Beyond Oktoberfest: Exploring Europe’s Alternative Festivals

While Oktoberfest in Munich holds a special place in the pantheon of European festivals, the continent boasts an array of alternative celebrations, each with its own charm and cultural richness.

If you’re in search of a festival experience that ventures beyond Munich, consider these diverse alternatives across Europe!
Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart (Late September – Early October)

Affectionately known as the “Wasen,” this lively event is an annual three-week Volksfest, offering a delightful blend of autumnal festivities and beer celebration. A cherished tradition at the Wasen is the grand parade, typically held on the first Sunday. An iconic symbol of the festival is the towering fruit column, standing at an impressive 26 metres tall and weighing a substantial 3.5 tons. This wooden masterpiece is adorned with an array of fruits and serves as the unmistakable landmark of the Cannstatter Wasen. The festival truly embodies the essence of merriment, featuring inviting beer tents, exhilarating fairground attractions, and the invigorating melodies of traditional folk music.

Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt (Early to Mid-September)

The Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt is known as the “sausage market”, It’s one of Germany’s oldest wine festivals, offering a unique blend of wine, culinary delights, and folk festivities. As you stroll through this charming fair, you’ll encounter a diverse selection of wines from the Palatinate region, complemented by an array of delectable sausages and other local specialties. The lively atmosphere, live music, and the mingling of locals and visitors create a jovial ambiance that makes the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt an exceptional cultural and culinary experience in the heart of Germany’s wine country.

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Wine and Food Festival, Prague (Late September – Early October)

In late September, Prague comes alive with two exciting festivals celebrating the rich traditions of wine and culinary delights. On September 23, 2023, at Villa Richter, St. Wenceslas Vineyard, there is a tribute to both the Czech patron saint and the grape harvest. There, you can savour newly fermented and aged wines while enjoying knightly contests, live music, and dance. If you crave an international culinary adventure, head to Strelecký Island the last weekend of September. The Wine & Food Festival there offers an array of global flavours, complemented by live music, including dulcimer, accordion, and saxophone performances. It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore diverse cuisines and wine in the heart of Prague.

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La Mercè Festival, Barcelona (Late September)

La Mercè Festival in Barcelona is an exuberant celebration of the city’s vibrant culture and history, typically observed around September 24th. This grand event pays homage to the patron saint of Barcelona, Mare de Déu de la Mercè, with a showcase of Catalonia’s rich traditions. The streets come alive with colourful parades, lively music, traditional Catalan dances, and breathtaking firework displays that light up the night sky. 

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Milan Fashion Week (September)

On a different note than a festival, Milan Fashion Week transforms Milan into a global fashion capital. This glamorous occasion is a mecca for fashion aficionados, designers, and style enthusiasts from around the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to witness the latest trends and innovations in Italian fashion and design. Milan’s runways come alive with top models showcasing creations from renowned designers and emerging talents alike. Whether you travel to Milan for work or pleasure (or maybe for a shopping spree), Milan Fashion Week offers an unforgettable glimpse into the cutting-edge world of Italian fashion.

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Cork Folk Festival (Late September)

The Cork Folk Festival, held in late September, is a lively celebration of Ireland’s rich musical heritage. This festival takes you on a melodic journey through the heart of Cork, where traditional and contemporary folk music fill the air. With performances by both local talents and renowned international artists, it’s an authentic and spirited experience that captures the essence of Irish folk culture. From soul-stirring ballads to foot-tapping jigs, the Cork Folk Festival is a vibrant showcase of the country’s musical traditions and is a must-visit for music enthusiasts looking to embrace the spirit of Ireland.

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