Summer might have come and gone but that doesn’t mean European breaks should be off the menu. The sun has gone, the wind is chilly but there are a plethora of great festivals to enjoy this winter. Whether you’re a backpacker and traveller, a music fan or looking for some culture you should give yourself something to look forward to this winter. Here are five of the best parties on offer at some of the top winter festivals:
- Up-Helly-Aa – It’s basically a mix of fire and ice from the region that brought us the cutest ponies on the planet – the Shetland Islands. With a bloodthirsty, Viking past, the Shetlands sit between Scandinavia and Scotland. In January, the people of the islands honour the past with mead, dancing and traditional Viking wear. Traditions should never fade and the last weekend in the first month of the year turns the archipelago into a Game of Thrones scene.
- Rijeka Carnival – Raucous winter spectacles can be found across Europe but Croatia is turning into the country for festivals. Rijeka is the third-largest city and a charming mix of grandeur and tradition. A century ago, the place was known for intense carnival life and this is where the backbone of the new carnival that started in 1982 came from. Held before Lent, it has been going for more than 30 years and lasts a month. The biggest event is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday but there is plenty more to see with about 100,000 people making the trip each year.
- Altitude Festival – Coming at you from Mayrhofen in Austria, this is a greet place for comedy lovers and skiers. This is the same place that hosts Snowbombing, which is a fresh air festival mixing fresh air, and black runs with booming parties. If you prefer a laugh and a slower pace then this from March 18th to 22nd is a great option. The bill this year includes famous comedians like John Bishop and potential stars as the spot rivals the famous Edinburgh Fringe for talent.
- Doomsday Festival – A one day dance event in Antwerp, Belgium, the Doomsday Festival attracts around 15,000 people and this will only be the second year. Held on 21st December you can include it in a Christmas market trip or enjoy the four rooms of alternative dance in this mind blowing event that looks to inspire people with music from the likes of Sven Väth and Pendulum.
- Venice Carnival – A true place of beauty, this is just one more reason to go and see the canals. The festival that runs from February 15th to March 4th can place its roots in the 11th century when people used to revel for two months. It lost its place in the Venetian calendar but was revived in the 70s and is now such a success that it’s a photographer’s paradise. It’s that good you’d wish it still lasted months.