Monthly Archives: April 2017

Destinations to go for Relaxation

Soak up the Caribbean sun away from the hurricane belt

It’s the Caribbean, but not as you know it. The ABC islands, as Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are playfully known, sit just off the north coast of Venezuela. Although they’re geographically part of South America, they’ve been governed by, and been part of, the Netherlands since the early 17th century. June is the sweet spot between the high season (which also happens to be the rainy season) in the northern winter, and the slightly hotter summer months. Since the islands are outside the hurricane belt (unlike most of the other Caribbean islands), they’re a safe bet at this time of year, yet hotel rates are low and beaches less crowded.

And what beaches: from gorgeous Eagle Beach on Aruba, beloved of honeymooners, to the resorts of Curaçao’s southwest. Come to Aruba for nightlife, Bonaire for wonderful diving and snorkelling, and Curaçao for Dutch-influenced culture and cuisine, and to explore its colourful capital, Willemstad.

  • Trip plan: Direct flights from New York and Amsterdam serve Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba, with flights from Miami to the first two.
  • Need to know: Corals spawn off Bonaire around September or October – a nocturnal spectacle for scuba divers.
  • Other months: Feb-Sep – consistently warm and dry; Oct-Jan – rainy season.

Dive and snorkel clear, warm, turquoise waters in Mozambique

Are these the most beautiful tropical islands on Earth? The Bazaruto Archipelago faces stiff competition from other Indian Ocean destinations (and Mozambique’s own Quirimbas Archipelago) – but wriggle your toes into the silky sand on a glorious June morning (the start of the dry season), or gaze through your mask at impossibly colourful reef fish, and maybe a humpback whale migrating past, and they could stake a fair claim.

Much of this chain of five islands off Mozambique’s southeastern coast is protected as a national park, conserving dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles and around 2000 fish species. Oh, and Nile crocodiles – but perhaps you’re not so keen to see those… This is a paradise for divers, but also for anyone seeking a truly barefoot beach holiday.

  • Trip plan: Several islands have airstrips, and access is usually by plane or helicopter, speedboat or dhow from the mainland port of Vilankulo. Day trips from Vilankulo are possible but most visitors arrive on a package to one of the luxury lodges with an upmarket tour operator, often incorporating South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
  • Need to know: Humpback whales migrate past the archipelago from June or July to September or October.
  • Other months: Jun-Oct – dry; Apr-Jun & Sep-Nov – best diving; Nov-Mar – rains build.

Soak in the sun and Mediterranean before the crowds hit Sardinia, Italy

Italy’s second-largest island is, fair to say, famed mostly for one key asset: beaches. Nowhere else is the Mediterranean such an incredible shade of jade-turquoise-azure, lined with such perfect white-sand beaches. Best known is Costa Smeralda, the archetypal millionaire’s playground, but there are plenty more for mere mortals to enjoy. And June’s the time to enjoy them, with fine, clear weather but before the hordes of high summer descend.

Which beach? South of capital Cagliari is Chia, with not one but five fine beaches; The Sinis Peninsula has good snorkelling and Greek ruins; Alghero has popular resorts; from Cala Gonone on the east coast boats depart for secluded beaches; and the Costa Rei further south is exquisitely beautiful. If you can stir from the sand, you’ll find great hiking in the Gennargentu Mountains, historic old town centres – Cagliari included – and 3000-year-old nuraghi dwellings to discover.

  • Trip plan: International airports at Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia all receive low-cost flights.
  • Need to know: Many facilities close for a siesta in the early afternoon, particularly outside the main tourist resorts.
  • Other months: May-Jun – clear days; Jul-Aug – high season; Apr & Sep-Oct – shoulder, lower prices; Nov-Feb – colder.

Relax in the tropical paradise of Bora Bora in its balmiest season

Blue, turquoise, azure, teal, indigo… there aren’t enough words to describe the hues of the Pacific Ocean around French Polynesia on a clear, calm, sunny day. And there are plenty of those in June, the start of the driest season, when the main island of Bora Bora and its motu (ringing islands) bask around the high 20°Cs.

