June is when travel starts getting busy, with trips and events galore
We know there’s so much to choose from if you’re planning to travel in June. It’s the real start of the tourist season in many places, but we’ve got a few suggestions that you might not have thought of…
White nights, St. Petersburg, Russia
From late May to early July, St. Petersburg gets an added layer to its already wondrous reputation, as the sun never seems to dip below the horizon for over a month. It’s the largest city located at such a northerly latitude and, while the population of nearly five million get to enjoy this phenomenon every year, it also attracts a fair number of tourists as well.
The Russian soul, as expressed by writer Nikolai Gogol and critic Vissarion Belinskii, has been a source of romantic, spiritual intrigue since the 1840s, and the idea of long, bleak winters giving way to light, love and laughter is intrinsic to the concept. For this reason, St. Petersburg has a very different feel to the aggressive bustle of Moscow. You linger, contemplate, gaze.
Naturally, there are also great treasures to be seen in the State Hermitage Museum, the mighty Church of the Saviour (which is not as old as it looks, barely 100 years), or the Peterhof Palace. The Peterhof Palace, in fact, is best reached by water, and that adds another activity: canal tours are a big thing. Hop on board one of the many boats that explore the waterways and find out why this city truly deserves to be known as the Venice of the North.
Summerfest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
What’s the world’s largest music festival do you think? Glastonbury in England is big. Rock in Rio for sheer numbers? What about Coachella for the area it fills? Well… nope. It’s this one. In terms of sheer numbers, Summerfest wipes the floor with the lot.
It starts on the last Wednesday of June, and between 800,000 — 900,000 people attend Summerfest each year, as more than 800 acts play across 13 stages over 11 days. It’s pretty eclectic as well, with a line-up that includes indie rock, punk, hip-hop, folk, country, electro, pop, jazz: you name it, it’s here. Add to this the hundreds of stalls and shops from local vendors, family entertainment, comedy shows, theatre troupes and more, and it’s basically a city in itself.
If it all gets too much, there is a city to retire too. In fact, it seems odd to be recommending a city as a more relaxing option, but that may very well be the case after a few days! Milwaukee is where the festival is held, in the Henry Maier Festival Park on the waterfront to be precise, so it’s easy to escape and see a bit of what it has to offer.
It’s a good city for galleries and museums, with the Milwaukee Public Museum offering history, dinosaur exhibits, a European village mock-up from the Middle Ages, a planetarium, an IMAX cinema, and live insects! Discovery World is more for hands-on, interactive science types, and for the grown-ups there’s always the world famous Miller brewery. All in all, there’s a lot to do in one of the USA’s lesser-thought-of cities.
World naked bike ride
This isn’t necessarily something you need to travel for, but it takes place across a number of amazing cities. If you’re a keen cyclist — and feeling brave — why not combine it with a weekend break?
Saturday, 8 June is the date for the 2019 edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, an event to celebrate cycling and the human body, but also to raise awareness of the dangers faced by cyclists the world over. More than 70 cities in 20 countries are holding their own (as it were) this year, including London, Cape Town, Portland, Sydney, Stockholm, Lima, Caracas, Tokyo and more.
Many airlines will allow you to take your bicycle with you, and because you can now book ground transport with Kiwi.com as well, it’s never been easier to have a slightly unusual adventure!
Festa de São João do Porto, Porto, Portugal
Originally a festival that took place during one night (that of 23 June), this is now a party that can last up to six weeks. The 23rd is still the apex of the festival, with a massive midnight fireworks display watched from boats and the crowds that throng the banks of the Douro River.
It’s very much a time to be spent with friends, neighbours and family. Indeed, the festival can be traced back over 600 years, meaning there are a couple of odd hangovers from the original pagan roots. People greet each other by hitting each other on the head with either garlic flowers (traditional) or plastic hammers (not so traditional, but easier to get your hands on).
The entire day and into the evening is a feast for the senses, with bonfires lit and barbecues set up. Caldo verde, a popular soup, is eaten with grilled meat and barbecued sardines. Of course, a lot of local wine is consumed, then it’s fireworks, followed by partying until the early hours.
Those hardy souls still going at sunrise will often head down to the beach for a bracing early morning dip in the Atlantic, the perfect way to shock yourself out of the previous evening’s madness.
County Donegal, Ireland
Another music festival, but a smaller one this time, as well as a part of Ireland that’s maybe less explored than the south.
If you haven’t heard of Rory Gallagher, take the time to familiarise yourself with the work of the Irish blues-rock guitar legend. Then, consider visiting the town of Ballyshannon in Ireland from 30 May–2 June for the Rory Gallagher International Festival, a wild few days dedicated to Donegal’s favourite musical son.
From street performances to acoustic sets to raucous large-stage rock, no matter what you’re looking for (or what state your hangover is in), there’ll be something great to see. And it’s not just Irish musicians. The festival lives up to its international tag with bands from Italy, Spain, the USA and beyond all appearing.
For a longer stay (and it certainly merits it), there’s a lot of the outdoors to see, with coastal walks and wilderness aplenty. The wild, wind-whipped cliffs of the Malin Head and Sliabh Liag (some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe) are spectacular, and if you’re feeling very active there’s kayaking and surfing slightly further south as well.
It’s also a place where Irish culture stretches back as far as neolithic times, with ancient burial sites and stone circles to marvel over. Even now, a strong national identity lives on; Donegal is Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht — a place where Irish is the mother tongue and traditional culture still thrives.
The ABC islands, the Caribbean
The ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) are seen as exclusive places in which to indulge yourself in the type of high life only available to film stars and the like, but June is sort of a Goldilocks zone for the area. It’s not quite high season, so prices aren’t ridiculous, but the weather is warm enough that you’ll have beautiful days and balmy nights.
The crowds don’t generally descend until July and August, so you’ll have a lot more beach space to yourself, and they’re located away from what’s known as Hurricane Alley, so they’re a safe option as well.
The three tiny Dutch islands are a wonderful mix of European architecture and Caribbean relaxation, with amazing food, welcoming locals, and a mix of Dutch, Spanish, English, and the local Papiamento language all recognised. You’ll also see evidence of the region’s older history as well, with traditional wooden houses ringed by the formidable defence of fences made out of cactus.
They’re also a great place for wildlife watchers, with parakeets, flamingos and more beautiful birds dotted about the islands, as well as the possibility of looking at marine wildlife by diving or snorkelling the reefs.