Europe's summer festivals showcase opera, dance, and theater. But tickets and hotel rooms go fast. Here's what you need to know to score last-minute entrée to four of the most popular.
Glyndebourne Festival Opera (May 19August 27; 44-127/381-3813; www.glyndebourne.com)
Six productions set in the English countryside. Evening dress is customary.
Tips: Lifelong members often snag the best tickets by the time the box office opens, so book yours—including about 40 heavily reduced standing-room spots at $18—as early as possible. A tax-deductible Glyndebourne Association America membership (from $2,500) guarantees you priority booking to all six shows, trip-planning advice, pre-opera cocktails, and other perks.
Where to Stay: Since there are no hotels at Glyndebourne, stay in Brighton, 11 miles away.
Festival d'Avignon (July 6July 27; 33-4/90-14-14-14; www.festival-avignon.com)
Mostly theater, with some music and dance.
Tips: Tickets go on sale June 12; Internet booking is available at fnac.fr (in French only). Avignon Festival Off (www.avignon-off.org) coexists, filling over 700 theaters, clubs, and cafés. Stop by the Maison des Pays du Vaucluse on the Place de l'Horloge for program info and tickets to both festivals, including a "carte spectateur" (last year's card cost $17) for 30 percent discounts on Off productions. Last-minute tickets for the Festival d'Avignon are available at each venue 45 minutes before showtime.
Where to Stay: Avignon fills up fast, so stay in a nearby suburb—try Les Angles, Villeneuve, or St.-Saturnin.
Edinburgh International Festival (August 13September 3; 44-131/ 473-2000; www.eif.co.uk)
International performers star in dance, music, and world-premiere plays.
Tips: Pick up last-minute tickets for $18 at the door an hour before showtime. In years past, the Hub brochure, available at the central box office, has listed discounted tickets for dress rehearsals. To get a jump on advance booking for next year's festival, join the members program (from $90 per year). The concurrent Edinburgh Festival Fringe (www.edfringe.com) features hundreds of independent companies.
Where to Stay: Many Edinburgh residents rent out their houses and apartments to tourists; see edinburgh.org for details.
Montreux Jazz Festival (June 30July 15; 41-21/966-4444; www.montreuxjazz.com)
One of Europe's oldest jazz fests, drawing big-name performers—everyone from B. B. King to Gilberto Gil.
Tips: Purchase tickets online and print them before you go. Ciao! Travel in San Diego (800/942-2426; www.ciaotravel.com) specializes in European jazz-festival vacations and can organize both trip and show tickets.
Where to Stay: Montreux has a limited number of hotel rooms, but Lausanne (20 minutes away by train) and Geneva (an hour and a half) have excellent accommodations.
T+L TIP Most European cities sell an all-in-one card that grants you entry into museums, churches, and historic sites. Find five of our favorites at travelandleisure.com/strategies.
Want a primer on a country's cultural landscape or its politics and scandals?Turn to these papers and Web sites for updates—in English—on popular European destinations.
ESTONIA, LATVIA, AND LITHUANIA The Baltic Times (www.baltictimes.com) covers the region, as does City Paper: The Baltic States (www.balticsww.com), which also gives advice on topics such as finding a decent tailor.
WARSAW The Warsaw Insider (www.warsawinsider.pl) is a monthly roundup of cultural events. For business and politics, see the weekly Warsaw Voice (www.warsawvoice.com.pl) and the Warsaw Business Journal (www.wbj.pl). —Carly Berwick