Summer is coming, which means that airport queues across the country will soon be swollen by cultural tourists in search of al fresco opera, esoteric folk events or simply jazz in a highly original venue. Every year the number of festivals on offer increases. Some, such as Aix-en-Provence, Monterey and Salzburg, go back decades. Others are new and struggling to carve out a niche. With so much on offer, choosing what to attend can be a nightmare, but at least with international festivals, if you like the place to start with, it won't matter too much if you don't enjoy the entertainment. All prices are per person and include bed and breakfast, unless stated otherwise.
Stars of the White Nights, Russia
Always worth a visit is St Petersburg's Stars of the White Nights Festival, 10 May-27 July (mariinskiy.com), which was set up in 1993 byValery Gergiev, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre. The original idea was for the city to be presented with a "musical gift" from its most famous opera and ballet company, but White Nights has turned into an international showcase for the Mariinsky on evenings when the sun hardly sets. The highlight this year is Puccini's Tosca.
Contact: Hotel Astoria (0800 988 4040; roccofortecollection.com) offers a Summer Dreams package which includes three nights accommodation plus White Night tickets for 58,980 roubles (£1,290) per person. Austrian Airlines (0870 124 2625; austrianairlines. co.uk) offers return flights from £254.
Macerata Opera, Italy
In Italy, Macerata's opera festival, 24 July-12 August (sferisterio .it), is less well known than Torre del Lago's Puccinifest or Verona's gargantuan stagings of Verdi in the Arena, but it has a great al fresco setting and this year is performing plays and operas that are linked by the theme of seduction.
Contact: Kirker Holidays (020-7593 2284; kirkerholidays.com) offers opera packages including return flights, six nights' accommodation and tickets to the festival from £ 1,410.
Jazz on the Hill, Greece
This August there are 76 jazz festivals – and that's just in Europe. Of particular interest is the Greek eco resort at Sani (saniresort.gr), which stages three festivals over the summer, starting with Jazz on the Hill, 13-15 July. This year the festival highlights Cuban piano virtuosos and features Chucho Valdes, Roberto Fonseca and Omar Sosa.
Contact: Carrier (0161 491 7650; carrier.co.uk) offers seven nights in Sani from £916, including return flights. Entrance to all concerts is free.
Don Chento Jazz, Russia
In Russia's Kaliningrad, Central Park plays host to the Don Chento Jazz Festival, 1-3 August (jazzfestival.ru). The line-up this year will include bands from Italy, France, Poland and Moscow.
Contact: A three-day "Cornet" ticket costs from 800 roubles (£17). Baltma Tours (00 7 4012 931931; baltma.ru) can arrange both tickets and hotel accommodation, with rooms available from 2,900 roubles (£60). KD Avia (kdavia. co.uk) offers return flights from £145.
Mirande Country Music, France
The French town of Marciac is famous for its jazz festival, 1-17 August (jazz marciac.com), and for the fact that the local school teaches jazz as part of the core curriculum. Mirande, next door, is the venue for a country music festival, 10-14 July (country-musique.com), which begins at 5pm and continues till dawn for five days.
Contact: The Gascony Secret (0844 800 1637; gascony-secret. com) offers a week's accommodation from £202. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) has return flights to Pau from £79. Daily admission to the Mirande Country Music Festival festival is €22 (£17). Tickets to the jazz festival range from €26 to €54, though the "Abonnement Complet" at €410 is good value.
Monterey Bay Blues, USA
Monterey in California is the grandaddy of jazz festivals, but since 1985 it has been gaining a reputation for blues, too. This year's Monterey Bay Blues Festival, 27-29 June (montereyblues.com), offers 56 acts including the legendary BB King.
Contact: BA Holidays (0844 493 0787; ba.com/holidays) has a seven-night fly-drive to San Francisco for £614. A three-day main arena package starts at $110 (£55).
Fuji Rock, Japan
Fuji Rock, 25-27 July (smash-uk.com), Japan's biggest outdoor music event first held on Mt Fuji in 1997. Now at the Naeba ski resort. Acts include My Bloody Val- entine and Imawano Kiyoshiro.
Contact: InsideJapan Tours (0870 120 5600; insidejapantours .com) offers seven-night packages from £562. Return flights cost from £792 with Japan Airlines (08457 74700; jal.com).
Gothenburg Rock, Sweden
In the laid-back Swedish west coast city of Gothenburg a new rock festival is making its debut this year. Way Out West, 7-9 August (wayoutwest.se), will feature bands from Sweden and America bands, and includes a performance from UK group Franz Ferdinand.
Contact: A three-night Gothenburg Package costs 1,890 kronor (£140) and can be booked on goteborgplus.com. Festival passes cost 995 kronor (£82) (wayoutwest.se). Ryanair (as above) offers return fares from £52.