Oliver Lynch

Oliver Lynch

Content writer, language nerd and aspiring screenwriter. Usually found wandering old European towns or trying to snowboard.

Europe’s Best Free Street Parties

Get your dancing shoes and your camera out, these are Europe’s best free street parties!

Calling out out around the world… The time is right for dancing in the street. To paraphrase Jagger and Bowie anyway.

Europe has stacks of great free street festivals and parties, all year round. And as it’s the bank holiday weekend in the UK that means one thing…

Notting Hill Carnival; London

Carnival vibes… pic: S Pakhrin (Flickr)

One of the world’s biggest and most popular street parties, this one gets pretty wild. Originally started to celebrate the multicultural community of this part of West London, Notting Hill is now an institution.

Expect big bass beats from reggae and hip hop to house and jungle. The air is thick with the smell of weed and jerk chicken and the party vibe is inescapable. Put this on your bucket list if it isn’t already…

When is it? Sunday and Monday on the August bank holiday weekend in the UK (last weekend in August).

Carnival; Various in Spain

Pixabay 489237

In the week leading up to Lent, Spain goes Carnival crazy. Most large towns and cities will have some kind of event to mark the date, but the best by far are either in Tenerife (Canary Isles) or Cadiz.

At both of these carnivals you’ll find bands and music in the street, parades and fireworks. There are some aspects which need to be paid for such as beauty paegents in Tenerife. But generally, by being in town you’ll be able to get into the fiesta vibe!

You’ll find carnival in some form in Madrid, Sitges near Barcelona, Valencia and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The Catholic Carinval is also found in Italy with the most famous one being the Venice parades.

When is it? Late February in the run up to lent.

Cat Festival; Ypres, Belgium

Getting catty in Ypres – pic: Arlenz Chen

Every three years, Ypres in Belgium goes cat crazy. There are cat processions, cat competitions and pretty much all things cat related. The Kattenstoet is pretty surreal and a great place for cat lovers to really indulge their love of the feline race.

Slightly weirdly, the festival has a fairly macabre history based around sacrifices of cats in the middle ages. Back then the celebrations involved throwing cats from the belfy tower where their 9 lives got used up instantly. Don’t worry, that doesn’t happen today though.

When it it? Every three years, next one is Sunday 13th May 2018.

Kings Day; Netherlands

Kings Day (koenigstag) pic: Dierk Schaefer

All across the Netherlands the streets turn orange (or maybe Oranje) in celebration of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. You’ll find processions, markets, concerts and entertainment in pretty much every town across the country. Amsterdam of course is home to some of the brightest flotillas of barges and boats.

The Dutch love a good party so expect lots of traditional events alongside more modern takes on celebrations. Make sure you wear something orange to blend in with the vibe.

When is it? 27th April

Pride; All Across Europe

Phot by Msign via Pixabay

The annual celebration of LGBT culture has become a massive event across Europe. In fact most big cities and towns have some sort of Pride event throughout the year.

Don’t worry if you’re not gay/bi/transgender etc. It’s all about celebrating diversity and open mindedness, so turn up and dress as flamboyantly and colourfully as you want and get involved.

There are usually processions, gigs, club nights and street events to celebrate Pride. Check the events listings for specific locations.

The biggest and best ones are in London and Berlin (CSD Berlin), which have the biggest turnouts and most events.

When is it? Varies from city to city. All year round.

Unity Day; Germany

A three day long celebration of the reunification of Germany, this is a great place to soak up some of the more traditional German style celebrations. Yes that does include a lot of beer and bratwurst.

Berlin has one of the biggest parties for Unity Day but you’ll find events across the country. It’s Germany’s only nationwide holiday (the others vary by state) and it’s celebrated with gusto. Skip Oktoberfest, this is the real deal.

When is it? 3rd October.

St Patricks Day; Ireland (And Everywhere)

St Paddys Day, Dublin – pic: Guiseppe Milo

The annual celebration of the Irish in all of us is no longer confined to just Ireland and the Irish diaspora around the world. You’ll find St Patrick’s day celebrations everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aries.

But for the original craic experience, get to Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Kilkenny, Belfast… Well, anywhere on the island of Ireland. There’ll be processions, lots of drinking, gigs, comedy acts, lots of drinking, dancing, singing, lots of drinking and did we mention the drinking?

Wear some green and don’t drop any Irish stereotypes!

When is it? March 17th

Fete De Bayonne; France

Basque party time! Pic: Jean Michel Brunet

This is sort of the St Patrick’s day for Basque people, held in the town of Bayonne in the south west of France. There are street processions, bull fights, paegents, fireworks, music and fiestas plus loads of fantastic food and drink.

The Basques are a proud race but you’ll find the street party vibe very inclusive and friendly.

When is it? Next one is 25th-29th July 2018.

Multicultural Street Party; Warsaw, Poland

pic: Michał Kawka via Facebook

A relatively new kid on the block, the organisers of this street party in the Polish capital want to get an event going in a similar vein to Notting Hill in London. The first one was in 2016 and by all accounts it looked like a very buzzing event with parades and live music.

If you want to experience something and say you were there before it got popular, this could be the time to go. See their Facebook page for more info.

When is it? 28th August

We love a good party here at Gone Travelling! If you know of any other great European street parties or free festivals, feel free to let us know in the comments below…

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