Art al Fresco

It’s happened: summer has finally arrived.

When the sun finally peeks out from behind London’s interminable gloom, it’s all too easy to eschew cultural activities, weekly book clubs, long-awaited exhibitions, exercise routines – essentially anything indoors – in favour of gelato and sun-trap beer gardens.

This doesn’t have to be so, however. Our resident Culture Vultures have been compiling lists of the very best outdoor activities for the culturally inclined, meaning you can maintain your status as Most Arty Friend whilst working on your freckle tan. Result.

Sound ideal? Read on for our picks of the best art al fresco…

 1. Alexander Calder in Gstaad

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The quaint Swiss mountain village of Gstaad will come alive this summer with towering mobiles and stabiles created by American sculptor Alexander Calder. Le Grand Bellevue will play host to an enormous metallic sculpture, whilst five other works will be dotted throughout the valley – ideal for a day of cultured hiking (fondue picnic optional, but encouraged).

2. Cholets in La Paz

Photo ©James Brunker www.magicalandes.com

Photo ©James Brunker www.magicalandes.com

Towering above La Paz on an Andean plateau is the famed Bolivian neighbourhood of El Alto. Easily accessible via the city’s new cable car, the area is known for the wildly colourful and quirky Cholets buildings, designed by Freddy Mamani – a point of pride for the locals and a celebration of ‘new’ Andean culture. From gaping porthole windows to vibrantly painted columns and pop-art ballrooms, the cholets buildings provide a welcome shock of colour in the terracotta-hued town. Specialist Peru & Bolivia operator, Aracari, has just launched new private tours of the cholets led by Freddy himself, giving visitors insider access and a truly unrivalled insight into the design process.

3. Regents Canal in London

There are few better ways to while away a summer’s day in London than on a languorous stroll along Regents Canal. Start in Primrose Hill, with staggering views of the city skyline, before heading east along the shady canal side path. Along the way, you’ll pass countless urban artworks and sculptures, from narrowboats bedecked with verdant greenery and floral displays, sculptures and quirky messages, to intricate paintings sprayed onto the grimy brick underpasses. Finish your stroll in Granary Square – grab a flat white from Caravan to enjoy on the steps of the canal, watching the world pass by.

4. Manifesta Biennial in Zurich

Photo © Zurich Tourist Board

Photo © Zurich Tourist Board

Banish your thoughts of pinstriped bank managers – Zurich is a summer wonderland. Draped along the banks of Lake Zurich, each summer sees the city reborn into a life aquatic, with city workers escaping board meetings for afternoon dips and friends meeting for drinks at floating bars. This summer sees the Manifesta Biennial arts festival arrive in the city, with 35 exhibitions celebrating the theme of ‘what people do for money’. The heart of the festival will be the Pavilion of Reflections, a floating island on Lake Zurich complete with lido, bar and open-air cinema. Stay at the boutique Marktgasse Hotel – a stone’s throw from the cultural happenings.

5. Street art in Lima

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Callao was once known purely as Lima’s chief sea port – not a neighbourhood worth lingering in. Recently, however, it has undergone a renaissance, its urban streets alight with colourful and quirky street art. Aracari can organise private street art tours with a leading local graffiti artist for a unique perspective on contemporary Peruvian culture.

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