We’ve toasted and worn our paper hats and now the new year is here! There is so much excitement ahead… We have full twelve months to plan for the famous European Festivals! Here are our top ten picks of annual Europe events this year.
Carnival of Venice, Italy: The floating city’s masked fete
27 Januray – 13 February
The Carnival of Venice takes place each year. It takes place 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!
Copenhagen Jazz Festival: Denmark’s 10-day musical feast
2 – 25 February
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is a must on Denmark’s music calendar. Imagine – more than 2 weeks, at 100+ venues throughout the city. 1000 separate concerts in clubs, cafés, concert halls, and open-air destinations. The festival draws 250 000 guests from far and wide! You can enjoy live jazz in the historical streets of Copenhagen. It has been known as one of the jazz capital of Europe since the 1950s.
St Patrick’s Day: The feast of Saint Patrick, Ireland
15 March – 19 March
St Patrick’s Day is an official Irish holiday. It celebrates the passing of the patron saint of Ireland. But, 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 of Dublin the festival takes on a whole new meaning. Here, Lá Fhéile Pádraig (St Paddy’s in Irish), means parades, concerts and even treasure hunts!
Keukenhof: Amsterdam’s Tulip & Flower Festival (Netherlands)
22 March – 13 May
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! The Keukenhof garden dates back to the 15th century. Used to be 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!
King’s day: Amsterdam’s all day citywide street festival
A daylong festival in the capital of the Netherlands, it celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. Locals, expats and tourists dress in orange from head to toe to honour the royal Dutch family. The family visits a different municipality or town each year. Over 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). They then continue till the eve of King’s day. The canals are full of different coloured boats (with party on board) all day or even week long. You can make your pick from at least 8 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, trade 2nd hand goods out of hand. Go here to see more of what’s on on King’s day this year.
Stars of the White Nights Festival: St Petersburg’s annual art fair (Russia)
May – June (dates to be confirmed)
The Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg is one of the most popular musical and cultural events in Russia. The festival runs throughout the season of the midnight sun. This is when night becomes extended twilight, and is a true extravaganza of the arts! You can enjoy music, opera, ballet, film and all sorts of outdoor celebrations. One of the festival highlights is the fireworks display! It marks the appearance of the Scarlet Sails- a fleet of red-sailed tall ships. The Scarlet Sails are inspired by a Russian children’s tale.
Chelsea Flower Show: London’s horticultural showcase
22 – 27 May
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, also known as the ‘Great Spring Show’. A large scale UK flower- and landscaping expo. Gardening enthusiasts travel from around the globe for this 5-day event. What are the highlights of the event? Many show gardens 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!
Fiesta de San Isidro: Madrid’s largest traditional festival (Spain)
Between 11 and 15 May (dates to be confirmed)
The Fiesta de San Isidro commemorates the patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro. It’s the highlight on 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 al fresco locations throughout Madrid.
Ultra Europe: Multi-venue outdoor electronic music festival in Split, Croatia
EDM or house music fan? Ultra Europe should already be on your radar! This is one of the premier dance music destinations the world over. 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 The Chemical Brothers. That’s what we call a high caliber of artists!
Sanfermines : Running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain
San Fermines festival is a week-long festival hosted in Pamplona, Spain. It’s seen as one of the biggest festivals hosted in Spain every year. It honours Spain’s first bishop Saint Fermin. For this event, over a million people flock to Pamplona each year. 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. How does it work? The idea is to touch the bull as it passes you or to hit it with a newspaper. Anyone older than 18 can run and it’s completely free of charge! The festival is a true Spanish celebration. There’s so much to see and do… Live bullfights, flamenco music bands, fireworks, fairs, markets and parades. On July 7th everyone joins in a parade, walking with the 15th century statue of the saint.
Zagreb Folk Fest: Croatia’s rural culture festival
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, Russia and more. This festival is a great way to get a taste of each country’s singular folklore!
Cambridge Folk Festival: Cambridge’s long-weekend folky fete
Everyone looks forward to the Cambridge Folk Festival. Where do the folks get together? The village of Cherry Hinton. This one is for the whole family! The festival has 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 5 stages and entertainment areas. Top Tip! Tickets go fast for this event! Make sure that you get yours well in advance.
Berlin Beer Festival: The Grey City’s celebration of the golden drink, Germany
2000 beers from 300+ breweries from 87 different countries – amazing! The Berlin Beer Festival celebrates beer culture and everything that goes with it. Each year, around 800 000 visitors flock here! What can you look forward to? The atmosphere, sampling beer and some of the best music. There are national and international music acts. As well as 20 stages throughout the festival! The venue runs along the scenic Karl-Marx-Allee between Strausberger Platz and Frankfurter Tor.
Øya: Norway’s international music festival (Oslo)
The annual Øya Festival is one of Oslo’s 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 allow newcomers the chance to perform.
Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary
Probably the biggest music and culture festival in Europe! The Sziget festival is a weeklong rock festival. Is it really that big? Each year there are more than 1000 performers and up to half a million people! The fans come from up to 100 different countries, mainly Europe and Western Europe. You can expect a real multi-genre line-up! With renowned artists such as Rihanna, Pink, David Guetta and Muse. The event takes places on Óbudai-sziget island (Island of Old Buda) in North Budapest. A dream location for a music and art festival. The island is known as Freedom Island, what a great name! The island becomes a world of art projects, visuals and interactive installations. All built by local artists by using mostly recycled materials.
Top Tip! You can buy a 7-day pass, a 5-day or just a day pass. Go here to watch the official after movie and other videos or search for #sziget on social platforms. Sziget is a celebration of music, arts and people. Every music and festival lover should tick this one off their list!
Oktoberfest: One of Europe’s largest folk festivals, Germany
22 September – 7 October
Drink a toast along with the 5.9 million guests that will be at this year’s 185th Munich Oktoberfest! There is so much German beer to choose from… 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!
Advent Markets: Austrian Christmas festivities in Vienna
November – December (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 they date back to the Middle Ages. Not sure what to get your loved ones? We’re sure you’ll find something as there are over 20 official Christmas markets. They sell all sorts of seasonal gifs and traditional Viennese treats. You can even choose the location…The City Hall, Belvedere Palace and Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz. Austria and Vienna are home to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Lord Mayor’s Show: London’s classic piece of British pageantry (England)
This is one for the whole family! 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!
Sinterklaas Procession: Amsterdam’s Christmas Parade (Netherlands)
End of November (date to be confirmed)
The Sinterklaas Procession is a delightful Dutch tradition. 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 no less! The parade then continues on foot through the city. You can enjoy a children’s musical programme at the Dam Square. The day out ends at the Leidseplein. Here, Sinterklaas delivers a message from the balcony of the Stadsschouwburg. All in all, a beautiful look into the Dutch festive traditions.
Hogmanay: Edinburgh’s roaring NYE festival (Scotland)
December – January (dates to be confirmed)
Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a world-famous New Year’s 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!
What an awesome lineup?! We’ve brought you all the popular European events! And it’s easy because Europe always delivers when it comes to big and exciting. Here’s to giving in to that niggling FOMO and joining in on the fun!