Europe, in many ways, is the cultural powerhouse of the Western world. With its many languages, people, and a long and rich history, the continent is the dream place to be for globetrotters. Places such as Paris, Italy, Prague, and Vienna have long been centers of art, music, theatre, and dance. It is no real wonder that the festivals in Europe are the world’s largest! Everything from folk art to metal music and modern art to natural beauty is the focus of celebrations in the various festivals of Europe.
Most Exciting Festivals In Europe
Here is a roundup of the best celebrations across the continent that you must attend at least once in your life:
1. The Carnival of Venice
If you are looking for festivals in Europe featuring elaborate masks, the Carnival of Venice is the place to be. Although the festival has roots that are a millennium old, the modern version only began in 1979 as an effort to revive the culture of this great city. Today, almost 3 million people attend this 20 days long gala of endless parties and events across the city. There is a water parade, competitions inspired from old Venetian traditions, a grand ball, and a popular contest for best mask design.
Carnival of Venice 2019 dates: 16 February – 5 March
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2. St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland
The Day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Catholic nation of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has old roots. It is celebrated on 17th March every year and marks the arrival of Christianity into Ireland. Over time, it has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture. Marked most distinctly by the color green of the shamrock, it includes parades and other revelry, particularly in Dublin where the Irish Volunteers march. The festival is also often called the festival of alcohol as the Lentil prohibitions on alcohol end on this day.
St. Patrick’s Day 2019 Date: 17 March
3. Maslenitsa, Ukraine
Maslenitsa is a cultural and religious carnival from the Slavic traditions of Eastern Europe. Celebrated eight weeks before Eastern Easter, it is one of the oldest major European festivals. During the week of the festival, meat, cheese, and other dairy are permitted for Orthodox Christians, the traditions of the festival are centred so much around this relaxation of the ban that the festival is often called the Cheesefare week or the Crepe Week. One of the longest traditions of this week of festivities is the preparation of crepes that have all kinds of different fillings and to share them with friends.
Maslenitsa 2019 Dates: 4 – 10 March
4. Carnaval, Netherlands
Celebrated in the southern regions of Netherlands, this spring folk festival is marked by its theme of role reversals. There is a grand feast in most homes from Saturday through Tuesday, and Bonte Avonden, meetings, balls, and parades are held everywhere in the cities. The Motley Storm, or the D’n Optocht, is the most visible face of the festival, with these parades full of colorful floats. There is also a lot of traditional dance and music at various events of the festivals, with Carnaval being the foremost dance festivals of Europe. Any tourist caught in its hailstorm will not come out unamazed!
Carnaval Netherlands 2019 Dates: 3 – 5 March
5. Cannes Film Festival, France
Cannes is a small village in France and the site of one of the most exclusive festivals in Europe. A complete by-invitation-only event, Cannes is the world’s premier film festival and witnesses the screening of almost all genres of the most brilliant movies of the year for a select audience. Held at the beautiful Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, the festival has swayed the film world’s attention from the Venice Film Festival that had developed a fascist streak. Every year, the festival also honors the best film with the famous Palm d’Or, which is often regarded as a more prestigious recognition than the Oscars.
Cannes Film Festival Dates 2019: 14 – 25 May
6. Glastonbury Festival, Scotland
Of all the music festivals in Europe, Glastonbury Festival has a special place. Held in Somerset, England, since the 1970s, the festival is a major part of the British culture. Major pop act performers in contemporary music among others are invited to perform and headline. The festival sees as much as 175,000 people in attendance and is the world’s largest greenfield festival. Beyonce, Dave Grohl, U2, Coldplay and almost all other pop stars have performed at the festival, and it is truly one of the most popular festivals in Europe.
Glastonbury Festival 2019 dates: 26 – 30 June
7. Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Simply called the Fringe, it is among the most important August festivals in Europe. It is also the world’s largest art festival, and in 2017, it was held over 25 days and had 53,232 performances during 3398 shows spread over 300 venues across the Scottish city. Most of the events, which cover theatre, dance, cabaret, opera, music, and exhibitions, are not judged, so anyone can participate. The comedy shows during the festival have a higher profile due to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards that are given to the best shows. The Edinburgh festival is set to be the biggest festival in Europe 2018.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 Dates: 3 – 27 August
8. San Fermin, Spain
This is one of the more traditional festivals in Europe as well as the city of Pamplona, Spain. Over the course of the week, almost a million people come to the city to participate in the various festivities such as the San Fermin procession, the struendo (when people gather to play drums, pots, pans), and the closing sombre ceremony of Pobre De Mi. However, the festival is renowned for the running of the bulls, held at 8 AM from July 7th to 14th. The event is broadcast live on TV and the whole of Spain fixates on matadors for the week.
San Fermin Festival 2019 Dates: 6 – 14 July
9. Oktoberfest, Germany
The European festival of beer, Oktoberfest is Bavaria’s most important period of celebration and one of the top festivals in Europe. Mainly held in Munich, Germany, the festival is a folk celebration of Bavarian culture, first instituted in the year 1810. The city comes to a standstill for much of the festival, with food and beer stalls coming up everywhere. Parades in traditional costumes held by restaurateurs and riflemen are highlights of the fest.
Oktoberfest 2018 Dates: September 22
10. Rock Im Park, Nuremberg
Set to be one of the most popular European rock festivals 2018, Rock Im Park takes place in Nuremberg and has been headlined by the most famous international rock acts since 1985. Held at Zeppelinfeld, the festival has seen such legends of rock as David Bowie, Eddie van Halen, Guns n Roses, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, and Foo Fighters perform here. In combination with the Rock Im Ring, the festival sees a footfall of 150,000 and is one of the best festivals in Europe.
Rock Im Park 2019 Dates: 7 – 9 June
This list of the most famous festivals in Europe is not exhaustive and there are many other fiestas that you can be a part of. Mark these dates in your calendar and book a trip to Europe to witness its culture through these lively celebrations!
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