This is the stuff of movies, with luxurious resorts perched over the crystal waters, shaded by swaying palms – and you need to be a film star to afford the prices at the very top hotels and resorts, though more modest accommodation can be found. As if the scenery wasn’t paradisiacal enough, the snorkelling and diving, over coral gardens and with sharks and rays, is spectacular.

Walk on the wild side with these animal encounters that invite you to get up close and personal with some of the planet’s most incredible wildlife.

Between silverback gorillas, whale sharks and manta rays, these adventures will see you rub shoulders with some of Mother Nature’s giants. Alternatively, downsize the creatures but scale-up the number, watching legions of baby turtles hatch in Borneo; or discover the whole cast of the Lion King with a walking safari on Zambia’s vast plains.

Dive with giants on Australia’s other barrier reef

Now’s the time to think Big. Visit Australia’s largest state (area: around one million sq miles; 2.5 million sq km) in June to swim with the world’s heftiest fish, the whale shark (length: up to 60ft; 18m) and manta rays (wing width: up to 18ft; 5.5m) as well as watching humpback whales (weight: up to 30 tonnes) on – OK – only Australia’s second-largest reef, Ningaloo.

Coral spawning from March prompts a zooplankton explosion, attracting the sharks until mid-August, while manta rays – present year-round at Coral Bay – tend to visit Exmouth May to November, and humpbacks migrate past June to November. The turquoise waters are beautifully clear for snorkelling and diving among dazzling reef fish, too.

  • Trip plan: Coral Bay and Exmouth are both good bases for visiting the reef. Learmonth airport near Exmouth is served by flights from Perth, an 800-mile (1300 km) drive away. For a road-trip, stop off en route at the Pinnacles Desert near Cervantes, craggy Kalbarri National Park and the ancient stromatolites of Shark Bay.
  • Need to know: No more than 10 people are allowed in the water with a whale shark, and must not approach closer than 10ft (3m).
  • Other months: Apr-Jul – moderate heat, whale sharks; Oct-Apr – summer, high 30s°C/90s°F; Aug-Sep – warm.

Explore jungles and see turtles hatching in Borneo’s dry season

For some of us, Borneo seems a long way to travel for a beach. But if that beach is liable to erupt with hatching turtles and is backed by wildlife-rich rainforest, in which former head-hunters live largely traditional lifestyles – well, then the long journey seems entirely worthwhile. That’s Borneo – or, more specifically, the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, at their best in the (relatively) dry month of June, when turtles hatch and orangutans thrive on plentiful fruit.

Sarawak has the longhouse communities along the Batang (River) Rejang, the bat-thronged caves of Gunung Mulu National Park, the proboscis monkeys and enormous rafflesia flowers. Sabah has mighty Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, fine diving and those turtle-nesting beaches. Both offer incredible wildlife and cultural experiences. And yes, both have beautiful stretches of sand on which to simply lie back and relax.

  • Trip planner: Fly to Kuching or Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur. There are regular flights between those two state capitals, and buses and boats serve other regional destinations.
  • Need to know: Some governments advise against travel to islands off the far eastern coast of Sabah. Check the latest advice before visiting those areas.
  • Other months: Apr-Sep – driest, but rain possible any time; Oct-Mar – wet, still hot.

See eye to eye with a silverback gorilla in Rwanda

That something so huge (a male gorilla can top 180kg) can be so vulnerable is hard to understand. Yet only 700 or so endangered mountain gorillas survive in two isolated subpopulations. June, the start of Rwanda’s dry season, is the time to venture to Volcanoes National Park to track one of its 10 habituated groups; prepare for muddy, steep trails, heady altitude (around 9850 ft; 3000m) and the heart-melting sight of a precious primate family.

A gorilla encounter is far from the only reason to come to Rwanda. The calm, neat capital, Kigali is a fine place to start, redolent with the aroma of Rwanda’s great coffee; Nyungwe Forest harbours large populations of chimpanzees and Rwenzori colobus monkeys, while to the east Akagera National Park is a pretty mix of savannah, hills and valleys, with giraffe, zebra, elephant and some shy lions.

