Unusual European Festivals

This summer’s festival season is well and truly upon us, and fields all across the country will be filled with people wanting to camp, sing and dance to some of the world’s best music. If you’re looking for something different though, continental Europe could offer something totally unique. Celebrating the weird and the wonderful – from bathtub sailing in Belgium to onion festivals in Germany, read on for our guide to some of the most unusual European festivals.

Provins Medieval Festival, 24 June – 25 June 2017

Image by Julien Magne

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the French town of Provins has existed since the early Middle Ages, and this yearly extravaganza celebrates its early life. Now in its 33rd year, Provins Medieval Festival is the largest of its kind in Europe, promising full-scale historical re-enactments, jugglers, acrobats and more. If you have time after the festival, be sure to stay a few extra days in this French town, which boasts an underworld cave network and countless remnants of its great past.

The Voyage à Nantes trail, 1 July – 27 August 2017

Image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

With up to 30 stages and surprise installations along the way, the French city of Nantes offers up an art festival with a difference. Instead of being hosted in one place, attractions are found on a trail that weaves its way around the city, starting off at a former biscuit factory along Canal Saint-Félix. While you’re there, look out for a few guest installations like the Grand Éléphant from the city’s famous Les Machines de l’île. For added ease, a green line will be drawn to mark the trail – so you can be sure you won’t miss any of the displays on your walk.

International Bathtub Regatta, 15 August 2017

Dinant the Ardennes
In August, the River Meuse in Dinant plays host to the International Bathtub Regatta

Every year in mid-August, thousands flock to Dinant in Belgium’s beautiful Walloon region for a festival unlike any other. The Régate internationale de Baignoires (or Bathtub Regatta) takes place along the banks of the River Meuse, where you’ll see a mass of bathtubs making across the water using nothing but human force. This 1km international regatta has a theme every year and for 2017, participants are being asked to base their boat around local celebrities. While dates are subject to change, the event is usually held on 15 August.

The Onion Festival, 13 – 15 October 2017

Image by Joel Bez

Established in 1653, The Onion Festival is an annual event which takes place in Weimar, in Eastern Germany. Attracting upwards of 350,000 each time, revellers are encouraged to celebrate the foodstuff across the three-day event, with each food stall, stage and exhibition decorated with elaborate onion sculptures. It all ends with the ‘Queen of the Onion’ crowning – an event which sees locals campaign to claim the revered title.  More a celebration of traditional food than anything else, expect to enjoy delicious bratwurst and other local delicacies amongst craft-laden stalls, street performers and rousing musical entertainment.

If this has you thinking about your next holiday, have a look at our Adventure Planner for more inspiration.

Feature image by Julien Magne