Gather round ladies and gentlemen! What better way to experience a country than by taking part in one of its exciting festive events? Europe is home to a number of countries; each with its own unique mix of languages, traditions and cultural events. From the green-tinted revelry of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland to the famous Carnival of Venice, attending one of the annual Europe events below is sure to be some of the most fun you can have during a European trip!
Planning to travel abroad in the coming year? Excellent! That means you have plenty of time to tailor your trip to include a few of the famous European festivals. Expat Explore has put together our top 18 picks of annual Europe events in 2023:
Location: Venice, Italy
4 February – 21 February 2023
The Carnival of Venice takes place each year, just before the six-week Catholic religious observance of Lent. Locals and visitors can dress up, wear masks and parade fabulous costumes. What can you look forward to? Street parades, theatrical events, masked balls and shows on the city’s famous waterways to name a few!
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
2 – 26 February 2023
Vinterjazz is a must on the Denmark music calendar. Imagine 600+ concerts, 100+ venues and 25 independent organisers throughout the country. It’s no wonder the festival draws countless guests from far and wide! It’s the ideal opportunity to enjoy live jazz in the historical streets of Copenhagen. The city has been known as one of the jazz capitals of Europe since the 1950s, so these musicians are the best of the best!
Related: Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Copenhagen!
17 March 2023
St Patrick’s Day is an official Irish holiday. It celebrates the passing of the patron saint of Ireland. Today, St. Paddy’s is now celebrated by many countries! What will you see? A lot of shamrocks, leprechauns and green-tinged beer. In the capital city Dublin, the festival takes on a whole new meaning. Here, Lá Fhéile Pádraig (St Patrick’s Day in Irish), means parades, concerts and even treasure hunts!
Related: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these traditional Irish recipes.
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
23 March – 14 May 2023
Keukenhof is also known as the ‘Garden of Europe’. In the space of eight weeks, more than 500 flower growers and bulb purveyors show off what they have in Amsterdam! The Keukenhof garden dates back to the 15th century. It was previously known as the gardens of the Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria. Today it is over 200 hectares and hosts the annual tulip festival. Are you a flower enthusiast? This is a bucket-list event for you!
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
27 April 2023
A day-long festival in the capital of the Netherlands, King’s Day celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. Locals, expats and tourists dress in orange from head to toe to honour the Dutch royal family. The family visits a different municipality or town each year. Between 600,000 to a million people head to Amsterdam for King’s Day each year! The events usually start the night before King’s Day (King’s Night) and continue until the eve of King’s Day. The canals are full of different coloured boats (with parties onboard) all day or even week long. You can make your pick from at least eight King’s Day dance parties in the city centre of Amsterdam! King’s Day also hosts the biggest flea markets in the world. Everyone, young and old, trades second-hand goods. Click here to see more of what’s on during King’s Day in 2023.
Related: Find out everything you need to know about celebrating King’s Day in the Netherlands!
Location: London, United Kingdom
22 – 27 May 2023
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, also known as the ‘Great Spring Show’, is a large scale flower and landscaping expo. Gardening enthusiasts travel from around the globe for this five-day event in the United Kingdom. What are the highlights of the event? Many show gardens are designed by the UK’s best landscaping artists. These include avant-garde pieces that would be at home around futuristic structures or historic castles. Some even show how to garden if you have very little space – that could be useful!
Location: Madrid, Spain
15 May 2023
The Fiesta de San Isidro in Spain commemorates the patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro. It’s the highlight of the city’s springtime calendar. Each year, the festival starts with a procession of giants and cabezudos (giants and bigheads). Then, an opening speech in the Plaza Mayor. Over the next few days, the city becomes a festive riot of Latin culture! 50+ music, theatre and dance concerts take place in indoor venues and alfresco locations throughout the Spanish capital.
Related: Discover more of Spain’s top annual festivals!
Location: Split, Croatia
7 – 9 July 2023
EDM or house music fan? Ultra Europe should already be on your radar! This is one of the world’s premier dance music destinations. It’s a three-day, multi-venue outdoor electronic music festival in Split, Croatia. Ultra Europe offers stadium shows, beach gigs and boat parties. All of this takes place on the stunning Adriatic coast. Recent headliners include David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki. That’s what we call a high calibre of artists!
Related: Dance the summer away at some of Europe’s top music festivals!
Location: Pamplona, Spain
6 -14 July 2023
San Fermines festival is a week-long festival hosted in Pamplona. It’s one of the biggest Spanish festivals hosted every year and sees over a million people flock to Pamplona annually! It honours Spain’s first bishop Saint Fermín. What can you look forward to? The well-known daily running of the bulls (encierro). Hundreds of men and women run for their lives in the narrow streets of Pamplona! They dress in white clothes and red sachets. Anyone older than 18 can run and it’s completely free of charge. There’s so much to see and do… Live bullfights, flamenco music bands, fireworks, fairs, markets and parades. On 7 July everyone joins in a parade, walking with the 15th-century statue of the saint.