  • Trip plan: Fly to the capital, Kigali. Independent travel is fairly straightforward, with a good minibus service, though it’s easiest to book a tour (including gorilla tracking) with an international operator.
  • Need to know: Book your gorilla-tracking permit (currently US$750) well in advance for this popular season.
  • Other months: Jun-Aug – driest season, gorilla-trekking easiest; Mar-May & Nov – heaviest rain; Sep-Oct & Dec-Feb – damp, possibly cheaper, better gorilla-permit availability.

Walk with the wild animals in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

The eyes of a lion give nothing away: not anger, not fear, not curiosity. That’s something you notice when you encounter this majestic carnivore without the protection of a vehicle – on foot in the birthplace of the walking safari: Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. June’s the ideal time to explore ‘the valley’ as it’s the start of the dry season, before vegetation has withered.

Amble alongside one of the continent’s finest guides, spotting elephants, giraffes, dazzling birdlife and, if you’re lucky, even wild dog. Seeing wildlife of any kind on foot is both electrifying and enlightening, bringing into focus not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of the bush. Leopards and various nocturnal species are often seen on night drives, too.

Travel In Mexico City

The sinking city

Xochimilco has an environmental management plan in place, but Mexico City’s water problems are so much bigger than the canals. Geologists estimate that in certain areas the city sinks about 6 centimeters (2.5 inches) a year, and as water tables drop, subsidence becomes a more serious concern. To fully grasp the sinking-city phenomenon, check out the slanted Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City’s iconic cathedral on the capital’s main square, or the teetering 17th-century Ex Teresa Arte Actual museum nearby.

Water issues may not seem all that obvious when cruising the wetlands of Xochimilco, but environmentalists warn that without a more forward-thinking approach to water regeneration and conservation, tour boat operators, chinampa farmers and the city’s inhabitants in general might find themselves up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Wonderfully weird Mexico City: the Distrito Federal’s most bizarre sights

Just when you think things can’t get any stranger in Mexico City, they usually do. In fact, the sprawling capital offers so many unusual sights that you can plan a whole trip around visiting oddball places. Here are 10 experiences sure to make a lasting impression.

Island of the Dolls

Slasher doll Chucky would feel right at home on spooky Isla de las Muñecas. Hundreds of weathered dolls – some missing heads and limbs – hang from trees and clotheslines on a chinampa (raised garden) deep in the heart of the Xochimilco canals. An island caretaker dredged the dolls from surrounding canals to appease the spirit of a girl who had drowned nearby.

Make it happen
Recommended visiting hours are 8am-4pm. The island is only accessible by boat so take a ‘Tláhuac Paradero’ bus from metro General Anaya to the Embarcadero Cuemanco entrance, walk a kilometer to the docks and take a 4hr trajinera (gondola) boat ride for M$1400.

Munch on bugs at Mercado San Juan

Feeling peckish? How about some escamoles (ant larvae), jumiles (stink bugs), gusanos de maguey (maguey worms), or perhaps some crunchy chapulines (grasshoppers)? Many folks are pleasantly surprised when sampling insects for the first time at this gourmet food market (that is, if they don’t mind getting grasshopper legs wedged between their teeth). Mexico’s love for bugs dates back to the pre-Hispanic era – today insects are seen as a delicacy in upscale restaurants, and they’re highly nutritious to boot. Still peckish?

Make it happen
Mercado San Juan is at Pugibet 21, Colonia Centro, metro San Juan de Letrán, and is open 8am-5:30pm.

Santa Muerte patiently awaits

Once revolving around a small cult, Santa Muerte, or Our Lady of Death, now draws millions of followers who have left behind Catholicism and turned to worshipping the popular skeleton saint instead. Throughout the city you’ll find numerous Santa Muerte altars, but the mother of all shrines is in the working-class neighborhood of Colonia Morelos, where the faithful kneel before a grim reaper figure wearing a sequined gown and wig of long dark tresses.

