Around Europe in 10 Local Summer Festivals
August 4, 2011
August is upon us and this means three things:
1. Youâ€™re likely to have some time off;
2. The weather is at its best so youâ€™ll want to be spending your leisure hours outside and;
3. There are plenty of outdoor events and activities going on that make it easy to do this. These include a host of local festivals and parties.
Small towns that remain relatively sleepy for most of the year come alive for their annual festivals, and neighbourhoods of large cities take on a sense of community. So, during August and September, if youâ€™re not already planning to, you might want to check out these 10 local events in destinations across Europeâ€¦
1. Fiesta Major de GrÃ¡cia, Barcelona, Spain â€“ 15th-21st August
Fiesta Major de Gracia by JPD Photos on Flickr
Spain and, in particular, Barcelona, has a host of fiestas going on around this time. But the GrÃ¡cia areaâ€™s annual street party is widely recognised as one of the best. Starting from the public holiday on the 15th (Assumption Day), thereâ€™s a week of over 600 events in around 20 streets and squares. All of these are imaginatively decorated by the residents, often with recycled materials, and then awarded prizes. Dance and drink in the street while you marvel at some of the more outlandish creations.
2. La Loa, La Alberca, Salamanca, Spain â€“ 16th August
Tourists donâ€™t need much persuading to travel to La Alberca. The town is the definition of quaint, with beautiful hundreds-years-old timber buildings. In fact, the olde-world place was declared a National Monument. But, head there on the 16th of August and youâ€™re likely to be more convinced than ever that you have stepped back in time. Because this is when La Alberca puts on Spainâ€™s oldest medieval mystery play. The work is about the victory of good over evil but has been maintained over the years by mixing the religious with the secular.
Batalla de las Flores by Carlos Perez on mobypicture
3. Batalla de las Flores, Laredo, Santander, Spain â€“ 26th August
Given the status of â€˜Festival of National Tourist Interestâ€™, the main part of this fiesta is its parade. Huge floats covered in real flowers fill the streets in the guises of animals, mythological creatures, or simply just as decoration for the sake of it. There is stuff on all day but the parade takes place in the afternoon, and there are firework displays at night â€“ a fun event for all the family.
4. Ferias de Septiembre, Talavera de la Reina, Spain â€“ 21st-23rd September
In the province of Toledo, tourists usually come to this city for its ceramics and ruins but, if youâ€™re up for a party, the best time to come is towards the end of September. Typical of a local Spanish fiesta, there are a variety of tents and marquees, each with their own music. In the afternoon eating and drinking begins until night falls, when there are additional concertsâ€¦ and more eating and drinking. A great festival to come to with a group of friends (make sure you bring your stamina).
5. I Suoni delle Dolomiti, Trentino, Italy â€“ 3rd July-27th August
Could the stunning mountainous area of Trentino get any more sublime? Well, if you head there in August, the answer is yes. The Sounds of the Dolomites is a programme of concerts designed to be in harmony with the natural surroundings. Internationally renowned artists come here and walk a nature trail with their instruments before performing for their walking companions.
Buskers Festival by John Pastorello on Flickr
6. Buskers Festival, Ferrara, Italy â€“ 19th-28th August
This festival may happen locally in Ferrara, but itâ€™s like a world tour with regards to all the exotic sounds youâ€™ll here. Attracting 800,000 people, itâ€™s the biggest event dedicated to street performers. Expect unusual instruments and flamboyant costumes lining the streets of this pretty Northern town. But even if you donâ€™t normally drop a coin in the hat of the saxophonist on the metro, be prepared to show your appreciation here.
7. Cinema au Clair de Lune, Paris, France â€“ 3rd-21st August
Paris is not well known for being a city where you can get something for nothing, except during August. Open air cinemas are set up in different neighbourhoods â€“ the best being those at Butte Montmartre, Jardins du Trocadero and Jardin des Champs ElysÃ©es. Watch old films from the 40s, or current movies, either way you canâ€™t fail to be enchanted by your surroundings.
8. Feria de Dax, Dax, Landes, France â€“ 11th-16th August
Feria de Dax
A truly local festival in the sense that it focuses on the elements of the region: thermal waters, nature, and taurismo. Youâ€™ll find 13 music bands dotted around the town, folk dancers and oyster tasting. The Landes races are a prominent part of the festival. These are similar to bullfighting spectacles, but they feature heifers that live to see the end of the races.
9. Goethe Weinfest, Weimar, Germany â€“ 25th-28th August
Plenty of German towns have their own Weinfest, or wine festival. But what makes this one special is the fact that it is held to celebrate the birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, genius of modern German literature. So why in Weimer? Well, the humanist lived and was buried here. During the festival his house is actually open to visitors â€“ just probably not a great idea to drink too much wine before going in.
10. Notting Hill Carnival, London, UK â€“ 28th-29th August
Notting Hill Carnival by Dominic's pics on Flickr
This started as a small local festival held by the West Indian community in West London. Today it is a musical extravaganza, each year bringing more colourful and outrageous costumes. Dance to calypso, house or any other type of music played by the numerous sound systems, all while enjoying some traditional Caribbean food from a stall. Thereâ€™s a steel band competition on Sunday, but the main event of the street party is the parade on Monday. For more info on the Notting Hill Carnival, check out our Dreamguides.
Does your town or local area have a festival in August or September? Or are you planning to go to a street party in Europe this summer?