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Festivals & Events

Europe’s calendar is full with festivals and events every month of the year. Europe has some of the oldest and most memorable festivals and events in the world, from the renown Oktoberfest in Munich to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. There are events that recreate famous events or ceremonies of their remembrance. Festivals to celebrate what cities or regions are famously known. Food festivals for beer to olives to cheese to tomatoes. Events celebrating industry, engineering, mining and technology. Music, film and art festivals that remember those great artists who left us so much to appreciate and enjoy. Whether it be a Wagner opera, attending a film festival  or taking in a special exhibition, you will never be bored or out of something to do.

Carnivals

Venetian Carnival Mask

Not what we in the US normally call carnivals but, these are the origins of our Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Rio’s Carnival. Originally a celebration fixed to the liturgical calendars of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church, prior to the Lenten season. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday six weeks before Easter. It is a time in which fasting and the refraining from eating rich foods, meat, drink, parties and celebrations was prohibited by the church. Carnival is a time for many to indulge prior to the six weeks of pius behavior dictated by the church. Historians believe many of the carnival rituals actually have pagan influences that may have started before the church itself. There are records that show some cities in Europe had carnivals as early as the 12th century. Cities like Venice, Cadiz,  Cologne, Nice and Düsseldorf are known for their carnivals. With the influx of immigration from the Caribbean, communities like London’s Notting Hill now celebrate a carnival in the summer.

Christmas Markets

Decorated Store in Rouen, France

These occur during the ushering in of Avent, the 4 weeks prior to Christmas,  by many European towns in their city centers and open markets.  Origins seem to have started in German speaking areas of central Europe and Vienna’s Christmas Market dates back to 1294. Open air markets sell a range of consumer goods for gift giving and unique Christmas decorations. Serving of foods as gingerbread, cookies and hot alcoholic beverages are also sold. Many towns are decorated with lights outlining the old gabled medieval buildings and are a must to view in the evenings. Performances of Christmas music and carol singing are done regularly. The markets can also have rides, fireworks and light shows. Today markets occur from eastern Europe to the British Isles and Iberia to Scandinavia. Some of the best know Christmas markets are in Nuremberg, Strasbourg, Cologne, Dresden, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Stuttgart and the famous Esslingen.

Religious Observances

Lighting prayer candles in St. Stephans Cathedral Vienna, Austria

Because of the influence and dominance of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church throughout most of Europe for centuries,  there are many holidays, events and festivals held in recognition of religious events or commemorating Saints. In addition to Christmas and Easter, Pentecost Sunday, Assumption Day, Epiphany, Ascension Day and the Immaculate Conception are national holidays in many countries. St. Stephan’s Day the day after Christmas, the Monday after Easter and the Monday after Pentecost are observed with many business’s and services closed.

May Day…

May Day is celebrated in most European country’s and its their equivalent of our Labor Day. You can also expect special events and closures on this holiday. For legal holidays by country go to the the country’s page and its holidays are listed on the very bottom of the page.

The following list consists of the most famous and well known festivals and events. There are so many more and you may locate them at the web site links at the bottom of this page.

During the COVID-19 pandemic many were cancelled or delayed in 2020 and some may also in 2021. Please confirm 2021 activity by going to their web sites.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many events were cancelled or delayed in 2020. There are still some that may be cancelled or delayed to a later date 2021. Please confirm 2021 activity by going to their web sites.

