The annual world-famous Oktoberfest, held in Germany’s Bavaria region, is right around the corner, yet this is by far not the only festive event in Europe which deserves looking forward to. In this article we have put together the top carnivals and festivals worth putting on your travel agenda while going on Europe tours.
Admit it, we all love to have fun, and attending a traditional event while exploring a foreign country is surely a great way to spice up your vacation. Many of such events in Europe are held in honor of religious holidays, others mark important historic dates, and, of course, there's a whole festival list of entertaining festivals of food, drinks, music, art, and culture. Let's take a look!
Spain: food fights and human towers
One thing is certain, Spain is a strikingly fun and very unique destination! Spaniards literally celebrate hundreds of interesting holidays in different parts of the country throughout the year, with each region or even small town having something of their own to boast of. For instance, the annual Human Pyramids competition takes place in Tarragona every May during which locals make human towers, called castells.
And no one can beat Pamplona in bravery, as these fearless people have a bull-running festival. During the one-week San Fermin from July 6 - 14th locals who are older than 18 race in the dangerous run from bulls in the old town.
Fiesta? Si! Spanish celebrations add a twist to the casual harvest holiday or drinking and eating event. As such, add the La Tomatina to your Spain travel plans. Held at the end of August in Valencia, it is a massive food fight with crowds smashing and throwing tomatoes at each other.
Sounds fun? Then you'll certainly enjoy the next Spanish entertaining festival - La Rioja region's annual Batalla del Vino. Such wine battles are held at the end of June in Haro, a major wine-producing city. Participants wear white clothes and pour red wine from cups and buckets on each other from head to toe, some even use water guns for these purposes as well!
Germany: beer, wine, and carnivals
Of course, the legendary Oktoberfest cannot be unmentioned! The world's most famous beer festival takes place every year at the end of autumn in Munich, Germany. This Bavarian event revolves around German beer tasting, lots of local food, as well as traditional German outfits, dancing, and fun (thus, is a great addition to your Germany tour).
Interestingly, the two-week Octoberfest is a real magnet, with over 6.5 million visitors attending the event per year and consuming more than 17 million liters of beer during the 14 - 18 days of the fest! Can you imagine that?
In case beer is not your most favorite beverage, go to the German Wurstmarkt Wine Festival, the biggest festival of Europe of its kind, by the way! Not everyone is aware that Germany is very developed in wine production, per year the country makes about 9 million hectoliters of select fine wine. Thus, every year in September there's an event devoted to the tasting of delicious local Pinot and other labels.
To top it off, November 11 is the day when the German Karneval starts. Celebrations of this carnival with a masquerade, parades, large festive parties, and many exciting traditions, such as cutting men's ties, last several days.
Italy: masks, regattas, and flowers
Those who travel to Italy know for sure that any day spent there is a holiday on its own. Speaking of the most unmissable festival in Europe, we cannot but mention Venice's world-famous Carnevale.
This fancy Venice carnival goes back all the to the 12th century in its origins and is held from the last week of January to mid-February. Colorful carnival costumes, exquisite Venetian masks are all integral parts of the main carnival of Venice.
If you plan to come to Venice at the end of May, don't miss out on the exciting historical water parade called Festa Della Sensa. The so-called Ascension Festival is crowned with the Wedding of the Sea, where dozens of adorned boats sway Venetian canals. A regatta and other fun water activities are part of the plan as well.
Admire the beauty of flowers like Italians do? Enjoy the Infiorata in early June, held in many cities of Italy, during which town squares are covered with huge mosaic carpets made of flower petals. Their beauty isn't the only thing that allures, the scents are terrific too.
France: citrus scents, lights, and lavender
Everyone most likely knows about one of the most sensational yearly event of the movie world - the International Cannes Film Festival. Celebrities from all over the globe come to this gorgeous French Riviera town to celebrate the year's achievements in the film industry.
But here's a French celebration you probably haven't heard about: the Menton Lemon Festival. This event is held every February in Menton, France, and is all about citrus, including a large citrus parade with different installations, decorated with hundreds of oranges and lemons. It doesn't stop at that as this fruit show also offers tastings of different drinks, food, desserts, and even gives the chance to try beauty products and get crafts made of citrus. Another well-scented event in France is the Lavender Festival. On the first week of August, the region of Provence is dotted with festivities to honor the harvested purple flowers for 4 entire days.
In case you're planning a tour to France in early December, consider going to Lyon as in this time of the year there's a 4-day evening Lights Festival. During the Fete des Lumieres, the city is lit with colorful projectors and lanterns, candles, and numerous light shows are hosted. This is something you will see nowhere else in the world!
Scandinavian countries: Vikings and Midsummer celebrations
Of course, the holidays and celebrations of northern European countries deserve to be noted as well. When on tours to Scandinavia it makes sense to save some time for joining the local fun.
As such, if you're going to Sweden at the end of June, you can attend the Midsummer Festival. This traditional celebration on the occasion of the summer solstice has pagan roots and is a unique one-of-a-kind experience. Locals put on traditional costumes, make bonfires, and dance around special poles. The holiday is common all across the country and is celebrated both in large towns and small villages.
Vikings? Yessiree! The Oslo Middelalderfestival at the end of May is a festival that can take you back to medieval times. Usually held in the Akershus Fortress in Oslo, Norway, this is a place where you can view many artisans, historical plays, crafts, musical concerts, and more.
For a taste of Denmark, there's no place better than the Aarhus Festival. This Europe festival, also called Aarhus Festuge, lasts 10 days from the last week of summer to the first week of fall and hosts a fest that introduces to the culture of the country. There's ground for art, local cuisine, theater, and even architecture. Definitely among the must-visits!
All in all, there's no denying that Europe is rich in culture. Every one of the 50 European countries has a long history and diverse background, thus it's no surprise that there are so many traditional events and holidays which you can easily include to your travel plans to brighten up your journey!