Editor's picks: Festivals for spring/ summer 2011

Celebrate the onset of spring by getting your creative juices flowing with our selection of arts festivals from around the world.

Festivals for spring/summer 2011
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Editor's picks: Festivals for spring/ summer 2011
Split your sides at the Isle of Arts festival on the Isle of Wight, from 15-17 April. American comedian Rich Hall will be making them laugh with his deadpan wit at his first ever performance on the island. Other highlights include actor Edward Fox's one-man show, bringing witty characters from Anthony Trollop's Barchester Chronicles to life. And there's music and theatre on the programme, too. Wightlink is offering a two-night stay during the festival from £220 per person, including B&B and return car ferry crossings from Portsmouth or Lymington.
Swing down to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and listen to the big band sounds of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman as played by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Guy Barker Big Band at Friday Night is Jazz Night on 29 April, hosted by TV's Michael Parkinson. The following evening, take your seats for an exclusive performs by Jamie Cullum of previously unheard music. The Montpellier Chapter has two special packages available for these events, including tickets to the shows and a night's B&B, starting from £210.
Sing Happy Birthday to the St Lucia Jazz Festival, which hits 20 this year. The Caribbean's top music festival, running from 30 April to 8 May, has seen everyone cross its stage, from Ne-Yo to Maxi Priest. This year, six Grammy award-winner John Legend tops the bill, with Trey Songz and Angelique Kidjo among the stellar supporting acts. Virgin Holidays is offering seven nights at Smuggler's Cove Resort & Spa from £1,071 per person, including return flights and all-inclusive accommodation.
Historic pageants and jousting tournaments are among the colourful entertainment that will feat the eyes at the Medieval Mdina Festival in Malta. What's more, entrance fees for all Mdina's museums and attractions are discounted while the festival takes place. Check into the Phonecia Hotel, which is offering rooms from £168 per night, while Air Malta has return flights to the island from £52.
Brighton gets festival mania in May, hosting more than 1,000 performances across the city. Asian Dub Foundation, a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio and dance inspired by the circus from Circa, reveal the sheer variety in the programme of the 45th Brighton Festival, 7-29 May. The Brighton Fringe Festival, 7-30 May, has a quirky new addition this year, the Hendricks' Horseless Carriage of Curiosities, a converted 19th-century rail carriage that will host literary themed events under the guidance of author Damian Barr. Around 1,500 artists will display their work in more than 250 houses for the 30th Artists Open Houses, every weekend through the month. And Katy B is one of the stars set to perform at The Great Escape Music Festival, 12-14 May, which features more than 300 bands. For full details and ideas about where to stay, consult Visit Brighton.
Who said museums and galleries are stuffy and boring – pop into one after dark. Some of Europe's leading venues s will be throwing open their doors after-hours for gigs, twilight screenings, midnight murder mysteries, all-night sleepovers and torch-lit tours in an attempt to show us their fun side. In the UK, Museums at Night, from 13-15 May, will include all sorts of exciting events, from ghost hunts at The Historic Dockyard in Chatham to twilight trails around the battlements at Norwich Castle. At Newcastle & Gateshead, the whole city is joining in with a free culture crawl around more than 25 venues, with free buses in between. For accommodation options, contact the tourist board local to the event.
Sign up for the Sydney Writers Festival, 16-22 May. The world-class authors who will be speaking remains under wraps until 1 April, but past starry names have included Peter Carey, author of Oscar and Lucinda, and Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News. There's fun children's writing workshops planned, too. Austravel is offering a special package from £1,099 per person, including return flights and eight nights' accommodation in Sydney.
Catch a colourful historic parade or a performance by a world-class musician at the Rekjavik Arts Festival from 20 May to 5 June. Variety is the word at Iceland's unique celebration of the arts, past and present, which pushes beyond its boundaries to welcome artists from around the world, this year including the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann and the explosive World Music of Ojos de Brujo from Spain. Iceland Express is offering a weekend at the festival from £420 per person, including return flights and two nights' accommodation.
It's black tie only at the Henley Festival, 6-10 July. But this annual party on the banks of the River Thames isn't just about racing boats, there's some great entertainment laid on, too. Tom Jones headlines this year's festival, supported by Jools Holland, Alexandra Burke and Rumer – all performing on a floating stage. Check the festival's website for accommodation in the area.
Forget Hollywood, Birmingham is where the world's movie buffs will be from 23-27 March, for the Flatpack Festival. Film fans from around the world descend on the Midlands city for this annual visual adventure to explore psychedelic animation, experimental film, multi-media performances and even home movies. There's a vintage 1960s mobile cinema to check out, too. For ideas on where to stay during the festival, consult Visit Birmingham.

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