Summer may be behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave its good vibes behind. If you’re looking for a getaway, there are still plenty of good times to be had. Whether the festival circuit is your thing, you’re overdue to connect with nature, or you just have vacation time to use up, consider one of these off-the-beaten path adventures. From a celebration of cetaceans to famous bluegrass fiddlers, there’s a lot to do at these lesser known – but highly entertaining – festivals around the globe.
MASS MoCA Fresh Grass Festival, North Adams, Massachusetts
Located on 16 acres in bucolic, western Massachusetts, MASS MoCA revitalized the desolate industrial town of North Adams when it opened in 1999. Since then, the massive museum has grown to 28 buildings encompassing 500,000 square feet (with another 200,000 left to build out). This month, it hosts the bi-annual Fresh Grass Festival (September 15–17), where every inch of the museum’s campus becomes a pickers paradise, with fiddlers, mandolinists, singers, and more performing across stages and galleries. Pop-up shows and pros jamming out with fans are par for the course – which means you could be rubbing shoulders with names like Brandi Carlisle, Shovels and Rope, Del McCoury, and Son Little, among loads of other talent.
Life Is Beautiful, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Life Is Beautiful Festival, a three-day romp (September 22–24) through downtown Vegas, may change your whole perspective on the City of Sin. Forget gambling in daylight-dismissive casinos, this celebration of music, art, food, and ideas brings together acts like Gorillaz and Chance the Rapper, with food by Vegas’s top chefs. Dozens of artists from around the country also descend on the city, transforming its walls into a mind-blowing – and massive – outdoor gallery. If dusty fields and muddy tents just aren’t your thing, this urban extravaganza might be; it brings the full festival vibe – plus trendy cocktails (hey, it is Las Vegas, after all) – without all the dirt.
Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival, Galway, Ireland
Oyster-loving Europeans have known about the Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival (September 22–24) for a while, but news of its popularity is just starting to spread stateside. Shucking contests, tasting events, and celebrity chefs are all on the agenda – and we’re pretty sure people are throwing back a few pints of Guinness, too.
The Social Festival, Maidstone, England
Some of the electronic music scene’s brightest stars will show up at The Social Festival (September 29–30), which describes itself as “bringing a taste of Ibiza to the south east of England.” Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, The Social is spread out across four giant arenas with a lineup that includes Carl Cox, Black Coffee, The Martinez Brothers, and festival founder, Nic Fanciulli. No matter the stage, electronic music fans are guaranteed a place to dance their asses off.
Hermanus Whale Festival, Hermanus, South Africa
This town on the southernmost tip of Africa leaps to life each year when it hosts the Hermanus Whale Festival (September 29–October 1) to celebrate, respect, and preserve marine wildlife. Sporting events, family activities, craft shows, an eco-village, and musical entertainment are all on the docket, but whale-watching, of course, is the main event. Ecologically-sensitive tours on land, air, and sea provide nature lovers and eco-tourists with thrilling views of majestic Southern Right whales as they return to their part-time home along the Cape Whale Coast.