Travelling through Europe is often considered a rite of passage; where else could you discover jaw-dropping historical sights, stumble happily from gigantic beer halls, fall madly in love with the world’s most romantic cities or yodel yourself hoarse on green pastured mountain peaks. With festival season just around the corner, there is no better excuse to start planning your European summer trip!
1. LA BATALLA DEL VINO
Where? Haro, La Rioja, Spain
When? 28-30 June
Why? We’ve always been told wine is too precious to waste, and if you are going to waste it – do it wisely. However, in the small town of Haro – a battle to end all battles takes place to celebrate the Spanish wine festival. This is not the kind of wine festival where people stand around swirling glasses, scoffing camembert whilst discussing bouquets and undertones. This is rioja-soaked carnage involving the entire town throwing over 50,000 litres of red wine all over each other. Rest assured, the wine is no Gran Reserva – so grab a jug and get stuck in. With no rules, teams, winners or losers – why not celebrate St. Peter’s Feast Day with the locals, get a bit drunk and turn a beautiful shade of purple.
2. LA TOMATINA
Where? Bunol, Spain (close to Valencia)
When? 31 August
Why? There is something strangely enticing about a festival dedicated to throwing squashed tomatoes! That’s why thousands flood in to Valencia each year with the specific intent of taking part in the world’s biggest food fight. The fight begins at 11am when a loud firework will go off, and then participants are left to stand their own over the next chaotic hour as the streets and the people turn into a sea of red, until the second firework goes off to indicate the end. The fun doesn’t stop there, the palo-jambon event will see people climbing a soap-covered pole to reach the prosciutto on the top, with the first person to grab it claiming victory and the ham! So if you are a bit of a foodie, be sure to get a ticket to this event.
Where? Translyvania, Romania
When? 29 Oct – 4 Nov
Why? We know Halloween is worldwide, but there’s something about Transylvania that sends an icy chill down the most fearless adventurer – would you be willing to spend the one of the most haunted days in the year in Dracula’s castle? You can attend a Halloween party in an authentic, gothic castle and rave the night away to the monster mash. While you’re there explore Romania’s haunted castles, Gothic architecture and enchanting forests. You might even meet some lovely locals.
Fact: Dracula was based upon the Transylvanian villain known as ‘Vlad the Impaler’.
Where? Munich, Germany
When? 19 Sep – 4 Oct
Why? Oktoberfest is the German beer folk festival held once a year in Munich. It celebrates the anniversary of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and his wife. Oktoberfest takes place in giant beer tents, serving the best German beer and food you’ll enjoy for a long time! But it’s not just about the beer, each tent has a brass band playing everything from chart hits to traditional classics. All you have to do is grab your mates, don the lederhosen, pick up a pint glass and party German style…worry about the hangover tomorrow.
Fact: Bavaria does not run out of lederhosen. For cheap outfits try C&A in Neuhauserstrasse at Marienplatz. A one litre Stein costs about £8.