Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques, Calvi
Staged in mid-September, this festival provides the best introduction possible to the marvel that is Corsican polyphonic singing. Its hosts, the group ‘A Filetta’, are undisputed masters of the genre, and it’s worth the journey to Calvi alone just to hear them perform in the 13th-century Cathedrale St-Jean-Baptiste in the citadel, eyes closed, hands cupped over one ear, as the otherworldly harmonies swirl around the medieval stone pillars and domes. Nothing encapsulates the dark, mysterious, troubled soul of the island as vividly.
The postcard pretty villages perches of the region inland from Calvi, known as ‘La Balagne’, provide the venues for this peripatetic festival celebrating the human voice. Choirs and singers from around the world perform in local squares, churches, chapels and at the atmospheric open-air auditorium in Pigna, whose pale-orange stone houses cling to a hillside carpeted with olive and citrus groves. Events stretch over a long weekend, usually in mid-July, and feature the cream of the island’s polyphony groups as well as performers from further afield.
Nuits de la Guitare, Patrimonio
Framed by a sublime backdrop of chalk outcrops and cobalt-blue sea, Patrimonio’s medieval church, at the heart of the island’s principal wine growing region near Bastia, provides an irresistibly romantic backdrop for this music festival, which routinely attracts internationally renowned guitarists and groups. Featuring everything from Manouche Jazz maestros to travelling musicians from the Malian Sahara, Patrimonio’s bill is guaranteed to inspire and surprise. The programme sprawls over a month, usually starting in the third week of July at the peak of the tourist season. The venue is just over the mountain from Bastia airport, served by regular Air Corsica flights from Stansted.
Porto Latino, Saint-Florent
Returning 4-7 August 2018 for its 20th season, the Porto Latino Festival is a four-day fiesta celebrating the colourful world of Latin music. Kicking off in the charming seaside citadel of Saint-Florent at the base of Cap Corse, the festival draws in a cool crowd to the paradise scenes of this corner of Corsica. This year’s line-up includes the likes of Sergent Garcia, Kid Francescoli and renowned DJ Étienne de Crécy.
Air Corsica is now operating flights from Stansted to Ajaccio, Bastia and Figari, allowing great flexibility for any itinerary. The service operates from early May to early November, with up to nine flights per week from June to September. Fares start from £49 one way and that price includes a generous 23kg hold luggage allowance, 12kg cabin bag and free seat selection. Car rental is available at each airport and Air Corsica has a preferred arrangement with Hertz so you can book your vehicle at the same time as your flights. aircorsica.com