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The world’s best luxury festivals for 2019

With festivals going highbrow – even Glastonbury has gone up market with Bedouin-style yurts with wood burners and pop-up hotels – we take a look at the luxury festivals on the radar this year, from Marrakech to Dubai

For music aficionados: British Summer Time, London

For music aficionados: British Summer Time, London

Gone are the days of music festivals being seen as niche affairs, purely for serious musos or hedonistic types. Nowadays they cater to every kind of music lover, and British Summer Time has an upmarket festival vibe. As well as the big hitters on the main stage  –­ which this year include Florence + the Machine and Céline Dion – there are smaller stages, theatre and comedy, excellent food and drink options, and a VIP area. Held in London’s spectacular Hyde Park, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London makes the perfect spot to rest your head. Heading in just for the headline acts? Take a late lunch at Bar Boulud before you set off.
When: 5-14 July 2019

For gourmands: World Gourmet Summit, Singapore

For gourmands: World Gourmet Summit, Singapore

Since the World Gourmet Summit first started in Singapore 23 years ago, the city state’s gastronomic landscape has changed immeasurably: from Singaporeans becoming true oenophiles (where once beer and hard spirits were the tipples of choice), to its 39 Michelin-starred restaurants – including street-food stall, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. The scene is always progressing, and with this in mind, the big word for the 2019 summit is sustainability. If you’re concerned about the impact that food and drink has on the environment, but still want to experience outstanding food, then this is the festival for you. With culinary masterclasses and gourmet safaris, the main events take place across various venues in Singapore. After a day of epicurean delights, head to MO BAR at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore to enjoy a nightcap – our suggestion: the Boracay Bling – while you survey the views of Marina Bay.
When: April 2019

For artists and intellectuals: The Beat Hotel, Marrakech

For artists and intellectuals: The Beat Hotel, Marrakech

Just a 15-minute drive from Marrakech, the Beat Hotel promises to be the ultimate in hedonistic but luxury festival fun. Encompassing live music, exciting culinary collaborations (including banquet-style dining from some of London’s hottest restaurants, such as Berber & Q and Salon), there's also a programme of intriguing talks ­– do not miss Irvine Welsh and DBC Pierre in conversation. The festival takes place across several villas, framed with views of the Atlas Mountains. Once your day at the festival is over, soothe tired feet at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech.
When: 28-31 March 2019

For the best of both: Taste of Dubai

For the best of both: Taste of Dubai

Lauded as the food event in Dubai, Taste of Dubai – held in the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre – promises top-class cuisine from Dubai’s most exciting restaurants, including Nobu and Andes, demonstrations with experts – as well as the chance to show off your cookery skills in interactive masterclasses. This year’s line-up includes Eric Lanlard and Mariano Andres of Seville's, the legendary tapas bar in Wafi Mall. There are also international food and drink vendors, as well as live bands and DJs. Base yourself at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, less than a 20-minute drive away. The event starts between noon and 4pm depending on the day, so spend a leisurely morning by the hotel’s sea-facing pool.
When: 7-9 March 2019

For the alternative: Crop-Over Festival

For the alternative: Crop-Over Festival

Barbados has started to more than earn its festival stripes, with everything from sports events such as Barbados Open Water Festival to Oistins Fish Festival, but on the travel radar for 2019  is Crop-Over Festival. Existing in some form of other since the 1680s, the event celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest. Lasting for six weeks and including arts and crafts markets, street-food fairs, reggae and soca parties, Crop-Over culminates in a street parade on Grand Kadooment Day – an event Bajan-born Rihanna often attends. Pro tip: enjoy a week of festivities leading up to Grand Kadooment Day and then recuperate at idyllic Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, or use it as base for island hopping.
When: August 2019

Around the world in five trees

Nature writer, Jonathan Drori plots a botanical journey looking at the plants that define five of Mandarin Oriental’s home cities