Europe’s Most Unique Festivals

Festivals are a huge part of any country’s culture and history, offering some of the best food, drink, music, and entertainment available anywhere. But not all festivals are created equal—some stand out because of their uniqueness or historical significance. Here are three unique European festivals that are worth checking out if you’re traveling through Europe anytime soon: 

Fiesta de San Fermín: Running of the Bulls

The Fiesta de San Fermin started in the 12th century medieval Pamplona to honor the first bishop of Pamplona, Saint Fermin of Amiens. The festival gained quick popularity thanks to its famous running of the bulls. The events of the festival kicked off July 6th with the setting off of the fireworks chupinazo at noon from the city hall balcony and ended nine days later on the 14th. The bull-running event originates from transporting bulls from the fields outside the city, where they are bred, to the bull ring. The local youths would jump among the bulls and display bravery, which eventually translated into a Spanish tradition. Nowadays, the running of the bulls occurs every day during the festival at 8 am and will last for a little over two minutes, where the animals are corralled towards the city’s arena. The bull run was further popularized to the English-speaking world as the featured event in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway visited the area in 1954 and quickly became fascinated with the festival and events.

The Golden Retriever Festival 

What is the best kind of festival? A furry one! Every year in July, The Golden Retriever Club of Scotland throws its annual Guisachan Gathering in the Scottish Highlands. The first Golden Retriever was bred in 1868 when Lord Tweedmouth mated a wavy-coated retriever named Nous and a Tweed water spaniel named Belle. Three puppies were born in the litter and are considered the start of the Golden Retriever breed. He had wanted a dog that could swim significant distances and retriever wildfowl that had been shot when he went hunting. Today the festival is held at the ancestral home with various events and activities. You can enjoy a picnic with fresh and local Scottish foods, field trial demonstrations, and even group training sessions to help keep your furry friend from getting out of control. However, the most popular event is always the Championship Show, where hundreds of Goldens compete to see who is the most beautiful Golden Retriever!

La Tomatina

Have you ever wanted to participate in a real-life food fight? When you book a trip to La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain, you can! The festival dates back to August of 1945 when a group of people went to the town center to attend and participate in the Giants and Big–Heads figures parade. One of the participants’ big-head figures fell off, and the participant went into a rage and began attacking everything in their path. In the chaos that ensued, a market stall of vegetables fell into the crowd, so everyone picked up tomatoes and started to pelt each other until the local police ended the food fight. The following year groups pre-planned a quarrel with their tomatoes from home; the fight was broken but began a yearly tradition picked up by thousands of people. Today you can go to the last Wednesday of August festival and join the over 20,000 festival-goers as you gather in the tiny Valencian town to throw tomatoes at each other in a significant food fight battle. The event only lasts an hour, but you can also enjoy the music, parades, fireworks, and paella cooking contests as the festival continues.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Europe’s most unique festivals. We know it can be challenging to keep up with all the latest trends in travel and entertainment, but we hope we’ve given you some ideas to try out on your next trip. Please fill out our online inquiry form, or contact one of our agents to start packing for your getaway! 


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