Whether you are a sports fan, music-lover or a petrol-head, there is festival or event to suit your tastes (and budget). Why not pack up your car or bike and travel by ferry to our top 10 favourites for the year ahead:
Isle of Man TT Race 2019, 25 May – 7 June 2019
The Isle of Man TT is a must-see event for all motorsports fans. Every year the world’s greatest motorcycle racers get together to race the 37.73 mile ‘Mountain Course’ around the island’s public roads. The event consists of one week of practice sessions and one week of racing. For those of you who want to try the course yourselves, it’s become a tradition on ‘Mad Sunday’ for spectators to tour the Mountain Course.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operate services from Hersham, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas on the Isle of Man.
Bastille Day, France, 13-14 July 2019
Celebrate with all of France on their national holiday, 14 juillet, which remembers the storming of the Bastille in 1789 – the event generally thought of, as the start of the French Revolution. Head to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, a medieval city on an island, connected to the mainland by just one bridge. Not only is the island a great place to explore, but because its geography you’ll get an unparalleled view of the fireworks reflected in the sea.
Mont Saint Michel is a 55mins drive from the port of St Malo. Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries operate services from the UK and Jersey to St Malo.
HebCelt Fest, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, 17-20 July 2019
KT Tunstall and The Shires headline this year’s HebCelt Festival. Held in the beautiful grounds of Lews Castle, overlooking Stornoway harbour, this event brings together a variety of music from around the world and quality live Celtic music at one of our favourite family-friendly festivals in the UK.
Caledonian MacBrayne sail from Ullapool to Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.
Pride Amsterdam, 27 July – 4 Aug 2019
The highlight of this week-long LGTBI celebration is the world-famous Canal Parade, featuring 80 boats sailing along the canals with music and entertainment, with lots of people lining the canals to join the party. Other events include Pride walks, open-air cinema and LGTB history tours.
DFDS sail from Newcastle to Amsterdam, Stena Line sail to the Hoek of Holland from Harwich and P&O sail to Rotterdam from Hull.
Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, 10-17 Aug 2019
Cowes Week is the oldest and largest sailing regatta in the world and a highlight on the British sporting calendar. Spectators can enjoy much of the racing from the shore, with The Green and The Parade great spots to view the action from. The week culminates on Friday 16 August in a spectacular air show and fireworks display set off from the water just outside Cowes.
Red Funnel sails from Southampton directly to Cowes. Hovertravel operates hovercraft services from Southsea to Ryde and Wightlink sails from Portsmouth to Ryde or Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth.
Hogmanay, Edinburgh, 31 December 2019
With its origins going back to the Viking celebration of the Winter Solstice, Scotland’s New Year’s Eve party is legendary. The city of Edinburgh turns into an outdoor party, with concerts, silent disco, a ceilidh under the castle and a spectacular firework display over Edinburgh Castle at midnight. Wrap up warm as the party lasts into the small hours.
P&O sail from Larne to Cairnryan and Stena Line sail from Belfast to Cairnryan. Edinburgh is a 2hr50mins car journey from Cairnryan.
St Patrick’s Day, Dublin, 17 March 2020
St Patrick’s Day: Ireland’s most famous event of the year, sees over 100,000 visitors join locals in the streets of Dublin for the country’s biggest parade. The parade features colourful floats, dancers, marching bands and music from all over the world. Once the parade has finished everyone hits the bars and pubs of Dublin to continue the festivities and make new friends while partaking in the national pastime – drinking Guinness.
Irish Ferries and Stena Line sail from Holyhead to Dublin and P&O sail from Liverpool to Dublin.
King’s Day, The Netherlands, 27 April 2020
King’s Day (Koningsdag) is a Dutch national holiday which honours the birthday of King Willem-Alexander, who was born on 27 April. The Dutch celebrate by partying in the streets from the night before and covering everything possible with orange: flags, wigs, revellers clothes – to honour the Dutch Royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau. In Rotterdam expect outdoor parties around the city featuring house, disco and hiphop, street flea markets and a great festival atmosphere.
P&O sail to Rotterdam from Hull and Stena Line sail to the Hoek of Holland from Harwich.
Virgin Money London Marathon, 26 April 2020
Expect music and a festival atmosphere as London hosts one of the premier events in the distance running calendar – the London Marathon. Starting in Greenwich and finishing in the Mall, the 26.2 mile course passes London’s most iconic sights. Not only does the event attract the best professional athletes in the sport, but it also sees over 40,000 people participate for fun and to raise money for their chosen charity, as well as thousands of spectators lining the streets to support the runners and enjoy the atmosphere.
MBNA Thames Clippers river bus services run from key central London piers every 20 mins.
World Pilot Gig Championships, Isle of Scilly, 1-3 May 2020
What’s a Pilot Gig Championship, you may ask yourself? A pilot gig is a six-oared rowing boat. Originally from Cornwall, a pilot gig was used to get a ship’s pilot out to an incoming vessel and gigs would race to get their pilot out first. Now, the World Pilot Gig Championships take place every year over the first May bank holiday weekend and feature more than 150 men’s and women’s teams racing over 3 days. It’s the Isles of Scilly’s busiest weekend of the year so book up well in advance to see this oar-some event! http://www.worldgigs.co.uk/
Isles of Scilly Travel operates the Scillonian III from Penzance to St Mary’s from March – September.