Make it happen
Enter Colonia Morelos at your own risk – it’s relatively safe by day, but don’t visit this crime-ridden area after dark. The Santa Muerte altar can be found at number 12 Calle Alfarería, between Mineros and Panderos streets, metro Tepito.

Go underground at El Chopo

Every Saturday afternoon, thousands of people flock to tianguis (open street market) El Chopo, a weekly gathering of black-clad punks, die-hard head bangers and just about every other youth subculture imaginable. Vendors hawk random band T-shirts, indie music, cult videos and all kinds of quirky stuff, while at the market’s north end, young-and-hungry bands grind out garage punk, metal and rockabilly. After the market closes, Chopo regulars unwind in the raucous neighborhood bars.

Make it happen
Tianguis Cultural del Chopo is on Calle Aldama in Colonia Guerrero, metro Buenavista, and is open 10am-5pm Sat.

Mercado Sonora – for all your witchcraft needs

Ward off evil spirits or rid yourself of a curse at Mercado Sonora, aka ‘the witches’ market’. Aisles are lined with stalls offering black magic items, strange potions and limpias, a pre-Hispanic cleansing ritual involving clouds of incense and a herbal brushing. Amulets and talismans abound – some stands even sell ceramic figures of Jesus Malverde, a narco folk saint who brings good luck to drug traffickers.

Make it happen
Mercado Sonora is on Avenida Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Colonia Merced Balbuena, metro Merced, and is open 10am-7pm.

A shrine to Mexico’s masked marvels

Former pro wrestler Super Astro has turned his downtown sandwich shop, El Cuadrilatero (The Ring), into a lucha libre (wrestling) shrine. Colorful masks encased in glass boxes pay tribute to Mexican wrestling greats such as Blue Demon and El Santo. Hungry? If in 15 minutes you can devour the 1.3kg/2.9lb torta gladiador (an artery-choking sub stacked with various meats, egg and cheese), it’s free. Chewing is optional.

Make it happen
El Cuadrilatero can be found at Luis Moya 73, Colonia Centro, metrobus Plaza San Juan. Tortas cost M$65-95, the gladiador costs M$270, and it’s open 7am-8pm Mon-Sat.

Get your freak on at Disco Patrick Miller

People-watching is downright fascinating at Disco Patrick Miller, a throbbing nightclub known for its ‘Hi-NRG’ music (up-tempo disco). The venue draws a highly diverse clientele, ranging from ‘80s throwbacks and working-class regulars to cross dressers and break dancers. The real fun begins when circles open up on the floor and locals pull off moves that would have made Michael Jackson proud.

Make it happen
You can dance every Friday night away (10.30pm-4am) at Mérida 17, Colonia Roma, metro Insurgentes; cover M$30.

Marvel at mummies in a crypt

Shortly after occupying this convent during the Mexican Revolution, Zapatista soldiers came across a surprising find while digging for buried gold – a dozen mummified corpses. The unidentified bodies, now on display in a muraled museum crypt, are believed to be 17th-century benefactors and friars of the Carmelite order. The mummies’ horrific facial expressions have been remarkably well preserved for your morbid viewing pleasure.

Make it happen
El Museo de El Carmen is at Av Revolución 4, Colonia San Ángel, metrobus La Bombilla, and is open 10am-5pm Tue-Sun. Admission is M$52, Sun free.

Find your inner kid in a funky toy museum

Japanese-Mexican Roberto Shimizu claims to have amassed the world’s largest collection of antique toys. His Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico is a hoarder’s paradise with a collection of more than one million items, of which around 60,000 are on permanent display in unique cases Shimizu himself designed from recycled objects. Exhibits across the three cluttered floors come in all sizes, from tiny action figures to life-size robots.

Make it happen
The museum is at Dr. Olvera 15, Colonia Doctores, metro Obrera. Admission is M$75, and it’s open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm Sat, 10am-4pm Sun.

