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Nowhere knows how to throw a party like Europe, and fall is one of the best times of year to experience some of the continent's best annual festivals. Time your trip with one of the following events for an unforgettable European travel experience.
Beer at Oktoberfest. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images/Nikada)
Might as well start with the big one: Munich's famous annual party is the world's biggest folk festival—and it's just as much fun as it looks. A true European travel bucket list experience, Oktoberfest dates back to 1810 and it brings together people from all over the world for a bacchanalia dedicated to Bavarian culture. Over the course of this iconic German festival, millions of steins of beer are drunk, tens of thousands of pretzels are devoured and countless new friendships are made while singing & dancing to traditional music. Even if you’re not a drinker, you’ll still have a blast riding the carnival rides, sampling the great food and soaking up the special atmosphere.
One of the continent’s most famed events for food lovers, International Alba White Truffle Fair celebrates the Italian city of Alba and its prized truffles. Taste some of these incredible Tubers alongside many other delicacies from the Langhe—an area in northwest Italy renowned for its food & drink—and experience many fun happenings including a donkey race and cooking shows.
Not to be left out of the fun, Croatia’s idyllic Istria region showcases its truffles over five weekends during this festival. Taking place in Livade, Truffle Days features plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with Istrian truffles, sample scores of local delicacies and even take part in truffle hunting demonstrations in the Motovun Forest.
Castellers at La Merce Festival in Barcelona (Photo Credit: SeraTJ / Flickr)
Barcelona’s biggest annual bash, La Mercè is a microcosm of all that makes this city so special. Expect street concerts, light shows, acrobatics, parades (including the remarkable procession of "giants"), human towers named castellers, fire & drumming shows and much more. Simply put: there's no better time to be in Barca.
Taste the fruits of the Atlantic Ocean and have an absolute blast at this food festival that takes place in Ireland's famously fun western city. In addition to great live music and parties throughout the weekend, there are also oyster opening contests and cooking demonstrations.
PHOTO: Toasting red wine. (Photo via ViewApart / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
For five days each year, the most atmospheric neighborhood in Paris comes alive with the sound of live music and the clinking of glasses during this beloved event that celebrates the rich wine heritage of Montmartre. Celebrating its 90th edition in 2023, the Montmartre Wine Festival also includes food-focused events & parades, and this year, will sport an Olympic theme in honor of the upcoming Paris Summer Olympics.
No trip to the romantic Middle Rhine region of Germany is complete without sampling some local wine and this festival provides the perfect opportunity. Boppard is an idyllic little town on the river and its climate lends itself to an early riesling harvest, which is celebrated with gusto during the festival. Be sure to take a local cruise on the Rhine before or after the event for maximum enjoyment.
Amsterdam architecture. (Photo Credit: Susan Young)
Think of Amsterdam Dance Event as a South by Southwest for the Electronic Dance Music community. The Netherlands is home to many of the world's finest DJs and even if you arrive indifferent about that style of music, you might leave a fan after this electric get together. Hundreds of performances and happenings take place across the city, with something for everyone.
This annual event in Trieste, Italy is the world's largest sailing regatta, but the race itself is just one part of the fun. The regatta takes place on the last day of the festival, and the days leading up to it are filled with special events that serve to show off this historical city's passion for life by the sea. It all comes to a crescendo when the boats take to the water and fill the Gulf of Trieste with thousands of sails—a sight you'll never forget.
Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, Gerrmany. (Photo by Scott Hartbeck)
Germany's other big annual autumn party takes place in a scenic spot on the banks of the Neckar River in Stuttgart, with 2023 marking its 175th edition. You could think of Cannstatter Volksfest as "Oktoberfest's little brother" as it offers up a similar atmosphere full of beer tents, carnival rides and regional food, but this one comes with a distinctly Swabian flavor and a higher percentage of locals to visitors. Since the festivals overlap, why not try both and see which one's your favorite?
Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...
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