There are so many festivals in Europe and our recommendation is to try to experience at least one of them to enjoy some local culture and fun. Here’s our taster of twenty five festivals to give you some inspiration to decide which events in Europe you’d like to schedule into your trip.
White Nights, St Petersburg
The White Knights Festival running from mid May to July, is an arts festival featuring ballet, opera and music from Russian and international stars. The grand finale is the Scarlet Sails which originates from students gathering at the riverside to celebrate their graduation on the long Summer nights. Be prepared for crowds though, as up to three million people can gather to watch the event. Other highlights of a visit to St Petersburg are the Dostoyevsky Memorial Museum, St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Summer Garden.
Scarlet Sails by Salvatore Freni
The Oktoberfest 16-18 day festival is world-renowned and the biggest festival in Germany, running from late September to early October. It is the largest fair in the world, attracting millions of attendees, to celebrate Bavarian culture.
Only beer brewed within the city or Munich is permitted to be served at the event, and patrons can also sample other local treats such as Hendl (chicken), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages), and Brezn (pretzels), to name a few foods served. Along with delicious food and great beer you can also enjoy fun rides. Jeremy recommends a visit to the Hofbrauhaus brewery in the city and we’ve more sightseeing ideas in our things to do in Munich post.
Oktoberfest by 46137
Werder Baumbltenfest, Havel, Germany
Every Spring, about 35 km south west of Berlin, the Tree Blossom Festival takes place. It is the second largest festival in Germany, rivalled only by Oktoberfest. Surprisingly, a major focus of this festival is drinking, fruit wine drinking to be specific, with tastings and contests galore.
Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Berlin International Beer Festival, Germany
Munich isn’t the only German city that loves to celebrate beer. In August you can go to the Berlin International Beer Festival to experience their take on the celebration of lager and stout, featuring a beer garden that is 2,000 meters long and 2,000 beer specialities. But don’t spend all your time in the beer gardens as there are so many other things to do in Berlin.
Beer Festival in Berlin by Noii
Heilbronner Weindorf, Heilbronn
The Heilbronner Weindorf wine festival takes place in September, in a non-touristy town surrounded by vineyards. During the festival the town centre fills with small wooden stalls featuring various local wines for patrons to sample. If you are hungry, you can also sample Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) or Bretzel (local pretzels).
Heilbronner Weindrof by Amanda Kendle
Polish Music Festival, Krakow
The Polish Music Festival runs during July. It features the work of traditional and contemporary Polish composers although the musicians and singers come from all over the world.
Krakow musicians by Monika Thorpe
Strawberry Festivals, Dordogne Region, France
There are some wonderful strawberry festivals in Dordogne in May including Vergt, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Marmande. Of the three, Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne boasts having created the biggest strawberry tart in the world (pictured below). With around 25% of France’s strawberries being grown in this region there’s no shortage of the essential ingredients.
The World’s biggest strawberry tart – Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne by redharmony
Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair
The Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair in early November, is more than just food and wine (although expect lots of that!). Restaurants serving local and foreign dishes, household goods, arts and crafts, health and beauty, technology, multimedia, and games are also part of the fun.
Gastronomy by jlastras
The Festival d’Avignon, is essentially two festivals in one. The first is a more formal type of celebration of theatre, dance, cinema, and music, while the other is more laid-back and includes a programme made up of unknown plays and street performances.
Festival d’Avignon by Thomas Dawson
International Fireworks Festival, Cannes, France
The International Fireworks Festival takes place over the summer; attendees can experience 6 nights of fireworks. Intricate pyro-technics displays are combined with music by teams from around the world.
Fireworks in Cannes by Bex.Walton
Nice Carnival, France
This Mardi Gras-style Nice Carnival takes place annually in February. The festival, including musicians, dancers, parades, and costumes, spans two weeks and ends on Fat Tuesday. It sounds like there are plenty things to do Nice all year round with a lovely Christmas market, wonderful beaches in the Summer and the weather-proof Matisse Museum.
Carnival in Nice, France by debs-eye
Grape Harvest Festival, Paris
The 5 day Grape Harvest Festival takes place in Paris in early October and includes gastronomy, wine, music, performances, exhibits, and fireworks. Wine tastings, workshops, and vineyard tours are all free treats for attendees. We’ve tips for some of the best things to do in Paris.
Vineyards in France by roblisameehan
St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin
Of course, I had to include St Patrick’s Day in Dublin one of the biggest cultural celebrations in the world, which takes place in the Irish capital on March 17. The event focuses on celebrating the culture of the Irish through music, comedy, film, and performance.
