Choose to travel in May and you’re in for a treat – especially if you’re keen to explore new cultures and ancient cities.
Fancy losing yourself in the souks and sounds of Fez during a world music festival? How about a Nordic knees-up on Bergen’s waterfront? From rural Serbia to the Silk Road, our travel experts have a few thoughts on where to go in May.
Visit the ancient Silk Road in Bukhara
Late spring is an ideal time to visit Uzbekistan. The frigid winter is given over to blooming tulips and trees laden with apricots, walnuts and pistachios. Bazaars air out their dust after the long freeze, and merchants once again adorn alleyway tables with colourful spices and silks.
Bukhara, in central Uzbekistan, is often considered to be Central Asia’s holiest city. During the 9th and 10th centuries, it flourished as a centre for philosophy, religion and poetry. Every May, Bukhara’s traditional heritage and arts are celebrated during the Silk and Spices Festival. The old town is bedecked with medieval ornaments and plays host to parades, traditional dances, musical performances, demonstrations of handicrafts like jewellery-making and ceramics, and a huge silk and spice bazaar.
Temperatures can inch towards 30°C in the spring sunshine, but there is reprieve to be found in the echoing tiles of Bukhara’s ancient monuments. Take time for a moment of spiritual reflection in Central Asia’s oldest remaining mosque – the 9th century Maghoki-Attar – as well as a wander through the Ark, a massive 5th century fortress. Once feet are tired, grab a table on the lovely roof terrace at Minzifa, where your meal comes with unbeatable views of Bukhara’s iconic blue tiled domes.
Megan Eaves – Destination Editor for North and Central Asia. Follow her tweets @megoizzy.
Join the celebrations in Bergen, Norway
Visit the diminutive Norwegian city of Bergen in May, and you’ll be in for a month of celebrations.
On syttende Mai (17 May), Norwegians gather together to honour their Constitution Day, a thoroughly jolly day out where families and friends line the streets wearing bunader, the national dress, to wave the Norwegian flag in celebration of their independence, watch parades, and wish each other a hearty gratulerer med dagen (congratulations with the day). While 17 May is celebrated all over Norway, witnessing the festivities from beside the higgledy-piggledy, ancient harbourside wooden buildings of Unesco-protected Bryggen is really something special. After some restorative ice cream and waffles, take the 8-minute journey up Mt Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular for sweeping views of the city and beyond. If you’re feeling particularly sprightly, you can walk up in under an hour.
Later in the month, the two-week-long Bergen International Festival highlights the greatest artistic talent from around the world. Kicking off on 25 May this year, it’s the largest festival of its kind in the Nordics and promises a calendar of events filled with music, dance, opera, theatre and visual art.
Gemma Graham – Destination Editor for Northern Europe. Follow her tweets @gglpde.
Be mesmerised by sacred music in Fez, Morocco
May is easily the best time to visit Morocco, with the weather sunny and pleasant and the summer crowds yet to arrive. This year, it also coincides with the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music (Fès des Musiques Sacrées, fesfestival.com), a gathering of creative minds from around the world.
From 6-4 May 2016, a melange of musicians, artists and intellectuals will descend upon the 1200-year-old city of Fez and come together to produce a fusion of music, religion and art. The festival is fuelled by the belief that music can heal the world and break down all barriers.
Every evening, major concerts are held at the palace courtyard of the 14th century Bab al Makina, headlined by renowned international musicians. There are also free concerts held in the gardens of Dar Tazi and Boujloud Square, as well as parties and art exhibitions at the Batha Museum.
Ease into summer in Vojvodina
Serbia’s northern Vojvodina province is a slow traveller’s dream. Its laid-back lifestyle is best explored by car, or cycling the Danube Bike Trail through sunflower-streaked fields; alternatively, the convivial city of Novi Sad (of Exit festival fame) is a great base for leisurely day trips. Stay at salaši (farmsteads) or restored manor houses for a taste of old-world rural glamour and a spin in a horse-drawn carriage, and feast on fish specialties while being serenaded by lute players at bohemian riverside čarde (taverns) dotted around the region.
Meet Vojvodina’s multicultural heritage and ancient history in the art-nouveau marvels of Austro-Hungarian Subotica and the ruins of Sirmium, one of the Roman Empire’s four capitals. Stretch artistic boundaries from the naïve-art village of Kovačica to the avant-garde Muzej Macura (muzejmacura.com) on the Danube. Test your horse-riding skills at the 240-year-old stud farm of Zobnatica and go fishing and birdwatching in the rare wetlands of Carska Bara nature reserve. Or simply spend blissful days vineyard- and monastery-hopping in the forested hills of Fruška Gora. The choices seem endless, just like those Pannonian Plain horizons.
Brana Vladisavljevic – Destination Editor for Southeastern and Eastern Europe. Follow her tweets @branavl.
Find your perfect festival in Chicago
The month of May in Chicago has everyone brimming with anticipation, full of excitement for all that summer offers. Ready to shake off winter’s weighty layers of flannel and fleece, people throng to the city’s outdoor spaces to soak up festivals of every sort, along with much needed vitamin D.
The Chicago Beer Classic (chicagobeerclassic.com) takes place on 7 May at Soldier Field, featuring new and local brews, and the price of admission even includes a pretzel necklace, the perfect pairing for your beers. Summer Camp Festival (summercampfestival.com) is the first big music fest of the summer, combining childhood camping nostalgia with three days of music from 100 bands. If indoor pursuits are your thing, the Chicago Critics Film Festival (chicagocriticsfilmfestival.com) showcases the best indie and under-the-radar movies of the year.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and Chicago will certainly cure what ails you with two comedy festivals this month. The Chicago Improv Festival (chicagoimprovfestival.org) kicks off its 18th year on 2 May, offering up a week of off-the-cuff hilarity in venues around the city. The month finishes with laughs at the quirkily-named Second Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival (26comedy.com), a mix of comedy acts, film screenings, and panel discussions.
Rebecca Warren – Destination Editor for the Eastern USA. Follow her tweets @RebeccaGWarren.