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
19 July – 23 July 2023
The Zagreb Folk Fest is Organised by the KULTUR-NIK tourist agency. This annual folk festival shows the music and culture of Croatia and other European countries. There are open-air stages and concert halls all around the city. Who will be performing? Groups and ensembles from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Turkey and more. This festival is a great way to get a taste of each country’s singular folklore!
Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
27 – 30 July 2023
The whole family can look forward to the Cambridge Folk Festival. Where do the folks get together? The village of Cherry Hinton. The festival has famous folk entertainers from around the world. Dating back to 1964, the first-ever line-up included the likes of Paul Simon. Visitors are invited to camp out for the weekend and make the most of this long-weekend festival. Your options span over more than five stages and entertainment areas.
Travel Tip: Tickets go fast for this event! Make sure that you get yours well in advance.
Location: Oslo, Norway
8 – 12 August 2023
The annual Øya Festival is one of Oslo’s (the capital of Norway) largest music festivals. It draws 60,000+ music lovers to the city’s vibrant east side each year. The event takes place over four days. The line-up always includes big local and international bands and musicians. They also give newcomers the chance to perform.
Related: Here are some more reasons to visit Oslo!
Location: Budapest, Hungary
9 -14 August 2023
The Sziget Festival in Budapest is a weeklong rock festival and is probably the biggest music and culture festival in Europe! Is it really that big? Each year there are more than 1,000 performers and up to half a million people! The fans come from up to 100 different countries, mainly Eastern and Western Europe. You can expect a real multi-genre line-up with renowned artists such as Rihanna, Pink, David Guetta and Muse performing in previous years. The event takes place on Óbudai-sziget island (Island of Old Buda) in north Budapest. It’s a dream location for a music and art festival. The island, known as Freedom Island, becomes a world of art projects, visuals and interactive installations, created by local artists by using mostly recycled materials.
Location: Munich, Germany
16 September – 3 October 2023
Drink a toast along with the 5.9 million guests that will be at this year’s 188th Munich Oktoberfest! There is so much German beer to choose from that, during the festival, as much as 7.7 million litres is enjoyed each year! The festival also promotes Bavarian culture. You can dress up and join a parade, or enjoy brass band performances and concerts. Prost!
Location: Vienna, Austria
November – December 2023 (various dates)
If it’s Christmas cheer you’re after, look no further! Vienna has all the twinkles and lights you could wish for. Advent Markets are an age-old tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Not sure what to get your loved ones? You’re sure to find something with over 20 official Christmas markets. They sell all sorts of seasonal gifts and traditional Viennese treats. You can even choose the location…The City Hall, Belvedere Palace and Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz… the list goes on!
Related: Vienna is home to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe!
Location: London, United Kingdom
11 November 2023
The Lord Mayor’s Show is a piece of British heritage which dates back to the 1500s. The role of Lord Mayor of London is separate from the elected mayor of London. It refers to a position at the head of the City of London – not Greater London. In the 16th century, it was ‘The Procession to the Royal Courts of Justice and Presentation of the Lord Mayor to the Chief Justices’. Basically, the newly elected Lord Mayor had to go present himself to the royals. This has become a light-hearted British tradition, just like a carnival!
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
13 November – 5 December 2023
The Sinterklaas Procession is a delightful Dutch tradition that takes place from mid-November to the beginning of December. Sinterklaas (the very Dutch version of Santa Claus) arrives in Amsterdam in style. He has no less than 600 Pieten (mischievous assistants) with him and he brings plenty of pepernoten (small spiced biscuits). Sinterklaas sails down the Amstel River along its canals to the Scheepvaartmuseum. There, he is greeted by the Mayor! The parade then continues on foot through the city. You can enjoy a children’s musical programme at Dam Square. The day out ends at the Leidseplein where Sinterklaas delivers a message from the balcony of the Stadsschouwburg. All in all, it’s a beautiful look into the Dutch festive traditions.
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
31 December 2023
Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a world-famous New Year’s Eve festival. It’s three full days of fun! There are loads of bands and events hosted by artists from around the globe. You can enjoy street parties, fireworks and concerts with partygoers from around the world. What a way to bring in the new year!
Related: Don’t forget to add these Scottish Events to your 2023 calendar!
What an awesome lineup, right?! We’ve brought you all the popular Europe events! And it’s easy because Europe always delivers when it comes to putting on big and exciting festivities. Here’s to giving in to that niggling FOMO and joining in on the fun in 2023!
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