The summer is a time of relaxation, travel, and fun. Here you will find a selection of several prominent events that will offer all of those qualities and more. Start your summer tour with the contemporary dance festival, ImPulsTanz, in Vienna, Austria; head down to Macedonia in the Balkans for the Pivo Fest, beer festival; and finish bravely in the world’s biggest tomato fight in Spain, La Tomatina.

ImPulsTanz—Vienna International Dance Festival (11 July—11 August)

Photo: Richard Haughton (All rights reserved)

ImPulsTanz is a contemporary dance festival founded in 1988. Since then, the show has reached the status of Europe’s largest contemporary festival. This year marks ImPulsTanz’s 30th anniversary, and to celebrate, they have scheduled a marvelous repertoire of music and dance performances.

On the 9th of July, the festival will open with a specially choreographed voguing show by one of New York City’s most renown choreographers, Trajal Harrell. The performance will feature music by DJ AGUILA and accompanying video-projections that will complement the dancing holistically. Not to be missed either is Trajal Harrell’s dance series, “Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church (XS-M2M)”, which will develop the story of a neurotic model who is constantly interrupted in his attempts to conquer the catwalk over the course of six separate days throughout the festival.

Following the success of his widely acclaimed “Refusal of Time”, the award-winning South-African choreographer William Kentridge, with Dada Masilo and twelve other dancers in his company, has prepared the multimedia-opera, “Refuse the Hour”, which will be one of the featured events at the festival. Combining science, theater, myth, and art, this eclectic act will examine the materialization of time on stage.

Other dance superstars who will grace the stage innumerate Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Boris Charmatz (“Partita2″), Meg Stuart (“Built to Last”), Wim Vandekeybus (“What the Body Does Not Remember” and “bootyLooting”), Marie Chouinard (“GYMNOPÈDIES” and “HENRI MICHAUX: MOUVEMENTS”), and Mathilde Monnier and François Olislaeger (“Qu’est-ce qui nous arrive?!?”). Some prominent Austrian choreographers who will also be present include Doris Uhlich (“more than naked”), Ivo Dimchev (“X-ON” and “Fest”), and the winner of last year’s Prix Jardin d’Europe, Florentina Holzinger. Overall, for anyone interested in dance, there will more than enough world talent to satisfy their pleasure at the 2013 ImPulsTanz.

ImPulsTanz has transcended the role of a dance festival; as an organization it helps artists develop their careers through courses, training, research offers, and employment. In fact, this year, the artistic consultant of ImPulsTanz, Ismael Ivo, is directing the project “Biblioteca do Corpo”, which has the aim of training professional dancers to perfection.  Overall, ImPulsTanz presents a major opportunity to meet both beginning and professional artists and establish networks on an international scale. Through productions, workshops, socialising, and performances, ImPulsTanz is a bright attraction for artists and fans alike.

Pivo Fest—Beer Fest in Prilep, Macedonia (18 July—21 July)

An emerging festival in Europe, Pivo Fest (meaning “Beer Fest” in Macedonian), has become quite the attraction. Every year in Prilep, Macedonia, the main street and square are closed down to accommodate several hundred thousand visitors. Of course, being a beer festival, visitors will find stands featuring some of the most famous beer brands in the world, and also some lesser known ones that deserve equal attention. As beer would go down sadly without barbeque, Prilep boasts the best barbecue, hamburgers, sausages, kebabs, snitzels, and ribs in the Balkans, at the best prices. Just because it is a popular festival does not mean that it should be expensive, Prilep officials remark. Entrance, for example, is free. Walking down the street is a treat in its own regard, with the smell of roasting meat, fresh beer, and festivity shooting from vendors left and right and poking its way through the perambulating crowds.

Lepa Brena, Pivo Fest 2012. | Photo: Ivan Grozdanovski (All rights reserved)

It would be difficult to name the main event, with the food and drinks competing so adamantly, but if anything takes the spot as the most appealing, it would probably be the stunning musical performances which this small town rallies every year. Last year, Prilep booked the Serbian superstar Lepa Brena to incite a Balkan which has devoted many a toast to her over the past thirty years, and the year before that, the Serbian-Bosnian pop legend Zdravko Čolić sung to jubilant audiences who were happily providing backup vocals and jumping to the beat late into the night and early into the morning. For those who would avoid the concert crowds which gather in the courtyard before the stage, a wide array of bars and cafés conveniently rise in the background from where visitors can still enjoy everything the show has to offer a little more comfortably.

This year, the Pivo Fest will feature Goran Bregović, the guitarist from one of the most famous Balkan rock bands of all time, Bijelo dugme, and his orchestra. From the foreign artists, Carl Cox, 2Cellos, Phil Hartnoll, Swedish House Mafia, and Tom Boxer & Antonia will join the show. A very special guest, Inna, will also be performing.

The Pivo Fest in Prilep, Macedonia, makes for a lighthearted and enjoyable event each year. Last year’s Pivo Fest was proclaimed the most successful tourist event of 2012 in Macedonia by the Ministry of Economy. With a population of only 66.000, Prilep remarkably drew 400.000 tourists for the 2012 Pivo Fest. Boasting the best musical performances and the widest selection of beer and barbeque, this year’s Pivo Fest on its 11th anniversary is predicted to be the most successful so far.

La Tomatina—Food Fight in Buñol, Spain (28 August)

Some would call it a waste of perfectly good food, but for those who wouldn’t mind joining the “world’s biggest food fight” that would take place with or without them, La Tomatina is the perfect opportunity to take out bottled aggression in a safe and an enjoyable way. In Buñol, Spain, a small town of 9.000 inhabitants near Valencia, over 50.000 creaming-ready visitors attend every year on the last Wednesday of August with one objective—to pelt tomatoes.

Photo: Graham McLellanCC BY 2.0 (Flickr)

Concluding a weeklong celebration featuring music, dance, food, and fireworks, the official day of the “batalla”, or battle, begins with the climbing of the “Palojabón”; that is, before the tomato throwing can begin, contenders from the crowd must first climb a well-greased pole and retrieve the ham attached at the top. You can imagine how exciting this must be to the thousands of spectators eagerly waiting for permission to get at each other, and everything resides on the success of a mad, slippery scramble. And the whole time, the crowds are being hosed down with water to get them prepared for the fight. As soon as the ham is down, trucks roll into the Plaza del Pueblo and unload a cargo of more than one hundred metric tons of tomatoes, and the fight is on!

The participants must first crush the tomatoes in their hands before beaming them so as to lessen the impact. Throughout the chaos, people splash their way through red rivers and get drenched in tomato juice as they try to hit and dodge. One rule is that participants cannot rip off anyone else’s shirt, but the shirts tend to come off regardless. After an hour, a cease-fire is called, and the whole city is hosed down.

Weird, yes, but the event is certainly not unfounded. The origin of the festival is said to have its roots in 1944 or 1945, and tomatoes must have been involved one way or another: whether a group of youths disturbed a parade with a planned tomato brawl, or they targeted city officials in a show of dissatisfaction, or a truck spilled tomatoes on the ground that looked too accessible to pass up, one thing is certain—the tomato fights were so enjoyable that they became a tradition, and tradition evolved into the great La Tomatina festival of today.

If you decide to go, you might be interested to stay for the After Party that night. Music, drinks, and several thousand people dancing in the streets to reconcile in good sport with those they just spent their day smashing with tomatoes might make for a great conclusion to a day of hard work.

Cover photo: Rodney CampbellCC BY 2.0 (Flickr)

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