Being a traveller, you have probably seen a lot of Europe already, but seeing a city and a country is simply not the same as experiencing local culture and events. If you have found yourself in the middle of a festival or religious celebration in a foreign country - even by accident - you will know the feeling of being emerged in the culture! Here are events all around Europe that you should experience at least once in your life.
Braderie de Lille
The first weekend of September, the city of Lille in the north of France comes to a standstill. From Saturday afternoon to Sunday night and all through the night, the city centre becomes a pedestrian zone with over 50 miles of stands and vendors. It is a challenge to make your way through the crowd and still see the displays; you can browse and hope to see something interesting or take a map and locate the area you are interested in. They are colour coded into markets that resemble Camden market, the brocanteurs with their antiques, the quartier anglais, the British section, the collectables and the traditional flea market.
It is also tradition to eat chips and mussels and the oldest café in town will have a mountain of all the mussel shells eaten on the weekend on display outside.
Fiesta de Los Reyes
Christmas comes a little later in Spain, so it is worth heading down for New Year's celebrations or shortly after. Even though Father Christmas is becoming quite common, the traditional way to celebrate Christmas and the presents is on the 6th January, on Epiphany, when the three kings bring the gifts for baby Jesus. Children line up their shoes at the door for presents to be left in and on the day, everyone gets together to eat the crown, the Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread which has a small figurine of Jesus hidden inside it. Whoever finds the trinket in their piece of bread is crowned king or queen.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta
For some people, hot air balloons are an extraordinary sight. In Bristol, they are a daily occurrence. As soon as the weather permits it - that means no high winds, rain or ice - the balloonists are out at dawn and dusk flying over the city. Some are companies taking tourists, for others it is a hobby.
But even for Bristolians, seeing over a hundred balloons up in the air is unusual.
Once a year, at the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta in August, balloonists from all over the world come together for mass ascents and light show at night. It is also an opportunity to show off new developments such as solar balloons or funny shapes. How about a flying penguin? Or Minion?
The north of Germany is a holiday destination for Germans but otherwise very little known. And yet, it hosts the largest sailing event in the world! For over 130 years, the last complete week in June has been celebrated as Kiel Week, attracting for than just sailing fans. It is a week-long festival with sporting activities and ship races based around the Olympic Harbour.
Almost the entire event is free with concerts all along the harbour and throughout the city.
Finnmarksløpet Sled Dog Race
When we think of sled dogs we usually think of Alaska (probably because of the breed of Alaskan Huskies) and Canada, but they are also part of everyday life in Scandinavia, where you can even attend sled dog races, the longest European one - 1,000km long - Finnmarksløpet. This year it has been named the wold championship of sled dog races. It starts and ends in Alta, Norway, in March and attracts teams from all over the world. You can watch the mushers and their dogs at the start and end of the race in Alta as well as at checkpoints along the way and experience the extreme weather conditions they are competing under; temperatures can go down as far as 50 below.
By Claire Herbaux - Online Journalism Intern
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