The sinking city phenomenon

Downtown Mexico City is sinking fast. The vast valley of present-day D.F. sits atop a lake bed that was drained by the Spanish at the beginning of the colonial era meaning that many weighty old buildings in the Historic Center continue to sink into the sloshy soil. Nowhere is this more evident than inside cultural center Ex Teresa Arte Actual, a teetering 17th-century former convent. From the moment you walk into the slanted edifice, it feels like you’re walking around a funhouse, but instead of mirrors you get trippy experimental art on display.

Destinations Places to go for wildlife and nature

Between silverback gorillas, whale sharks and manta rays, these adventures will see you rub shoulders with some of Mother Nature’s giants. Alternatively, downsize the creatures but scale-up the number, watching legions of baby turtles hatch in Borneo; or discover the whole cast of the Lion King with a walking safari on Zambia’s vast plains.

Dive with giants on Australia’s other barrier reef

Now’s the time to think Big. Visit Australia’s largest state (area: around one million sq miles; 2.5 million sq km) in June to swim with the world’s heftiest fish, the whale shark (length: up to 60ft; 18m) and manta rays (wing width: up to 18ft; 5.5m) as well as watching humpback whales (weight: up to 30 tonnes) on – OK – only Australia’s second-largest reef, Ningaloo.

Coral spawning from March prompts a zooplankton explosion, attracting the sharks until mid-August, while manta rays – present year-round at Coral Bay – tend to visit Exmouth May to November, and humpbacks migrate past June to November. The turquoise waters are beautifully clear for snorkelling and diving among dazzling reef fish, too.

  • Trip plan: Coral Bay and Exmouth are both good bases for visiting the reef. Learmonth airport near Exmouth is served by flights from Perth, an 800-mile (1300 km) drive away. For a road-trip, stop off en route at the Pinnacles Desert near Cervantes, craggy Kalbarri National Park and the ancient stromatolites of Shark Bay.
  • Need to know: No more than 10 people are allowed in the water with a whale shark, and must not approach closer than 10ft (3m).
  • Other months: Apr-Jul – moderate heat, whale sharks; Oct-Apr – summer, high 30s°C/90s°F; Aug-Sep – warm.

Explore jungles and see turtles hatching in Borneo’s dry season

For some of us, Borneo seems a long way to travel for a beach. But if that beach is liable to erupt with hatching turtles and is backed by wildlife-rich rainforest, in which former head-hunters live largely traditional lifestyles – well, then the long journey seems entirely worthwhile. That’s Borneo – or, more specifically, the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, at their best in the (relatively) dry month of June, when turtles hatch and orangutans thrive on plentiful fruit.

Sarawak has the longhouse communities along the Batang (River) Rejang, the bat-thronged caves of Gunung Mulu National Park, the proboscis monkeys and enormous rafflesia flowers. Sabah has mighty Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, fine diving and those turtle-nesting beaches. Both offer incredible wildlife and cultural experiences. And yes, both have beautiful stretches of sand on which to simply lie back and relax.

  • Trip planner: Fly to Kuching or Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur. There are regular flights between those two state capitals, and buses and boats serve other regional destinations.
  • Need to know: Some governments advise against travel to islands off the far eastern coast of Sabah. Check the latest advice before visiting those areas.
  • Other months: Apr-Sep – driest, but rain possible any time; Oct-Mar – wet, still hot.

See eye to eye with a silverback gorilla in Rwanda

That something so huge (a male gorilla can top 180kg) can be so vulnerable is hard to understand. Yet only 700 or so endangered mountain gorillas survive in two isolated subpopulations. June, the start of Rwanda’s dry season, is the time to venture to Volcanoes National Park to track one of its 10 habituated groups; prepare for muddy, steep trails, heady altitude (around 9850 ft; 3000m) and the heart-melting sight of a precious primate family.

A gorilla encounter is far from the only reason to come to Rwanda. The calm, neat capital, Kigali is a fine place to start, redolent with the aroma of Rwanda’s great coffee; Nyungwe Forest harbours large populations of chimpanzees and Rwenzori colobus monkeys, while to the east Akagera National Park is a pretty mix of savannah, hills and valleys, with giraffe, zebra, elephant and some shy lions.

