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Best European Festivals in 2010 - February to July
At the Carnival in VeniceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bormes-les-MimosasClick thumbnail to view full-size
Throughout Europe there are many Carnivals, the most popular is the one held in Venice, Italy each year. This year it will be held from the 6th to the 16th February. The venue is the Place San Marco, which will be transformed into a garden of light. This is a must for all you photographers out there, as the costumes and masks will rival Rio!
If you prefer a more traditional carnival the one held between the 6th and 16th February in the Pyranees in the town of Pau, France, features folkdancing and music and celebrates the return from exile of San Pançard
Later on in February is the Carnival at Bailleul, France, on 12th to 15th February which features the giant figures in a spectacular nightime parade.
Next is a 2 day event in Binche, Belgium. A traditional Carnival held between the 14th and 16th February.
There is a 2 day event between 19th and 21st February at Mulhouse, France. Don't miss the grand Parade on the Sunday.
The Carnival held in Albi, France from the 20th to 28th February is dedicated to the Gods this year, Baccus in particular.
If you missed the spectacular carnival in Venice earlier this month then you have a second chance between 26th and 28th February at Annency, France. With more than 250 masks it's a photographers dream come true.
The second biggest Carnival in France is held each year at Chalon-sur-soane between 26th February and 7th March. The speciality here are the giant heads!
The last event in February is the Mimosa Festival, held in the little Medieval village Bormes-les-Mimosas, France on the 28th February. The village itself can be found perched high on a mountain top, it still has the remains of a castle complete with rampart walls. The flowering mimosa trees that line the streets complement the pink tiled houses.
As you walk along the narrow winding streets and alleys you will find masses of colourful window boxes and pots overflowing with flowers of every hue. The official title of this village is, "Village of Flowers". The festival is celebrated by a parade, with magnificent floats decorated so artistically with the mimosa flowers (acacia dealbata), lively music and with happy smiling faces. this is the most beautiful village festival in South east France.
Whenever you visit the French Riviera, make sure you take the time to pay a visit to Bormes-les-Mimosas, you wont be disappointed, in fact you will feel that you have stepped back into another time.
Accordion and Daffodil FestivalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Festivals in March
The last Venetian style Carnival, will be held in Remiremont, France between 18th and 23rd March. If you are a photographer you wont want to miss this last chance to capture the beautiful costumes and masks. This year there will be a costume ball held here for the first time on the Friday evening. Another imortant feature is the son et lumière.
Do you like accordion music? If so you wont want to miss this 6 day event from 19th to 28th March at Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France. So if you are visiting nearby Strasbourg on the French / German border, it's another photo opportunity, not only in the various indoor locations but also when the players march through the town.
The last flower festival in March is the 2 day Daffodil festival held on 28th and 29th March at St.Etienne-de-Montluc, France. On the first day there is the picking of the flowers and the final constructions of the floats.On the second day you will see a 2 hour procession of diverse magnificent floats each decorated with between 20,000 and 100,000 flowers, accompanied by dancers and a brass band. a really great opportunity for all you amateur photographers.
Tulips,Kites,Tall Ships, a Marathon and Passion PlayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Festivals held in April and May
From the 2nd of April to Mid-May this year The Tulip Festival is held in Morges, Switzerland, in the Parc de Independance. In the 30,000 sq.meters there will be a mass flowering of over 100,000 tulips (from mid-April), narcissus and Hyacinths ( in early April) that will adorn the banks of Lac Leman. Flowering under majestic trees some of which are more than 100 years old. Admission is free, and musical arrangements each weekend will accompany this symphony of colours.
Now for something completely different. Between 10th and 18th of April 2010 at Berck-sur-Mer, France (between Dieppe and Boulogne) is the 24th International meeting for Kite flying. These are the world championships, with 15 international teams competing, watched by more than 60,000 spectators each year. There are always some fantastic kites here. Don't miss this one!
Starting on the 15th March and continuing through to 3rd of October is the 41st edition of the Passion Play. This is held only every 10 years in Oberammergau, Germany. There will be 102 seperate performances of the play, with 2,000 participants, each play lasting 5 hours. It is essential to make a reservation quite early. You can do this by applying through their web site : www.passionsspiele2010.de
Though technically it's not a festival, The London Marathon, held in London, England on the Sunday 25th April, is one of the top 5 International Marathons run over the traditional distance of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 Kms). Originated in 1981 it has raised up to 2008 £315 million for charity.Whilst it is a serious athletic event, with large prize money, it not only attracts elite athletes but fun runners and clubs, often in fancy dress, sometimes collecting money for charity. Unusually it is the only Marathon course in the world that is run in 2 hemispheres, both the East and the West, as the full course crosses the Prime Meridian in Greenwich.
