If there’s one thing Europeans know how to do well, it’s how to put on a show. Thousands of different regional and national festivals take place across the continent each year, with everything from crazy carnivals to colourful floral celebrations. To inspire your own adventure, we’ve highlighted some of our favourite festivals in Europe this year.
Nice Carnival, France, 12th February
Each year, almost a million visitors descend upon the French Riviera for one of the oldest and greatest fairs in the world. Dating back to the 13th century, the fairy tale Nice Carnival is a one-of-a-kind visual spectacle, with thousands of musicians and dancers entertaining the crowd with dazzling floats and processions throughout the 14-day event. As the streets come alive with parties, stalls and fairs, stick around for the world-famous Battle of Flowers, which sees participants throwing hundreds of beautiful freshly cut flowers into the crowd from the parade as it flows along the Promenade des Anglais by the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
St Patrick’s Day, Ireland, 17th March
Having begun as a religious festival in the 17th Century, St Patrick’s Day has evolved into a global celebration of Irish culture, with revellers dressed in green and enjoying pints of Guinness everywhere from New Zealand to New York. Naturally, the best place to experience this iconic festival is in Ireland’s capital of Dublin. The theatrical parade through the city starts in Parnell Square, and features bands and performers from across the world. Alternatively, you can simply get cosy in one of the many traditional pubs and get chatting to the locals.
Keukenhof, Netherlands, 24th March – 16th May
As tulips come into bloom in the Netherlands in spring, the country’s meadows are transformed into a vivid display of colour. The gates of Keukenhof are open between March and May, forming arguably the most famous tulip festival ever created, as visitors are provided with the awe-inspiring sight of 7 million bulbs across 32 hectares. Labelled ‘the most beautiful spring garden in the world’, Keukenhof is an unmissable Dutch attraction.
King’s Day, Netherlands, 27th April
The biggest national holiday in Holland, Koningsdag – or King’s Day – sees parties and music performances take place throughout the country to celebrate the birth of their monarch. One of the greatest places to experience this national celebration is in the capital of Amsterdam, where partygoers don orange clothing and fill the streets with colour. Make sure to toast to the royal family’s good health with a glass of Oranjebitter, a brandy-based liqueur traditionally enjoyed by the Dutch on King’s Day.
Bastille Day, France, 14th July
France commemorates one of the most important days in its history on 14th July each year, beginning with a dazzling military parade along the Champs-Élysées in Paris and culminating with a glittering fireworks display launched from the base of the Eiffel Tower. You can visit museums across the city free of charge throughout the day, or enjoy a picnic on the Champ de Mars to get a great view of the fireworks in the evening. Festivities go on well into the night as fire stations throughout Paris hold enormous dance parties with live bands and DJs.
Oktoberfest, Germany, September – October
Known as the world’s biggest beer festival, the annual Volksfest in Munich welcomes 6 million visitors from all over the globe each year to experience this unique slice of Bavarian culture. The 16-day Oktoberfest festival starts with a grand parade through Munich, with the drinking only officially beginning once the city’s mayor pours the first beer. Locals and visitors alike wear traditional attire such as lederhosen, enjoy locally made lager and enjoy the music and entertainment provided by oompah brass bands. The festival isn’t all about beer however, with many families coming to enjoy the extensive array of amusement rides.
If this has inspired you to plan something new this year, why not check out our adventure page for more info?