It’s the height of summer, and places are busy, busy, busy. Let’s find some alternatives to the obvious…
Instead of an August list of beaches and island destinations (although you can also find those on the site), we’ve found a nice mixture of family activities, once-in-a-lifetime adventures, cultural highlights and one massive shopping trip for you to investigate. Here we go!
Turn into outlaws, Nottinghamshire, England
Many countries have stories of folk heroes, outlaws who robbed from the rich to give to the poor, but probably the most famous of them all was Robin Hood.
Depicted early on as a yeoman, but later as a nobleman who returns home from the Crusades to find his lands taken by the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, the stories of Robin, Maid Marian, and the Merry Men have been told countless times over many centuries.
Nottingham has always made a big deal of its most famous son, and this year the Robin Hood Festival (5–11 August) is bigger than ever. Taking place in the famous Sherwood Forest, it’s a week of activities, involving dressing up, re-enactments, archery, jousting, songs and dance, storytelling, and adventures with the outlaws in the forest.
The best part of all is that it costs nothing. Aside from a charge to park your car, anyone can take part in anything they like for free. That’s the spirit of Robin Hood in action!
Summer sporting adventures, Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken is known as something of a mecca for fans of winter sports, what with it being nestled in a huge valley between the famous Alpine peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. But far from winter being the only season to visit Interlaken, summer gives visitors even more ways to scratch that sporting itch.
Being surrounded by mountains, naturally one of the main attractions is climbing, as well as similar things like abseiling and canyoning (basically an aggressive sort of exploration involving sliding down waterfalls and leaping off cliffs into gorges, that sort of thing).
Get way up high and find all manner of thrilling ways to hurtle off things: bungee jumping, hang-gliding, skydiving, paragliding, even a gigantic swing located in a vast canyon.
Feel like getting wet instead? Well, there’s that too. River rafting and kayaking are both on offer, as is the more mellow option of a canoeing tour of the wide, flat lakes of Brienz to the east and Thun to the west.
Even if sport isn’t your thing, Interlaken makes a great base for walking in the foothills and meadows, taking in the clean Alpine air and waving a cheery hello to locals in villages you pass through, before ending the day with a hearty meal and a chance to watch the sunset over the mountains. Want to know more? Here you go.
Photography at its finest, Namibia
If you’re a keen photographer, in August one of the greatest places to go to experience shimmeringly clear air, dazzling light, and almost prehistoric landscapes is Namibia. The mighty Sossusvlei sand dunes tower hundreds of metres up, while below the flat pan of the desert stretches for miles, the occasional fossilised tree trying to grasp the air like a gnarled hand from the barren earth.
Further north, Damaraland and its mountains hide the occasional bluff of greenery or welcome river. These are essential elements in the life of the desert elephant, a widely-roaming species of elephant that migrates from one water source to another, depending on the availability of water and food. The rocky mountains and stony plains are home to a number of these hardy beasts.
On the northwestern coast, visit the Kaokoveld, a region of red rocks and blue skies whose dry riverbeds are home to an amazing variety of birdlife, as well as rhinos and giraffes. Regardless of where you go, however, and whether it’s landscape, wildlife or people you’d like to photograph, Namibia is one place where you only have to press the shutter to take some stunning pictures.
Alkaline altitude, Bolivia
August means clear skies. The night time chill is worth it for the sparklingly sunny days beneath a blue sky that seems to stretch to the very limit of your imagination. The shimmering salt reflects the sky so perfectly that it can seem that you’re travelling on a vast, surreal mirror.
August also means the easiest time for travelling: the salt flats can be victim to flash flooding at other times of the year, making trips more perilous with the risk of getting stranded for days longer than you’d been prepared for.
Plus, even though it’s one of the most deserted landscapes on the planet, you might get the oddly colourful sight of flamingoes crossing your path, one of the only creatures that can survive in this harshest of ecosystems.
All in all, it’s one of the world’s most incredible adventures, and one of the few places on earth where you can truly feel the utter, incomprehensible majesty of this ball of rock we call home.
Try (and probably fail) to get into Berghain, Berlin, Germany
In an achingly cool city full of achingly trendy clubs, there’s one that’s the absolute daddy of them all, and it’s Berghain. Tales abound of the goings-on inside this converted power station, of the 1,500 people inside partying in utter debauchery until dawn. First, however, you have to get inside.
The reason we’ve chosen August to highlight Berghain is that despite the fact you almost certainly won’t get in (the door policy seems random at best, and downright harsh at worst), you will have to queue for around three hours for the pleasure of being turned away. So, you know, at least the weather should be warm in August.
The door policy can best be described as “get lost”, with no rules other than those that the team of intimidating bouncers have decided amongst themselves. Online forums are full of complaints that the club is biased against letting pretty much anyone in, when the truth is more that security just likes messing with people, knowing as they do that people will keep flooding back.
And, to be fair, if you’re a dedicated clubber, it’s one of those places that you need to tick off your list. The sound system is amazing, the acoustics unparalleled, the line-up of DJs second to none, and hey, when you don’t get in, being refused entry will make you, perversely, very cool indeed. Maybe.
Spend a looooong time hunting for bargains, the USA
These days there are a lot of people who live to find a great deal: something retro, something vintage, something unusual, or simply something cheap. One of many ways to do this is to go to a yard sale, car boot sale, or similar bric-a-brac market. This particular one takes more searching through than most, however.
The 127 Yard Sale, running from 1–4 August this year, covers a distance of — wait for it — 690 miles (1,110 kilometres) along Route 127. From Addison, Michigan in the north, all the way down to Gadsden, Alabama in the south, over 2,200-yard sales, vendors, second-hand fairs and the like spring up along the length of R127.
You could happily road-trip it in four days, stopping to check out stalls on the way, as well as the many sights, state parks, wineries, historic railroads, farm shops, nature reserves and a myriad other things Middle America is famous for.