Location: Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, London, England


Dates: Last Sunday and Monday in August


The British capital’s top summer knees-up, a celebration of the local Caribbean community, has enlivened this part of town since the 1950s. During the end-of-August bank holiday, the neighbourhood featured in the Hugh Grant film Notting Hill explodes with reggae sound systems and Rastafarians smoking what one of Grant’s characters might call ‘wacky baccy’. Also featuring calypso and soca, samba dancing, sassy costumes and animistic sculptures, the display of vibrant Caribbean culture attracts two million party animals to West London, making it one of the world’s largest street festivals. A steel-band competition and Children’s Day are among the events reflecting the city’s multiculturalism and love of a good boogie. It all climaxes on Monday with a 3-mile parade of floats and revellers in feathered headdresses, Lycra suits and other costumes not normally spotted on London’s streets. Ravers can fuel themselves at stalls selling Jamaican patties, jerk chicken and curries.


Essentials: Make sure you have deep pockets for your dosh – street crime is a feature of the weekend.


Local Attractions: As well as the coolest bars found west of the city centre, narrow Portobello Road has a market from Monday to Saturday. It’s the city’s best market for rummaging through antiques and curios, and for getting kitted out like a trendy Londoner.


More info: www.londoncarnival.co.uk

Location: Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England


Dates: Wakes Monday (first Monday after the first Sunday after 4 September)


The date of the Horn Dance is not the only archaic aspect of this ancient rite. Held in a small village in the English Midlands, the ritual begins at 8am on the dot. The participants take the six sets of deer’s antlers, which carbon dating has revealed to be about 1000 years old, from the church. The horns are rather big, weighing between 7kg and 11kg. Six ‘deer men’ spend the next 12 hours carrying them around a 16km circuit of the surrounding countryside, accompanied by a hobby horse, a Robin Hood–style archer and Maid Marian. They regularly stop to dance, mimicking a bowman killing a deer, to music provided by a melodeon and triangle player.


One of England’s oldest surviving ritual dances, the event dates back to 1226. It has apparently only been cancelled once – in the 1920s, because the musician was ill and one of the dancers had died. It possibly began as a commemoration of the village’s acquisition of hunting rights in Needwood Forest, and the dance was an animistic ritual to ensure lucky hunting. Hobby horses are also a fertility symbol.


Local Attractions: Stay the night at the Goat’s Head pub in a room named after highwayman Dick Turpin, who holed up here. 


More Info: www.thehorndanceofabbotsbromley.co.uk




WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller’s journey. Check out more world festivals at WorldNomads.com

Location: The Greyhound, Tinsley Green, England

Dates: Good Friday

Description: You probably played marbles as a kid but did your parents ever tell you that if you knuckled down and worked on your tolleys you could be a world champion? The championships are held each year in the car park of this West Sussex pub – the Wembley of marbles – when around 140 competitors vie for championship honours inside a 6-ft concrete circle. It might sound like a lark but it’s no gimmick; the championships have been held here since 1932.

Competition marbles sees 49 of the glass balls placed in the ring and the first person or team to knock 25 out of the ring with their tolley (shooting marble) goes through to the next round. The event has attracted players from Continental Europe and the USA, with German teams winning a couple of world titles, something the Britons ruefully blame on their own excessive alcohol intake.

More info www.marblemuseum.org

source: www.worldnomads.com


St Asaph Cathedral


St Asaph. Clwyd, Wales

End of September

Hosted in the smallest ancient Cathedral in the UK, the festival boasts one of the most intimate settings in which to hear the world’s leading classical musicians.



International music and arts festival held in Norfolk and Norwich, UK in May.

Includes classical and contemporary music, theatre, dance, music, literature.


Snape Maltings
In 1948, British composer Benjamin Britten; tenor Peter Pears, his companion and collaborator, and Eric Crozier, Britten’s frequent librettist, founded the Aldeburgh festival as a home for their touring opera company, the English Opera Group.

The aim of the Aldeburgh festival was to produce fresh interpretations of classic repertoire as well as to rediscover forgotten works. Now more than 60 years old, the festival develops long term relationships with established musicians and younger artists. It attracts audiences and artists from all over the world.

Snape Maltings

The Maltings at Snape is a collection of Victorian buildings, barns and workshops beside the Alde estuary, near the Suffolk Coast. Covering seven acres, the site has restaurants, shops, galleries, guided walks and river trips along the Alde.

The concert hall occupies what had been one of the largest barley “maltings” in East Anglia, used for malting grain until 1965. It is now one of the most important arts venues in the East of England, with a concert hall conversion by Arup Associates, leading British designers.




When: June/July
Where: Gregynog, Wales
Gregynog Festival, or G?yl Gregynog in Welsh, is the oldest extant classical music festival in Wales and takes place each summer atGregynog Hall in the village of Tregynon, near NewtownPowys, mid-Wales.


When: April 30
Where: Edinburgh, UK

The modern Beltane Fire Festival is inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane which began on the evening before May 1 and marked the beginning of summer. The modern festival was started in 1988 by a small group of enthusiasts including the musical collective Test Dept, with academic support from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Since then the festival has grown, and as of 2006 involved over 300 voluntary collaborators and performers with the 11500 available tickets selling out.

It is important to remember that while the festival draws on a variety of historical, mythological and literary influences the organisers do not claim it to be anything other than a modern celebration of Beltane, evolving with its participants.

Fire festival dancers, 2006

The current Beltane was started in 1988 by a small group of enthusiasts including Angus Farquhar of the musical collective Test Dept., choreographer Lindsay John, and dancers from Laban, as well as academics from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The event was intended as a celebration and also a protest against the then Thatcher government’s restrictions on rights to gather. Originally intended to take place on Arthur’s Seat, the home of earlier Edinburgh Beltane celebrations, for practical reasons the location was moved to Calton Hill. Choreography, iconography and performance were moulded by the originators’ research into historical accounts of Beltane and their own influences (e.g. Test Department’s drumming, Trinidadian carnival, and ritual dance and performance).

The Beltane Fire Society, a registered charity which runs the festival, is managed by a democratically elected voluntary committee, and all the performers are volunteers who either join by word of mouth or by attending one of the advertised open meetings held early in the year. Senior performers and artists in the society help others through workshops with aspects of event production, prop construction, character performance techniques, team building, percussion skills and the health and safety considerations involved. The society has also held fundraising art and music events and has held a ‘mini-Beltane’ at a local AIDS Hospice, Milestone House.

As a community event, each year the performance has evolved as new people bring their own influences and directions. The core narrative remains by and large the same though additional elements have been added over time for theatrical, ritual, and practical reasons. Originally an event with a core of a dozen performers and a few hundred audience, the event has grown to several hundred performers and over ten thousand audience. Key characters within the performance are maintained, though reinterpreted by their performers, and additional participants incorporated each year.

Originally, the festival was free and only lightly stewarded, however, as the event has grown in popularity, due to the capacity of the hill, funding requirements, and Edinburgh Council requests, the festival has in recent years moved to being a ticketed event.