Top 10 European Festivals To Visit Next Year
The love of Europe for festivals is simply unbeatable. A festival is a time to eat some exciting meals, meet up with many people, dress up and get weird for a day or two on the streets, and the most important – have a lot, a lot of fun! So if you want to catch up an authentic European spirit and lust for fun, visiting a festival is a good starting point. Most of the festivals are organised during the Mardi Gras, which is the last time Roman Catholics feast and have fun before Lent’s abstinence begins. So here is our guide to the top 10 weirdest, quirkiest and funniest European festivals.
Carnaval de Binche, Belgium, February
In 2008 the carnival of Binche is recognised by UNESCO in 2008 as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. In the 4 km march take part males from the provincial town Hainaut, who are dressed up in elaborate outfits and pretty scary and bizarre wax masks. In case you decide to visit and watch the festival, keep in mind that it is considered like something really bad to throw back the oranges that the people taking part in the march toss into the watching crowd.
Basler Fasnacht, Switzerland, February
During the Basler Fasnacht festival in Basel, Switzerland, all establishments stay open 24 hours, which is the main reason for the overall funny and wobbly atmosphere during the festival. The bizarre masks are something only the people taking part in the festival could wear. These are the people marching the streets and playing music.
Up Helly Aa, Scotland, January
Scottish people certainly know how to have fun and celebrate and Up Helly Aa festival on 30th of January is not an exception. This is Europe’s biggest festival and it marks the celebration of Scotland’s Norse heritage. The matter of the festival is something good because it celebrates the end of winter and the gloomy days. The centrepiece of the festival is a replica of a Viking ship that is pulled through Lerwick’s streets by the merfolk. Once the ship is set alight, this is when the real fun and celebration begins.
Carnaval de Dunkerque, France, January – April
Carnaval de Dunkerque – the longest festival in the list until now, right? The tradition is dating back to 1676 when the carnival started as a final soiree for the fishermen of the town Dunkerque before they left for half year-long sailing to Iceland. Since then, the tradition continues taking place, with people taking part dressed in fancy dress, joining hands to sing in honour of the naval heroes and dropping 500kg of herring fish onto the crowd gathered to watch the celebration.
Carnaval de Sitges, Spain, February
If someone knows how to make festivals, these are certainly the Spanish people! A great example for this statement is the Carnival de Sitges taking place every February from the 8th to 14th in the small village of Sitges just 40km away from Barcelona. The festival has become the heart of the LGBT+ community and their annual celebration with around 250,000 people taking place in the 7-day long festival, dressed in the most spectacular and quirkiest ways.
Carnevale di Ivrea, Italy, February
The little Ivrea in Piedmont gets all the attention between 8-13 February, because this is the time of Carnevale di Ivrea, also known as the weirdest yet funniest warzone of a fight with fruits, mostly oranges. This is one more festival in our list with roots bringing us back to the Middle Ages when a feudal king tried to bed a young woman the night before her wedding, which ended up bad for the local dignitary. The whole situation led to a revolt of the townspeople, who stormed the palace spilling 500,000 pounds of zingy citrus flesh.
Shrovetide, Lithuania, February
Once the average winter-night temperature drops to -5 degrees Celsius, the Lithuanian people gather together in their bizarre costumes to celebrate the end of the winter and welcome warmer spring weather. While the tradition is celebrated around the whole country, the most spectacular and exciting festival is held in the little town Rumsiskes.
Salto del Colacho, Spain, June
Stretching back to 16th century, this one is a unique festival celebrated in Castillo de Murcia, and is also known as the “baby jumping festival”. The tradition and the highpoint of the festival is the event when parents leave their newborns on mattresses in the street. This is made, so men that are dressed in bizarre costumes, symbolising the Satan, can leap over the babies in an act that absolves them of the evil that man has committed before them.
La Pourcailhade, France, August
French cuisine is popular all over the world and this French annual festival is a carnivore celebration of the French mighty swine. Taking place in the little town of Trie-sur-Baise, the festival is best known as the French championship for pigs, in which contestants are judged on their ability to imitate pigs! To add up to the whole unique experience, the festival also features piglet racing, black pudding-eating competition, and, of course, a lot of delicious barbequed pork meat.
Busojaras, Hungary, February
Hungarian winters are usually truly cold and there is no surprise that the local people do everything they can to make winter go away faster and welcome the warmer spring days. The festival Busojaras in a great example for the above said, taking place for six days on the streets of Mohacs dressed in funky costumes and horned masks to dance around and scare the severe weather away.