I think it’s safe to say that after the horror show that has been 2020, pretty much everybody out there will be ready for a holiday, regardless of where. I know I am, that’s for sure.
If you’re looking for a holiday destination that’s got hot sunshine, reliable weather, beaches, countryside, gorgeous cities, culture, delicious food, friendly locals, and everything else you could ever want from a getaway, Europe is the continent for you.
I personally am partial to a nice summer festival when I’m away, as it’s a great way to experience something new and different, learn about different cultures and heritages, and have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Today I want to talk to you about European festivals which are a little different to the ones you’ll see on the TV and read about on social media and generic travel blogs.
Here are se7en of the most interesting summer festivals in Europe.
Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
Out of all of the festivals, I’ll be talking to you about today, this is likely the one that you will be the most familiar with.
The Running of the Bulls is held in the city of Pamplona, Spain, and is a part of the town’s Fiesta de San Fermin festival, which is held annually from the 7th of July until the 14th of July.
Here, hundreds of brave, or silly, individuals will run down a series of narrow streets and alleys in the city, whilst being chased by 6 large and angry bulls, along with 6 steers.
Each morning at 8 am this event takes place, and it is not one for the weak-hearted.
This is probably the most controversial on my list today, and whether or not you agree with it, it is a part of Spain’s heritage.
Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, which is the capital city of Scotland, is a stunning city that I have not visited anywhere near as much as I would like, so you can rest assured that I will be changing that very soon.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, simply known as the Fringe, is the biggest arts festival in the world.
Held each August in venues all across this stunning city, the Fringe offers a wide variety of events including dance, theatre, stand up comedy, opera, live music, cabaret, art exhibitions, and much more on top of that.
The biggest attractions here are the comedy shows thanks to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards being presented as part of the festival.
If you do visit, just remember that the British weather in summer can be temperamental, so don’t assume it’ll be hot and sunny.
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy
The third festival I present to you today comes from the hugely popular European country of Italy.
Specifically, I would like to take you, if I may, to the town of Ivrea.
Now, before I go any further, I know the title of today’s article says ‘summer festivals’ but this one actually takes place on the days leading up to Shrove Tuesday, which is technically in Spring.
Despite this, though, as it’s so warm here it’ll feel like summer, so I’m leaving it in.
The Battle of the Oranges is held in the town of Ivrea, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you know it’ll be something special.
The premise of this festival is simple: Launch as many ripe oranges at other people as possible.
Yes, this is essentially a snowball fight, but instead of snowballs in the freezing cold snow, you lob ripe and juicy oranges at anybody who dares to get in your way, in the hot sunshine.
The rules may be simple, but this festival is steeped in history as the idea is to recreate a battle from the 12th century between the city’s inhabitants and their local tyrant. Later it was updated to include Napoleonic soldiers.
Here, 9 teams will be in charge of throwing oranges, on foot, at 40 orange throwers who are in carts.
Think Mario Kart, but with oranges instead of bananas, and much more culturally significant.
Air Guitar World Championships, Oulu, Finland
Finland is a European country which is often overlooked in favour of hotter and sunnier countries, despite being such a wonderful place to visit.
Each August, true masters of invisible guitars from all corners of the globe take to the stage in Oulu Northern Finland, to determine who is truly the master of the Air Guitar.
This contest dates back to 1996 and has a very beautiful objective, which is to promote peace and solidarity through sportsmanship, so don’t expect any trash talking here.
Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, UK
The county of Yorkshire is, for me and countless others, one of the most gorgeous parts of the country, and dare I say, the entire world.
For two weeks in August, this picturesque countryside village in the Yorkshire Dales is overtaken by locals stuffed full of straw.
Yes, creative locals come up with straw-filled scarecrows, dress them outrageously and place them throughout the village. Some are even created to resemble famous people, both past and present.
This festival is designed to raise money for the local church, the village hall, and the village school, and it attracts people from all over the country.
Mud Olympics, Brunsbuttel, Germany
If you don’t mind getting muddy, or watching others get muddy, perhaps, then make your way over to Brunsbuttel, Germany and check out the annual Mud Olympics.
Held every July along the banks of Germany’s Elbe, River, this festival sees locals frolic in the mud and take part in a variety of different games, including football, handball, and volleyball, which take place in the mud.
The event has been held for nearly a decade and a half now, with proceeds raised being used to help cancer patients.
The annual German Mud Olympics attracts a lot of mainstream media attention, and there’s even a Mud Olympic Flame.
Kaljakellunta (Beer Floating Festival), Vantaa, Finland
Finally, if you like to relax, drink beer, socialise, and see some amazing sights whilst floating on a river and getting drunk (responsibly, of course), this is the festival for you.
Kaljakellunta is a laid back, a free, unofficial festival which has now been going for more than two decades.
This festival has no organizer, there are no official rules, nor are their official dates, yet it takes place each summer and is a huge attraction.
This festival basically sees thousands of people climb into floating vessels such as kayaks, dinghies, boats, inflatables, and much more besides, and simply float down the river whilst drinking copious amounts of beer.
Incidentally, Kalja means ‘beer’ and Kellunta means ‘floating’ in Finnish.
Enjoy your summer with one of these festivals! What was your favourite one?
Until next time stay safe, stay curious and don’t stop wandering!