Iconic Events in Europe By Season

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

Throughout Europe each year, festivals and celebrations take place. In Spain, Seville’s April Fair is a colourful, vibrant fiesta where women dress in traditional Flamenco attire and lilting music fills the streets. In complete contrast, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe held in August celebrates upcoming comedians, playwrights, musicians and street entertainers. From the traditional to the modern, the weird to the wonderful, we highlight iconic events in Europe by season, so you don’t miss out on the best ones.


This article was written before the Covid-19 outbreak. Please check the website of each event before making travel & accommodation plans.

Spring - April Fair, Seville

Seville’s April Fair dates to 1846 when it was originally a livestock trading event, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that it began to expand into the eclectic spectacle it is today. Celebrations begin at midnight, two weeks after Easter on ‘La Noche del Pescaito’ (evening of the fish). After the portada lights illuminate signalling the start of the festival, everyone sits down to a seafood dinner in their private casetas on Guadalquivir’s riverbank. Horse and carriages transport Seville’s leading citizens throughout the city and colourful fairground lights flicker as live music fills the air. The frivolities begin around 9pm each evening and continue until 7 in the morning, so put your party shoes on and prepare yourself for a week of sherry drinking, tapas eating, castanet clicking and all-night dancing with flamenco costumed señoritas!

Dates for 2020: Seville’s April Fair begins at midnight on April 25th and ends on May 2nd, 2020.

How to Get There: You can fly to Jerez, Gibraltar or Seville airports.

Where to Stay: Hotel Mercer Sevilla is a restored 19th century palace with 12 guest rooms, rooftop terrace, pool, bar, 5 minutes from Seville Cathedral. It’s a great place to be if you want to be near all the carnival action.

Summer - Palio di Siena

Palio di Siena’s first event was run with buffalos in the late 1500s and the first modern Palio took place with horses in the piazza in 1633. Today, Palio di Siena is held twice each year in this historic Tuscan city. The bi-annual horse race features 10 horses and riders dressed in unique colours each representing 10 of the 17 city wards. Locals head to Piazza del Campo to passionately support their wards and flags are waved and bets placed during spectacular pageants prior to the event. The actual race runs for three laps and only lasts around two minutes in total, but it’s worth coming for the incredible party atmosphere, food and drink.

Dates for 2020: July 2nd and August 16th, 2020.

How to Get There: You can fly to Florence or Pisa airports.

Where to Stay: Immerse yourself in the pageants lively atmosphere with a stay at Relais degli Angeli a few steps from Piazza del Campo. This 5-star boutique hotel features luxurious rooms with frescoed ceilings, antique furniture and boasts one of the best locations in Siena.

Summer - Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh’s iconic Festival Fringe attracts performers from all over the world, from up-coming comedians and poets to street-theatre performers, musicians and more. Walk along the Royal Mile aside shops selling tartan, whisky and shortbread and you’ll be captivated by fire eaters, interpretive dancers and artists. Pop into a city park for impromptu poetry readings, enjoy a nightclub comedy routine or dance to sounds of the 1940s in a big band circus tent. The festival has launched some of the most popular names in showbusiness and here you can see many for free before they hit the big time. Everyone should attend Edinburgh Festival Fringe at least once in their lifetime. It’s vibrant, welcoming and friendly, you’ll attend fun events and experience good old-fashioned Scottish hospitality. What more could you ask for?

Dates for 2020: 7th to 31st of August 2020.

How to Get There: You can fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow Airports or if travelling within the UK, you can also take the train to Edinburgh Waverley Station.

Where to Stay: Tigerlily Edinburgh is an interior design enthusiasts dream. Decorated in shades of pink and pistachio, it has a superb indoor garden bar, restaurant serving the finest Scottish cuisine, plus it’s situated on one of the best shopping streets in the city close to Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe entertainment.

Autumn - Oktoberfest Munich

The world’s largest beer festival – Oktoberfest, kicks off in Munich, Germany in mid-September each year attracting over 6 million people. It’s an important part of Bavarian culture and has been held in the city since 1810. These days, the festival begins with a 12-noon, 12-gun salute followed by tapping of the first beer keg by Munich’s mayor. Parades take place throughout the city, and inside beer tents, German folk music ensembles and brass bands play tranquil afternoon music as you get to know your table neighbours. In the evenings the real party begins, as there’s dancing, food, fairground rides and unlimited beer on offer. Settle in with a few glasses of Bavarian sweet nectar and you’ll be singing songs and clinking steins with dirndl-clad locals in no time at all.

Dates for 2020: Oktoberfest will take place from 19th September to 4th October 2020.

How to Get There: You can fly to Munich Airport.

Where to Stay: Bayerischer Hof Hotel is one of Munich’s legendary hotels. With a state-of-the-art spa, barbeque area, cinema lounge, ice bar and private nightclub, it’s the perfect place to recuperate following a lively evening at Oktoberfest.

Winter – Venice Carnival

Venice’s iconic carnival dates to 1162, when people gathered in Piazza San Marco to dance together and celebrate life in the city. During the Renaissance period, the festival excelled – becoming a hallmark of Venice’s prestigious standing in the western world, until it was outlawed during the Holy Roman Emperor’s rule. Today, Venice’s Carnival elevates to new heights with events held in palaces, art galleries and canal side venues. One such gathering is the exclusive Il Ballo del Doge party, which Italian Vanity Fair describes as “the best night of your life”. Il Ballo del Doge is one of the most famous, private masquerade parties in the city, abundant with artistic performers, live music and entertainment. Flamboyant period costumes and masks are compulsory, so create your secret identity for the evening and let yourself be enveloped in the hedonistic Venetian carnival atmosphere.

Dates for 2020: The festival runs from 8th February to 25th February in 2020.

Dates for 2021: Expected dates are 6th to 16th February 2021.

How to Get There: You can fly into Venice Marco Polo Airport.

Where to Stay: The Gritti Palace is an emblem of Venice with rich heritage, an exclusive spa, yacht experiences and its own epicurean school. From this hotel, you can approach the mainland and Piazza San Marco by boat in costume and in style.

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