Travel & Leisure

8 Events to See—and Be Seen at—this Summer

From celebrations of sporting glory to a festival of sun-drenched sailing, these are the events to mark on your calendar as the world reopens this summer

Air travel has surged to levels not seen since the pandemic began. Tourist destinations across the globe are welcoming back travelers. And concerts, high-profile tournaments, and celebrations of all kinds are once again back on the cards. So, in honor of this “summer of freedom” (to quote President Biden), we’ve rounded up eight incredible events to attend, watch, and enjoy. Here, you’ll find everything from highbrow festivals to the ultimate in automotive excellence.

1. The Summer Olympics

July 23–August 8, Tokyo

Olympic rings in front of Tokyo's national stadium
The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will go ahead this summer with what's been described as the greenest ever stadium (pictured here), completely powered by renewable energy. Image: Alamy

Still officially called the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the summer Olympics will showcase 339 sporting events over its two-week run. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Japan, the events will be spectator-free, but you’ll still be able to see Simone Biles execute a Yurchenko double pike or watch Usain Bolt break his own world records in real time thanks to multiple television and streaming services.

After a year of delays caused by the pandemic, the opening ceremony is set to be spectacular and will be held on Friday, July 23, at 8 p.m. in Tokyo (7 a.m. EDT) with the Games closing on Sunday, August 8. Happily, you can continue to get your fix of sporting glory for a few weeks thereafter, as the Paralympics stream from August 24 to September 5.

2. The Qatar Goodwood Festival

July 27–31, Chichester, England

A crowd looks on as horses and jockeys pass by at the Qatar Goodwood Festival
The Qatar Goodwood Festival—affectionately known as “Glorious Goodwood”—is renowned for its beautiful setting and has been a highlight of the English summer season since the 19th century. Image: Courtesy Goodwood Racecourse

Hats at the ready: the Qatar Goodwood Festival returns this year, and the key element missing from 2020’s event—the racegoers (and their sensational style choices)—are welcome back.

Horse racing has been part of Goodwood since 1802 when the 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced the sport. More than 200 years later, it is home to 19 unique race days, including the five-day Goodwood Festival and its 14 action-packed races. Not to be missed amongst the summer events’ lineup is the Magnolia Cup, a women-only charity race where previous celebrity riders have included model Vogue Williams.

A range of facilities will be available to assist racegoers in attending the races safely, including hand sanitation stations, regular sanitation of touch points, and social distancing measures supported by racecourse stewards.

3. New York City’s Homecoming Week

August 14-21

NY Philharmonic concert Central Park New York City
Central Park has a storied tradition of productions and began hosting the annual summertime performances of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1965. It will host NYC’s homecoming week mega-concert this summer. Image: Alamy

This weeklong celebration of New York City is planned by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a “grand symbol of the city’s revitalization after a brutal pandemic year,” The New York Times reports.

While details are still to be confirmed, the week’s pinnacle event—a concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn—is set for August 21. Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Jennifer Hudson have been announced as the show’s headline acts and, The Times reports, the mayor is aiming for five more “iconic stars to perform for 60,000 attendees (the maximum capacity of the Great Lawn) and a worldwide television audience.”

Tickets are mostly free, with some V.I.P. seating available for purchase. While social distancing restrictions for New York are no longer in place, sections of the event will be demarcated for vaccinated and unvaccinated concertgoers.

4. Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

August 15, California

Sports cars lined up at the Pebble Beach Concours
Founded in 1950, The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance gathers together the world's finest collector cars—all competing to be named Best of Show. Image: Courtesy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Start your engines! 2021 marks the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and this year’s gathering of the finest collector cars will pay homage to the Concours’ history with a special exhibition of Best of Show winners.

The 18th fairway of California‘s Pebble Beach Golf Links once again plays host to the annual competition between extraordinary vintage automobiles, and showcases some of the most anticipated concepts and new car debuts. You’ll have the chance to trace the sculpted lines of Pininfarina’s much-lauded designs and get up close and personal with other marques and special classes, such as the famous race-winning Porsche 917s and the competitors of the Carrera Panamericana.

