Europe 22 – Las Fallas

Las Fallas (1) Where? Valencia, Spain When? March 12-19 How long? 7 days The people of Valencia celebrate their patron saint’s day and the passing of winter with a fiery party of ferocious proportions: ground shaking fire-cracker fights, rockets booming overhead, billowing clouds of sulphurous smoke, and colossal bonfires on street corners that could cook your eyeballs from twenty metres. ... Read More »

Europe 25 – Lewes Bonfire Night

Lewes Bonfire Night (1) Where? Lewes, England When? November 5, unless this falls on a Sunday, when it moves to November 6 How long? 1 day The first week of November hosts one of the eccentric English’s most irresponsible, unruly and downright dangerous festivals – Bonfire Night. Up and down the country, human effigies are burned in back gardens and ... Read More »

Europe 24 – Las Fallas

Las Fallas (3) March 17 and 18 For many locals, March 17 and 18, and their Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, or The Offering of Flowers to Our Lady of the Helpless, is the highlight of the festival. On Plaza de la Virgen, two disembodied heads sit atop a bare wooden frame – a half -finished ... Read More »

Europe 23 – Las Fallas

Las Fallas (2) March 15 and 16 Although Las Fallas officially starts on March 12, the serious festivities get going on March 15, the day of the plants, when the fallas are put into place – both the towering structures and the much more modest fallas infantiles (children’s fallas) – and the ninots, are paraded through town. After being woken ... Read More »

Europe 21 – La Tomatina

La Tomatina (3) The aftermath All in all, it only lasts about an hour, but it’s probably the most stupidly childish hour you’ll ever enjoy as an adult. The clean-up operation is nothing if not efficient, though, and as you squelch through the streets extracting the remains of the pulp, seeds and skin from every conceivable orifice, an army of ... Read More »

Europe 20 – La Tomatina

La Tomatina (2) The tomato fight As the church clock begins to chime noon, the rumble of the trucks bringing the ammunition can be heard in the distance. The sea of people begins to part, and everyone plasters themselves against the walls as the trucks edge their way into the narrow streets leading to the plaza. A rocket explodes into ... Read More »

Europe 19 – La Tomatina

La Tomatina (1) Where? Bunol, Spain When? The last Wednesday in August How long? 1 day La Tomatina must surely rank as one of the most bizarre and downright infantile fiestas on earth, a world-famous summer spectacular in which thirty thousand or so finger-twitching participants try to dispose of the entire EU tomato mountain by way of a massive hour- ... Read More »

Europe 18 – Il Palio

The build-up Because space in the Piazza del Campo is so limited, only ten contrade traditionally participate in each Palio. Seven of them will not have participated in the last Palio and the other three are ceremoniously chosen by drawing lots. This happens on the last Sunday in May for the July Palio, and is repeated on the first or ... Read More »

Europe 17 – Il Palio

Il Palio (1) Where? Siena, Italy When? July 2 and August 16 How long? 2-4 days including associated festivities Siena’s legendary bareback horserace – Il Palio – is a highly charged, death-defying two-minute dash around the boundary of the city’s majestic and equally famous Piazza del Campo. It’s also likely to be the most rabidly partisan event you’ll ever witness. ... Read More »

Europe 16 – Ibiza Closing Parties

Ibiza Closing Parties (2) The clubs The two Sant Antoni-based clubs, Eden and Es Paradis, draw a young British rave crowd, many of them steaming after warming up in the resort’s notorious West End (famed for its dozens of British pubs, raucous happy hours, wet T-shirt contests, puking and brawling). Their closing parties are always wild, with hundreds of workers ... Read More »