Don't forget your dancing shoes! Our top summer party spots will have you dancing on rooftop decks, on the beach, and even in the streets!
The sun isn’t the only thing that sizzles between June and August – the season also ignites the around the globe, from bizarre desert gatherings to hedonistic bashes on azure-coasted islands. We’ve rounded up a fantastic list of must-visit cities, where revelry manifests itself in renowned cultural fests and over-the-top parades; sexy seaside towns, where celebrities and party-goers touch down – often by yacht – to enjoy long summer nights; and even a desert destination, where thousands converge to send off the season. Of course, our list had to include Scandinavia's coolest summer capital, where midnight golf, mineral spas, and hopping nightlife are just some of the season's remarkable bounty. So get ready to get your groove on when the summer party switch is flipped!
There are more than a few reasons to head to Germany’s capital city for a raging summer jaunt you won’t soon forget. Not only is the “capital of cool” (its common moniker) hosting Europe’s most celebrated sports event, the World Cup, in 2006, but it’s also the stomping ground for the Love Parade (July 15), possibly the world’s biggest street party. Even if you miss these two headline events, any summer night in Berlin holds endless opportunities for debauchery-laden fun – its mercurial nightlife scene is renowned for its underground clubs, beer gardens, and über-cool lounges.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind summer party, rest assured that the annual Burning Man festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is no mirage. This ultimate end-of-summer hurrah (it’s held the week leading up to and including Labor Day weekend) encourages everyone around to let go – don’t be surprised to see people getting naked, drunk, or high – and culminates with the burning of a 40-foot tall wooden effigy known as “the man”.
Chicago’s nickname, the Windy City, may have been borne of excessive boasting during its bid for the 1893 World Fair – and have nothing whatsoever to do with the weather – but summertime in this Midwestern city definitely warrants bragging rights. In addition to its year-long attractions – think world-class museums, legendary jazz and blues clubs, 7000-plus restaurants, two stellar ball clubs (the Cubs and White Sox) – summer months bring a slew of seasonal events, including The Taste of Chicago; the critically-acclaimed Theater on the Lake; the Ravinia Festival; and the Magnificent Mile Arts Festival.
Monte Carlo, Nice, Cannes, and St-Tropez – the quartet of French cities at the heart of this sexy Mediterranean strip – conjure images of well-heeled vacationers passing long days on the beach, and even longer nights at elegant casinos, fine restaurants, and hot nightclubs. A night of gambling at Monte Carlo’s famed casino is a must, but it you’re content to strut your stuff, the place to do it is Cannes’ palm-treed Croisette boardwalk. The paramount place to be seen after dark, mind you, is in St. Tropez.
This up-and-comer on Croatia’s southern coast (a short boat ride from Dubrovnik, itself another bona fide summer hot spot) is considered by many to be the hippest island in the Adriatic – and we’d have to agree. It’s blessed with fantastic beaches, the hottest bars in southern Dalmatia, and a beautiful globetrotting crowd, all of which combine to create the chicest beach-party scene north of the Mediterranean.
Listed as the “entertainment island of the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records, Ibiza, one of the three main Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, has become synonymous with summer hedonism. Characterized by world-renowned clubs, where dance floors heave under the tracks spun by A-list international DJs, it’s quite possible you’ll spend more time dancing on this pleasure island than anywhere else on our list.
Of course, you’ll have to forego beaches and bikinis in Montreal, but with alcohol consumption and casino gambling (check out the chic Casino de Montréal) open to the 18-and-over crowd, scintillating nightlife (try Boulevard St-Laurent or Crescent Street for the best action), strip-clubs galore, and a certain je ne sais quoi, this French-Canadian city reels in its fair share of summer party-goers all the same. Popular seasonal festivals also abound – two not to miss include the renowned International Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs Festival.
Indeed, if your idea of paradise involves rambling white sands met by the deep-blue Aegean, beach bars bumping with Euro tunes, bikini-clad bodies dancing on tables, and topless girls sprawled on the sand, you’ll find it and more on Mykonos, where two adjoining local beaches, the appropriately named Paradise and Super Paradise, host full-blown parties along their shores. The music doesn’t typically die down before dawn – just in time for sunrise and a morning nap on fine Greek island sand.
This isolated New England beach town on the eastern end of Cape Cod has long been a magnet for summer-party seekers and all-around adventurers, attracting artsy types, gays and lesbians, and assorted free spirits to bask by its shores and soak up the culture of one of America's oldest art colonies. Long days spent combing the miles of protected beachfront – or exploring the high seas on the deck of a sailboat – tend to seamlessly merge into evening partying. One of the best places to get your groove on is at the town’s popular Tea Dance at the waterfront Boatslip Resort, (daily from 4-7 p.m.).
Home to a legendary nightlife scene that’s actually a blast to partake in all year long, Reykjavik nonetheless really comes into its own in summer, when the fabled Midnight Sun crests the horizon – and heralds a season of midnight golf and white nights. June 23 marks the onset of “midnight madness,” with a Viking-inspired festival complete with bonfires and live music. Despite its chilly temperatures (summer highs barely top 65 degrees), there are plenty of thermal wonders to warm you up here too, like the hugely popular Blue Lagoon.
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