Top 5 Unusual European Festivals

Europe. Famous for it’s history, culture and beauty. From the sunny beaches of Spain to the architecture of Rome. We have it all. But forget your usual holiday, these are some funky looking festivals across Europe I really want to visit (not including toe-wrestling championship in England or the phallic festival in Greece.)

1. Kaljakellunta Beer Floating – Vantaa, Finland
Beer Floating. Yes please! *1
Beer Floating. Yes please! *1
Ever wanted to float down a river with thousands of other people in a paddling pool drinking beer? Let me turn that fantasy into a reality with this annual festival. Starting in 1997 with around 10 participants, this annual event has grown each year with well over 5000 attending. 
Amsterdam recently took the idea and hosted there own. There is even a local one to me now on the River Wye but lets be honest, I’d much rather be in a Finnish river than a muddy British one.
Float around, relax and take a refreshing dip. Sounds perfect. Just remember your suncream!
2. Basel Fasnacht, Basel, Switzerland
Masks and Music *2
Masks and Music *2
This festival is steeped in tradition. It is exactly 3 days long, starting at 4am when all the towns lights are turned off. The only lights come from giant lanterns and lanterns worn on participants heads – making this the worlds largest open-air art exhibition. There then follows a huge carnival featuring groups of people wearing masks known as ‘cliques’ parading through town. The masks are themed around current affairs and politics. Apparently it is very frowned-upon to reveal your identity by removing your mask during the parade. Huge floats are also on parade, pulled by the usual tractors.
Musicians called ‘Guggemusik’ groups also parade from stage to stage performing a few songs before moving to the next stage. Those not wearing costumes, expect to be attacked with confetti.
This festival looks so unique and I love how the whole town gets involved. Art plus weirdness equal pure joy.
3. Sziget Festival – Budapest, Hungary 
Music Fest Madness *3
Music Fest Madness *3
Ok, admittedly this festival is not that unusual but it does look pretty darn awesome. Think of it as the exotic foreign cousin of Glastonbury. A huge music and cultural festival. The lineup this year looks pretty good. Around 1000 artists perform here, including huge acts like Gorillaz. I would go watch the lesser known bands playing like Lykke Li and Milky Chance.
It is a 7 day festival with something for everyone. There’s a beach, labyrinth, funfair, sports area, chess tent, campfire area, you name it, Sniget has it.
Forget all the UK festivals, this is the top of my music festival bucket list.
4. Wife Carrying World Championship – Sonkajärvi, Finland

Wife Carrying Championship *4
Wife Carrying Championship *4

Taking it very seriously! *4
Taking it very seriously! *4

This event looks absolutely hilarious. Men compete carrying their wives along an obstacle course featuring jumps and water. The prize? The wives weight in beer. If that doesn’t get a guy out training, nothing will.
It takes part in July and this year marks it’s 30th anniversary but the concept dates back to the late 1800’s with men proving their strength in silly tasks. I feel sorry for the women being dragged through the water on their husbands backs but I would totally participate.

5. Krampusnacht – Bavaria, Germany
A scary procession *5
A scary procession *5

The story of Krampus is still celebrated across Europe today. Folklore says that at the beginning of December, St Nickolas would give gifts to well-behaved children accompanied with a demon called Krampus who would punish the naughty children by hitting them with a stick and giving them nightmares. The worst children would be bagged up and taken straight to hell!
In the first week of December across Bavaria, Germany, men dress up as beastly Krampus’s and parade through the towns in parades known as ‘Krampus Runs’. The biggest and best takes place in the Munich Christmas Market.
I think the costumes look amazing, with some masks costing well over £500. I dislike Christmas so I think this would be the perfect way for me to “non-celebrate” it.

He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake *6
He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake *6
Have you been to any of these festivals? What is the must unusual festival you have been to?
HolidayGems* are an amazing holiday site if you are looking for cheap flights and accommodation around the world. They cover many areas including some of the above mentioned places. 
So if you do plan on going to any unusual festivals in the near future, at least you won’t need to worry about flights or accommodation burning a hole in your pocket.
Helen x 





*Post in collaboration with HolidayGems

Photos courtesy of:

39 thoughts on “Top 5 Unusual European Festivals

  • June 25, 2018 at 7:26 pm
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    I too can't believe most of these festivals exist! I would think some of their are a hoax of I did not personally see some of them being shared on social media. Looks really fun especially the wife carrying one 😉

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    • June 27, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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      There are even wackier ones out there believe it or not. They do look interesting.

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  • June 26, 2018 at 4:24 am
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    I would love to do the float down the river but really any would be amazing to witness in person !

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  • June 26, 2018 at 7:10 am
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    I live in Europe and I've never heard of these festivals! I'd love to attend some of them … it would be so fun! 🙂

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  • June 26, 2018 at 7:12 am
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    I live in Europe and I've never heard of these festivals! I'd love to attend some of them … it would be so fun! 🙂

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  • June 27, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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    I'd be really interested on seeing all the brilliant costumes. As long as they didn't chase me.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 3:47 pm
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    Oh my goodness, I didn't even know about the Kaljakellunta one.. though wife carrying is a famous one and very competitive. We Finns like our random festivals. there's even an annual Air Guitar championship . Yeah, any excuse to party 😉

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    • June 29, 2018 at 11:36 am
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      I saw clips of the air guitar championship on telly. It looked so funny. Like the wife carrying, people take air guitar very seriously.

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    • June 29, 2018 at 11:37 am
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      I visited Germany briefly around 10 years ago and really want to go see other parts. Finland is high on my to see list, especially with events like this going on.

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    • June 29, 2018 at 11:40 am
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      That one does look fun but I'm not a fan of uncooked tomatoes so the thought of getting covered in them and most likely get tomato in my mouth makes me feel a little sick haha.

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    • November 22, 2018 at 7:03 am
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      But, it would be vegan and cruelty free(ish!)

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    • June 29, 2018 at 11:42 am
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      I can imagine the town meetings about how to increase tourism to the area hahaha!

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  • June 29, 2018 at 8:44 am
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    Wow! These are amazing festivals. Id love to experience them. Defo going on my bucket list #ThatFridayLinky

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  • June 29, 2018 at 9:05 am
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    Fantastic! Some brilliant things there — and a great excuse to visit some fabulous places. #ThatFridayLinky

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    • June 29, 2018 at 11:44 am
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      Thank you. I never need an excuse to visit new places but fun events like this definitely help.

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  • June 29, 2018 at 11:38 am
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    Yes!! I didn't even think of it as a lazy river but that's exactly what it is, with booze!
    Like I said, there's a local on in the River Wye bit I don't think it will be anywhere as near as popular.

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  • June 29, 2018 at 11:41 am
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    Totally agree. I didn't even touch on the wacky ones we have in the UK. Cheese rolling, bog snorkelling, the highland games, shin kicking and the onion festival.

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  • June 30, 2018 at 9:47 am
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    Oh wow these are so cool. I have always wanted go to the Sziget Festival as it looks ace, the beer floating one sounds cool too.

    Laura x

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  • July 1, 2018 at 6:46 am
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    Super festivals I need to check these out Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

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  • July 6, 2018 at 9:06 pm
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    the Krampus one sounds terrifying haha. I've never heard of any of these festivals – amazing how many fun and interesting events there are!

    The ecoLogical

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    • August 11, 2018 at 1:21 pm
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      I think seeing all the costumes would be amazing. I'd hate it as a child though haha

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    • August 11, 2018 at 1:21 pm
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      We need these globally I think. If it doesn't cause world peace, nothing will.

      Reply

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