July 2: Siena’s Palio, the most famous horse race in Italy, takes over the Piazza del Campo every year on July 2 and August 16. Each horse and rider represents one of Siena’s contrade (neighborhoods), and the rivalry is fierce. Thousands of people crowd into the center of the square for the race, but the best seats are in private balconies.
July 2-8: Attend a different opera each night in Berlin during the Komische Oper’s Comic Opera Festival. This year, the festival includes performances of Weill’s “The Seven Deadly Sins,” Auber’s “The Bronze Horse,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” Handel’s “Xerxes,” von Weber’s “The Marksman,” Wagner’s “The Master Singers of Nuremberg,” and Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.”
July 5-August 5: New York City’s Lincoln Center has again assembled some impressive star power for the annual Lincoln Center Festival. Alan Cumming takes on a one-man version of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” (July 5-14), Cate Blanchett stars in Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” (July 19-28) and Mikhail Baryshnikov returns to the stage in Ivan Bunin’s “In Paris” (August 1-5).
July 6-7: Polo is exciting to watch anywhere it’s played, but it’s hard to top watching a match on the beach. Some of the world’s best polo players gather for the British Beach Polo Championships, held at Sandbanks Beach (not far from Chewton Glen and Lime Wood). In addition, spectators can visit a plush hospitality lounge, Champagne bar and various receptions and events.
July 6-15: Bivalves overtake picturesque Knysna, South Africa, during the annual Knysna Oyster Festival. Among the array of events happening throughout this Garden Route town, the Wine Festivals on July 9 and 10, showcasing some of South Africa’s top vintages, should be particularly memorable.
July 7-19: Not content to let Munich have all the fun, Turkey is hosting the third annual International Istanbul Opera Festival. This year, visitors have the unique opportunity to watch Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio” in Topkapi Palace itself, where the comic opera is set.
July 24-25: One of Osaka’s most important and spectacular festivals, Tenjin Matsuri celebrates the deification of Sugawara Michizane, a ninth-century poet and courtier who died in exile. His angry spirit was blamed for a number of disasters, and the festival was founded to appease it. Tenjin Matsuri ends with a beautiful torch-lit boat parade, capped by a brilliant fireworks display.
Through August 18: We in the Travel Office always look forward to the Grant Park Music Festival, a series of concerts performed by the Chicago Symphony and/or Chicago Symphony Chorus on Wednesday evenings and weekends in the summer. The concerts take place in the spectacular Frank Gehry-designed band shell in Millennium Park as the sun sets behind the city’s skyline. It’s a sublime setting for a picnic with wine.