5 Unusual Festivals From Around Europe


By Busabout
20 Jan 2020

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Every year, millions of people attend festivals; whether it’s for art, music, comedy, or something a little more unique.

From the iconic Carnival in Brazil to Oktoberfest in Munich; there are loads of festivals and there's sure to be something for everyone.

That said, there are some festivals that may be off your radar that are just as fascinating. If you’re bored of your run-of-the-mill festivals, we've managed to find some that are a little more quirky.

Your packing list for these festivals may include but is not limited to; oranges, body paint, coffins (wait for it) and an outfit of white clothing.

Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Scotland

Every year on the last Tuesday of January, the locals of the small town of Lerwick on the far-flung Shetland Islands don their Gokstad shields and chainmail at the Up Helly Aa festival - a torch-lit procession to celebrate the end of Yule season. You’ll find them dressed as Vikings - a homage to the island’s Nordic history - marching through town singing the ‘Up Helly Aa’ song and dragging a replica Viking Longship behind them as they go, before throwing their torches into the boat and burning it to the ground.

La Tomatina Festival, Spain

Ever fantasised about people throwing old tomatoes in your face? Well then do we have the festival for you! Over 50,000 people gather together every year dressed all in white in the small Spanish town of Buñol and throw thousands of tomatoes at each other. The La Tomatina festival - a celebration of this most useful of fruits - is actually the world’s biggest food fight. It’s a great chance to take part in a unique cultural ritual that makes for fantastic photos and a once in a lifetime experience. The after-party goes on all night and you can dance the night away with your fellow tomato-squashers until dawn.

Body Painting Festival, Austria

Each year, 30,000 spectators descend on the city of Klagenfurt for a spectacular display of special effects, make-up and brightly-coloured bodies that celebrate the human body as an art object. Expect eclectic music lineups, craft fairs, firebreathers, burlesque dancers, freaks, geeks and more dazzling displays of body art than you can shake a brush at.

Battle Of The Oranges, Italy

We mentioned the La Tomatina festival. Well, this is the same, but with oranges instead of tomatoes. Protective eyewear is recommended!

Every year, the people of Ivrea in Turin gather during the days leading up to ‘Fat Tuesday' to gear up for the world's biggest and only orange fight. Following on from 12th century tradition, everyone dresses in battle wear and pelts oranges at each other.

This all began when the village went into revolt by throwing oranges at the house of an evil Marquis. Nowadays, over 500,000 pounds of oranges are used. Many end up with bruises, so layered clothing is essential!

Wife Carrying Championship, Finland

This Finland born tradition attracts thousands every year and is something that originally began as a way of celebrating the great sense of humour of the country and its people.

So, it’s your average race but with a man carrying his wife across a 250m long track. You know, casual.

Previously, only legitimate couples were able to take part, but now it’s a more relaxed event. The woman must be over 17 and weigh more than 48kg to qualify. This is definitely one of the more quirky championships we've heard of!

Near-Death Festival, Spain

Otherwise known as ‘La Siesta De Santa Marta De Ribertame’, this unique Spanish festival celebrates near death in a bizarre way. It’s for those who have come close to death to share their stories in a thought-provoking tone and the 'survivors' make their entrances in a coffin.

The near-death festival is held each year in a small Spanish village on the border with Portugal called As Neves.

If you’re looking for a simple way to hit a whole bunch of different festivals across Europe this year, why not plan and build your own custom itinerary using our online Adventure Planner!