The best festivals, carnivals and celebrations in 2022

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Music, art, tradition, beauty, or just plain fun: whatever makes you happy, there’s a festival to celebrate it. Here we look at some of the best ones happening in 2022

Summer means festivals, from huge music events with hundreds of thousands in attendance, to small, intimate celebrations in isolated places. Big events such as Glastonbury, Primavera Sound, Sziget and Lollapalooza are all returning in 2022, but we’ve picked a few you might not know. 

Music

Governors Ball, New York, US

Large audience in front of a stage filled with smoke and colorful lights — Andre Benz trapnation, CC0, via Wikimedia CommonsGovernors Ball, perhaps the coolest festival in the US, is set to take place on the second weekend in June — Andre Benz trapnation, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Coachella? Too passé. Burning Man? Tryhards. For festivals in the US, the Governors Ball is where it’s at. Crammed into an unusual layout around Citi Field, Queens (home of the NY Mets baseball team), its accessibility by public transport, on foot, or by ferry from anywhere in NYC is plus point number one. All the major stages are in the center of the site facing out, meaning no long walks between stages, and no sound bleed from other acts: plus point number two. Add to that the fact that it’s in one of the best cities on the planet for food and drink, plus point three means it’ll be a feast for the tastebuds as well as the eyes and ears.

And we haven’t even talked about the music! It’s wall-to-wall Brooklyn-hipster-friendly, with acts like Halsey, Glass Animals, Kid Cudi and Playboi Carti among those on the lineup. Obviously it’s not a camping festival, jammed as it is in the middle of Flushing Meadows, but when you’ve got the whole of the Big Apple to keep you entertained, what more could you really ask for?

Green Man, Wales, UK

View over Brecon Beacons — ShutterstockYou wouldn’t have thought that the Brecon Beacons was the site of an increasingly popular music festival — Shutterstock

The Brecon Beacons and around have always attracted Brits who want to be a bit off the beaten track, but without going too mad. More challenging for hiking than the rolling hills of the Chilterns or the Cotswolds, but not as wild as the Scottish Highlands, the area is a nice balance between feeling you’ve achieved something and the ability to have a decent pint in a nice pub at the end of it. So it is with Green Man.

For 20 years now, Green Man has been the festival of choice for those too wise or weary to go to Glastonbury, but still looking for decent-sized acts. The stunning setting in the Brecon Beacons sees the likes of Kraftwerk, Parquet Courts, Low, Arab Strap and Metronomy appearing in 2022, and all with the added bonuses of local ales and ciders at the event’s own beer festival, food from every part of the world, stand-up comedy workshops on film, literature, art and science, and an extensive program for kids and teenagers.

Down the Rabbit Hole, Beuningen, Netherlands

Open glamping tent from the outside —ShutterstockGet your glamp on at Down the Rabbit Hole — iStock

Only a thing since 2014, Down the Rabbit Hole already attracts all manner of acts from electro to skinny-trousered indie, via soul, Americana and more. The festival is located in a hidden valley between the Maas and Waal rivers, and the location has given rise to its description as “where you are who you are when no one can see you”.

Well, people certainly will see you, and you’ll have to make your peace with that. But who will you see? Well, this year, you can take your pick from (among many others) Gorillaz, HAIM, The War on Drugs, Wilco, St. Vincent, Two Door Cinema Club, Erykah Badu and Sleaford Mods. When you’re not watching bands, there’s the usual array of things to eat and drink, the two rivers to paddle in, and the option to camp without having to lug tents and such back and forth; there are glamping rentals, pre-built sites, or the luxury Rabbit Resort including a bar, breakfast, pool, sauna and spa!

Rock in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil/Rock in Rio Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

Crowds at outdoor music festival in the daytime — ShutterstockRock in Rio became so popular that it gave rise to a second festival on the other side of the Atlantic — Shutterstock

One of South America’s great music events, the Rio de Janeiro event takes place across seven days in September, with the Portuguese version taking up two back-to-back weekends in June.

The first incarnation of the Rio event was held back in 1985, with 1.5 million people visiting the festival. It’s been held sporadically since then, with eight versions of the festival in Lisbon, plus previous iterations in Madrid and Las Vegas.

The huge line-up for the Rio version this year shows how the event has diversified, with hoary old rock monsters like Iron Maiden and Guns n’ Roses sharing the stage with Justin Bieber, Post Malone and Dua Lipa.

In Lisbon, the acts include Muse, Post Malone (again), Black Eyed Peas and, out of seemingly nowhere, Duran Duran. Whichever city you choose, though, you’ll have an amazing time exploring during one of the longer festivals on this list.

Culture

Juneteenth and Black Music Month Festivals

African-American flag on blurred background — iStockThe African-American flag is waved proudly on Juneteenth — iStock

Juneteenth commemorates the liberation of the last slaves in Texas, on June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery in the Confederate States. Enshrined as a federal holiday in 2021 — the first one new addition to the holiday calendar since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983 — it’s a celebration of Black culture that includes prayer readings, poetry, music, and mass events such as family gatherings, cookouts, street parties and concerts.

In Galveston, TX, (generally accepted as the city where the commemorations began back in 1865), there will be a banquet, a poetry festival, parades and picnics, educational walking tours, and a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In cities across the US, the month of June will also be crammed with festivals celebrating Black music, with grassroots groups and local organizations coming together to promote and celebrate Black musicians across all genres, highlighting the legacy and enduring influence of Black artists on contemporary culture.

Feria del Mole, Mexico

Close-up of meat in mole sauce — ShutterstockMole is a well-celebrated, traditional Mexican savory sauce — Shutterstock

A food festival originating in the community of San Pedro Atocpan and now taking place all over the country (as well as places with large Mexican populations such as parts of California), it celebrates mole sauce, a traditional sauce and marinade used in all sorts of traditional dishes.

However, if you want to get to the heart of the matter, San Pedro Atocpan is really where you need to be: 92% of its population makes their living in some way connected to the preparation of the various mole sauces, and it produces 60% of the mole used in Mexico as a whole.

The event also includes things you might expect from a cultural festival — crafts, music, carnival parades and rides — but it has one more important message. Historically, it was prominent women in each community that were given the responsibility of preparing the sauces, and due to this, the San Pedro Atocpan’s Women’s Empowerment Program (part of the Universidad Popular Mexicana, a project designed to bring culture closer to the people) uses the festival each year to highlight womens’ education and success stories both locally and nationally.

World Dog Surfing Championships

Dog on a surfboard in the sea — iStockThe World Dog Surfing Championships might just be the ultimate feelgood festival — iStock

Finally, let’s look at something a bit unusual. Normally relegated to the feelgood item on the end of a regional news program, surfing dogs is, apparently, a genuine, competitive thing.

On the morning of Saturday, 6 August, down on Pacifica, CA’s Linda Mar Beach, it’s “the premier dog surfing event in the world”. These cool canines and their owners are encouraged to compete against each other, with proceeds from the event going to various dog, surfing, and environmental charities.

Don’t worry about the safety of the dogs either: if you watch the event (the 2021 version was live-streamed, as will this year’s be), these soggy doggies are clearly having a great time, and the entire event is overseen by enthusiastic volunteers. And hey, if you fancy teaching your dog to surf, they even sell books on the topic. Maybe it’s time to get training…?

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