Outback, some 900 miles from Brisbane and seemingly a million miles from big city life. Each year on the third weekend in July, this sleepy town comes alive with the annual Boulia Camel Races, the Outback's version of the Kentucky Derby and an iconic Australian event. Getting here is half the adventure -- you can fly or take the train to Mt. Isa and then it is a three hour drive along some pretty dusty roads through some of the country's most scenic landscapes. Bring you camping gear as the price of admission to the races includes camping on the race track grounds and you'll be sharing your experience with several thousand visitors from around the world. Boulia's major event kicks off on the Friday night with the first Twilight Camel Race and a novelty camel tagging event. Throughout the weekend there is something for everyone including foot races, kids' rides, fireworks, novelty motor bike races, vintage cars, hay bale rolling, and bull riding. A three-day pass into the event is A$35 per adult and children under 15 are free. Despite it being winter in Australia, daytime temperatures in the Outback in July are in the mid 70s.
What: La Pourcailhade (Pig Festival)
Where: Trie sur Baïse, France
When: August 9
Possibly not the best festival to attend if you're a vegetarian, keep Kosher or Halal, but La Pourcailhade is a pig fest that pays homage to all things porcine and is dedicated mainly to the art of eating pork products. Trie sur Baïse is a small town of 4,000, located in the Mid-Pyrenees region on France, about 75 miles from Toulouse and an hour from the border with Spain. The town's annual pig festival is held on the second Sunday of August and includes a series of swinishly entertaining events including a pig costume contest, giant sausage making, various eating contests, a piglet race, tastings, and a pig squealing competition. In the evening, there are performances by live bands, dancing, and more eating. The event is the biggest event of its kind in France and is free to the public. It is organized by La Confrérie du Cochon, or the Brotherhood of the Pig. More information about the festival is available (in French only) on the event website at www.pourcailhade.com. Trie (as it is affectionately known) has numerous other events during the month of August including classical music concerts in the 13th century monastery plus antique and night markets.
What: Menningarn&oactue;tt (Reykjavík Cultural Night)
Where: Reykjavík, Iceland
When: August 22
With the famed midnight sun lighting up the northern skies over Iceland's capital for almost 24 hours that day, Reykjavík celebrates the summer and its cultural richness with a night of events, activities, and a carnival-like atmosphere including parades, people marching in Viking costumes, concerts, street fairs, food tastings, fireworks over the harbor, and live performances. It seems like the entire population of the city and all its visitors are out on the streets. They're taking advantage of the night lights with cultural institutions, churches, stores, restaurants, bars and even the public swimming pool staying open until the wee small hours. This is the Cultural Night's 14th year and it is certainly the city's biggest night of partying. Another major local event is held on that same day, the Reykjavík Marathon, so there will likely be many tired people sleeping in Reykjavík on August 23. Considering the event attracts over 100,000 people and the population of Iceland is a little over 300,000 people, this is a particularly popular night on the Icelandic event calendar. Visit the city's website at www.visitreykjavik.is for more information.