Europe 35 – Queen’s Day

Queen’s Day (2) Queen’s Day Queen’s Day is a big outdoor event. It’s not about the dingy hash bars or seedy sex salons so loved by mashed-up tourists. It’s a day of live music and beer tents, and parties exploding onto the streets. Stages piled high with huge sound systems are set up in every available open space – the ... Read More »

Europe 34 – Queen’s Day

Queen’s Day (1) Where? Amsterdam, The Netherlands When? April 30, unless this falls on a Sunday in which case April 29 How long? 1 day If you’re going to pick any European capital for a major 24-hour sleaze, drugs and alcohol binge, it may as well be Amsterdam. And Queen’s Day is the wildest possible time to visit. The queen ... Read More »

Europe 33 – Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest (2) Beer tents The beer tents are what Oktoberfest is all about. In all, there are fourteen enormous circus tents erected for the festival. Nine are run by Munich breweries, huge traditional companies that still produce beer according to the strict Munich purity regulations of 1487, and are the size of aircraft hangars, multi-floored, and seat over eight thousand ... Read More »

Europe 32 – Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest (1) Where? Munich, Germany When? Mid-September to early October How long? 3 weeks Officially the world’s largest public festival, the Munich Beer Festival, or Oktoberfest, kicks off on the third Saturday in September and keeps pumping day after day for a full-on alcohol- soaked fortnight. Known locally as the “Wies’n”, the name of the sprawling park in which it ... Read More »

Europe 31 – Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival (2) Mas bands To properly experience Carnival you’ve got to take in some of the mas bands that form the float parade, particularly during the “adults’ day” on Monday. Mas is short for “masquerade” and these costumed players are the cultural and historical backbone of Carnival. Their roots are firmly fixed in the Trinidad Carnival, and they ... Read More »

Europe 30 – Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival (1) Where? London, England When? Sunday and Monday of the August Bank Holiday weekend How long? 2 days Over the last weekend in August, the streets of Notting Hill shrug off their chi-chi trendiness to make way for London’s biggest, best and most deliciously anarchic street festival. The splash of coloured costumes, the sound of soca, the ... Read More »

Europe 29 – Monaco Grand Prix

Where? The Principal of Monaco When? May How long? 3days Set amongst the winding streets of the world’s second smallest and most densely populated principality, the Monaco Grand Prix has, since its inception in 1929, grown to become the most glamorous an high-profile date on the Formula audience of millions, the prestigious race sees cars roar their way around a ... Read More »

Europe 28 – Love Parade

Love Parade (2) The Parade The highlight is the Parade itself, which kicks off at 2pm on Saturday. It lasts throughout the evening as the procession of floats, bands, mobile sound systems, dancers, skinheads, ravers and DJ trucks, blasting out their techno beats, move along the Strasse des 17 Juni, which roughly bisects the massive Tiergarten park, slowly making a circuit ... Read More »

Europe 27 – Love Parade

Love Parade (1) Where? Berlin, Germany When? Second or third Saturday in July How long? 1 day Every year, over a million people head for the steaming techno music fest that is Berlin’s Love Parade, which has grown to become one of the world’s largest free music festivals. Everything about the event is of epic proportions. It thumps to the beat ... Read More »

Europe 26 – Lewes Bonfire Night

Lewes Bonfire Night (2) The processions and bonfires Throughout the night, smoke fills the Lewes air, giving the steep and narrow streets an eerie, almost medieval feel. From about 6.30pm onwards, the rowdy torch-lit processions make their way through the streets to the War Memorial at the top of the High Street, pausing to hurl burning barrels of tar into ... Read More »