If you're looking for a reason to get out explore, we've got you covered with our pick of the best festivals in June worth travelling for. Take your pick from a boozy wine fight in La Rioja, or the chance to visit a town named Vulcan that has reinvented itself as the Star Trek Capital of Canada.
Fiestas Sanjuaneras, Trinidad, Cuba
Cuba is a destination that captures the imagination. Only 90 miles from mainland USA it was a forbidden (or at least difficult) place for Americans to visit for six decades. Its flamboyant culture, from music and dancing to speakeasies and the Hemingway connection, has inspired travellers the world over.
Held the last week in June, the Fiestas Sanjuaneras in Trinidad provide the chance to experience authentic Cuban culture beyond classic cars and daiquiris. Expect colourful floats, cuban music, and locals parading their horses through the streets. The good news for US travellers? Despite the Trump administration rolling back relations between the countries, travel is still permitted under the guise of “Supporting the Cuban People”, and what better way to connect with local culture than to attend this colourful celebration?
Dates: From 24th June.
The town of Trinidad, Cuba © Lukasz Nycz/Shutterstock
Dragon boat festival, Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan, China
There are few towns in China more atmospheric than Fenghuang - or Phoenix in English. On the emerald green Tuo Jiang river with wooden houses on stilts overhanging the water, it’s a photographer’s dream. The town is surrounded by steep forested hills and the whole effect is one of stepping back in time to the days of the great Chinese dynasties.
In early June the past comes to life with the annual Dragon Boat festival. Teams from the surrounding towns and villages compete in the 400m races along the river. Watching the participants furiously paddling in union is quite the spectacle. After the race the fun continues with a duck catching competition – locals jump into the river to try and catch a duck with their bare hands while swimming.
Dates: 5-7th June
Dragon boat racers compete to win © Chen Min Chun/Shutterstock
Batalla del Vino, La Rioja, Spain
Spain and wine go hand in hand... and Spain and wacky celebrations are pretty good friends too. Forget La Tomatina, Valencia’s tomato-throwing mush fest, and head instead to the town of Haro in La Rioja for a nice refreshing wine fight. The origins of La Batalla del Vino lie in 6th century, when locals would head for the nearby cave of Los Riscos de Bilibio to celebrate Saint Felices of Bilibio. At the end of the 19th century “wine baptisms” became part of the event, and the rest is history.
Anyone can take part, but you must dress in white with a red neckerchief and get your neighbours covered in wine as quickly as possible – by any approved method including water pistols, buckets, and even boots. Once the battle is over the feast begins – snails, lamb chops and wine are all on the menu.
Date: 29th June
The village of Haro, in La Rioja, Spain © A.B.G./Shutterstock
Luminara of San Ranieri, Pisa, Italy
Italy in June, what could be better? If you need an excuse to visit, head to Pisa and the Luminara of San Ranieri, celebrating the feast day of San Ranieri – Pisa’s patron saint on 17th June . In a tradition that dates back to 1688, when the remains of the saint were moved into place of honour in the cathedral and the town was lit by candles and bonfires to celebrate.
Nowadays the city’s buildings and bridges along the river Arno are decorated with specially made white frames, each of which is fitted with multiple candle holders. After sunset on the eve of the saint’s day, the candles are lit and the town transforms into a glittering spectacle. The evening culminates in a big firework display. The next day the celebration continues with a feast and regatta on the river.
Dates: 16-17th June
Illuminated buildings along the river Arno © Aliaksandr Zosimau/Shutterstock
Spock Days, Vulcan, Alberta Canada
AWhat do you do when the name of your town just happens to be the name of a fictional extraterrestrial humanoid species from one of the most popular TV and movie franchises of all time? You embrace it of course! Enter Spock Days in the amusingly titled town of Vulcan in Alberta. Originally named for the Roman god of Fire, the name took on new meaning with the success of Star Trek in the 1960s.
For the past 25 the town has celebrated its Star Trek connection with Spock Day, two days of Trekky entertainment held in early June each year. From costume parades to street food and more. Think of it was local summer fair with an extra sci fi twist. For hardcore Trekkies there's also a full Vul-Con fest, in July.
Dates: June 8-10th, 2019
A replica of the SS Enterprise in Vulcan, Canada © AlbertaRhPAP/Flickr Creative Commons