August is an amazing month for festivals! From Spain’s crazy La Tomatina to the cultural experience that is the Edinburgh Fringe, to the madness of Burning Man in the Nevada desert — there really is something for everyone. It’s the last month of summer in the northern hemisphere; winter is almost over in the south — perhaps it’s this changing weather that makes everyone want to party.
Whether you’re looking for tomatoes, music, or a burning effigy, at least one of these top August festivals around the world will be for you!
1. Burning Man
Where: Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
When: 2016: August 28 — September 5
Once a year, thousands of people head into the Nevada desert to create the temporary community called Black Rock City. A whole town springs up on the “playa”, complete with streets, nomadic camps and art installations. This all climaxes in the burning of a large wooden statue of a man (hence the name).
It’s a place and an experience like no other — partly because of the amazing people you meet, partly because of the crazy things you’ll find yourself doing, and partly because, yes, they actually do burn a man. An effigy, anyway. Read about Leigh’s experience of Burning Man or check out her excellent packing checklist.
2. The Edinburgh Fringe
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
When: 2016: August 5-29
The world’s most famous celebration of alternative and up-and-coming performance art takes place pretty much all month long. The festival’s been an important turning point in the career of countless British comedians and other performers — check out who’s going to have the chance to get bigger, stranger, and funnier this month on the offical website.
Prices vary depending on the event, from free to pretty pricy (though discounts are often available), so plan your visit in advance to make sure you see everything and everyone you want to see! Even if you don’t go to any staged performances, the markets and street events turn Edinburgh into an even more vibrant place than it usually is!
3. Esala Perahera – Sri Lanka’s Tooth Festival
Where: Kandy, Sri Lanka
When: 2016: August 8-18
Here’s a story that caught my eye… Legend has it that during the Buddha’s cremation, one of his followers managed to steal a tooth from the Buddha’s jaw. It was smuggled across India in the hair of a Sri Lankan princess who, along with her husband, dressed as Brahmins (priests) to help their travels.
As holy relics go, this was some scoop and — over 1,500 years later — it’s still celebrated with a parade and festivities. Maybe it’s time to head over to Sri Lanka?
4. Tango: Buenos Aires
Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina
When: 2016: August 18-31
It’s not just a tango festival in the heart of Buenos Aires, it’s also the home of the Tango World Cup. If you’re a dancer you already know all about this, but if you’re a casual fan there’s no better time to book your flight to Buenos Aires and see everything the city has to offer as well as a celebration of its dance.
5. La Tomatina
Where: Buñol (Valencia), Spain
When: August 28 every year
The world’s biggest tomato fight has a special place in our hearts after we accidentlaly went in 2010. Valencia’s a wonderful city to explore — a beautiful old town and the city of Arts and Sciences in there too — and it’s the best place to stay. Don’t drink too much the night before though: you don’t want to be throwing tomatoes with no room to move with a hangover. Read our guide on how to do La Tomatina to be in the know.
6. Crop Over
When: 2016: August 2-3
Crop Over is the biggest and most colourful festival that Barbados has to offer — a riot of markets, calypso music, carnival events, and a final parade known as the Grand Kadooment. It’s name gives a hint as to what’s being celebrated: the end of the sugarcane festival, the end of the harvest!
Although Crop Over events go on throughout the summer, the best time to visit is during the final weekend, leading up to Grand Kadooment.
This list of the top August festivals is in no particular order, and is also completely subjective — they’re the festivals we’ve most enjoyed, or would most like to take part in, of all the festivals that take place in August. Let us know if there are festivals you think we should add to this list!