Summer city breaks can provide off-the-chart levels of fun times and good vibes, with festivals and big live events, and people partying in the streets in the coolest areas. But the last thing you want to end up doing is traipsing about looking for the festivities. Check out our guide to the coolest moments and locales so you can get right to the action. Then raise a glass, to new friends and the best summer ever.

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London

London
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When the temperature soars in the Big Smoke, as the locals call it, do what they do and head to the parks. From the massive Royal ones, like Hyde, Regent’s and St James’, to cult favourites like Victoria in Hackney or Crystal Palace in the south, you’ll find Londoners gathering with friends, playing frisbee or having a drink ‒ and maybe an impromptu festival or two. Another sure favourite is the south bank of the Thames: at the end of a sunny day anywhere from Tower Bridge down to Barnes, you’ll find bars with outdoor tables laden with Londoners at their most mellow. Good vibes!

Barcelona

Barcelona
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There’s no vibrant cultural city like the Catalan capital. Every district also has their own “festes majors” (authentic local festivities), and a good few are in summer: Raval, Poble Sec, Sants, Sant Roc and Gracia are all July-August. The biggest party is the festival of Sant Joan (St John), also known as the  'Nit del Foc' (night of fire), where fireworks and bonfires light up the city. For the full experience, join gloriously rowdy Catalonians and live musicians at sunset on Barceloneta beach.

Malaga

Malaga
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Malaga might be praised as a cultural powerhouse these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten its roots or traditions. As well as the beach bonfires and fireworks on 23rd June for St Juan (see Barcelona), the city has several bjg summer feast days, the peak of which is the week-long, 536-year-old city fair, which takes place in the third week of August. Expect street parties, flamenco, parades, dancing and serious jubilation. If you visit at other times of the summer, you won’t miss out either ‒ there’s often free live music, art, theatre and cinema at Paseo del Parque, Plaza de la Constitución or Muelle Uno.

Venice

Venice

Yes, you’ve missed Carnival, but Venice in the summer still has some cracking festivals. At the end of May, for example, one of the world's more eccentric sporting events celebrates the grand tradition of Venetian rowing, as 2000-odd boats descend on the city for the Vogalonga. Started by a group of friends in the 1970s to celebrate human-powered boats over motorised ones, the winnerless race takes a 30-mile circle around the islands of the lagoon with much jollity and merry making from the crowd. Then on the third Sunday in July, citizens gather on the island of Giudecca for Festa del Redentore, an evening of celebration, where spectacular fireworks light up the city's sky. On hot sunny days in the city, make like the locals and make a beeline for Lido island. World-beating architecture and art, festivals galore, and the beach? That's Venice for you.

Manchester

Manchester
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The UK’s most fun northern city seriously ups its game in years ending with odd numbers, as its biannual International Festival curates a smorgasbord of music, theatre and art in June-July. You don’t even need a ticket to soak up the buzz. Just head to Festival Square, now relocated to the grounds of the new Factory International building in Salford, for 100s of live bands, plus food and drink stalls. There’s more al fresco treats to be had at ‘Escape to Freight Island’, an outdoor market and festival space with regular events, food trucks and even a retro roller disco. If you find yourself in town for the last weekend of August, don’t miss the Pride parties around Canal Street ‒ seriously fun times.

Palma

Palma
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If you’re looking to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, then the Copa del Rey regatta at the end of July, is the highlight of the calendar, attracting a smart and up-for-it crowd to the Marina area. Not your thing? Well, for a more boho-type party, head to Santa Catalina where cafes and cocktail culture attract more of a young, hip crowd. Wander down its main thoroughfare, Avenida Argentina, where old fisherman’s cottages and windmills have been transformed into a buzzing scene ‒ and take your pick.

Milan

Milan
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The Milanese are famously stylish and they how to have a good time! This summer you can get blissed out at the “high vibes” music and art festival, Polifonic, which pops up (31st May - 2nd June) at the Parco Esposizioni Novegro, featuring Little Dragon and Bicep, among other music innovatorsAnother one to look out for if you are passionate about Italian music, or curious to discover local artists, is MI AMI Festival, at Idroscalo Milano (24th, 25th and 26th of May). Lastly, don't miss out on ‘Milano è Viva’, the summer entertainment season at the Castello Sforzesco, featuring star performers and big crowds from July to September. If you fancy a more private sort of party instead, just do what the locals do and head to Navigli, to kick off your night with a real Milanese aperitivo by the Naviglio Grande canal. You never know where you'll end up.

Ibiza

Ibiza
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This booming balearic is just one big party ‒ and it’s not all about the super clubs. For daytime great vibes, dance on deck at one of the islands’ string of boat parties (OceanBeat Ibiza holds the world record for the most number of DJs on a boat, FYI); rent a daybed at Ushuaia or lug your inflatable croc to Ibiza Rocks pool parties. At sunset, you can pick basically any bar on the west coast for an incredible sundowner moment, but we love the terrace at Sunset Ashram or cliff-top views with classic balearic beats at Hostal La Torre

Madrid

Madrid
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If you’re in Madrid at the start of August then you’ll likely catch one of the big three summer fiestas that happen one after another in different areas of the city. San Cayetano happens the first week of August in the Rastro and Embajadores; San Lorenzo, in Lavapiés, around the 10th; and, the biggest, Verbena de la Paloma on the 12-15th in La Latina. Outside of these times, the fiesta feeling is carried by a more modern festival ‒ the Veranos de la Villa, which has a city-wide offering arts of all kinds, more than 100 activities across all 21 districts, much of it free. Retire after all that at a local favourite, Retiro Park, for picnicking, boat rides and a well-deserved rest in the cool shade.