As the summer heat fades away, Europe comes alive with a plethora of captivating fall festivals. From ancient harvest celebrations to modern cultural extravaganzas, it’s so easy to immerse yourself in European traditions while savouring the beauty of autumn.
Whether indulging in Oktoberfest‘s lively beer tents in Germany, witnessing the dazzling lights of Diwali in England, or experiencing the mystical allure of Samhain in Ireland, each festival has a different take on European culture. Here are eight great fall festivals across Europe that will leave you enchanted.
Diwali - Leicester, England (October)
Celebrate the Festival of Lights (Diwali) in Leicester, one of England’s most culturally diverse cities and home to one of the largest Diwali festivals outside of India. Over two weeks in October, you‘ll be captivated by the lively street processions, dance performances, dazzling fireworks, and mouthwatering Indian cuisine. Diwali in Leicester offers a cultural experience, fostering unity and understanding among diverse communities.
La Mercè - Barcelona, Spain (Late September)
La Mercè is Barcelona’s biggest street festival, paying homage to the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy. This roughly week-long celebration in late September showcases Catalan culture through parades, concerts, fireworks, “Correfoc” fire runs, and human towers known as Castellers. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as the streets come alive with colourful costumes, traditional music, and dancing. La Mercè is a spectacular festival that captures the essence of Barcelona’s rich heritage as one of the oldest traditions in the city.
Fête de la Châtaigne - Fully, Switzerland (October)
Escape to the picturesque town of Fully, Switzerland, during the Fête de la Châtaigne, a delightful agricultural festival held for a weekend in October. The Fête de la Châtaigne celebrates the chestnut harvest by offering chestnut picking, cooking demonstrations, shopping at market vendors and tasting delicious chestnut-based dishes. Explore the quaint streets adorned with autumnal decorations and enjoy live music and traditional dances. Fête de la Châtaigne is a celebration of Swiss gastronomy and rural lore.
Samhain - County Meath, Ireland (October 31)
Step back in time and embrace the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (now called Hallowe’en) in County Meath, Ireland. Celebrated around October 31st, the festival marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Explore the sacred sites of ancient Ireland, such as the Hill of Tara and Hill of Ward and join in traditional rituals, haunted tours, fire performances and storytelling sessions. Samhain offers a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s mythical past and deep-rooted connection to nature.
Fiestas del Pilar - Zaragoza, Spain (October)
Experience the Pillar Festival, one of Spain’s most significant cultural events, held in Zaragoza each October. Honouring the Virgin of the Pillar, the city’s patron saint, the festival features religious processions, lively concerts, children’s entertainment, bullfights and impressive firework displays. Witness the offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary and be enchanted by the traditional “jota” dance performances. Fiestas del Pilar is a blend of religious devotion and exuberant celebration.
Oktoberfest - Munich, Germany (September-October)
A list of European fall festivals would only be complete by mentioning Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. Held in Munich, Germany, this 16-day extravaganza that kicks off each September attracts millions of visitors from around the globe. Immerse yourself in Bavarian culture as you indulge in traditional food, enjoy live music, and savour a wide variety of beers. Oktoberfest is a must-visit festival for beer enthusiasts and partygoers alike, from the incredible parades to the bustling beer tents and thrilling carnival rides.
Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco – Alba, Italy (October)
A feast for the senses, the International Alba White Truffle Fair celebrates Italian culture by combining world-class cuisine with cultural performances. Taste and buy the best truffles from across the globe, learn new skills in truffle sensory workshops or cooking classes or enjoy a guided wine-tasting journey. Visitors can also indulge in dinner experiences from top chefs and admire reenactments of medieval events. This festival is a gastronomic delight that lasts about two months, starting in October.
Jazzycolors Festival - Paris, France (November)
For music enthusiasts, the Jazzycolors Festival in Paris is a fall event not to be missed. Held in various venues across the city throughout the month of November, this festival celebrates the world of jazz through a diverse lineup of international artists. From smooth melodies to upbeat rhythms, immerse yourself in the soul-stirring performances of jazz, blues, and world music. Jazzycolors is an auditory delight that showcases Paris as a thriving hub for artistic expression.
If you go
Autumn is a wonderful time of year to plan a Europe trip. Not only are there many unique festivals taking place, but a shoulder season adventure means fewer tourists, and you can watch out for deals on flights and accommodations. You can also expect milder fall weather relative to much of Canada, although it can still be unpredictable, so pack lightweight layers and a jacket so you’re ready for anything.