5 European festivals you must do in 2014
Europe knows how to party, and we don’t just mean in the pubs and clubs. With so many countries jam-packed into such a compact continent, not to mention myriad cultures and traditions, the European event calendar is chock-a-block from New Year to New Year’s Eve! You could visit at any time of the year and find epic food fights, burning effigies, colourful parades and curious superstitions going down. But, if you really want to make the most of your Europe holiday, we suggest timing your trip to coincide with one (or more!) of these must-do Europe festivals. Busabout takes these events to the next level with dedicated festival experiences where you’re guaranteed a hassle-free good time and they’ll sort out the nitty gritty of accommodation, meals and transport. We’ll drink to that!
Calling all pyros – gunpowder, fireworks and burning effigies anyone? If firecrackers and enormous bonfires light up your life, you’ll want to be at Las Fallas. Every mid-March, Valencia sparks into life with the week-long Fiesta de las Fallas, which celebrates St Joseph the patron saint of carpenters. The centrepiece of the fiesta is the papier-mache ninots constructed of paper and wood, intricately decorated and usually satirising topical events. Don’t get too attached though, on the last day of Las Fallas, these huge elaborate statues go up in flames on massive pyres. It’s a sight and sound extravaganza, if you can still hear, that is, after the daily coordinated mascletàs (firecrackers) and fireworks!
Formerly known as Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag), Koningsdag or King’s Day will be celebrated in Amsterdam for the first time in 2014 after this year’s inauguration of King Willem-Alexander after his mum abdicated. To celebrate the king’s b’day – April 27 – King’s Day will be held on Saturday, April 26 in 2014. It’s a no brainer about what to wear to this citywide b’day party; every man, woman, child and pet in Amsterdam will be awash in orange, the Dutch royal colour. One of the world’s largest street parties with over 1 million revellers, King’s Day is all about massive flea markets, revelry on the canals on boats, bridges and the public squares, plus live music, DJs and copious amounts of beer.
Bring out the oompah bands, we’re ready to get cheesy with the Funky Chicken dance. The world’s largest fair, Oktoberfest, has been happening in Munich in Theresienwiese or just Den Wiesn since 1810 when it was a public wedding party for the Bavarian monarch. Now 2 weeks long and beginning in late September, Oktoberfest saw 6.4 million revellers handle their huge steins while dressed in traditional dirndls and lederhosen in 2013. There’s 14 tents to choose from with major breweries and smaller companies represented and you can pair your cold brew with pig’s knuckles and warm potato salad.
The Running of the Bulls. San Fermin Festival. Whatever you call this infamous event, you know there’s running, red bandanas and angry bulls. The population of Pamplona in the Basque region of Spain almost triples during the week-long fiesta in July where runners in white with red bandanas, called Pamplonés, head down an 875-metre course through the streets of Pamplona at 8am every day with 6 wild bulls. Originally it was all about a saint called San Fermín, but really it’s about cerveza (beer), cava (Spanish champers) and sangria. It’s crazy and just a little scary, so stick to the street parties and sidelines if you’re smart.
Do the Spanish have a franchise on partying or what? One thing’s for certain, Spaniards have no problem getting messy, whether that’s at the annual La Batalla del Vino in the La Rioja region where litres of wine get flung around with gay abandon, or this festival fave. Don’t wear your best threads to La Tomatina or bother to do your hair; you’re just going to get covered in tomatoes from head to toe. On the last day of August every year, the massive food fight that is La Tomatina goes down in Buñol near Valencia. Numbers are now capped at 20,000 tomato-hurling participants, so a tour is a good way to ensure you get in on the La Tomatina action.