Jet-Set Bohemian: Seaside Summer Festivals

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Jet-Set Bohemian: Seaside Summer Festivals

A jetset lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In Paste Travel’s Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.


In the middle

of May, the designer shop-lined Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes goes from sleepy to starlet-filled as Hollywood’s A-listers descend on the seaside town for the annual film festival. From a perch along the promenade behind all the paparazzi, you might catch a glimpse of celebrities strolling the red carpet. But unless you’re a supermodel or on a first-name basis with Leonardo DiCaprio, chances are this is one festival you’re not getting in to.

Wait a few months and you’ll come across another scene, as this same stretch of sea takes on a music theme during Les Plages Électroniques, the only electro music fest in France set on a public beach. During the three-day event in August, stages are set up in the same spot where the red carpet was rolled out. DJs are suspended high above the crowd as the sand transforms into a dancefloor extending out to the sea. You won’t find headliner DJs like Skrillex or Diplo here, but that’s not the point of this beach party that draws more than 60,000 festival-goers a year. French artists like Samo ti and Tchami (known for his remix of Janet Jackson’s “Go Deep”) on this year’s lineup may not boast a big name, but they’ve still worked alongside some of the greats. Throw on your brightest bikini and join the crowd dancing in the water during the late-night fête that would give some of Saint-Tropez’s flashiest clubs a run for their money.

In summer, all eyes may be on major festivals like Somerset’s Glastonbury (the UK version of Bonnaroo or Tomorrowland in Belgium, one of the largest electro festivals in the world, but like Les Plages Électroniques, some of Europe’s best events aren’t landlocked on farms and deserts.

Photo courtesy of Primavera Sound (Eric Pamies)

Didn’t snag tickets

to Coachella this year? The lineup at Primavera Sound in Barcelona tends to mimic the California fest, with 2016 headliners including Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Brian Wilson and PJ Harvey. Drawing more than 150 acts to the five-day festival in June, Primavera is the perfect example of a city festival that’s still within walking distance of the sea. Most of the action takes place at the waterfront Parc del Fòrum in the northern part of the city, but shows also pop up around the gentrified El Raval neighborhood, home to the former red light district and the Gaudi-designed palace, Palau Güell.

In July, the northwestern side of the French island of Corsica plays hosts to the fashion-fueled fête Calvi on the Rocks on Calvi’s harbor, a six-hour ferry ride away from Nice. Here you’ll have free reign to don your most fashionable festivalwear since nothing is too over-the-top. Instead of the EDM trends like furry boots and LED-lit bras you’d find at Stateside festivals, this crowd goes more for peacock feather headdresses and Grecian goddess-style dresses encrusted in gold.

It’s no surprise the style is throwback Riviera chic à la Brigitte Bardot since Parisian brand ba&sh, known for its flowy bohemian numbers, hosts one of the festival’s main beach parties. At the seaside soirée, you can accessorize your festival look with flower crowns and golden tattoos; freshen up your makeup at MAC Cosmetics; or sip on luxe iced tea by Kusmi. Didn’t have the chance to get your hair done before heading to the beach? There’s even an onsite salon that can make sure those perfect flower-adorned French braids stay in place.

Daytime is all about sipping rosé while catching some of the live acts at these pop-up beach parties along the Corsican coastline before moving to the Théâtre de Verdure later in the evening, where main artists like Azealia Banks play along the port until 4 a.m. Don’t think the party stops before the sun rises, though. Palaces and clubs in town transform into cabaret venues hosting after shows that linger on until dawn.

In Croatia, ferries are also part of the party as Ultra throws the European version of its electronic music festival in Split. Named after the Depeche Mode album, Ultra started as a one-day event in Miami in 1999 before spinning off to countries like Singapore and South Africa. Four state-of-the-art stages take over Split’s Stadion Poljud for the three-day event in July, with a lineup of over 150 acts that includes heavy hitters like David Guetta, Carl Cox, Afrojack and Alesso. And this is just phase one.

Once the official festival comes to a close, hop on board Ultra’s Yacht Regatta Party en route to the island of Bra? where the music continues beachside in the town of Bol, known for the triangle-shaped beach Zlatni Rat, or Golden Horn. The following day you can join the crowd island hopping over to Hvar to catch sets by Robin Schulz and Don Diablo at the Ultra Beach party, taking place in a private bay at Hotel Amfora, 10 minutes from the island’s port. The week wraps up in one of the most stunning islands of them all, Vis, with another all-nighter at the Resistance Party, the location of which is still being kept under wraps.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.