Instead of drinking a pint of Guinness in your local bar and painting your face green, why not take a trip over to Ireland to experience the real thing? There are plenty more tips for things to do in Dublin in our collation post.
St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland by UggBoy♥UggGirl
The Spraoi Festival,Country Waterford, Ireland
The Spraoi Festival is an international street fair, one of Marcus’ nine things to do in Waterford. It features art, music, food, and a big parade, takes place every late July/early August bank holiday.
Spraoi Festival in Waterford by rubenxans11
Fiesta Major de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain
The Fiesta Major de Gracia is a week-long celebration taking place in mid-August, one of the five Barcelona fiestas about which Karen has written. It brings to life the streets of Gracia, Barcelona, with wine, food, music, and fireworks. Be prepared to party all night long! If you’ve any energy left, we’ve tips for ten things to do in Barcelona.
Fiesta Major de Gracia by anapeps
The Sitges Carnival takes place the week leading up to Lent and includes people dressing up in crazy costumes, parades, delicious foods, loud music, and lots of drinking in the streets. There are also gorgeous sand sculptures on the beach. The Sitges Gay Carnival kicks off prior to the traditional carnival.
Sitges sand sculpture by Jessica Festa
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain
In Valencia, Las Fallas literally means “the fires”, which is why the highlight of the festival is an enormous bonfire where all of the paper-mache statues, some of which cost £50,000 and take a year to create, for the event are destroyed. Taking place in March, the festival also includes food, fireworks, bull fights, and lots of parades. Make sure that you visit the recently restored Silk Exchange, visit some museums and take a cycle in Turia Gardens when you’re in Valencia.
Las Fallas by undeadbit
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is one of Neha’s recommended Summer festivals in Croatia. It offers dance performances, open-air concerts, and plays taking place at various historic locations throughout the city. Added treats include fireworks, music, and light displays. There are a plenty of things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik by photojenni
York Food Festival, England
The York Food Festival takes place in September with its main focus being on Yorkshire-style food and drinks. The festival takes place at historic venues around the city, with tours, demonstrations, tastings, and markets. We’ve some readers’ tips on what to do and see in York.
Yorkshire Pudding by Ben Sutherland
Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland
Europe’s largest fire festival, Up Helly Aa takes place in the Shetland Islands at the end of January. The central focus of the event is a man known as the Guizer Jarl who has more than 800 Vikings with torches helping him light the streets of Lerwick, as they all march towards a massive replica Viking ship. When the reach their destination, the men throw their torches dramatically into the galley of the ship as it bursts into flames. From there, the celebration continues all night long with after parties with Vikings in attendance! You can take a virtual trip to these Scottish islands in Karen’s Shetland photo tour.
Up Helly Ah Festival by chatirygirl
Bath Literature Festival, England
The Bath Literature Festival takes place around February-March and annually hosts an array of poets, actors, comedians, journalists, novelists, biographers, and politicians. You’ll find tips for lots more things to do in Bath in our ‘best of’ post.
Image of Bath, England, by Randy Son Of Robert
Vienna Festival, Vienna, Austria
This Vienna International Festival offers dance, music, and theatre takes place for 5-6 weeks in May and June. As one of the leading cultural festivals in the world with tens of thousands of attendees, the event program includes cultural events that meet the highest of artistic standards. We’ve lots more ideas of other things to do in the Austrian capital in our best of Vienna travel tips post.
Vienna’s Concert Hall
Modern Dance Festival, Amsterdam
The Julidans Modern Dance Festival has been running in early July for the last 21 years. You can see performers from as far afield as the Middle East, North Africa and China.
Ljubljana Summer Festival, Ljubljana
The Ljubljana Summer Festival takes place in early July/late August, this summer festival attracts opera stars, ballet and theatre performers, as well as rock and jazz musicians, all of whom you will be able to enjoy at the event. You can find out more about the Slovenian capital in our post “Ljubljana – Big City with Small City Charm”
Ljubljana by wili_hybrid
This Athens Festival encompasses music, dance, theatre, and opera, beginning on June 1. It promotes both new and established artists, and is a great way to learn about Greek culture. We another seven ideas for things to do in Athens on Europe a la Carte.
Athens by Titanas
Wine Festival, Valletta
The annual Wine Festival is held in Upper Barrakka Gardens in the Valletta in August. A local restaurant sets up shop in the gardens serving three course meals with local wine accompanied by live music. You can see more of the Maltese capital in Karen’s Valletta photo tour.
Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta
Now we’ve given you an idea of a few of many of the festivals in Europe, I hope you can take in at least one during your European trip.