Spring spells party time in Europe. With summer around the corner, you’ll find festivals, fetes and celebrations all around the continent. Plan your family holiday to coincide with the months of March, April and May – not only will you enjoy the shoulder season bargains before summertime prices peak, you’ll also be able to let your hair down with your brood at these top ten Spring Festivals around Europe:
Feria de Abril – Seville, Spain
Nobody else hosts fiestas like Spain. Two weeks after Easter, what was once a cattle fair in the 1800s has become a large-scale festival in southern Spain’s capital of flamenco dancing and food. Over a million attendees descend on the town each year, filling the ‘casetas’ or marquees especially designed for parties and dancing. Daily festivities tend to continue early into the morning and are not always family-friendly, but you’re sure to enjoy the atmosphere, fireworks displays, daily bullfights, horseback parades and colourful flamenco dresses.
Las Fallas – Valencia, Spain
The month of March and the feast of St. Joseph brings to Valenca ‘Las Fallas,’ which roughly translates to ‘the fires’ in the local Catalan dialect. The aptly named festival involves huge firework displays, parades and the burning of larger-than-life carboard and paper-mache ‘ninots’ (puppets or dolls).
St Patrick’s Day Parade – Ireland
Swarms of green revellers crowd the streets for the huge parades to mark Ireland’s biggest national celebration on the 17th of March. Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway have the biggest parades, but smaller, equally hearty celebrations are found all over (try Killarney). Kids and grown-ups alike march in the processions alongside dancers, mythical creatures and floats. You can expect big crowds and potential rowdiness in centres like Dublin, although festival planners have worked hard in recent years to promote a family-friendly atmosphere, meaning there is plenty for little leprechauns.
Bath Festival – Bath, UK
The Georgian architecture and Roman echoes of this stately English town are brought to life by all things arts-related for a fortnight every May. There is no better place than Jane Austen’s hometown for bookworms to immerse themselves in seminars, readings, recitals and performances from big names in music and literature. As May approaches, the Bath Festival will release more information about Children’s Activities available to aspiring wordsmiths.
Leeds International Festival – Leeds, UK
Another formidable English town transforms in time for a ‘metropolitan’ festival in late April and early May. Speakers and performances cover all bases with science, music, multimedia and culture. In 2018, the family-focused events include a presentation from Helen Sharman OBE, Britain’s first astronaut, about her trip out to the final frontier.
Spring Festival – Munich, Germany
Dubbed Oktoberfest’s younger sister, this festival pays homage to all things Bavarian, including its beer. That said, Munich’s Spring Festival is more kid-friendly than not, with fireworks, parades, huge markets and amusement rides including children’s go-kart racing. Just pick your time and place wisely and you’ll love this celebration.
Festival of the Sea and Viking Festival – Reykjavik, Iceland
The arrival of June means celebrating all things sea-related in this ocean-locked northern nation. Since 1938, on the first weekend of the month, coastal townships around Iceland enjoy the family-oriented Festival of the Sea. If you were passing through the Reykjavik’s nearby Viking village a week later, you’d be met with the sight of crowds in full Viking costume launching arrows and launching spears, telling stories and telling fortunes, carving wood and carving roast meat. You can watch a staged Viking battle which can be a lot of fun for teens but may be distressing for littlies standing too close.
Versailles Festival – Versailles, France
More refined audiences, perhaps teenage families, will enjoy the program of performances taking place from May to June at the opulent Palace of Versailles. You could not pick fancier, more atmospheric backdrops for operas, concerts and fountain shows than the Hall of Mirrors, Grand Trianon, Orangerie and extensive gardens.
International Jazz Festival – Bern, Switzerland
Musicians will also love the funky tunes and cool vibes of the International Jazz Festival held in the Swiss capital for a week in mid-March. Different venues will be hosting crooners and rockers from around the world.
King’s Day – The Netherlands
Tulips aren’t the only bursts of colour at this time of year around the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. Crowds decked out in orange swarm the streets in celebration of the king’s birthday on April 27th. Festivities involve street parties, traditional games, sporting events and huge markets selling fresh produce, arts and knick knacks.