1. Festa de Yemanjá, Brazil
Saluting the Afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea is an annual national party in the country’s oldest city of Salvador. Honouring the Afro-Brazilian Yoruban heritage, religion and the history of the Bahia state capital, this cultural explosion sees street parades and performances as crowds dressed in white descend into the hallowed waters. The food stands that scatter the city dole out fresh bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish cakes) and acarajé (bean fritters) to accompany the occasion.
2. Noosa Festival of Surfing, Australia
One of the world’s best surfing destinations, Noosa is an iconic surf mecca on Queensland’s sunshine coast. Big waves crash onto the sunny and expansive beaches, backed by bars, cafes and the Noosa National Park. Attracting talent from some of the world’s greatest surf spots — Hawaii, California, Japan, New Zealand and beyond — the annual festival is a homage to global surf culture and talent. Exhibitions, art shows and live music punctuate the moments between the action on the water, while lighthearted activities such as dog surfing competitions accompany the more serious contests.
3. Cartagena international film festival, Colombia
The oldest film festival in Latin America will enter its 63rd year in 2024. The colourful streets of the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena come to life with screenings, discussions, workshops and premieres. Celebrating creative freedom and expression, the film festival is the ultimate venue for diving into Hispanic filmmaking culture.
4. Printemps de la Sardine, France
April to May
The quaint French town of Saint Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on the Atlantic coast is deemed the sardine capital of the country. Here, the arrival of gleaming little fish kickstarts the party that takes over the town each spring. From tastings and walking trails to sardine-focused menus at local restaurants and discussions about their role in literature, the two-week celebration lets the delicious local speciality take centre stage.
5. Hangout Festival, Alabama, USA
For a celebration of some of the finest chart-topping creators in the music industry, head to the coast of Alabama for the start of the summer festival season. The annual music festival on the white-sand beaches of the city of Gulf Shores in the southeastern US state is an all-out musical blowout drawing some huge names in the music world. The 2023 line up included Lil Nas X, Paramore, Red Hot Chili Peppers and SZA.
6. Dak’Art, Dakar Biennale, Senegal
May to June
Art takes centre stage in the Senegalese capital each summer season for the Dak’Art Biennale. Filling both traditional galleries and spaces and spilling out onto the streets, the city becomes a living canvas in this annual celebration of contemporary African art in all its forms. Founded in 1990, the event is the biggest and most exciting in the African art calendar. The energetic capital city makes an evocative backdrop for introducing African artists to a global audience and inviting international artists onto the streets of the city.
7. Copenhagen Photo Festival, Denmark
The Danish capital hosts the Nordic region’s largest photo festival, showcasing international contemporary photography in a stunning, dramatic setting at the water’s edge. The Festival Centre and exhibition park are located in an urban coastal wilderness, formerly an industrial shipyard site, on the island of Refshaleøen. The 10-day festival centres around a themed invitation to photographers, with the 2023 edition turning the lens to the concept of ‘rewilding’.
8. Rock Oyster Festival, Cornwall
Set in the grounds of Dinham House on the Camel Estuary, the Rock Oyster Festival is a summer staple on the Cornish coast. With musical performances from the likes of Nile Rodgers, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Groove Armada and more, the three-day festival also showcases some of the best chefs and restaurants from around Cornwall as well as cooking demonstrations and masterclasses. Iconic luminaries in the food world such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Olia Hercules and Andi Oliver share their stories, while over at Mussel Beach, there’s a celebration of live fire cooking in all its glory.
9. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
July to August
The extensive beneficial qualities of the mud in South Korea’s Boryeong coastal region — said to rival the mineral quality of the Dead Sea — have spawned cosmetic lines, wellness regimes as well as an entire coastal festival. Celebrating the natural benefits of this precious resource with a dose of K-Pop, beach fun and street food, this festival has draws visitors from around the world to the Chungcheongnam province to get messy and learn about the region’s resources.
10. Margate Pride, UK
The fun-loving town of Margate on the southeast coast of England erupts into a loud and colourful party for its famous Pride celebrations on one Saturday in the month of August. Margate’s queer energy and coastal location attract an enthusiastic crowd amid a beautiful backdrop. Celebrating all things LGBTQIA+, 2022 saw the biggest gathering to date and 2023 brings more of the same to the vibrant seaside town. Parades, street parties, bandstand performances and DJs take over the riotous festivities. Check out the queer-owned and led Margate Arts Club or all-new Camp in the vibrant Cliftonville neighbourhood for the best after parties in town.