  • Trip plan: Fly to the capital, Kigali. Independent travel is fairly straightforward, with a good minibus service, though it’s easiest to book a tour (including gorilla tracking) with an international operator.
  • Need to know: Book your gorilla-tracking permit (currently US$750) well in advance for this popular season.
  • Other months: Jun-Aug – driest season, gorilla-trekking easiest; Mar-May & Nov – heaviest rain; Sep-Oct & Dec-Feb – damp, possibly cheaper, better gorilla-permit availability.

Walk with the wild animals in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

The eyes of a lion give nothing away: not anger, not fear, not curiosity. That’s something you notice when you encounter this majestic carnivore without the protection of a vehicle – on foot in the birthplace of the walking safari: Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. June’s the ideal time to explore ‘the valley’ as it’s the start of the dry season, before vegetation has withered.

Amble alongside one of the continent’s finest guides, spotting elephants, giraffes, dazzling birdlife and, if you’re lucky, even wild dog. Seeing wildlife of any kind on foot is both electrifying and enlightening, bringing into focus not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of the bush. Leopards and various nocturnal species are often seen on night drives, too.

  • Trip plan: Fly via Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, into the airstrip at Mfuwe, near the main park gate. It’s easy to combine a few days in South Luangwa with Victoria Falls and other Zambian parks such as Lower Zambezi, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe or Lake Malawi.
  • Need to know: Though most visitors stay in luxurious accommodation in the park, budget safaris are possible staying at cheaper lodges or camps at Mfuwe.
  • Other months: Jun-Oct – dry season; Nov-May – ‘emerald’ season: trails may be washed out, fantastic for birders and photographers.

Celebrating street art with eight festivals for the urban art form

From Europe’s largest urban art festival in Banksy’s hometown of Bristol to the comic book-inspired POW!WOW! in Hawaii, these are just some of the fabulous celebrations you can find in our new Street Art book.

Upfest – Bristol, UK

Hailed as the largest street and urban art festival in Europe, Upfest (upfest.co.uk) draws artists from all over the world to Bristol – renowned for its street art and the rumoured birthplace of Banksy – in July to paint at the festival’s home in Bedminster. Using the streets, walls, boards, double-decker buses, vans, cars and even a New York subway train as their canvas, more than 300 artists bring their brushes here each year.

Upfest remains true to its roots as a platform for some of the world’s most creative artists to get together and paint live in front of thousands of people, with the artwork remaining in situ until the following year. Held over one weekend, the festival also includes workshops, musical performances and other types of live entertainment. A portion of the money raised goes towards the charity NACOA, which assists children whose parents suffer from alcoholism.

Nuart – Stavanger, Norway

Norway’s third-largest city probably isn’t the first place you’d look for one of the world’s oldest street art festivals, and yet that’s exactly what you’ll find in Stavanger. Since 2001, the renowned Nuart Festival (nuartfestival.no) has provided an annual platform for the world’s best urban artists to exhibit their creativity. From the first week of September a team of local and international street artists leave their mark on the city’s walls – both indoor and out – creating one of Europe’s most dynamic and constantly evolving public art events.

The festival includes a series of citywide exhibitions, events, performances, debates and workshops, by some of the world’s leading practitioners and emerging names in street art. In 2016, a new partnership with local bus company Kolumbus also led to the introduction of eight ‘street art buses’ – mobile artworks that bring street art even closer to the heart of the city.

POW! WOW! – Hawaii, USA

The name ‘POW! WOW!’ was inspired by the colour-filled pages of comic books – ‘POW!’ being the impact of the art, and ‘WOW!’ being the reaction of the viewer. Together, the words pay homage to the Native American pow wow, a gathering that celebrates culture, music, art and community. The main event of the POW! WOW! (powwowhawaii.com) calendar takes place over a week in February in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu. The festival brings together more than a hundred international and local artists to create murals and installations in public spaces.

