Leave Tomatina, Oktoberfest and the Running of the Bulls to the millennials… here are three things happening in Europe in 2018 that will appeal to grownups.
Music: Lucca Summer Festival
If you've never heard of Lucca, you're in for a treat. This ancient Tuscan city is all cobbled lanes, gorgeous piazzas and tiny churches, encircled by an imposing Renaissance wall that's so enormous it supports restaurants, gardens and walking and cycling tracks. Lucca is just 20 minutes by train from Pisa, and an ideal spot to base yourself while exploring Florence and the many other delights of Tuscany.
Lucca is known as the birthplace of Puccini, with churches hosting concerts 365 days a year. But every summer the town rings out to the sound of modern music as well, thanks to the Lucca Summer Festival. It's a series of intimate open-air concerts, performed by massive stars in the town's lovely historic centre. The setting is magical setting, the acoustics spectacular and the experience unforgettable.
The music icons that have played at this festival over the past two decades include everyone from Bob Dylan, Elton John and David Bowie to Liza Minnelli, George Michael and Ennio Morricone. At this year's event, which kicks off in June, top picks will include James Taylor, Ringo Starr and Roger Waters.
Art: Venice Glass Week
Glass-lovers, rejoice. This international festival dedicated to the art of glass took place for the first time only last year, but was so successful that it’s back for 2018. It featured more than 150 events at 100 different locations spread across Venice and Murano, and was attended by around 75,000 visitors. This year the event takes place from September 9-16, with exhibitions, conferences, screenings, educational activities, themed evenings and open furnaces all set to delight.
So if you’ve always wanted a piece of glass from Murano or Venice – or to add to the collection you started on a previous trip – September is the time to visit the City of Canals and learn more about this ancient art.
History: Prague's Astronomical Clock will tick again
In 2017 the hands of Big Ben were paused for restoration work that will last until 2021, and this year it’s time (sorry, we couldn’t resist) for Prague’s Astronomical Clock to take a break. This elaborate timepiece, however, will only be silenced for a mere six months, reopening in the (European) summer.
The medieval clock, also called Orloj, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Czech capital. Every hour, on the hour (when it’s not being fixed up, that is), crowds gather to watch a spectacle that’s pretty darn impressive for something that was made more than 600 years ago.
It involves, among other things, a moving parade of the 12 apostles, the figure of Death ringing a bell and a golden rooster that crows at the end of the ‘show’. The whole thing only lasts for about 45 seconds, but can draw massive crowds during peak season and is considered a must for first-time visitors to Prague. It’s just as popular now as it was back in the day – legend has it that town officials actually blinded the clockmaker so that he could never make another one.
The Astronomical Clock is part of Prague’s Old Town Hall, which is undergoing a massive renovation (its first since World War II, when most of the building was destroyed). It should be returned to the tower by the end of August. You can also – for a fee – go inside the Old Town Hall and head to the top via stairs or an elevator. From here, the views over the Old Town Square and the rest of Prague beyond are pretty special.