Edinburgh International Festival
Culture vultures should visit the Scottish capital this summer and catch some of the best international opera, music, theatre and dance. From the Mariinsky Ballet’s adaptation of Cinderella to operatic performances of Tristan and Isolde, this much-loved event is diverse and an absolute must for anyone in the vicinity.
19th Istanbul Jazz Festival
With the likes of Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Sting and Joss Stone having graced its stages, the Istanbul Jazz Festival is back with force. This year’s line-up includes Morrissey, lead singer and founder of The Smiths, and Erykah Badu, the four-time Grammy-award winning American soul singer and songwriter. Considered one of the best festivals in Europe, the event will be held in a range of prominent venues including the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre.
London 2012 Olympic Games
This major international sports event, held every four years, brings together elite athletes from across the world as they compete against the best of the best to clinch a coveted Olympic gold medal. Featuring athletics, cycling, sailing, judo, gymnastics, swimming and a plethora of other top sports, this must-watch event will be held in London for the first time since 1948. Look out for scores of new world records.
The ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a deeply spiritual time for millions of Muslims across the world who mark the occasion by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Expected to start on July 20 with the sighting of the new moon and end on August 18, the Holy Month is a time for reflection and an opportunity to become closer to God. Many lavish iftars, the meal over which the day’s fast is broken, will be served throughout this period. For more information ask your hotel concierge or visit rotanatimes.com
Liwa Date Festival
The humble date is hugely symbolic of the Middle East, having provided essential nutrition to Bedouin tribes travelling across the desert for centuries. Each year the fruit is celebrated at The Liwa Date Festival in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. At the time of going to press exact details were still to be confirmed, but it is thought that up to 50 exhibitors will display a variety of dates as they compete for a total prize pot of AED4 million.
Dubai Summer Surprises
Anyone with a passion for fashion should head to Dubai this summer for the 15th edition of Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), the entertainment and shopping fiesta held throughout the emirate’s malls. With huge in-store promotions and impressive discounts, the event is a must for shopaholics. Families are also catered for with Modhesh World, an indoor edutainment venue offering trampolining, painting, arts, crafts, horse rides and bouncy castles. To book your stay during DSS, visit
Eid Al Fitr
This three-day Muslim holiday marks the end of Ramadan and is expected to start on August 18 with the sighting of the new moon. It is common to offer gifts to loved ones and host celebrations for friends and family as well as take part in traditional prayer and charitable giving. There are lots of festive events happening in and around the region too. One of the best is Eid in Dubai, which encourages giving and sharing, with prizes and surprises for all. There are also events and activities for little ones. To find out about Rotana’s special Eid offers, visit rotanatimes.com
Duty Free International Weekend
While the temperature continues to soar in the Middle East, why not catch a spot of horse racing at the somewhat cooler Newbury Racecourse in the UK? Featuring masterclasses and trick-shot shows, The Dubai Duty Free Weekend at this prestigious venue also offers face painting and a bouncy castle for children. Cheer for your favourite horse from the grandstand or treat yourself to a private box.
Byblos International Festival
There’s something wonderfully relaxing about listening to great music outdoors. Head to Lebanon this summer for the Byblos International Festival and do just that. Featuring top acts such as Snow Patrol (above) and BB King, the event also includes a mesmerising performance from German chanteuse Ute Lemper, who, with the Vogler Quartet, sings a collection of songs that takes listeners on a journey through Europe and Argentina. Look out for Kadim Al Shahir, too, one of the most successful singers in the Arab world.