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Eight of the coolest small festivals around the world

By Kate Solomon

Forget Primavera. Give Burning Man a miss. The best festivals right now are smaller, niche affairs. Here are eight weird and wonderful offerings for 2017.

1) Fête des Lumières, Lyon, France


A photo posted by Remaille69 (@remaille69) on

For three nights every year, the city of Lyon is lit up by thousands of bulbs as artists paint illuminated visions all over the city’s buildings, streets, squares and parks. The closing spectacle is not to be missed: a huge light show on the beautiful Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. • Great for: night owls • 2017 dates TBC

2) Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria

You have to be a pretty dedicated festival-goer to trek to a village halfway up a mountain in the middle of Bulgaria, but the sunrise DJ sets and incredible views more than make up for the slog. Definitely a festival where someone is likely to bust out the fire poi at any given moment. • Great for: hippy-dippy escapism • Jun 9-11 •

3) Dimensions, Pula, Croatia

An abandoned fort on a Croatian beach plays host to some of the world’s most inventive DJs, tickling an eclectic set of fancies from jazz to techno, house to disco, funk to soul. Daytime boat parties will get you geared up for the dystopian Mad Max-style main stages at night. • Great for: grown-up ravers. • Aug 30-Sep 3 •

4) Milkshake, Amsterdam

Probably the most fun you can have in a city that, let’s face it, is already geared up for fun, Milkshake is Amsterdam’s super-inclusive dance music carnival. With drag to give RuPaul’s racers a run for their money, you’ll be puking glitter by the end of it. • Great for: insatiable party animals • Jul 29-30 •

5) Guanajuato Film Festival, Mexico


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With screenings taking place in graveyards and caves full of mummies, this isn’t exactly your average film festival. Set on a world heritage site, GIFF highlights the best of world cinema alongside elaborate parades and incredible Mexican grub. • Great for gothic cinephiles •  Jul 21-30 •

6) Into The Valley, Rummu, Estonia


Over there, just by the shore is where you find the Beach Stage this summer at Into the Valley. #intothevalley2017 #musicgoesfurther

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Previously taking place in a crater in Sweden, Into The Valley is upgrading to an abandoned prison in Estonia for 2017, sunken in a stunning and slightly eerie limestone quarry. The perfect place to rave to the year’s most exciting new dance acts. • Great for: adventurous dance fans • Jun 29 - Jul 1 •

7) Borscht Film Festival, Miami


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The world’s weirdest film festival takes place in the Sunshine State. Run by the Borscht collective – whose short films are as mad as their festival – you can expect 3am film screenings, psychic readings, DIY theme parks and some of the best parties you’ve ever been to. Great for film lovers looking for something new. • Feb 22-26 •

8) Documenta, Athens, Greece / Kassel, Germany


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This achingly cool celebration of contemporary art only takes place once every five years, with venues set across Athens and Kassel for 100 days. Grab your best beret and get stuck in with exhibitions exploring freedom and a reflection on what it means to be ‘public’. •Great for: chin-stroking art fiends • Athens, Apr 8 - Jul 16; Kassel, Jun 10-Sep 17 •

More ideas: the 50 best music festivals in the world

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