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The 10 Best Festivals Across Europe

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Yes, we know, if you plan a trip to Europe it might seem like a daunting task with so many different places and attractions throughout the Continent. However, when you narrow down the options for the best time to visit a particular destination, why not revolve your visit around a fun festival? There is an endless number of significant events to mention, but we took it upon ourselves to choose the absolute top 10 most interesting, colourful and tasty festivals in Europe this year. so what are you waiting for? Let’s celebrate!

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Every year, Edinburgh castle in Scotland provides an awe inspiring backdrop to one of the most memorable cultural events in Europe.

The Military Tattoo, which will take place for three weeks in the middle of August this year, is a hugely colourful celebration of music, theatre and dance, which promises to be every bit spectacular.

The castle itself could almost steal the show with it having such a dominating effect on the city skyline and this giant fortress is still responsible for housing many of the nation’s most valuable treasures, However, the people and performances take centre stage over these few weeks in this historic location and the atmosphere is what truly sets this festival experience apart!

Although originally dedicated mostly toward local heritage and culture, the Edinburgh Military tattoo is now a celebration of a much larger scale, incorporating performers from more than 45 countries bringing a more “global feel” to the proceedings.With up to a quarter of a million people travelling to Europe to attend the festival each year, you can be guaranteed an unforgettable experience in the most famous Medieval city in Scotland.

The Tattoo takes place between Aug05 – Aug27, 2016.

The Gelato Festival (Florence, Italy)

Where better to experience the heavenly taste of ice cream than in the very birthplace of one of the world’s most famous desserts?

The city of Florence is where it all started when Bernardo Buontalenti’s creation found its way into the hearts of Italians and food lovers all around the world. Italians are unwavering in their love for the famous delicacy but the hordes of arrivals in early May will be testament to the popularity of Gelato around the globe. This 10-day festival is entirely dedicated to the different varieties and best gelato in Florence is perfect for your vacation in Italy, so you can be sure to lay witness to the mesmerizing taste of as many flavours as you can imagine. picture a huge, all- you- can- eat, ice cream buffet. Yes, It’s THAT good!

The Gelato Festival takes place in early May, 2016

Gelato via Alexandra E Rust Follow

Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Oktoberfest is widely known as the largest beer festival in the world. It was originally created in response to the unity of East and West Germany many years ago, but today, the festival is very much a cosmopolitan affair with so many different nationalities arriving to enjoy the festivities during their trip to Europe, and possibly a beer too! An impressive 6 million people descend upon Munich every year, during which an incredible 8 million litres of beer are consumed at the festival. Don’t worry, you won’t drink on an empty stomach-  Sausages, dumplings, roast pork and pretzels will certainly help you out with the impending hangover.

Oktoberfest takes place between Sep17 – Oct03, 2016

La Tomatina (Valencia, Spain)

If you ask yourself what there is to see in Spain, on 31 August of this year, 145 tonnes of tomatoes will cover the streets of Bunol in Valencia as the locals and tourists alike take part in one of the most bizarre festivals in Europe.

The festival originates from a small accident in the 1940’s when the participant of a parade fell from a float and began hitting people in a subsequent fit of rage. Naturally, the other locals didn’t take too kindly to the situation and it resulted in a tomato fight using the vegetables of one of the market stalls. The following year, the locals repeated the fight in a more humorous tone with tomatoes they brought from their homes and from there, grew a tradition of epic proportions.

Today, tourists flock to Spain where they eagerly await truckloads of tomatoes to arrive and take part in the mass food fight. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes!

La Tomatina takes place in August 31, 2016.

St Patrick’s Day (Dublin, Ireland)

At one point, this was in fact a one-day celebration, but a rise in popularity and growth in visitors to Ireland in recent years has ensured a week of festivities to celebrate their nations’ patron Saint.

The day itself will commemorate this favourite Irish Saint with the most colourful parade throughout the city. You can get your face painted with traditional green clover and hear song and dance at every street corner. Make no mistake –  nothing can compare to experiencing this particular day with the Irish themselves, and in their own hometown- Dublin!

St Patrick’s Day is the most widely celebrated festival in the world and when you experience it in the Emerald Isle itself, you will never celebrate the same way again. Sláinte!

