Whether it’s warm the whole year round for you or just for a few months, summer is the season for festivities. What we’re trying to say is, the world is one big party. And you’re invited. Here are five of the most far-out August festivals that the world has to offer. Let the good times roll. Obviously you’re dreaming about going to Burning Man, but it’s sort of a stretch. Maybe just settle for the World Bog Snorkeling Championships this time. Save The Fringe for next year.
1. Burning Man
Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Burning Man is the archetypal art and culture August festival (festival in general). Over 61,000 spirited souls make the pilgrimage to the Nevada desert in pursuit of an unhindered, if fleeting, idealism. The legend goes something like this:
In 1986, one Larry Harvey and some friends burned an effigy of a man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in a sort of purification act of spontaneous creativity. This experience of reconciliation and rebirth grew into an annual ritual with hundreds of people, leading Harvey to move his Burning Man experience to government land in the Black Rock Desert. For one week, the utopian Black Rock City stands gracing the sand, simultaneously simple and complex, both time and money are figments of the imagination. (Except, of course, the 600-something you spent on that ticket.)
2. Edinburgh Fringe
The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the whole world, and it’s happening right now. Edinburgh theatres, galleries, pubs, sidewalks, and streets are a mad, massive canvas for human creativity. Around 2 million people from around the globe come out of hiding for the festival every year for concerts, plays, ballets, opera, synchronized pyrotechnics, improv comedy…
In 1947, eight small theater companies crawled across the city limits (into the fringe, if I may say) of the Edinburgh International Festival, a massive arts festival that still happens. They put on their own performances right outside big festival, promoting a delicious alternative to those exclusive established companies. These little performances got grouped together and became an annual occurrence, and the rest is history.
3. Notting Hill Carnival
If you’re already kickin’ it in the UK for Fringe, roll on down to London Town for one of the biggest street festivals in all the world. The Notting Hill Carnival was originally founded on celebrating diversity, to overcome racial tensions, and dance away cultural differences to the universal language – music. 40 years after the first, Notting Hill has transformed from scrappy to stylish, and oh, this carnival is one of the wildest outside of Rio. Come on over and dance in the alley in a costume, obviously. And don’t be afraid of the sequined g-strings.
4. Air Guitar World Championships
No I’m dead serious. The Air Guitar World Championship comes around every August in Oulu, Finland. Finally, something you were made for, right? All those years rocking out in front of your bedroom mirror have finally proven productive. (Bet you never thought that’d happen.) Seriously, just submit a 1-minute short to http://www.airguitarworldchampionships.com/, and you might be finding your way to Finland. But even more seriously, the real purpose of the Air Guitar World Championships is to promote world peace. According to them, “wars end, climate change stops and all bad things disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar.” And they’ve got this sweet little slogan: “Make Air not War.”
5. World Bog Snorkeling Championships
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
If Air Guitar isn’t your specialty, maybe you’ve got a knack for bog snorkeling. (What the hell is a bog anyway?) Think of those bright blue warm waters and colorful coral reefs of the Caribbean… now erase that image and replace it with a muddy stream in the middle of Wales. Llanwrtyd Wells was one of those so-called “spa-towns” of the 1700s, where the murky waters where supposed to have some magical medicinal properties. Obviously Welsh society grew out of this nonsense, but the bog-following surely survived. The festival began in 1980, and it attracts mad crowds every year.