Members of staff at Aesop, the niche Australian hair and skin care brand, are forbidden to talk about the weather. In an article from the Sydney Morning Herald, its founded Dennis Paphitis asserts that “customers do not benefit from benign and obvious staff commentary. If it’s raining, it’s evident to all that it is, and it doesn’t particularly require further discussion”.
I recall this as it is raining outside. Early October, and dark at seven already. I am English and conforming to stereotype. As a nation on this small exposed island, we never fail to be surprised by the seasons and their inevitable shifts, and I hazard a guess that staff in Aesop’s London branches would find it hard to abide by Paphitis’ commandment.
With this, my mind wanders to the other side of the world, to spring and impending summer. As our nights fold inwards and we gather indoors for celebrations, the southern hemisphere is gearing up for heat and sunshine and festivities of the open-air variety. I think how ironic it is that the UK has such a big outdoor festival culture when our weather doesn’t cut it. This summer, a festival gifted with sun and unscathed by wind and rain was more unusual than not. But other parts of the world, perhaps those not so at the mercy of the jet stream, have plenty of daydream-worthy offerings. Here are my current southern hemisphere fantasies:
Meredith Festival (Australia):
Meredith Festival falls on my birthday in December. The thought of a birthday is the sun is a wild proposition to me and deeply appealing. The festival takes place in the wonderfully named ‘Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre,’ near a town called Meredith, in Victoria, Australia and this year Primal Scream, Four Tet and Grimes take centre stage, along with a host of fine Antipodean acts including Royal Headache and Chet Faker.
Festival au Désert (various locations, Africa):
In the past Ali Farka Tour, Amadou et Miriam, Robert Plant and Damon Albarn have appeared at nomadic Festival au Desert, alongside traditional Tuareg music (including Tinariwen, this year’s Grammy award winners in the Best World Music Category).
With its origins in Touareg festivities – traditionally a time for exchange of information among different communities, with songs, dances, poetry, camel rides and games – an indefatigable creative spirit clearly drives this festival and I can’t imagine an adventure more inspiring and intoxicating.
Due to fears over security in Mali, there was uncertainty as to whether next year’s Festival au Désert could safely take place in Timbuktu or Essakane (as is typical), but organisers have overcome these issues by planning a festival that harks back to its nomadic roots. In February and March 2013, it will be held as an ‘exceptional Caravan of Artists for Peace and National Unity’: performing along the way, artists will depart from Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Niger and meet in Burkina Faso for the 13th annual, three-day event. It is part of a global program for 2013 in which several events will be held, under the name Festival in Exile.
Buenos Aires (Argentina):
Not a festival, admittedly, but a whole city. Tales of colour and music, of Latin-American passion and laid-back European ambience have long had me coveting a trip to Buenos Aires. And while I may not be able to enjoy their steak (yo soy vegetariana) or get my feet around Tango, I like to think – with my tenuous grasp of the Spanish language – that I could immerse myself quite comfortably in the culture and a fiery southern hemisphere summer.
One day I’ll use winter as a verb; I’ll winter in Australia, winter in Africa, winter in South America. But until then I’ll sit back, wrap up and wait until it’s our time in the sun again, with fingers crossed the jet stream has managed to dislodge itself. Oh, and I’ll try to stop my benign and obvious British weather commentary too.
Words by Imogen Eveson