Our round-up of the best Southern European festivals, exhibitions, concerts and events happening in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Britain this month
Ravello Festival, Villa Rufolo, Ravello, Italy
1 April – 1 November
Ravello’s annual Music Festival must have one of the most spectacular festival settings in Europe. On the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, venues for theatre, opera, dance and arts events include the 13th century, Moorish-style Villa Rufolo which is said to have been the inspiration for Wagner’s Parsifal. Look out for free recitals of Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Chopin and Mendelssohn, as well as concerts by French jazz pianist and composer Claude Bolling.
Lisbon Fish & Flavours Festival, Lisboa
4 – 14 April
Every spring, Lisbon’s top chefs get together for a series of tantalising tastings, workshops, talks and live demonstrations showcasing Portugal’s finest fish and seafood as well as a host of the country’s delicacies.
International Kite Festival, Berck-sur-Mer, Hauts de France
6 – 14 April
Blue skies, strong winds and a beautiful beach – what more could you need for a perfect day of kite flying? Every year in April, over half a million people flock to the small coastal town of Berck-sur-Mer near Calais for the world-class kite flying shows from experts from around the world. These are not just any old kites either. Displays include everything from diamond-shaped kites from India to spiritual forms from Bali Visitors. Kite flyers of all levels – and indeed all ages, can take part and there are also workshops and exhibitions on the history of kite flying. Free admission.
The Origins of the Genius – Leonardo da Vinci, Museo Leonardiano, Vinci, Italy
15 Apr – 15 October
Surrounded by centuries-old olive trees, Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace has been the site of pilgrimages for devotees and fans of the celebrated polymath for centuries. To mark the 500th anniversary of his death, the Origins of the Genius exhibition focuses on his work as a painter and newly developed interactive technology allows visitors to explore masterpieces like The Last Supper and The Battle of Anghiari in previously unseen detail.
The explosion of the cart, Florence, Italy
Easter Sunday is a big deal throughout most of Southern Europe and not least in Florence. In a tradition that dates back some 350 years, during the Easter Mass, the Archbishop of Florence ignites a rocket in the shape of a dove. The rocket then shoots along a wire from the altar to an elaborate cart, setting off a phenomenal display of fireworks. If the rocket heads back to the altar – which is the idea, a good year is supposedly guaranteed for all. If that was not enough, hundreds of people also follow a procession from Porta al Prato through the centre of Florence to the Piazza Duomo, complete with traditional costumes, musicians and flag-waving.
Chocolate Festival, Óbidos, Portugal
25 April – 5 May
If you love chocolate, there is no better place to be at the end of April than the walled town of Obidos in central Portugal. The alleys of the medieval town are filled with outsized, giant chocolate figurines, chocolate houses and animals, and there is no shortage of activities from chocolate cooking classes to a competition for ‘Chocolatier of the Year’ for budding young chocolate makers. There is also a ‘Kid’s Chocolate House’ with plenty of chocolate-related activities guaranteed to keep most children happy.
Kite Festival, Berck sur Mer. Photo: Pas-de-Calais Tourisme
Ravello Festival. Photo: Pino Izzo
Opening Parade for ‘Eldorado – Lille 3000’, Lille, France
Every few years Lille stages a spectacular international art festival with shows by leading international artists in venues throughout the city, from the grand, 19th-century railway station to galleries of all sizes. The Lille 3000 art shows runs till December 2019 and, to kick it all off, there will be a spectacular parade through the city. In keeping with the festival’s ‘Eldorado’ theme, there will be Mexican-inspired floats and costumes and giant puppets, as well as music and dance based around the theme of the ‘Dia de los Muertos’ –- ‘Day of the Dead’. The last edition of the Lille art festival saw nearly 100,000 visitors pack the city’s streets, so get there early!
Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal
27 April – 5 May
This major event on the international sporting calendar brings together some of the world’s top tennis stars from the charismatic Italian, Fabio Fognini, to France’s Gael Monfils and Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson.
Sorolla: panish Master of Light, The National Gallery, London
Until 7 July
19th-century Spanish impressionist Joaquín Sorolla may not be as well known as his French contemporaries, but this major retrospective at London’s National Gallery looks set to change that. Known as the ‘master of light’ for his iridescent canvases, the 58 works in the show span Sorolla’s career and range from vivid seascapes, garden views and the scenes of bathers for which he is best known, to portraits, landscapes and genre scenes of Spanish life. The show is the first UK exhibition of his work in over a century and a rare chance to see his paintings outside of Spain.
TEXT BY HANNAH KROLLE