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Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh / Scotland_9_ August – 7 September

It’s a sunday morning at the height of the Edinburgh Festival and the famously picturesque city is looking a little bleary-eyed. From my hotel overlooking Grassmarket Square I watch a street cleaner forlornly pushing a broom with one hand while sipping a rejuvenating can of Irn-Bru (a bright orange Scottish soft drink) with the other. Last night was another blur of comedy, dance, theatre, music and art crammed into every nook and cranny of the city. Tonight will be the same. As will tomorrow. Six of the city’s 12 annual festivals take place in August – a month-long party of late nights and lie-ins. How do the locals survive? “Easy,” replies one with a rueful smile, “we sleep in September.”

Gradually the city is coaxed back to life. A group of musicians crosses the square, dragging their instruments behind them. A white-faced geisha in traditional costume shuffles up the hill. Cafes throw back shutters and set out tables and chairs. In a couple of hours the square will be filled once more with excited clusters of people huddled around an ever-changing roster of bands, jugglers, magicians and dancers.

The figures behind the festival are staggering. At its peak, 25,000 artists perform more than 1,000 shows a day in 300 venues. The first International Festival was held in Edinburgh in 1947 to boost morale after the Second World War. Eight theatre companies who turned up uninvited started the Fringe Festival, which, ironically, is now the largest of its kind in the world.

Throw in an arts festival spread across 40 museums and galleries, a book festival that attracts more than 800 authors and 220,000 visitors, the multicutlural Mela festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and you’ve got arguably the greatest party on the planet.

The joy of the Festival is that you can always buy tickets to hundreds of performances on the day. Some will be spectacularly good; some woefully bad. But that’s part of the fun. Ask around for recommendations and read reviews to see what’s creating the most buzz.

Take a stroll along the Royal Mile, a historic cobbled street where every day hundreds of acts perform. Pay attention because you could be looking at the next Robin Williams, Hugh Grant or Jude Law. They and many more household names got their big break in Edinburgh.

TICKETS: Tickets can be bought online in advance at edinburghfestivals.co.uk

 

Tennis

Wimbledon

England

24 June – 7 July, 2013

Held at the all england club since 1877, Wimbledon is the oldest and most prestigious of the four tennis Grand Slams. Iconically it’s the only Major still played on grass. Be at both the Ladies’ and Men’s Finals to see if Rodger Federer and Serena Williams are there to defend their titles.

PREMIUM TICKETS

Price: Finals Tour from A$10,790 per person.

Dates: 6-7 July, 2013.

Includes: Reserved Centre Court seat for Ladies’ and Men’s Final / Exclusive membership to The Gatsby Club / VIP hospitality including a menu designed by Michelin starred chef Albert Roux / Wimbledon afternoon tea and a complimentary bar, including champagne throughout the day / Three nights accommodation at The Savoy Hotel with full English breakfast daily / Transfers from Southfields Underground Station to The Gatsby Club / Wimbledon gift and an Official Wimbledon programme / Admission to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

To book: sporttours.com.au

 

Cycling

Tour de France

France

29 June – 21 July, 2013

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France and the cycling community will be eager to put a year of scandal behind them and put on a great race. Australian Cadel Evans lost his crown last year and will be pushing to reclaim the yellow jersey. Forget about crowding along the roadside – get a bird’s eye view of the race with a private helicopter flight.

PREMIUM TICKETS

Price: €6,990 (about A$6,830). Dates: Any day during the race.

Includes: 20 minute helicopter flight over the riders / Access to the exclusive stage start village / Access to the VIP bus next to the stage finish line / Tour de France pilot (ex professional rider) as your host for the day

To book: active4tourdefrance.com

 

Festival

The Noosa Long Weekend Festival

Noosa heads

14 – 23 June, 2013

Now in its 12th year this 10-day festival of arts, literature, food and fun is one not to be missed. The festival, founded by Australian playwright David Williamson (a Noosa local), his wife and author Kristin Williamson and a small group of creative visionaries, is today recognised as one of Australia’s foremost regional cultural events. Each year a new play from David Williamson is the cornerstone of the festival and this year Happiness will be performed by Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre Company.

STAYING THERE

Outrigger Little Hastings Street Villas & Penthouses These two-, three- and four-bedroom accommodations are right in the middle of the action, set up on a hill at the end of Hastings Street within walking distance of most of the festival venues. The beautiful homes have a private infinity swimming pool and access to all the resort facilities. Rates: Two-bedroom penthouses from A$689 per night and three-bedroom villas from A$1,400 per night. outrigger.com.au

TICKETS

There will be more than 85 ticketed and free events over the 10 days of the festival. The full program will be released on May 3 and tickets can be purchased at noosalongweekend.com

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