Forget rainy, grey British music festivals. Sunny summer festivities in Europe are so much more than trudging through mud in your wellies. From age-old agricultural celebrations to toasting to the region’s most delicious foods, here are some of the best festivals in Europe’s picturesque lakes and mountains.
Every September, the Austrian Alps come alive with the sound of cow bells when local farmers lead their cattle, embellished in carnivalesque headdresses, down the mountain to their stables for the winter. The celebrations – held in various mountain villages and towns including Achensee, Alpbach, Mayrhofen and Söll – are accompanied by live music, dancing and plenty of schnapps.
Each August, St Anton hosts a unique outdoor film festival showing visuals of global athletes in nail-biting scenarios amidst mysterious mountain scenery.
Musicians and visitors from around the world come together in natural outdoor theatres, in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, to express their passion for nature and music. Experience some of the outdoor concerts through the summer in Madonna di Campiglio and Val di Fassa.
Over three days in August, foodies can witness some of Zermatt’s top chefs showing off their culinary skills at kitchen parties and street-market stalls. You can even have breakfast in the Matterhorn Express gondola.
An excellent and educational two-week event between May and June, celebrating wildlife through music, Slovenian dancing, workshops (including how to make a bouquet) and delicious homemade produce.
To honour an age-old tradition that guaranteed the survival of local families, Garda dedicates 3 days in July to the lake fish (particularly sardines) with a delicious street-food festival along the promenade.
The last weekend of June sees one of the oldest festivals in the region celebrate the vibrant heritage of Lake Como. From floating lamps and fireworks to a parade of boats decorated with flowers, it’s a proper party.
Twenty-four teams representing different towns around Lake Garda race to defend their honour and win the Flag of the Lake in flat-bottomed longboats that date back to the Republic of Venice. Bardolino, Garda, Gardone Riviera, Lazise, Malcesine, Peschiera and Sirmione race on different Saturdays between June and August.
In June, Bardolino’s lakeside turns pink to celebrate the region’s famous Chiaretto DoC rosé wine. There are wine tastings, fireworks, dragon boats and even a parade of the Chiaretto brotherhood.
This 2-week festival in July began in 1967 and is still as lively as ever. Drawing more than 250,000 visitors a year, it’s one of the biggest jazz festivals in Europe and has staged the likes of Prince, David Bowie and Stevie Wonder.
Carinthia’s biggest art and music festival takes place on Lake Wörthersee in July. It’s full of colourful bodypainting art (in categories like UV and special-effects make-up) and local treats from the Street Food Market.
In August, the summer capital of puppetry hosts free shows using glove, stick, string and silhouette puppets to celebrate this creative and long-standing theatrical niche.
Interlaken is famous for its competitive competition where lumberjacks come from far and wide to compete in various wood-cutting events, in categories such as team, amateur and elite.
Witness the longest dumpling table in the world in September. Five hundred metres long and featuring around 26,000 dumplings of different varieties, it winds its way through St Johann, accompanied by a fantastic atmosphere and great entertainment.
July’s slapstick Greasy Pole competition in Bardolino sees participants try to balance across a 12-metre-long tree trunk suspended above the lake to grab the small flag at the end. It’s guaranteed to have you on your knees with laughter.
Take a look at more of our Lakes & Mountains destinations for more exciting festivals and unique events.
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Author: Mia Jones
Published: October 3, 2017
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