Winter is the perfect time to attend a festival in Europe. There are plenty to choose from and in spite of the cold weather, they are extremely vibrant and enjoyable. Here are a few that you should check out and maybe add to your list.

Amsterdam Light Festival — December & January

If you plan a visit to Amsterdam, then you should do it just in time for the Light Festival. The city’s canals and bridges are decorated with light displays of different shapes and forms and some of the 2500 houseboats are decorated as well, turning everything into a vibrant show. The best way to experience the festival is from the water, but there are also organized tours if you would rather walk.

Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, Bruges, Belgium — November to January

Bruges is such a beautiful city to visit all around the year, but if you are a fan of winter then you should definitely visit it during the Snow and Ice Festival . Last year, the festival celebrated the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris by showing, among other things, 90 Disney characters in detailed sculptures from 29 international artists.

This year, Bruges will host the world’s first digital ice museum. There will be projections of light through crystal clear ice figurines combined with 3D videos for an incredible spectacle. Over 100 video projections will light up the ice sculpture panoramas that reach a height of not less than 4 meters. The temporary exhibit will be built in a huge hermetically isolated Icebox and it will contain over 3000 blocks of ice, each placed in specific locations, based on a 3D-designed artist’s impression.

La Tamborrada, San Sebastian, Spain — January

La Tamborrada is one of the loudest festivals in Spain. Up to 15000 drummers from 100 different bands play for 24 hours in the Basque city. The festival celebrates cultural unity, overcoming difficulties and finding happiness.

There are three groups of drummers: tamborreros (who play the proper drum), the cooks, and the water carriers who drum on other instruments different than proper drums. Culinary clubs play a big role in organizing the festival, hence their big presence among the drummers.

Fête du Citron, Menton, France — February & March

This rather special festival, marks the end of summer and the beginning of spring. Although it follows a theme each year, one thing is constant at the Lemon Festival – everything is completely covered in lemons and other citrus fruits – from the movable statues, scenes, to the carts of the parade. There are also decorated gardens, streets, and light displays, all on the backdrop of the beautiful Côte d’Azur.

Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, Scotland — January

This fire festival celebrates the end of the yule season, which is Christmas in Scotland. The best known and largest Up Helly Aa is in Lerwick, on the Shetland Islands, where up to a thousand guizers (performers) in different squads and costumes march through town. The town is small and all houses are small and simple, made of grey stone, so the orange light cast by their torches adds a warm contrast to the dark surroundings. The culminating moment is the circling and burning of a Viking longship. Afterwards, the crowds disperse to private parties where the squads perform their acts.


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