St Patrick’s Day is on March 17, 2016.

Venice Carnival (Venice, Italy)

The Carnival of Venice, also known as the Venice Mask Festival, has rich origins that date back as far as 1162, when the locals of Venice first began dancing and reuniting in celebration of their states’ independence. The mask was a central part of this celebration which was said to protect the people from suffering in both the present and past times. The scenes are nothing short of magical as thousands of enthusiastic tourists and locals recreate these traditional and historic festivities. It’s as colourful and as flamboyant as can be. Given the City’s reputation for cuisine there are naturally exquisite foods and refreshments at every turn but for those who can afford the extra splurge, the ultimate ticket will grant you access to one of the special feature parties or even the mysterious Valentine’s Grand Masquerade Ball (Feb 06).

The Venice Mask Festival takes place from Jan 23 – Feb 09, 2016.

woman in a painted colorful carnival mask generative ai.

Barcelona Carnival (Barcelona, Spain)

Get ready for an enormous celebration of food, dance, dress, parades and debauchery – this is Spain’s answer to Mardi gras. The seven districts of the Barcelona are each designated one of the seven deadly sins so greed turns into lust and envy to pride as you make your way around the Catalan’s favourite town. As with all Mardi Gras, there is literally something around every turn in Barcelona but without doubt the most worthwhile place to be is the old town a procession called La Toronjada. On this one evening, the leaders for each of the City’s seven districts will descend upon the old town to witness a battle between vice and virtue in a barrage of balloons and confetti which symbolise the ammunition. Everyone takes part in this hugely fun spectacle and it concludes with a short speech from the King who then invites everyone to the “Ball de Mascares”.

The Barcelona Mardi Gras takes place Feb 04 – Feb 10, 2016.

Amsterdam Gay Pride (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

The Amsterdam Pride is a relatively new festival which first took place in 1996 and is now the most famous celebration for Gay pride across Europe. It’s colourful, fascinating and is held every year in the centre of Amsterdam on the first weekend of August. Essentially, the city provides the stage for a week-long party in which several hundred thousand visitors arrive to enjoy each year.

The street parties are notorious with arguably the most popular being “The Drag Queen Olympics” and “The Underwear” Dance party. However, the Canal Parade mentioned above is the main star attraction in which a procession of large boats forms a parade along the Amsterdam canal. It’s colourful, it’s flamboyant and it’s a lot of fun with many different themed boats and many of the local celebrities involved.

Amsterdam Pride takes place on the first weekend of August.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival (Lisdoonvarna, Ireland)

Are you ready to fall in love? The world famous matchmaking festival is a six-week-long quirky extravaganza that draws huge crowds every year during the whole month of September. They come for love, dancing, music and romance. Matchmaking is one of Ireland’s oldest traditions and it’s being passed from generation to generation. During the festival you can turn to the legendry matchmaker – Willie Daly, and his big notebook of love-seeking profiles, in his ‘office’ (aka the pub). Queuing behind his table is a line of hopeful singles hoping to find the perfect match. There are barn dances, pub crawls, horse racing, and speed dating rituals, and mainly a lot of alcohol, fun and love.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival takes place each year on Spetember

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

Up Hely Aa Fire Festival – Scotland (Lerwick, Scotland)

Taking place on the last Tuesday of every January in the town of Lerwick, Scotland, is the Viking Fire Festival, or “Up Helly Aa” as it’s known locally. Thousands of tourists join in this Scandinavian Vikings’ style celebrations of the end of winter and the return of the sun. Helmets, fur-trimmed coats, flaming torches, and loud music- The amazing parade is led by Jarl Squad, the parade’s leading group that pulls behind a life-size replica of a traditional Viking longboat, complete with its dragon’s head.  They all march to the burning site where it’s later set aflame by fiery torches accompanied by loud singing and Vikings dressed in sheepskins, carrying axes and torches, making this one of the most visually phenomenal festivals you will ever experience.

Up Hely Aa takes place at the last Tuesday in January every year

Up Helly Aa burning galley ship. Up Helly Aa is a viking fire festival unique to the Shetland Isles, North of Scotland, UK.
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