Don’t run away! When we say “culture” we’re not talking about Baroque fairs and lute recitals. Europeans have deep and relevant ties with their ancestors’ customs and cultures, and as such their biggest and best parties have an ancient connection that isn’t found in more modern societies. That doesn’t mean, however, that they waste their partying time lamenting the passing of the olden days. Nay, European cultural festivals are booze-soaked knee-ups, where entire villages/towns/cities turn out to get utterly sideways in the same way they’ve been doing since, in some cases, Jesus was just but a lad.
Here’s a little list of some of the more cultural shindigs that we’ll be hunting down in 2017.
Well, we guess that the historical and cultural significance of Springfest is that historically and culturally Germans in general, and Bavarians in particular, have a thing for ringing in, or out, the seasons with copious amounts of the amber ale. Springfest is when the locals bid farewell to the harsher winter months, and ring in the breeding season with abundant beer, delicious food and, well, breeding (or practice breeding).
Continuing the pre-Christian, pagan ritual of burning bonfires in order to chase away the winter, Las Fallas is the city of Valencia’s biggest party of the year, with almost the entire population turning out to watch giant and intricate statues go up in flames. 2017 will be no different, as carpenters and artists the city over collude to build the beautiful, 20-metre statues with the most flammable materials that they have on hand, before unleashing the pyromaniacs on them around midnight. Why? Because they’ve been doing it forever, that’s why.
La Batalla De Vino De Haro
Back in the day the local regent decided to end a border dispute once and for all by demanding that the residents of Haro, La Rioja, annually mark their village’s territory with purple flags. Given that Haro is one of the world’s premier red-wine regions it didn’t take long for the flags to be stained with the local produce, before the annual flag marking descended into an all-in pitched battle where red wine is the only armament allowed at La Batalla De Vino De Haro. This is the perfect party for wine connoisseurs and lovers of mayhem alike.
What, you thought that filling the streets with raging bulls was a new concept? The Running Of The Bulls has its origin in the old tradition of silly youths proving their bravery by trotting along with bulls when they were transported from farm to bullring. It proved to be such a popular method of proving one’s masculinity that these days there’s a multi-million euro industry built around what is essentially a terrible idea. If you’re not a thrill seeker, or have a moral aversion to the concept, don’t forget that the actual bull run takes up about five minutes of each day — and the rest is filled with sangria-soaked street parties.
Ok, well La Tomatina festival really does just seem like it’s a gratuitous excuse to send high-velocity salad vegetables towards people’s faces. The history of this one is murky, and constantly changing, but it’s most likely that sometime in the last century a bunch of youths got a little bit frisky with an over abundant tomato stock and started slinging the red terrors at whoever had the misfortune of wandering into their range. The youths, however, were calling on the ancient Spanish tradition of throwing things in way of celebration, and now all over the country we find crazy parties involving projectiles, like this turnip throwing event that takes place every year in the mountains of western Spain’s Extremadura region.
Any of these festivals spark up your need to be a well-cultured global citizen? Or has your desire for celebratory mayhem been aroused? Why not combine multiple fiestas under the one ticket with the Stoke Travel passport, and treat yourself to an educational tour around the world’s wildest parties.