Who hasn't dreamed of a summertime tour of Europe? Sipping wine in Tuscany, cruising along the Seine, basking on a beach in the Greek Islands...
There's no shortage of things to do in Europe during the busy, hot summer months – and that extends to festivals. Summer is THE time for festivals in Europe. If art and music and fun are more your speed, here are some of the coolest summer festivals to check out.
1. Glastonbury When:
Last weekend in June
Where: Pilton, Somerset, England What:
The Glastonbury Festival is a 5-day music festival that dates back to the 1970s – the first one was held the day after Jimi Hendrix died. Major pop and rock artists have performed at the festival over the years (from The Smiths to U2 to Beyonce), but today you'll find dance, comedy, cabaret, and other performances, too. People (usually more than 100,000 of them) bring tents and camp out for Glastonbury, as it is the largest greenfield festival in the world.
2. La Batalla del Vino When:
Where: Haro, Spain What:
Each year on June 29, the town of Haro celebrates the day of the patron saint San Pedro. And how do they celebrate? With lots of wine (the day is also known as the Haro Wine Festival). The day includes wine drinking competitions, as well as la Batalla del Vino, where people throw buckets of red wine at each other. Wear white, and turn purple by the end of the day.
3. San Fermin When:
Where: Pamplona, Spain What:
The Festival of San Fermin is a weeklong festival held annually in Spain to honor San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarre. The most famous part of the festival today, however, is the Running of the Bulls, which happens from July 7-14. Hundreds of people run each morning in front of about six bulls through the narrow streets of Pamplona, ending in a bullring where bullfights take place in the afternoon. Note that it's mostly men who run with the bulls, though there's no rule stating women can't do it, too.
4. Tomorrowland When:
Last weekend in July
Where: Boom, Belgium What:
Tomorrowland is an electronic music festival held each year just outside of Antwerp, Belgium. Even though the festival is less than 10 years old (with the inaugural one taking place in 2005), it has nevertheless become one of the most well-known global music festivals – nearly as many people go to Tomorrowland each year as the Glastonbury Festival. The popularity of the festival has grown so much that it has been extended to two weekends in 2014.
5. Il Palio When:
July 2 and August 16
Where: Siena, Italy What:
Officially known as Palio de Siena, the Il Palio is a horse race held twice each summer in the Italian city of Siena. But it's not just any horse race. Ten riders – dressed in colors to represent 10 of Siena's contrade (city wards) – race bareback around the Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena for the honor of their contrada. The tradition of the races date back to medieval times, and today they offer up a festival atmosphere with parades and pageants taking place on each race day.
6. Edinburgh Fringe When:
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland What:
The Fringe Festival is just one of the many festivals that makes up the greater Edinburgh Festival that takes place in the Scottish capital each summer. Spanning roughly 3 weeks in August, the Fringe is one of the world's largest art festivals. Thousands of performances – from dance to comedy to theater – take place in venues all over the city, and the Royal Mile is lined with performers at all hours of the day.
7. La Tomatina When:
Last Wednesday in August
Where: Buñol, Spain What:
La Tomatina is basically a gigantic food fight in the streets of the Valencian town of Buñol, in which people throw squashed tomatoes at one another. Thousands of people participate every year and throw more than 150,000 tomatoes at friends and total strangers alike. Wear white, bring goggles, and make sure your camera is waterproof!
Which European festival tops your travel dream list?