January
London New Years Day ParadeLondon, EnglandNew Years
Grand ParadeParis, FranceNew Years
Up Helly AaLerwick, Shetland Island, UKCultural
San Anton FestivalCanillas de Albaida, Spain Religious
Kiruna Snow FestivalKiruna, SwedenWinter Festival
HogmanayEdinburgh, Scotland, UKNew Year’s Festival
Vienna’s Glorious Ball SeasonVienna, AustriaMusic & Dance
La TamborradaSan Sebastian, SpainCultural
February
Carnival of VeniceVenice, ItalyCultural
Lemon FestivalMenton, FranceCultural
Nice CarnivalNice, FranceCultural
Copenhagen Winter Jazz FestCopenhagen, DenmarkMusic
Chinese New YearLondon, EnglandCultural
Cologne CarnivalCologne, GermanyCultural
Stiges CarnivalBarcelona, SpainCultural
Düsseldorf CarnivalDüsseldorf, GermanyCultural
Cadiz CarnavalCadiz, SpainCultural
Virago CarnevaleVirago, ItalyCultural
March
Carnival of IveraIvera, ItalyBattle of Oranges
Binche CarnivalBunch, BelgiumCultural
St. Patrick’s FestivalDublin, IrelandCultural
Fallas de ValenciaValencia, SpainCultural
Starkbeirzeit Strong Beer FestivalMunich, GermanyCultural
Hamburger DOM SpringHamburg, GermanyCultural -Fair
RouketopolemosChios Island, Vrontados, GreeceCultural
April
Easter PläerrerAugsburg, GermanyCultural- Beer
Snowbombing FestivalMaxyrhofen, AustriaMusic
Semana SantaSeville, SpainCultural
Budapest Spring Music FestivalBudapest, HungaryMusic
Scorpio del CarroFlorence, ItalyCultural
Natale di RomaRome, ItalyCultural
Chaumont Intl. Garden FestivalLoire Valley, FranceHorticultural
BaumblütenfestWerder, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
Koningsdag Kings DayAmsterdam, NetherlandsCultural
Beltane Fire FestivalEdinburgh, Scotland, UKCultural
WalpurgisnachtThroughout N. EuropeCultural
May
Cheltenham Intl. Jazz FestivalGloucestershire, EnglandMusic
Rhine in FlamesLinz to Bonn,GermanyCultural
La Feria de AbrilSeville, SpainCultural
Brighton FestivalBrighton, EnglandArts
Combat des ReinesMartigny, SwitzerlandCultural
Prague Spring Intl Music FestivalPrague, Czech Rep.Music
Festival de CannesCannes, FranceFilm
White Nights FestivalSt. Petersburg, RussiaArts & Music
Constitution DayOslo, NorwayNational Holiday
RHS Chelsea Flower ShowLondon, EnglandHorticultural
The Bath FestivalBath, England Music
Ages Salisbury Intl. FestivalSalisbury, England Arts
Cooper’s Hill Cheese RollingBrockworth, EnglandCultural
Le Doudou, Ducasse Ritual de MonsMons, BelgiumBattle of Lumecon
Primavera SoundBarcelona, SpainMusic
June
Hay FestivalHay-On-Wye, Wales, UKCultural
BergkirchweihErlangen, GermanyCultural
Salzburg Whitsun FestivalSalzburg, AustriaCultural
Isle of Man TT RacesIsle of Man, UKMotorcycle Race
El ColachoCastillo de Murcia, SpainCultural
Roskilde Festival Roskilde, DenmarkMusic
Isle of Wight Festival Isle of Wight, EnglandMusic
DonauinselfestVienna, AustriaMusic
Download Festival Donington Park, Derby, EnglandMusic
Festa de Sao JoaoPorto, PortugalCutlutral
Fusion FestivalMecklenburg-Vorpommen, GermanyCultural
GlastonburyGlastonbury, EnglandMusic
Haro Wine Festival Haro, SpainCultural
Infiorata di GenzanoGenzano, ItalyCultural
Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling FestivalEdina, TurkeyCultural
OerolTerschelling, NetherlandsCultural
Stonehenge Summer SolsticeWiltshire, EnglandCultural
Kieler WocheKiel, GermanyCultural
Goodwood Festival of SpeedChichester, England, UKAuto Show and Race
Arena Opera FestivalVerona, ItalyMusic
Biberacher SchützenfestBiberach an der Riss, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
July
Grec Festival Barcelona, SpainArts & Music
ZuerifaeschtZurich, SwitzerlandMusic & Dance
Il PalioSiena, ItalyHorse Race
Wife Carrying World ChampionshipsSonkajarvi, FinlandCultural
SchützenfestHannover, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
Manchester Intl. FestivalManchester, EnglandCultural
