If you’re looking for a festival or event to visit in 2014, perhaps something alternative or quirky, Guardian readers have great tips to share with you
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Winning tip: La Raima, La Pobla del Duc, Spain
The last Friday in August sees the town celebrate La Raima. It’s like La Tomatina, near Valencia, but here tomatoes are replaced with grapes to celebrate the grape harvest. Tonnes of the fruit are dumped in La Plaza de la Cooperativa, church bells mark the start – and then it’s a free for all as handfuls of grapes are thrown in every direction. It’s been happening since the 1930s and as it’s still relatively unknown retains its local feel. It’s messy, fantastic fun. Stay in the town and enjoy the paella, wine and music that follow the carnage.
Rainforest world music festival, Sarawak, Malaysia
Sod the muddy fields of western England, I’m heading to the jungle for a summer mash-up. From 20-22 June, Sarawak celebrates the 17th Rainforest world music festival. You can pinball between Tanzanian street musicians, British skiffle groups and Siberian throat singers or Cuban jazz bands, Keralan traditional ensembles and music from every corner of the world. The Borneo jazz festival and Asia music festival run alongside the event.
All Souls Procession, Tucson, Arizona, US
Every November thousands of people march in Tucson’s All Souls Procession to celebrate and remember lost ones (family, friends, pets, hopes). In 2013 I walked to remember my parents and a friend. With faces beautifully painted as Mexican Day of the Dead skeletons, people march through the city to the river where they join a series of dancers, Native American drummers, and performance artists in a finale in which a giant urn, full of slips of paper with memories and wishes, is set on fire. Many join well-known local musicians – such as Calexico – at concert venues or dine on Day of the Dead menus at downtown restaurants. It’s free, and locally organised.
Kendal mountain film festival, Kendal, Cumbria, UK
In November (dates TBC) I’ll be heading to the Kendal mountain film festival, now in its 15th year. The four-day festival is packed with films, guest speakers, art and literature. It’s the biggest festival of its type in Europe and is a real treat for outdoor lovers. Once you’re done taking in all the inspiration you’re in the perfect place to take to the hills.
Monte Carlo Masters, France
If the prospect of queueing for Wimbledon tickets leaves you feeling tired, try Monte Carlo around Easter week in 2014. For around €25 a day – just walk up and pay for the first five days – you can watch top players compete in the Monte Carlo Masters (12-20 April) under the blue skies of the French Riviera. The courts are next to the sea, so you can also take in beautiful views of the Mediterranean.
The Melplash Show, Bridport, Dorset, UK
As part of our Camper van tour of the UK, we stumbled across this one-day agricultural show, which is held a stone’s throw from the sea. The show (21 August) features farmers and food producers from the region and includes food, drink, falconry and beekeeping displays, and crafts (including thatching). There was also show jumping, dog displays, best of breed competitions and even a motorcycle stunt display team. A fantastic day out for all.
Staithes festival of arts and heritage, Staithes, Yorkshire, UK
The fishing village of Staithes on the north-east coast takes on a party atmosphere for the Staithes festival, when about 80 of the pantiled cottages that cling to the cliff and cluster around the harbour become temporary galleries for the weekend (13-14 September).The galleries exhibit and sell art, jewellery and ceramics. Talks and walks on history and heritage, demos, music and pop-up tearooms are also part of the fun. When the sun sets over the sea, it’s time for the open-air film show, sea shanties from the Men of Staithes and a fish and chip supper at the Cod and Lobster.
Cromarty film festival, Cromarty, Scotland, UK
Put the first weekend in December in your diary and go to Cromarty. Sup mulled wine while viewing short films projected onto the lighthouse; listen to fascinating insights from directors introducing their films, enjoy classics and archive films, meet and chat with new friends made at the festival club at the Old Brewery, then take in the finale at Resolis Hall.
Ireby music festival, Ireby, Cumbria, UK
A gem of a weekend of music and friendliness in a stunning location (23-24 May). There are great gigs in various venues around the small farming village of Ireby on the edge of the Lake District. It is superbly organised, well-catered, has good beer – and even has Mount Skiddaw in the background.
Feis an Eilean, Isle of Skye, UK
The south of Skye is a cultural haven with gigs or theatre on most weeks of the year organised by Skye Events For All (SEALL). In 2014 you’ll see the resurrection of the Skye festival, which runs throughout July and August, and will feature a host of music events, walks and talks by members of the local community, charity cafes and more.