There are 2 Sea Festivals on the 17th of May. The one at Royan,France is a meeting of old sailing ships held every 2 years in the estuary of the Gironde river. As usual there is traditional singers of sea-shanties. Another good photo opportunity. The other event is the "fête de Nautisme" held at Palavas-les-Flottes, France, where Professionals and amateurs alike compete here in free demonstrations. There is entertainment and regattas all day long.
D-Day, Waterloo,Keiler Sailing,Tour de France,MedievalsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Trooping the color , Henley Regatta and Bull RunningClick thumbnail to view full-size
Summer Festivals June and July
The annual D-Day Festival will be held in Bayeux, France, between the 5th and 7th June. Three villages Bayeux, Longues-sur-Mer, and Port-en-Bessin-Huppain will commemorate the allied Normandy landings of June 1944. There will be the Official ceremonies, a parade of actual militery vehicles in use at that time. In the evening there will be a party with dancing.
Another event based on Military history is the Trooping of the Colour, held in London, England on the 12th June. This popular event dates back to 1700. In the early days of land warfare the "colors" (brightly colored flags of a battalion) were used as rallying points, being visible above the dust and smoke of battle. It became a custom to carry the flags to the battalions HQ for the night, and then each morning they were escorted back to the ir position in the ranks. These colors expressed the spirit of each regiment and were held in great regard. Now it's significance is greater, as it is an important object of reverence and memorial to lost comrades. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second will as usual be present for this parade in honor of her birthday. This has been in force since the 1800's.Truly a spectacle not to be missed.
Still on a military theme, Just 20 kms. from Brussels, at Waterloo, Belgium between the 18th and 20th June, there will be a re-constuction of the Battle of Waterloo.This 3 day event will feature a son et lumiere as the participants march on foot to La Butte de Lion. Thenon the 19th the reconstuction of the battles at Plancenoit, and on the 20th a Grandstand with 12,000 places will be available to view the entire location including all the Napolionic tents and the Waxwork museum. There is a vast parking area available.
The next sailing event takes place between the 19th and 27th June at Kiel, Germany. This is known as Kieler Woche. This is the biggest Summer festival in Northern Europe. Thousands of the best crews in the world will participate in a series of regattas, there will be fringe events with up to 4,500 participants,and parades of the big sailing ships. There will also be a series of concerts and entertainments that will attract several million visitors.
The Henley Royal regatta is an annual event often reffered to as "The Boat Race" held in Henley-on-Thames, England between 29th June and 4th July. Essentially the boat race is a contest between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which started in 1829, and it is now the prmier regatta in the world and one of the traditional highlights of the English calender. Henley itself is a town full of character, with many medieval buildings including the Church of St. Mary with a 14th century chantry house attached. There are many pleasant walks alongside the river, the Thames Trail path passes through Henley on its way from the Cotswolds to London.
The 4th July in Arles, France will see a costume festival, where more than 500 townspeople will wear their traditional costumes in a magnificent procession through the town.
The Pamplona Bull Run (which involves people running in front of the bulls!) will take place this year on 6th July in Pamplona, Northern Spain.This is the first event every morning in the 9 day San Fermin Festival. Before the running of the bulls a set of barricades are erected to direct the bulls and to block off all the side streets, there are gaps in the barracades to allow a person to slip through but not a bull.Anyone over 18 years who enters the itinerary before 7.30 in the morning, and is not under the influence of alcohol can participate.It needs to be said that injuries like goring and being trampled, are common.
From 3rd July to 25th July will be marked on your calender if you follow the Tour-de-France. One of the most scenic stages in the race will be held on 13th July in Savoie, the stages between Morzine Avoraiz - La Toussuire, with the ascent of the 4 biggest climbs, Colombier, Aravis, Saisies and Madeleine., a distance of 204 kms. For a complete timetable of the stages visit www.steephill.tv
A 3 day Rock Music festival will be held in Aix-les-Bains, France, from the 16th to 18th July. Held in a beautiful location by the lakeside, with camping available near the lake and also near to McDonalds. there will be 30 concerts the cost being 115€ or 121€ for all 3 days including camping charge.
There are 2 interesting Medieval festivals held in July The first is a two week festival held between 16th and 31st July at Castillion-la-Bataille, France. They will stage the events on a scenic 7 hectare showground with 450 actors and horses. There will be the usual Hawk and falconry displays, jousting contests, and children's entertainments before the two hour battles commence. The audience is seated in an ampitheatre facing the Château on the hill. There is an interval after 1 hour. The sow is mainly visual so an understanding of French isn't essential. There is a medieval camp, complete with tents, and a medieval village with ox drawn carts jugglers, dancers, special effects and even a waterfall.
The second Medieval festival will be held at Hennibont, France on the 24th and 25th July. The parking is free and they are running a free shuttle bus from here to the events. Again there will be the usual horsemen, archers and a grand procession through the streets to conclude the event.
Look out for my next 2 hubs, one which will document more of the best European festivals for August and September.The other lists the Best European Winter Festivals - October to December
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