Party in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Every July, Santiago de Cuba forgets the soaring temperatures to celebrate Cuba’s most famous and most Caribbean party. Officially running from 18th-27th July, festivities start in earnest the week before, seizing the town in a frenzy of rum-fuelled partying and pulsating Afro-Caribbean beats. Countless floats flaunt extravagantly-costumed carnival queens, neighbourhood percussion bands parade their talents, stages blast out live salsa and diablitos (little devils) run riot amongst the crowds. Most captivating perhaps are the neighbourhood conga parades when everyone tips out of their homes – often still wearing their slippers – to be led through the streets by their own comparsas (conga bands).
Go to Nowhere, Spain
Europe’s answer to Nevada’s legendary Burning Man, northern Spain’s minimalist Nowhere Festival promotes the same principles of self-reliance, self-expression and mass participation. Each July, somewhere in the scorched wilderness between Zaragoza and Lleida, a temporary community springs up “conceived, built, experienced and returned to nothing” by festival-goers. Barrios (themed camps) pop-up like mushrooms catering for a diverse range of needs from chill-out bases and cinemas to hedonistic mini nightclubs. Self-expression lets loose into arts installations, music performances, craft workshops, bizarre costumes and other happenings, yet six days later when the festival ends the land is returned to a barren nowhereness.
Celebrate Bastille Day, France
Patriotic pomp and revelry seize France on 14th July to commemorate the 1789 storming of the Bastille, the spark that started the French Revolution. The hub of official ceremony, Paris boasts iconic spots to enjoy the festivities; watch military parades stomp down the Champs-Elysées, explore the city’s museums for free, or catch the evening fireworks from the Champ de Mars. However, France’s capital is not the only city worth visiting for Bastille Day celebrations; fireworks displays, open-air balls, free concerts and giant picnics take place across the country, from the World Heritage treasures of Lyon and Bordeaux to the youthful, lively Lille.
Trek in the Andes, Peru
South America’s most famous hike, the Inca Trail, is a regular on bucket lists. Vulnerable to heavy rains and landslides, the trek is hazardous in the wet season, and shuts completely in February. However, in July, the conditions are warm and dry, with the Andes cloaked in lush greenery. This is peak season though, so book your trek well in advance. For those who miss out on an Inca Trail place, there are a range of great alternative treks. Hikes around the stunning, snow-capped peaks of Salcantay are (quite literally) breathtaking, while the trek to Choquequirao, an ancient Inca citadel still veiled in dense vegetation, feels like a whole new Machu Picchu discovery.
This feature updated April 2016.