Since its beginnings in Hawaii, POW! WOW! has expanded across the globe, taking the festival to Taiwan, Japan, California, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and Texas. The organisation has grown into a global network responsible for art exhibitions, lectures, schools for art and music, creative community spaces, concerts and live art installations worldwide.

MB6: Street Art – Marrakesh, Morocco

In 2016, the Marrakesh Biennale included urban art as part of its integral programming for the first time since its inauguration in 2004. Twelve leading local and international street artists were invited to Morocco to participate in the Biennale as part of the MB6: Street Art project (mb6streetart.org). The focus on public art is indicative of the inclusive motivations behind the festival, allowing audiences of all backgrounds to engage with artistic works across the cityscape.

The murals are located in key public spaces, including the rooftops of the souks in the Medina, the area around the palace, and walls across the Mellah and Gueliz districts. The project also included the installation of North Africa’s largest mural, a 6400 sq metre work by Italian artist Giacomo Bufarini (aka ‘RUN’), painted on the ground of the Moulay Hassan Square in Essaouira. The artwork depicts two figures communicating across borders, echoing the rich musical heritage in Essaouira while also addressing the migration crisis.

BLOOP – Ibiza, Spain

BLOOP International Proactive Art Festival (bloop-festival.com) is an independent initiative that showcases art, technology, music, education and gastronomy. The month-long festival has run in July and August every year since 2011, covering the streets of Ibiza in murals, interactive installations, paintings, video mappings, sculptures, parties, workshops, exhibitions and more.

One of the main activities within this fiesta is OpenAir.Gallery, which currently exhibits more than 20 murals by artists from around the world. The gallery is open year-round, embodying the festival’s ethos: ‘art is for everybody’. After six consecutive years, the festival is now considered a tourist attraction in its own right, with something for everyone from art lovers through to partygoers visiting Ibiza for its renowned nightlife.

HKwalls – Hong Kong, China

The HKwalls festival (hkwalls.org) adds a much-needed street art element to Hong Kong Arts Month, held annually in March. HKwalls invites local and international artists to create large-scale works on the streets of the city. The festival celebrates creativity, originality and freedom of expression, actively connecting and building relationships between artists and the community through high-quality public art.

Each year, HKwalls selects one area of Hong Kong to focus on, with artists painting as many exterior walls, gates and windows as possible throughout the district. During the festival, HKwalls also hosts a number of supplementary events and activities including exhibitions, film screenings and public workshops. Works from the 2015 and 2016 iterations of the festival, which took place in the Sheung Wan, Stanley Market and Sham Shui Po neighbourhoods, are still visible to visitors.

Artscape – Gothenburg, Sweden

The 2016 Artscape festival (artscape.se) was one of the most ambitious urban art projects ever undertaken in Scandinavia, joining other established events in the region such as Nuart in Norway. Over four weeks in July and August, 20 international, national and local artists joined forces to create large-scale art in every single borough of Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg. Artscape seeks to promote public art for everyone, believing that the advertising jungle of the modern cityscape needs competition, and that great art shouldn’t be confined to galleries and museums. The festival was another important step for the Swedish urban art scene. It brings into the mainstream an art form that is still very much on the outer, in a country influenced by a conservative view of the purposes of public space and a long-standing ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards any kind of aerosol-based art.

St+art Festival – New Delhi, India

St+art (st-artindia.org) is a not-for-profit organisation bringing large-scale street art to public spaces across India. Since 2014, St+art has promoted annual festivals throughout the country, including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, with the aim of moving art from the galleries to the streets, making it accessible to a much wider audience.

The fourth iteration of the festival took place in New Delhi at the beginning of 2016, in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban Development. It featured the creation of the first open-air street-art zone in India, the Lodhi Colony Art District. This vision of a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood transformed into an open-air art museum wowed locals and helped to reinvent the idea of public spaces in Indian cities.

The colony now exhibits 26 major new artworks by globally renowned artists running along the Meharchand Market Road and Khanna Market Road, and has become a tourist destination in its own right.