Summer festivals in Europe will soon be in full swing and there has never been a better time to plan an upcoming trip. Take a look at Auto Europe's top picks for European summer festivals in 2016, and prepare to dodge aeronautical tomatoes, see raging bulls run and sample delicious vintages from around the world.
Planning an upcoming trip to France? The summer season throughout the country encompasses a traditionally relaxed and carefree atmosphere with extra-long days and comfortably warm nights. With the summer months being filled with an array of exciting festivals and events, visitors should have no problem finding activities to keep their schedules full. One of the biggest celebrations throughout France is Bastille Day, which is celebrated much like America's 4th of July. A national holiday recognized as being the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the modern republic is marked by momentous celebrations. On July 14th throughout France, every city, village and town celebrates with grand parades, booming fireworks displays and an array of raucous parties. Everyone's invited to participate in the festivities, so uncork that bottle of wine and (responsibly) join in on the celebration!
Food fights are the name of the game when it comes to experiencing Spain's summer festival line-up; starting on the 29th of June with the Haro Wine Festival. Over a span of three hours, residents and visitors alike take to the streets armed with water guns loaded with wine. During the battle, thousands of gallons of red wine are used as ammo, and grape fun is had by all. Later in the summer, the food fighting continues in the tiny town of Bunol when over one hundred metric tons of tomatoes are trucked in on the last Wednesday of August. La Tomatina participants mentally prepare for the world's biggest food fight all year by envisioning themselves pelting a bunch of complete strangers with some locally harvested tomatoes. Once the festival is officially open, it's all out warfare, so wear old clothes and don't forget your protective eye wear.
Originally celebrated as a way of giving thanks for the end of the plague in 1576, in modern times, the Festa del Redentore is Venice's premier summer soiree. Venetians moor their boats in the lagoon and prepare to party from sundown to sunrise, making this one of the best times to visit Venice. The third Saturday of July culminates the activities with a fireworks display of epic proportions, and festivities continue until dawn the next morning. Venturing to Verona is also a wonderful choice for a summer rendezvous, as the city hosts the ever-popular Verona Opera Festival. Even for individuals who do not have a particular affinity for opera should experience this impressive festival at least once in their lifetime. File into the Arena di Verona on select dates between June 20th and the end of September and you'll be treated to a multitude of once-in-a-lifetime theatrical performances that can only be described as inspiring.
Although the King of all beer celebrations doesn't happen until September, travelers visiting Germany during the summer months are also privy to an impressive supply of rousing beer and wine festivals. The Bergkirchweigh Fair in Erlangen is credited as being the oldest beer festival in all of Germany. This celebration of hops and barley may not be as grandiose or as famous as its beer brethren in Munich, but it dates Oktoberfest by 55 years! Every August, the annual Rothenburger Weindorfs provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to try a few swills of Franconian wine. This year's festival takes place from May 12-23rd, and participants will be able to sample over 70 varieties of Franconian wines, ranging from Silvaner and Muller-Thurgau, to valuables like Ice-Wine and Trockenbeerenauslese. If you happen to be traveling with children or are looking for less palliative ways to experience Germany's summer festivals, Berlin's Carnival of Cultures is not to be missed!
Every year on June 21st, visitors from near and far gather at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice and to see the sunrise above the stones. Last year, the celebration saw upwards of 20,000 celebrants gather to welcome the solstice, and 2016's celebration is shaping up to be even bigger. In Scotland, for the entire month of August, the city of Edinburgh host's the iconic Festival Fringe, which invites performers to take to the multitude of stages all over the city. As the world's largest performing arts festival, Fringe hosts corresponding events that include dance, theater, opera, comedy acts, children's shows, concerts and film screenings. When it comes to touring London, the summer is one of the best times to travel to England.
The country of Portugal boasts a bullfighting season that begins in June and runs through the end of September. Events are held as part of the National Agricultural Fair, and unlike Spanish bullfighting, bulls are not actually killed during Portuguese bullfighting events. Make your way to the city of Santarem for the best displays of bullfighting, and stay for a few days to experience the region's unique flair. Surrounded by vast, green plains that stretch to the horizon, visitors will find a cluster of tiny towns near Santarem that are outfitted with museums and other cultural offerings that will provide further insight into the region's intriguing history. For travelers venturing to Cascais in July and August, be sure to check out the city's Festival of the Sea. Each year, young fishermen strut their stuff for the local ladies and then turn their attention to bull chasing. Any participant brave enough to grab onto the horns will be handsomely rewarded with the prize of a bounty of dried codfish. Evenings are filled with concerts and fireworks along with lively processions complete with colorful costumes and plenty of local libations.
The city of Killorglin is at the geographical heart of County Kerry and is the venue for a very unusual street festival, which is held annually on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August. Ireland's Puck Fair celebrated its 400th anniversary last year, and 2016 promises to be just as eccentric. The basic gist of the festival goes something like this: on the first day of the fair, known as The Gathering, a goat is crowned king of the land, after which spectators can expect 12 full hours of free family entertainment each day. Beginning as an event centered on the trading of livestock, over the past few decades, concerts, dancing fireworks and other festivities have overtaken the animal trading as the primary focus of the fair. Due to this quirky festival, August is certainly one of the best times of year to visit Ireland!
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