Top 10 art and culture festivals around the world

Published on: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Top 10 art and culture festivals around the world - shu-Art-Culture-259104266-Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko copy


From Cornwall to Adelaide and places in between, there’s a festival for everyone. Here are 10 of the best to visit in 2018

Adelaide Fringe (16 February – 18 March 2018)

The Southern Hemisphere’s sun-kissed counterpart to the Edinburgh Fringe; this arts festival in South Australia’s capital city takes place at the tail end of the Aussie summer and provides a four-week extravaganza of cabaret, comedy, film, music, circus and visual arts. Founded in 1960, the Adelaide Fringe is now a festival institution and unlike Edinburgh, can be relied on for balmy, rain free weather throughout.
For more on Australia’s ‘Festival City’, check out our Adelaide city guide.

Hong Kong Arts Festival (23 February – 24 March 2018)

Everything from Chinese opera and contemporary dance to Shakespeare and chamber music is welcome at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Founded in 1973, the festival aims to develop public interest in the arts and encourage cultural exchange. Alongside a host of home grown talent, former international festival guests include the Royal Shakespeare Company, Philip Glass and Russia’s Mikhailosky Ballet.
Check out our Hong Kong travel guide.

South by Southwest (SXSW) (9-18 March 2018)

Always at the cutting edge of the new trends, SXSW has grown in its 30 years from fledgling music conference, entertaining just 700 delegates, to what is today: a nine day long spectacle of entertainment and industry discussion. More commonly referred to as South By, the festival has produced a string of “where were you when” moments: Johnny Cash making a keynote address in 1994, Prince performing in 2013, and President Barack Obama speaking in 2016 on the topic of civic engagement in the 21st Century.
For more on the city hosting SXSW, check out our guide to Austin, Texas.

Afrikaburn (23 – 29 April 2018)

Become a “Burner” at Burning Man’s sister festival in South Africa. It claims the same wild art structures, mutant vehicles, burning effigies and radical community ethos, just without the hefty price tag. Situated in the arid semi-desert area bordering Tankwa Karoo National Park, in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, Afrikaburn is truly a hedonist’s paradise. This is a place where anything goes, just so long as it fits the burner virtues of gifting, self-reliance, self-expression, communal effort, leaving no trace and participation.

Art Market San Francisco (26-29 April 2018)

Part of a resurgent art landscape on the US West Coast, Art Market San Francisco returns this April for its eighth edition. Attracting more than 25,000 visitors over just four days last year, 2018’s Art Market is set to be bigger and better with an impressive selection of contemporary and modern artworks on display.
Click here for our San Francisco travel guide.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival (27 June – 1 July and 4 – 8 July, 2018)

Why travel the world for international culture when it comes to Washington DC every summer? Free to attend, a daily and evening programme of live performance and music takes place alongside international crafts and cooking demonstrations. The themes for the 2018 event: cultural heritage, fashion and feasts.
Click here for our Washington DC travel guide.

Bluedot Festival (19-22 July 2018)

Intergalactic wonder is thoroughly encouraged at Bluedot Festival in Cheshire. Live science experiments and expert talks take place at the seat of cosmic learning, the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and Observatory. The Chemical Brothers and Future Islands headline this year’s music bill, playing in the shadow of the towering Lovell Telescope – lit for the performances in a kaleidoscope of colour.

Boom Festival (22-29 July 2018)

Under the light of a full moon, Portugal’s Boom Festival centres on the shores of Idanha-a-Nova Lake every other summer, offering psytrance rhythms and holistic healing rituals to its culturally diverse participants. Onsite attractions include a street theatre and art gallery, as well as a daily schedule of seminars and discussions touching on topics such as mythology and alternative science. Named one of the ‘7 Wildest Transformational Festivals’ by US magazine Rolling Stone, the biennial gathering near the Spanish border returns in 2018 and promises a transformative experience for all.

Port Eliot Festival (26 – 29 July 2018)

A bumper crop of seasoned chefs, mixologists and food critics serving up a weekend of cooking classes, food competitions and tasting experiences at Cornwall’s largest foodie gathering of 2018. It’s not only food lovers who will relish (no pun intended) a weekend on the estate of Port Eliot House; families, outdoor adventurists and literary enthusiasts are all catered for. This year’s festival programme looks as eclectic as ever; think frisbee golf workshops, experiments in the science lab, and fun art exhibitions.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival (3 – 27 August 2018)

Recognised as the world’s largest arts festival, the Fringe counted more than 53,000 performances in 2017 and returns for what looks set to be a record-breaking 71st edition this August. With a range of shows on offer from comedy and cabaret to theatre, dance and music, Scotland’s historical capital will be filled with good vibes as this all-inclusive cultural affair gets under way.
Click here for our Edinburgh city guide.