LONDON Now that summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, the lingering daylight and sultry evenings are prime-time for outdoor concerts. In an effort to get you swaying in the breeze, online travel advisers Cheapflights.com (www.cheapflights.com) has put together this list of the Top 10 places to enjoy outdoor summer music. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado, United States
More than a mile high and forged by over 160 million years of shifting sands and sandstone, Red Rocks is an amphitheater like no other. The natural acoustics, surrounding landscape and big sky vistas combine to make an amazing concert setting. And, if the star power coming from the sky isn't enough of a draw, the glittering stage line-up will lure you. Imagine shows from Sting, Darius Rucker, Big Head Todd, Widespread Panic, Robert Plant, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, BB King and Peter Frampton and George Thorogood in an intimate setting (fewer than 10,000 people and seats as close as 10 feet from the stage). That's just a sampling of what's on tap at Red Rocks in 2013.
2. Slane Castle, County Meath, Ireland
Along the shores of the River Boyne, 30 minutes north of Dublin, lies Slane Castle, the ancestral home of the Conyngham family. For over 300 years, that family has called the castle home, but for the last 30 plus years, so has rock and roll. Starting with Thin Lizzy in 1981, concerts in a natural amphitheater in the shadow of the castle have been a summer tradition at Slane. Now crowds of 80,000 people flock to the 1,500 acre estate for majestic shows from classic bands like the Rolling Stones (2007) to more modern favorites like Oasis (2009) and Kings of Leon (2011). This summer Bon Jovi will grace the grounds, giving audiences a mix of classic rock and regal living. U2 is best able to attest to life at the castle, having performed there three times and even lived and recorded there.
3. Théâtre Antique d'Orange, Orange, France
This classic Roman amphitheater showcases the setting and acoustics of the ancients. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Théâtre Antique features an incredibly preserved stage wall that bore witness to the shows of Roman times. Now the 100 meter (328 foot) long, 37 meter (120 foot) high wall serves as the backdrop to an annual opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange, and a diverse and international music line-up ranging from The Cure in 1986 to DJ Laurent Wolf's 2009 "Wash My World Festival" to upcoming shows by Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Italian opera duo Patrizia Ciofi and Leo Nucci. Audiences enjoy the excellent sound quality projected from the wall and marvel over the statue of Apollo at center stage and the columns and complex array of theater entrances and structures that date back thousands of years.
4. The Gorge Amphitheater, George, Washington, United States
The Columbia River canyon, the Cascade Mountains and The Who. That's what you get as a show sitting on the lawn at The Gorge Amphitheater. The simple stage and hillside seating make it clear the scenery, a sweeping vista down the Columbia River with a backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, and the music are the draws. The Who is just one of many big names to perform backed up by the gorgeous view. The Gorge has hosted everyone from David Bowie to the Dave Matthews Band and been the site of numerous festivals, including Lilith Fair and Lollapalooza. Look for John Mayer, Phish and Black Sabbath, among others, this summer.
5. Dalhalla, Rättvik, Sweden
It seems fitting that Earth, Wind and Fire is one of the acts coming to Dalhalla this summer. This limestone quarry turned music venue is another great example of the elements delivering a natural stage. Thanks to a meteorite strike that left the region rich in limestone and 50 years of excavation, a perfectly shaped acoustic bowl emerged. Now crowds descend into the 55 meter (180 foot) deep, 400 meter (,1300 foot) long hole for the ultimate in surround sound experiences. The dramatic layers of rock that rise above just add to the visual effect. Look for Toto, Sting and Patti Smith to add their music to the mix this summer as well.
6. Kootenay Lake, Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada
Here's a venue you won't find every day. In fact, it only exists for a three-day music festival held each August. The stage for the Kaslo Jazz Festival floats just off the beach on a serene lakefront, with deep blue water, bobbing boats and even some distant hilltops as a backdrop. With attendees lounging in beach chairs or swimming around the stage, the whole event has a casual summertime feel. However, when the musicians take to the floating stage, the energy spikes and the crowd dives into the music as well. With performances from the likes of Tiempo Libre, Dave Brubeck and a host of other jazz, funk and blues performers, the festival (now in its 22nd year) offers a great combination of setting and sound.
7. Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia
This outdoor museum is a living exhibit of the many tribes and cultures of Malaysia. Visitors can explore the homes and lifestyles of various native populations in this ethnically diverse region and are treated to daily dance and music performances. However, the biggest show is the annual Rainforest World Music Festival. For three days, the chance to see and explore cultures at the Sarawak Cultural Village goes global as music groups from Ireland, Korea, South Africa, Australia, Colombia and elsewhere take to the stage. Festival goers feast on the native rhythms from every corner of the world. And they do so deep in the rainforest of Borneo.
8. Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens, Greece
Built initially between 160 and 174 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, this amphitheater on the southern slope of the Acropolis is a storied as well as scenic venue. For more than 1,500 years, the Roman-style marble theater was little more than a ruin, damaged by fire and buried under farmland. However, as modern Greece emerged, so too did the Herodeon, as it is often called. Extensively restored in the middle of the 20th century, the Herodeon is a center piece of the annual Athens Festival, a summer long program of arts and entertainment dating back to 1955. In addition to hosting a summer of classical, jazz and folk performers for the Athens Festival including, this year, the Greek National Opera as well as Diana Krall and Haris Alexiou, the reborn ruin has been center stage for a number of historic music moments. Elton John, Sting, Yanni and Andrea Boccelli have all performed major events here.
9. Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY, United States
A landmark for Long Island and the greater New York area, this waterfront amphitheater once had a true standout stage. It was on an island all its own with a moat separating the audience from the performers. A boat had to deliver the stars of the show to perform. The moat has since been filled in, but the feeling of seeing a show with the waves lapping at your feet remains. The Jones Beach Theater is part of the Jones Beach Park, a stretch of protected beaches just 33 miles (or a subway ride) from Manhattan. It features expansive views of picturesque Long Island Sound and the Atlantic as well as good acoustics for all 15,000 seats. And, in true New York style, even after taking a severe blow from Hurricane Sandy last fall, the show will go on at Jones Beach. The restoration efforts wrapped up just in time for the opening of the 2013 season. Expect to take in Fleetwood Mac, One Direction, Lil' Wayne and Train along with the view this summer.
10. Ushuaïa Beach Hotel, Ibiza, Spain
There is a lot of scenery on this Spanish island, where the hot Mediterranean sun blazes. A renowned party spot, Ibiza is a mix of blue waters, stunning sunsets, big rock faces, large yachts and scantily clad tourists. In the midst of this scene lies Ushuaïa Beach Hotel. Steps from the beach, the hotel features a courtyard with a giant asymmetrical pool and a stage that, from early afternoon, pulses with electronic music. A mix of local artists and DJs keeps the party going all summer with a dancing crowd surging in every corner of the pool deck and the balconies of the overlooking hotel rooms. The high tech light show often keeps going until the rising sun takes over.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)