Henley Royal RegattaHenley-On-Thames, England 
Rock Wercher Wrecker, BelgiumMusic
Copenhagen Jazz Festival Copenhagen, DenmarkMusic
Savonlinna Opera Festival Savonlinna, FinlandMusic
Montreux Jazz Festival Montreux, SwitzerlandMusic
Festival Aix en ProvenceAix-en-Provence, FranceMusic
Festival d’AvignonAvignon, FranceArts
Tour de FranceFranceBicycle Race
Los SanferminesPamplona, SpainBull Running
Festival of GiantsDouai, FranceCultural
Exit FestivalNovi Sad, SerbiaMusic
North Sea Jazz Festival Rotterdam, NetherlandsMusic
T in the ParkGelneagles, Scotland, UKMusic
Galway Intl. Arts FestivalGalway, IrelandArts
Bastille DayAnywhere in France but, especially in ParisFrench Independence
Luminary e Palio di San RanieriPisa, ItalyReligious & Cultural
LatitudeSouthward, EnglandArts & Music
ImPulsTanzVienna, AustriaDance & Arts
KinderzecheDinkelsbühl, GermanyCultural
Festa del RedentoreVenice, ItalyCultural
Salzburg FestivalSalzburg, AustriaMusic
PromsLondon, England, UK 
Paléo Festival NyonNyon, SwitzerlandMusic
WOMAD Charlton ParkMalmesbury, EnglandMusic
Santa Marta de RibartemeAs Neves, SpainCultural
PflasterpektakelLinz, AustriaCultural & Arts
Wickerman FestivalDundrennan, Scotland, UKMusic
RutenfestRavensburg, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
Hamburger DOM SummerHamburg, GermanyCultural-Fair
Puccini FestivalLuca, ItalyMusic
Bayreuther Festspiele Bayreuth, GermanyMusic
Marciac Jazz Festival Marciac, FranceMusic
Hamburg DOMHamburg, GermanyCultural-Fair
Cambridge Folk Festival Cambridge, EnglandMusic
August
Guča Trumpet FestivalGuča, SerbiaMusic
GäubodenvolksfestStraubing, GermanyCultural
CreamfiledsDaresbury, EnglandMusic
Edinburgh Festival FringeEdinburgh, Scotland, UKCultural
FrequencyVienna, AustriaMusic
Bad Kreuznacher JahrmarktBad Kreuznach, GermanyCultural-Beer
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking FestivalLisdoonvarna, IrelandCultural
Notting Hill CarnivalLondon, EnglandCultural
SzigetBudapest, HungaryCultural
World Bog Snorkeling ChampionshipsLlanwrtwd, UKCultural
Air Guitar ChampionshipsOulu, FinlandMusic
Autumn Pläerrer Augsburg, GermanyCultural-Beer
BarthelmarktIngolstadt, GermanyCultural – Music
September
BestivalIsle of Wight, EnglandMusic
Electric PicnicLaois, IrelandMusic & Arts
Festival Number 6Portmeirion, Wakes, UKMusic & Arts
Braemar GatheringBraemar, Scotland, UKHighland Games
Regata StoricaVenice, ItalyCultural
Weinfest der WeltWurstmarktBad Dürkheim, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
OktoberfestMunich, GermanyCultural
MercéBarcelona, SpainCultural
Galway Intl. Oyster FestivalGalway, IrelandCultural
London Design FestivalLondon, EnglandCultural
Oktoberfest  HannoverHannover, GermanyCultural-Beer
Cannstatter Volksfest Stuttgart, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
KramermarktOldenburg, GermanyCultural-Volkfest
October
Budapest Contemporary Arts FestivalBudapest, HungaryCultural
Alba White Truffle FairAlba, ItalyCultural & Food
Wexford Opera Festival Wexford, IrelandMusic
Salon Du ChocolatParis, FranceFood
Festival of  La SaluteVenice, ItalyCultural
Brussels Light FestivalBrussels, BelgiumCultural
November
Ottery Tar BarrelsDevon, EnglandCultural
Veteran Car Run-LBVCRLondon to Brighton, England Vintage Auto Race
Lewes BonfireLewes, EnglandCultural
Krampusnacht FestivalVarious towns in Austria & GermanyCultural
December
German Christmas MarketsMultiple CitiesSeasonal Culture
Christmas CelebrationsTivoli Gardens, Copenhagen , DenmarkSeasonal Culture
St. Thomas Christmas MarketHelsinki, FinlandSeasonal Culture
Fete des Lumieres Lyon, FranceSeasonal Culture
Melvana Whirling DervishesKonya, TurkeyCultural
Burning the ClocksBrighton, EnglandCultural
KaiserballVienna, AustriaSeasonal Culture
Budapest Christmas FairBudapest, HungaryCultural