There may be red carpets and camera flashes, but international film festivals aren't only for the rich and famous. Ahead of Cannes Film Festival, Kate Ford explores the world's top film festivals and what you can do when you're not mingling with stars.

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

When:

Monday, May 13 to Saturday, May 25

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Starring role:

Twenty films vie for the Palme d'Or, the most prestigious award of the festival. Last year's winner was the Japanese film Shoplifters.

How to get tickets:

An invitation is required to attend gala screenings at the Grand Theatre Lumiere but open-air screenings at the Cinema de la Plage are free and open to all.

Aside from the festival…

May is a good time to visit Cannes as winter chills will have all but gone and the beaches are yet to be filled with holidaymakers. Stroll down La Croisette, one of France's most iconic streets, which runs the length of the seafront, then wander around Le Suquet, a neighbourhood that was once a Roman settlement but is now filled with picturesque pastel-coloured buildings.

The Riviera may have a ritzy reputation but even if your pockets aren't as deep as the Mediterranean, be sure to visit the boutiques of Rue d'Antibes. Here you'll find a mix of stylish French boutiques and high street brands like Zara.

Venice gets an added dose of glamour every year for the film festival, where stars like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin make their way to premieres by speedboat. Photo / Getty Images
Venice gets an added dose of glamour every year for the film festival, where stars like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin make their way to premieres by speedboat. Photo / Getty Images

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

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When:

August 28 - September 7

Starring role:

Founded in 1932, this is the oldest film festival in the world. The best film screened in the competition is awarded the Golden Lion. Last year's winner was Roma.

How to get tickets:

Tickets are available to anybody, whether you're a star or a regular Joe or Joanne. Tickets are not available yet but information can be found on the

.

Aside from the festival…

This is the land of tiramisu so eat accordingly. The creamy coffee dessert is pure decadence and perfect for indulging in post-screening. Visit I Tre Mercanti for a variety of takes on the classic tiramisu, including limoncello and passionfruit.

Complement your film-watching with more culture in the form of the

. Along with regular fixtures including Cubism and American Abstract Expressionism works, visit any time before September 2 to see the Jean (Hans) Arp exhibition, The Nature of Arp, focused on the famous Dada artist.

After a visit to the Toronto Film Festival, take a day trip to see Niagara Falls. Photo / Getty Images
After a visit to the Toronto Film Festival, take a day trip to see Niagara Falls. Photo / Getty Images

TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL

When:

September 5-15

Starring role:

One of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world, with nearly half a million people attending annually. The major prize is the People's Choice Award, which in 2018 went to Green Book.

How to get tickets:

TIFF members get first pick but then tickets are open to the public. Visit

for more details.

Aside from the festival…

One of the largest museums in North America, the Royal Ontario Museum is a great place to stretch your legs when in Toronto. This mammoth space boasts some six million items, including the world's largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale in British Columbia.

Take a day trip and visit the roaring Niagara Falls. This gushing giant breaks up Ontario and New York state. It's mesmerising, not least because turn your back on this natural wonder and you're looking at a commercial curiosity filled with man-made neon lights and cheap stores. It's definitely worth visiting Niagara Falls, but skip the touristy Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, the haunted houses et al.

The Egyptian Theatre is one of the key venues for Utah's Sunday Film Festival every January. Photo / Getty Images
The Egyptian Theatre is one of the key venues for Utah's Sunday Film Festival every January. Photo / Getty Images

SUNDANCE, PARK CITY, UTAH

When:

January 23 to February 3

Starring role:

Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States. This year, Clemency won the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize.

How to get tickets:

Festival passes and ticket packages will be available for public purchase later in the year. See

for more details.

Aside from the festival…

Utah is abundant in natural beauty, with deserts, sand dunes, mountain valleys, and is home to world-renowned ski resorts. Indeed, Park City has the largest ski resort in the United States, featuring 300 trails.

If you are more into apres ski than hitting the slopes, you could sample whiskey from High West Saloon, the first legal distillery in Utah since prohibition. Any good ski town also has an array of spas to soothe and relax tired muscles, and that's certainly the case here with multiple spas and countless treatments to indulge in. Try the sugar massage at Align Spa.

The East Side Gallery is a must-see when in Berlin. Photo / Getty Images
The East Side Gallery is a must-see when in Berlin. Photo / Getty Images

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

When:

February 20 to March 1

Starring role:

Up to 400 films are shown across the festival, with about 20 competing for top awards. This year the Golden Bear was awarded to French-Israeli film Synonyms.

How to get tickets:

Public tickets can be bought on the

in the lead up to the festival.

Aside from the festival…

It's nigh on impossible to visit Berlin without thinking of war, as the scars scatter the city. Visit the East Side Gallery - once the Berlin Wall, it is now a 1.3km stretch of art. When the wall came down, 118 artists from around the world began painting what was left and in 1990 it was given protected memorial status.

Berlin's beer culture is thriving and there are plenty of spots to sample local craft brews. For a very local vibe try family-run bar Foersters, a sure-fire hit for beer lovers. To try great craft beer, the Muted Horn offers 22 beers on tap, including coffee stouts and oak fermented grisettes.

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement speak onstage at the What We Do in the Shadows Premiere during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas. Photo / Getty Images
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement speak onstage at the What We Do in the Shadows Premiere during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas. Photo / Getty Images

SXSW FESTIVAL, AUSTIN, TEXAS

When:

March

Starring role:

Along with films,

also offers music festivals and conferences. For film, the Grand Jury winner this year was the drama Alice.

How to get tickets:

Presale tickets for next year's festival are available from

but it'll cost a cool US$1150 ($1740) for a platinum badge to all the events happening at the festival (music and film included), and that's just for the early registration price.

Aside from the festival…

Austin is known for being the live music capital of the world, due to the number of music venues per capita. Whether you are into blues, rock or country, there's a place here for you. The Broken Spoke, where a young Willie Nelson used to regularly play, remains a top venue. Also iconic are the music venues and bars of the Continental Club, which has been open since 1957, and Saxon Pub.

For a change of scene, step inside the Bullock Museum for an in-depth look at the history of Texas. Featuring artefacts and documents on historical events including the Revolution, slavery, the Civil War and the Kennedy assassination, this is an important spot to understand what has shaped the state, and indeed, America.