20 Great Traditional Festivals in Europe – Part 1

Europe’s festivals aren’t all about backpackers and the latest music – you’ll still find a wide range of traditional festivals to suit every taste. Here’s part one of our top 20.

1.Water Jousting in France

The Fête de la Saint-Louis in Sète, Languedoc takes place 23 – 28 August. Water-jousting tournaments are staged on the canals, and 70-plus events include street parades, pop-up bars, and concerts.

2. Get Lavender in France

Running 3-7 August, the Corso de la Lavande in Digne-les-Bains, Provence kicks off with fireworks and continues with four days of lavender-themed activities.

3. Experience the Flamenco in Spain

The Feria de Ganado y Fiestas de San Mateo takes place from 20-24 September. The feast of Saint Matthew is the last big party of the long hot summer, and the event ends with the entire town’s population in flamenco dress.

4. Get Morbid in Galicia

Try the Santa Marta de Ribarteme on July 29 for something a little out of the ordinary – the event includes a procession of coffins.

5. Quartu Sant’Elena, Sardinia

On 15 September, Sardinia’s Sagra dell’uva celebrates the province’s wine producing families, and there’s a mass giveaway of bunches of home-grown grapes at the close.

6. Eat Hearty in Italy

The Valfino al Canto celebrates folk music from all over Italy in the unspoilt medieval hilltop village of Arsita. Traditional music is still a big part of life, as is giving huge evening banquets.

7. See Donkeys in Portugal

The L Burro i L Gueiteiro travelling festival celebrates rustic life from 25-29 July. Don’t miss the train of donkeys and the bagpipe dancing of Friday night’s Dança dos Pauliteiros.

8. Marvel at Flowers in Portugal

The Festas do Pereiro takes place from 24 – 26 August in Ribatejo province. The narrow streets of Pereiro are decorated from wall to wall with paper flowers. Kick off the weekend with dancing and see the views along a 2km wooden walkway starting at the Alamal river beach.

9. Get a Wedding Invitation from Greece

Greece celebrates the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August at Alonissos, Sporades Islands. The highlight is a lively re-enactment of a traditional Alonissos wedding – expect plenty of good eating and hearty drinking.

10. See Fighting Ships in Greece

Head to Armata, Spetses, Saronic Islands from 1-8 September to relive the triumph of Greek naval forces over the Ottoman Empire. The festival ends when a life-size ship is set alight under a volley of fireworks.