Festivals are a great way to add a little culture to your life in a fun and engaging manner whether it's through music, film, food, drinks, arts, or crafts. For a taste of European culture in the U.S. without having to cross the Atlantic, there are many festivals inspired by the traditions and celebrations from various parts of the continent.
Julefest is an annual Danish festival in December to celebrate the Christmas season. This event held in Solvang, California is packed with activities like the Wine & Beer Walk, Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Julefest Parade, as well as live entertainment with musical and theatrical performances. The city of Solvang itself is filled with Danish culture year round as it was founded by Danish-Americans a century ago which is reflected in the shops, restaurants, bakeries, and even the architecture style of the buildings.
There are many renaissance festivals held all throughout the United States at various times during the year. Typically these fairs are designed and decorated to resemble a village in 16th century England during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The Maryland Renaissance Festival is one of the best the U.S. has to offer and has been going on for nearly 40 years. With many delicious delectables, actors in full costume, and 16th century entertainment like jousting, sword swallowing, and theater performances, this event will relocate you to another time and place.
The Polish Film Festival in America is a highly praised annual event that has been taking place in Chicago since 1989. Its aim is to promote European arts and cinema within the U.S., and it's the largest annual showing of Polish film outside of Poland. The cinematic event takes place at multiple venues around the city over the course of a few weeks in November. Tickets can be purchased for a single viewing or festival passes are also sold for multiple screenings.
There are many German festivals celebrated worldwide with German Christmas markets and Oktoberfest being two of the most popular. However Mayfest, or Maifest in German, is another increasingly popular celebration. Mayfest is a traditional German event acknowledging the arrival of spring. The maypole, or maibaum, is a wooden pole erected at the beginning of May and is decorated to represent the local region. Mayfest Chicago is organized by Chicago's German community largely residing in Lincoln Square and features German food, live music, a maypole dance, and of course plenty of delicious beer.
What's your favorite European influenced event around the country?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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