Europe's Craziest Celebrations

europe's craziest celebrations and festivals[trip style = adventure + sightseeing]

Ever wanted to take part in the world's largest food fight, outrun bulls in the streets of Spain or drink beer wearing lederhosen? Visiting the following European festivals takes sightseeing to a whole new level. Forget museums, participating in these traditions is a cultural tour in and of itself. I can think of no better tourist activity than attending a local celebration---you see the sights, interact with locals and learn about the destination's traditions. Done and done, and added to my bucketlist.

Running with the Bulls (San Fermin) running with the bulls Where: Pamplona, Spain When: July 6 - July 14, 2010 Attire: White from head-to-toe with a red scarf and sash As one of the most internationally renowned Spanish fiestas, the 9-day San Fermin festival draws 1,000,000 people each year. The most famous event is encierro, or running of the bulls, attracting adventurors, observers and locals alike to watch and/or participate in the 800 meter dash through the cobblestone streets of Pamplona. Reading an article in The Globe and Mail about a Whistler tour guide who runs tours to Pamplona each year, he said his biggest clients are 40-something hockey dads seeking a thrill.  His advice if you fall or trip during the 2-3 minute run? Stay down and roll to the side.

Tomatina tomatina spain Where: Bunol, Spain When: Last Wednesday of August Attire: Bathing suit and googles Some natural skin remedies say toning the skin with pure, fresh tomato juice helps to minimze pores and sooth acne, if that's the case, your skin is bound to glow after taking part in the famed Tomatina festival. Each year some 20,000+ people storm the small town of Bueno, Spain to madly throw overripe tomatoes in every direction.  The world's biggest food fight is wild, red and may even provide a little stress relief!

Oktoberfest oktoberfest munchen munich Where: Munich, Germany When: September 18 - October 4 Attire: Lederhosen and Dirndl Some people actively participate in this beer-drinking festival for all 16-days, whereas others can only handle a short stint. Every year at the beginning of fall, some six million people descend upon Munich in search of pints and pretzels. When I visited Munich, I saw the area used for Oktoberfest and I was blown away by its gargantuan size--big enough to hold the festival's estimated 6 million attendees. While in Munich, our host told us how good Oktoberfest servers can carry 8 or more overflowing beers in each hand. Their biceps must be so toned. I wonder if Calgary's Stampede servers could challenge this?  [Tip for the fave beer drink in Munich was a Raddler (mix of beer and lemonade)].

[photos by SubtlePandaJohn Yavuz Can,, Ethan Prater]