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June 04, 2017, Qatar

Let the revelry begin!

As Europe welcomes warmer temperatures, a myriad of festivals liven up the region

Esther Teo

SUMMER festivals add verve to European cities.

Celebrating the return of long days and seemingly endless sunshine, these events catch the holiday mood in the air, and the crowds — locals and tourists alike —are keen to lap up the entertainment, good music, food and wine.

Travellers are more than welcome to join in the fun — these communal events are an exceptional way to immerse yourself in the local culture, to mingle and fall in love with each city’s art, food and music.

Time your European summer holiday to your destination city to coincide with the best of its festivities.

Much ado about Munich

Get steeped in Bavarian culture and indulge in its plentiful beers by joining the millions of revellers that descend on Munich in Germany for its world-famous Oktoberfest in September.

The folk festival — which lasts from Sept 16 to Oct 3—is far from just a beer-swilling, rowdy event. It is also great fun for the whole family.

Locals put on their traditional costumes, and there is sumptuous local cuisine on offer, colourful parades to enjoy and a massive funfair to attend.

This year, a new Kalbsbraterei tent will serve up traditional fare such as dishes featuring calf or veal.

Kids and the young at heart will be thrilled by exciting new fairground rides, and some iconic attractions have also been introduced to heighten the festival’s sense of tradition, for example, an 1880s merry-go-round.

Families will also have a ball at the Impark Summer Festival, held from Aug 3 to 27 at the Olympic Park. The event promises tons of fun with music, shows, games, fireworks and fun rides.

Classical music lovers should not miss Munich’s great annual open-air concert, Classical Music on Odeonsplatz, on July 15 and 16.

One of the city’s summer cultural highlights, the event is a treat for the senses, with music played by the city’s two prestigious orchestras — the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic — under the baton of renowned conductors.

Dublin’s high notes

Ireland is the place to be for any lover of music festivals.

In summer, there is a music event nearly every weekend for revellers to loosen up and dance away.

Longitude Festival 2017 will be returning to Dublin’s Marlay Park from July 14 to 16.

Top music acts such as Mumford & Sons and The Weeknd will be headlining it, along with the likes of Baaba Maal, Glass Animals, The Very Best, Jack Garratt, Lucy Rose, Skepta, Picture This, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Kaytranada, Mac Miller, Kaleo, Wiley, Dua Lipa, Milky Chance, Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, Jorja Smith, Her, Raye and Rex Orange County.

Body & Soul promises something more extraordinary.

The festival is held over the Summer Solstice weekend from June 23 to 25 at Ballinlough Castle (about an hour’s drive from Dublin).

The castle’s lake, surrounding woodlands and 15th-century walled gardens offer the perfect mystical setting to discover new music and inspirational art trails, experience a magnificent masquerade ball, tuck in at culinary feasts, and enjoy steaming hot tubs and seaweed baths.

The line-up this year includes indie acts such as Metronomy, Sleaford Mods and Vitalic.

In July, the capital city’s public park Iveagh Gardens will host a series of big names in music such as Olly Murs (July 8), Fleet Foxes (July 13 and 14) and Belle and Sebastian (July 20).

Skopje sojourn

Macedonia’s 2,000-year-old capital city, Skopje, is off the beaten track, and will mesmerise history buffs bent on uncovering its narrow streets, bazaars and old towns redolent of Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman influences.

Iconic sites include the 1,500 year-old Kale fortress and St Pantelejmon monastery with its famous fresco “Lamentation of Christ”, as well as Sultan Murat’s Hjunkar Mosque and Daut Pasha’s bath.

Summer kicks off in a big way with the Skopje Summer Festival in June and July — five weeks’ worth of cultural events such as concerts, theatrical performances, art and photographic exhibitions, poetry readings, multimedia projects, and opera and ballet performances.

The events are held at various locations around the city, such as the Old Bazaar, the atmospheric old inns Kapan An and Suli An, Kale Fortress, City Park, pedestrian street “Macedonia”, a couple of city squares and old neighbourhoods as well as more remote corners such as Matka Canyon and Marko’s Monastery.

From June 16 to 25, watch the streets come alive during Skopje’s Buskerfest 2017, with some of the world’s hottest acrobats, dancers, magicians, musicians and jugglers.

The Macedonian street festival is recognised as the largest of its kind in the region, and boasts a line-up that includes theatre plays, pantomime, strolling players, creative activities, art exhibitions, bazaars and workshops.

Live it up in Nice

Numerous world-renowned festivals enliven this holiday hotspot on the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) in summer, making it the perfect destination for travellers of every musical taste.

The Nice Jazz Festival, which started in 1948, is the crown jewel of the French city’s music heritage.

The festival has hosted greats such as Louis Armstrong, Claude Lutter, Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.

This year, it will be held from July 17 to 21, and jazz aficionados will be treated to a stunning setlist featuring top acts from various genres and influences, such as Herbie Hancock, Mary J. Blige, IAM, Ibrahim Maalouf, Youn Sun Nah, Christian McBride, Cory Henry, Tony Allen, Shai Maestro, Kamasi Washington and Myles Sanko.

Boating enthusiasts (or those with deep pockets) should check out the Cannes Yachting Festival from Sept 5 to 10.

Europe’s leading in-water boating event features over 600 boats and yachts (sailing and motor yachts, monohulls and multihulls) to whet your appetite.

Work off all the calories you have gained on your European holiday — or watch others do so — at the Ironman France Nice Triathlon on July 23, which comprises swimming in the Mediterranean, biking through the Alps and running along Promenade des Anglais.

Sweetening the deal

Qatar Airways will add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network in 2017/2018, including Dublin, Skopje, Sarajevo and many more.

Till end-September, all passengers on Qatar Airways flights from Singapore transiting through Doha can also turn their layover into a stayover, and embark on adventures such as a city tour, desert dune adventure or a dinner cruise aboard a traditional dhow.

The stopover package also includes complimentary transit visas and accommodation at four- and five-star hotels such as The Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana.

Selected passengers can extend their stay for a second night by paying a US$50 (S$70) booking fee.

The newly launched package, part of a broader campaign called +Qatar, is in partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).

To be eligible for the offer, book your flight on www.qatarairways.com/plusqatar, select “multi-city” and choose your hotel once you receive your flight confirmation.

The online transit visa application is free and eligible for those in transit for between five and 96 hours.

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