Weird but pretty cool festivals in Europe

While the Glastonbury Festival usually takes the limelight for festivals in Europe, there are many unusual festivals that few know about. Here’s a list of weird but awesome festivals to join on your next trip to Europe.

Notte Delle Luci, Italy

A simple village tradition of lighting candles every year has expanded to what we know today as the Notte Delle Luci festival in Italy. This festival has grown into a five-day experience where mind-blowing lights can be seen across the entire city.  The festival commences annually on the 5th July. A devotion to saint Santa Domenica who is famous for saving the people from a plague in 1600.

While the festival has come a long way from just lighting candles, the craftsmanship and traditions are as strong as it has ever been.

The luminaire structures are a highlight of the even and it is sure to your breath away. These structures are built with wood and carpets with LED lights. The awe-inspiring beauty of this celebration must be experienced. Immersing yourself in the festivity is the only way to understand and fully appreciate the significance of this celebration.

Vlaggetjesdag, Netherlands (Flag Day)

Better known as Vlaggetjesdag, the festivities that take place at the Flag Day festival is spectacular. One of the biggest festivals in The Hague, the lively music and a variety of flags waving in the wind brings together people from all across the country. On this day, local youth proudly don the unique traditional attire of the Netherlands.

A big part of the festival is celebrating the catch of the new herring of the year, which is better known as the “New Dutch”. The catch is the auctioned between May and June, with the proceeds donated to charity.

Up-Helly-Aa – St Ninian’s Isle, Scotland

North of Scotland, budget travellers and those looking for new and unusual experience should attend the Up-Helly-Aa Viking Festival

Every year on the last Tuesday of January, the Up-Helly-Aa festival takes place. The reason for this fantastic festival is the celebration of Shetland’s history as well as to celebrate the triumphant demonstration of the skills and spirit of the islanders. Expect about fifty helmeted Vikings and a burning Norse galley.

Some of the highlights that you can look forward to are:

  • Longboat burning
  • Partying with the locals
  • Appreciate the awe-inspiring scenery of Shetland Islands
  • Experience traditional music sessions
  • Be sure to visit the St Andrews, ‘Home of Golf’

Burning the Clocks, England

On the 21st December, the strange yet exciting Burning the Clocks festival takes place. This unique community event is well known for bringing the entire city together.

At the festival locals create their own paper and willow lanterns, using kits and then finally parading through the city. The lanterns get thrown into the burning bonfire as a token celebrating the end of a year.

At the end of the night, the celebration continues at Patterns, Marine Parade where you should expect the party of the year. Expect live bands to keep you going through the night as you party with locals and tourists alike.

Calcio Storico, Italy

Originated in the 16th century, the Calico Storico festival takes place in Florence annually. The festivities consist of soccer, rugby and wrestling. For each game, there are four teams dedicated to the historical neighbourhoods of the city. The four teams include:

  • Santa Croce
  • Santo Spirito
  • Santa Maria Novella
  • San Giovanni.

The game is setup at the Piazza Santa Croce where the square is covered in dirt as a way of preserving the original setting during the 16th century. Benches and stands are setup for spectators to enjoy the game as well.

The festival happens every year early June, with the final match hosted on the 24th June.

However, it doesn’t end there. At the end of the day, celebrations end off along the banks of Arno where marvellous fireworks are launched from the Piazzale Michelangelo.

While the cost of tickets varies from year to year, the tickets generally go from 22 to 53 euro. Tickets for the festival can be booked online from as early as May.