Spend any time in Europe and you’ll find it’s all about the fiesta. There are plenty of traditional one’s like the Oktoberfest or the Running of the Bulls but some weird and wonderful ones too like the wife carrying championships in Finland and cheese rolling in England.
- San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain
For a real Hemmingway experience of Spain this bull running festival in July is the ultimate and probably the most internationally renowned Spanish fiesta. Run before the bulls on the famed dash or join in the celebrations that rage all day and night. Sangria and Kalimotxo flow as freely here as the fun.
- Cannes film festival, France
The ultimate experience of the Cote d’Azur is this regal event in May; bristling with stars and wannabes, better dressed tourists, photographers and yacht owners. You don’t need a media pass or celebrity status to join in the fun. There are plenty of free movies, aperitifs, sunshine and fine-living experiences for all.
- Palio, Siena, Italy
Words don’t do justice to this twice-annual horserace (July and August). The passion, history and celebration involved takes place in a way only Italians know how. During the festival Siena’s contrada’s (districts) take to the track with their finest horses and race for a coveted silk banner (Il Palio). It’s hotly contested and bribes and payoffs are not unknown.
- The Fringe festival, Edinburgh
This August event is the largest arts festival in the world to which about 1.6 million people come to watch over 30,000 performances. Join the crowd for the drama, comedy, dance and music with anything from the classics of ancient Greece and Shakespeare to new, uncharted works.
- Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
This 16-day festival is as beer filled as you can get. Every year in late September and early October some six million people converge on the city to swill and drain the city’s beer kegs.
- Tomatina, Bunol, Spain
Join the 20,000 strong crowd for the tomato version of a snowball fight in Bunol every August. It’s wild, red and a great stress relief. Make sure you wear old clothes!
- Notting Hill Carnival, London
One of London’s best bashes is held annually in August in the area that Hugh Grant made famous in the movie of the same name. It was started by West Indian immigrants of the area and has become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival attracting millions for its music, parades, spectacular floats, traditional steel drum bands and hundreds of stalls.
- Cheese rolling, Gloucestershire, England
Lunacy is probably the best way to explain this annual dash for a rolling cheese. Competitors mass on the top of a hill and undertake a wild, often-flying scramble down dale after the said cheese. Don’t be tricked into a false sense of security if you’re planning on taking part. Bones, legs, ankles and even spectators come to grief in this event.
- Wife-Carrying World Championships, Finland
On July 7 in Sonkajärvi couples gather to compete in this weird and wonderful discipline, which actually does have a history dating back to the 19th century. There are two feature events including a sprint over 100 yards including a water obstacle and a team event. World champions receive the equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer, a bag full of wife carrying products and a statue with wife carrying motif.
- La Regate des Baignoires (International Regatta of Bathtubs), Belgium
In Dinant in mid-August participants take to the canals for an unusual regatta. They must build floats that contain at least one bathtub in its construction. There’s minor competitive bursts but mostly a lot of fun as water fights usually ensue between the competitors and the spectators.