Health and safety measures in line with current C.D.C. guidelines for large events and leading industry best practices will be in place at all Pebble Beach Automotive Week events.

5. Barrière Deauville Polo Gold Cup 2021

August 16–29, Deauville, France

Three polo players mid-match on a field
Uniquely held in the middle of Deauville-La Touques Racecourse, the Barrière Deauville Polo Cup attracts players from across the world to compete in the prestigious sport. Image: Alamy

Just two hours from Paris, Deauville is a glamorous seaside resort on the Normandy coast. Its famous Barrière Deauville Polo Cup, and its legendary Gold Cup in particular, is a must-see on the international circuit.

This year, the Gold Cup will include at least five players with a handicap of seven, but it’s the prestigious club’s welcoming attitude to spectators that truly sets the tournament apart. The public is invited to linger over drinks in the picturesque village after the games, and side events include a parade on the eve of the finals, beach polo sessions at low tide, and kids’ exhibition games.

Travelers to and within France will be required to make use of the country’s digital health pass system, which stores copies of users’ vaccination certificates and proof of a negative PCR test taken in the past 48 hours.

6. U.S. Open Tennis Championships

August 30–September 12, New York City

Rafael Nadal mid-shot at the US Open tennis
Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open in 2018—today, he, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic each hold a world record of 20 Grand Slam titles. This summer’s Open is tipped to decide which legendary player pulls ahead. Image: Alamy

While the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament was played behind closed doors due to the pandemic, this year’s event will welcome fans back to the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at 100 percent capacity throughout the fortnight.

The tournament—where reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is tipped to win—will be the first Grand Slam to have full attendance since the Australian Open in February 2020, shortly before global lockdown measures were put into place.

In line with New York’s eased COVID-19 restrictions, no social distancing and no proof of vaccination will be required to attend. Fully vaccinated fans will not need to wear a mask but, in accordance with current C.D.C. guidelines, unvaccinated fans will have to do so.

7. Venice International Film Festival

September 1-11, Italy

The Palazzo del Cinema in Venice
The Palazzo del Cinema on the island of Lido di Venezia opened in 1937, and has been the long-time home of the Venice International Film Festival. Image: Alamy

In 2020, Venice was the only top-tier film festival to hold a physical edition, albeit with “a slimmed-down guest list—masked, clad in evening best, and sitting at minimum one seat apart from one another,” reported Vanity Fair.

This year, the festival is aiming to return to its full-fledged glory. The 12 days of events, held late in Italy’s summer, will see a full audience of A-list stars in attendance. World premieres of high-profile films such as Dune (director Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated reboot of the 1984 cult classic) and Spencer (a biopic starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana) are on the cards, and Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho will preside over the grand jury.

The festival will follow all prescribed safety protocols in compliance with Italian COVID-19 regulations. Venues such as bars and restaurants will be open only for outdoor consumption, and masks are mandatory.

8. Cannes Yachting Festival

September 7-12, France

Panorama of Cannes, at dusk.
Since 1977, the Cannes Yachting Festival has launched the show season, showcasing the world's premier offerings in pleasure yachting. Image: Getty Images

After a pandemic-mandated break in 2020, the prestigious Cannes Yachting Festival will return to the sun-drenched coast of the Côte d’Azur late this summer. And with almost 600 yachts, 430 exhibitors, and over 140 previews—10 percent more than in 2019—scheduled to be on show, the event is set to be bigger and better than ever.

Visitors to the Festival will also be welcomed into the Vieux Port’s Luxury Gallery. Set within the Palais des Festivals, the area is dedicated to luxury crafts and exceptional lifestyle products, with artisans on hand to share their unique know-how.

Health and safety measures recommended by the French Government and the World Health Organization will be in place, including hand sanitation stations, mandatory face masks, and digitalized access to events. As mentioned above, travelers will be required to make use of the country’s digital health pass system.

Banner image: A 1931 Bentley Gurney Nutting Sports Tourer shown at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week’s summer events in 2018