For me, 2014 was the year of festivals. I went to six in total… and only one of them required wellington boots. In fact, I didn’t even sleep in a single tent during all of my festival attending time. Call me boring, but this is exactly the way I like my festivals; with a comfy bed and a warm shower.

The reason I attended so many festivals this year was because I was part of Must Love Festivals, a collaborative blogging project that aimed to highlight how attending festivals abroad is a great way to discover new places.


While I learned that the classic music festival is still one of the best ways to have fun – and we loved what our guest reporter Jo shared from Bestival this year – I’ve also learned that festivals aren’t just about glitter, hippy head dresses and worshipping rock musicians up on a stage. They are about SO MUCH more. In fact, they can be about anything – food, art, culture, tradition, sport, books, theatre, even wife-carrying or cheese-rolling – and they are one of the best ways to see a destination.

So if you’re looking for a slightly different way to travel next year and you’d like to enjoy a festival atmosphere while you’re at it, here’s a list of festivals to get your wanderlust levels up in 2015.

1. Rota das Estrelas in Madeira (13th – 17th March 2015)

Rota das Estrelas was my first food festival, but it certainly won’t be my last. I wrote a review of it in full here, but in short, this was a three-day extravaganza of watching some of the best chefs in Portugal create and serve up a wide range of interesting – and yes, delicious – dishes drawing on influences from all corners of both Portugal and the whole world.


In between all that eating I got to know the island of Madeira and as a result of enjoying two rich experiences side-by-side I feel like I actually had two holidays though they both complimented each other perfectly.

2. Altitude Comedy Festival in Mayrhofen, Austria (23rd – 27th March 2015)

Possibly my favourite festival of this year, Altitude combines comedy and snow in a ski resort in Austria. And it’s not just any comedy; we’re talking some of the UK’s biggest stand-up comics. Jimmy Carr, Al Murray, Eddie Izzard, John Bishop are all previous headliners.

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While they’ve not yet announced who’s on the line-up in 2015, the premise of skiing/snowboarding during the day and then exercising your laughing muscles at night is a true winner. You can read my full review of Altitude Comedy Festival here.

3. Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finnish Lapland (10th – 15th June)

Another festival that I have had on my radar for a few years is the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finnish Lapland. It is unique in that it is a 24 hour event thanks to the never-ending sunlight that fills even the smallest hours of the day.


Established 30 years ago, it’s not just a novelty festival for those intrigued by the midnight sun; it also attracts some of the world’s best film-makers and is a must-go-to event if you’re interested in film or cinema.

4. Soča Valley Outdoor Festival in Slovenia (TBC July 2015)

This is one for you adventure junkies. Soča Outdoor Festival invites you to explore the beautiful Soča Valley on a mountain bike, a zip-line or maybe by rock-climbing. This video nicely sums up the action on offer at this festival.

I fell in love with Slovenia in 2014 and that was only from spending time in the capital Ljubljana. Then I saw photos of the Soča Valley…


Admittedly the turquoise waters and dramatically rocky landscape is appealing to me more in a “stand-back-and-take-a-photo” kind of way, but even I’d be up for trying a spot of bouldering if I got to hang out with this beauty for a few days.

5. Rotterdam Unlimited (TBC July 2015)

Having spent many a summer at Notting Hill Carnival when I used to live in London, I am so keen to get to Rotterdam Unlimited now that I’m based in the Netherlands.


While the photos of sparkling carnival outfits and the YouTube clips of up beat music filling the streets of Rotterdam celebrating the city’s multicultural make-up tell me this is a party not to be missed, what I’m equally intrigued by is all the good smells and flavours of international foods being cooked to keep the crowds happy… I can’t wait!

6. MS Dockville in Hamburg (21-25 August 2015)

So yes, on the face of it MS Dockville appears to be the kind of music festival I was saying you should look beyond in my introduction. And yes, it is an amazing music festival (Chet Faker, Birdy and Jake Bugg all performed this year). But it’s also an art festival and a non-profit event which supports children’s art camps in the Hamburg borough it’s based in.

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Thanks to its wonderfully industrial backdrop, lovely craft market stalls and it’s not-too-bit-not-too-small capacity, there’s a lot to be said for MS Dockville and I’m seriously considering returning in August next year. I may even camp this time… (yeah, right!)

7. Mercatino del Gusto in Puglia (1st – 5th August 2015)

It’s been a while since March’s food festival in Madeira so it’s definitely time for another one. This time in Italy, because where else!?! The heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is a region rich in festivals (I’ve also got my eye on Locus Festival where Laura Mvula and Gregory Porter were headliners this year) but Mercantino del Gusto has got me salivating as it turns the town of Maglie into one huge food market.


With the “Piazza del Gelato” and “Via della Birra” this is the ultimate Italian feast-ival. Time to start working up an appetite I think!

8. Gràcia Festival in Barcelona (15th August 2015)

This is when stuff gets weird… Gràcia Festival is a celebration of the art and artwork of… (wait for it)… papier-mache! I bet you didn’t even know that there was such a festival. Well, believe it and maybe even join me in seeing it for yourself. A suburb of Barcelona, Gràcia is something of a bohemian area neatly connected to the city by the Passeig de Gràcia, which is where you can find Gaudi’s impressive and mind-boggling Casa Pedrera. It’s thanks to local residents that the festival – and the sculptures – even exist and many days of work is ploughed into creating huge papier-mache constructions that float above the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets of Gràcia.


Throughout the festival both locals and visitors join forces to enjoy live music and plenty of atmosphere which apparently spills into an all-night party… something that is only too easily done in Barcelona.

9. Galway Oyster Festival in Ireland (TBC September 2015)

Now I should be honest and say that I’m not an oyster fan. In fact, I think I tried one maybe ten years ago, didn’t like it and have actively avoided them since. While I don’t believe that everybody loves oysters, I do wonder if I’m missing out…


This is precisely the reason I need to go to Galway Oyster Festival. If I’m going to try and change my opinion on oysters, this is the place to do it. Plus, if I really don’t like them, there’s plenty of Guinness to wash away the taste.

10. Wiener Wiesn-Fest in Vienna (24th September – 12th October 2015)

Vienna’s own version of Oktoberfest has caught my eye because it has all the om-pah-pah and lederhosen of the Munich festival… just with Austrian wine as well. As someone who would be asleep after just one litre of beer – and probably in the toilet because my bladder also can’t cope – the thought of sipping a selection of Austria’s finest wines while wearing my best dirndl has got my looking up the price of flights to Vienna already.


Which festivals do you have your eye on in 2015? You can find out more information about more unusual festivals around the world on Must Love Festivals’ Facebook page.

All photos by Frankie except Midnight Sun Film Festival, Soca Outdoor Festival, Rotterdam Unlimited, Mercatino del Gusto, Gracia Festival, Galway Oyster Festival, Wiener Wiesn-Fest


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.