10 European festivals you need to show your face at

There’s no better way of getting to know the locals than by throwing tomatoes in their face. Or joining them as they celebrate their King and dress head to toe in orange. Or climbing a mountain and covering them in wine, before they then cover you in wine. Forget the small talk; this is making friends European style.

Orange is the New Black on King's Day, Netherlands.

If you’re looking for a traditional European festival that stems from way, way back, that’s jam packed with local music, food, fun, and some weird, wonderful and unique activities, then check out our European cultural festival calendar and get yourself to the next one ASAP.

Your European Festival Calendar 2014-2015


La Batalla Del Vino | 27– 29th Jun 2014 | Haro, Spain

La Batalla Del Vino (otherwise known as the Wine Fight), is held on St Peter’s Feast Day and dates back to the sixth century. Join the whole town as they party in the streets, bars and squares, before heading up a mountain to cover each other in wine with water pistols and buckets. Responsibly, of course.

La Tomatina | 24June 2014 | Valencia, Spain

Held on the last Wednesday of August every year, the ‘Worlds Biggest Food Fight,’ sees more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes thrown into the street. And you’re right in the middle of it. The festival is thought to have started in 1945 when a group of rowdy teenagers joined a local parade uninvited, angered the locals, who in turn started throwing tomatoes at anyone any everyone. Whatever the reason for the madness, it’s a damn fun festival and you’ll get to spend a week enjoying music, dancing, fireworks and a shed load of tomatoes.

So, who's going to clean this mess up?

Oktoberfest | 20 September  –  5 October 2014 | Munich, germany

This huge beer festival in Munich originated from the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Theresa from Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. So we have a lot to thank them for! Beginning as a quite family affair with few carousels and a sumptuous feast, the beer stands steadily started appearing in 1896, and the festival now hosts six million people per year. Go for the beer, go for pig’s knuckles and bratwurst, and embrace the inevitable hangover.

Halloween in Transylvania | 29 Oct – 4 Nov |  Romania

Okay, so we know Halloween is celebrated the world over, but imagine partying in authentic Romanian castle? It’s haunted and everything. Spend the spookiest week of the year exploring the birthplace of Dracula, hanging out at his castle, and being very impressed with Romania’s Gothic architecture, enchanting forests and friendly people.

Spend Halloween in the spoooooky Hunyad Castle

Hogmanay | 31 December 2014 | Scotland

Nowhere celebrates New Year’s Eve like they do in Scotland. Hogmanay street parties happen come rain or shine (or snow, being Scotland), and there’s no shortage of entertainment, rides, bands, haggis, and good times. Head on up there on one of our packages and we’ll take you to a ceilidh, throw in a walking tour of Edinburgh, and offer you the chance to take a dip in the ice cold sea – otherwise known as a Loony dork.

Up Helly Aa | 27 Jan 2015 | Shetland Islands

On the last Tuesday of January, Lerwick in Shetland, gets ready for it’s annual Viking fire festival to mark the end of the yule season. See over 1000 guizers (they’re the folk dressed up as Vikings) wearing some very impressive costumes, and marching through the town with torches. The big day culminates with the burning of a replica Viking longship or galley that is then put out to sea.

This is all completely normal at Up Helly Aa, we promise

Las Fallas | 15 March 2015 | Valencia, SPain

If you’re a fan of big bangs, bright lights, and giant sculptures, then this festival held in honour of St Joseph’s Day, and dating from the 15thcentury, is one you need to been seen at. The Falles are huge papier-mâché sculptures that represent current affairs and celebrities. You’ll have four days to explore each sculpture and get involved in the paella eating, street parties, and incredible firework shows. The highlight of the four day festival is the burning of the fallas on the final day.

Warning, some of the Falles can be slightly creepy...

St Patrick’s Day | 17March 2015 | Ireland

St Patrick’s Day is huge the world over, but there’s really only one place to celebrate the anniversary of Saint Patrick’s death, and that’s The Emerald Isle itself. Locals in every village, town and city, deck themselves out in green on March 17 to drink, eat and be merry Irish style; this means plenty of shamrocks, Irish jigs, Guinness and a night you’ll never forget (or maybe, struggle to remember the next day)!

King’s Day | 24April | Netherlands

Orange is so your colour. Well, it is on the day that celebrates the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. Everyone adorns the streets and canals, wearing the national colour of orange with pride, while listening to DJs, bands and picking up some bargains in the world’s largest flea market; The Vrijmarkt. The best spot to be is definitely on the canal, where hundreds of decorated boats pack the water. Eat oliebollen, drink, be merry, take phots, but just don’t fall in. Proost!

Feel like getting festive? We’ll help you get to any of the above fabulous festivities  just give a Travel Expert a call or book and appointment to see on in store.