Where to go in May

Written by  larapiegeler

It's hard to turn your back on the UK just as it's warming up in May, but there are so many long- and short-haul holiday options at this time of year that it's more than a little tempting.

To begin with, you’ll find that festival season is gradually coming out of hibernation and the streets of Europe’s cities are beginning to pulse with warm weather party moods once again. The Lille Festival of Flavours, for example, is a spirited display of the results of centuries of dedication and refinement in the development of French food. Proud chefs, farmers and manufacturers offer samples, sell, teach and talk about their passion, and you’ll have serious trouble coming away without an extra suitcase full of jars, pots and packages. The Spargelfest takes place in Schwetzingen now, too, and the weekend on which it falls coincides with part of the city's Festspiele. What could be more Spring-like than seasonal food and wonderful music set amongst 18th century baroque architecture, with riverside paths through dense woodland just minutes away?

The whole continent seems to feel the thrill of the approaching Summer now, including St. Petersburg, where it might not be quite as warm as in central Europe, but it’s nevertheless that magical time of year when night never quite arrives, and opera, ballet and classical music mark the short reign of the midnight sun with the White Nights Festival. You can enjoy breathtaking art and architecture here in peace now, before the Summer high season: visit the kaleidoscopically patterned Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood, promenade along the expansive Nevsky Prospect, taste Russian delicacies straight from the stalls at Kuznechny Market and spend hours wandering through the vast Hermitage Museum.

Other well-loved European destinations show up crisp and new in May, too, when the sun’s beginning to make an effort but the crowds haven’t caught up yet. If there’s ever a perfect time for a Greek holiday, it’s now. The temperature is just right for days spent exploring all those archaeological sites in relative peace, small, local island festivals are popping up all over, and it’s precisely the right time of year to learn why the Peloponnese is called the garden of Greece.

It’s also an ideal time of year for diving: try the area around Halkidiki for untouched sea life, or the Turkish Riviera for shipwrecks and archaeology.

Italy’s lakes can always work wonders for the tense and grumpy, but never more so than in May, when greenery seems to tumble down the rocks and through the villages perched by the water’s edge, ancient Roman forts glow in the afternoon sunshine and dinner on the balcony of your spa after an afternoon’s boutique-browsing affords views of sparkling lights on the opposite shore and a breeze just cool enough to be pleasant. Garda and Como offer indulgence and star-studded history, but why not try Lake Iseo for serious peace and quiet, and top local food?

If it’s time for a longer break for you, then California might be a good choice. Sample the nightlife, shopping and ultra-glamorous beaches of Los Angeles, visit historic San Diego or make a trip up to San Francisco for culture, cuisine and a truly iconic cityscape encircled by sea.

Canada’s the place to go now for a get-away-from-it-all adventure. Stay in a hut far up in the Rocky Mountains to experience true wilderness, and try your hand at whitewater kayaking, because this is the very best time of year to catch the torrents caused by the snow melting way above.

If you really can’t get away, there are two world-class reasons to stay home: the sensational Chelsea Flower Show, which never fails to surprise with innovative designs or just simply stunning flowers every year without fail, or the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, where great writers go to talk and share, and readers go to be amazed and inspired amongst the resplendent Brecon Beacons.

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