With schools opening again and the onset of autumn, September’s a great time to get away if you’re looking for a quieter holiday. The high season is coming to a close so you may well snag yourself a bargain, and if you’re lucky you might even get a bit of late summer sun. Still, there’s always something utterly spellbinding about those cool, clear autumnal days to bring out your inner romantic.
It’s also the start of the harvest in Europe, so you can be sure of a wide and enticing range of food festivals to broaden your foodie palate, as well as many other festivals and events that can really bring a bit of colour to your holiday. If you’re heading away in September, we’ve put this useful list together so you know what you should be looking out for – you’ve got no excuse not to dive in and start exploring!
– The Abergavenny Food Festival runs over a weekend and is a celebration of all things delicious, and the scope goes well beyond the borders of Wales. Check in for talks, masterclasses, book signings and of course, a market full of tasty stuff to buy. Best of all, there’s craft beer!
– Held on the first Saturday of September each year, The Braemar Gathering is arguably the biggest event in the Highland Games calendar. Visited by the Queen herself in 2014, you’ll be treated to displays of dancing, bagpipe playing and feats of strength such as tossing the caber.
– Lasting a week, the Nairn Book and Arts Festival is where you’ll find author talks on a range of subjects from fiction to fishing as well as hands-on experiences in everything from pottery to artisan cookery.
– If you’re into photography, the Scottish Nature Photography Festival puts pictures of the natural world and wildlife very much in the frame. As well as learning more about the craft of nature photography, there’s competitions where you can win the chance to take even more beautiful photographs!
– It doesn’t take much explanation to know what the Dublin Festival of History is all about, but if you’re up for learning more about the history and culture of ‘Dear Old Dirty Dublin’ in characteristically jubilant style, it’s definitely the place to start.
– A massive celebration of Irish music, the Dingle Tradfest incorporates not just traditional folk but fuses it with other styles and genres to create an eclectic and entertaining weekend full of events and performances.
– The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival in County Down isn’t just about eating the famous shellfish – there’s golf days, music, a ball and even a motor show to enjoy.
– The Autumn Festival in Pavalas takes place on the beach and is a weekend of partying and festivities, with the highlight being impressive displays of horsemanship.
– Fancy mixing a spot of exercise with fine wines? The Vignes Vins Randos covers a lot of ground in the Loire Valley so you can choose your favourite style of wine and enjoy a glorious walk among the vineyards.
– The Touraine Jazz Festival boasts an impressive line-up each year in a variety of venues, with some of the world’s top Jazz musicians (as well as up-and-coming talent!) performing. You can even brush up on your own musical abilities with a series of workshops.
– For something truly different, how about a festival that celebrates the river? The Festival du Loire puts the eponymous waterway front and centre, with plenty of messing about in boats to amuse family members of all ages.
– Cinemaphiles are bound to enjoy the American Film Festival held in Deauville, with premieres of up-and-coming offerings and tributes to American pioneers and stars of the silver screen.
– If there’s one French food that’s celebrated the world over, it’s cheese. Head to the town of Neufchatel to enjoy the Fête du Fromage, a celebration of the heart-shaped Neufchatel cheese made in the area.
– The Foire Millénaire de la Sainte-Croix is a four day fair and market that’s a bit like a gigantic car boot sale, with stalls also offering food, local produce and loads more.
– One of the most vibrant dance festivals in France, Le Temps d’Aimer in Biarritz doesn’t stop at performance, with street dancing, workshops and films celebrating all kinds of dance happening throughout the week of the festival.
– Biarritz is also the home of the Festival of Latin American Cinema and Culture, with various screenings and events throughout the capital that are bound to get culture vultures excited.
– Whether you’re a dabbler or a more serious collector, the International Contemporary Art Fair in Bordeaux is a great excuse to explore the city – and you might snag a bargain for the wall at home too.
– If you’re fond of your cheeses you know how delicious a pecarino can be, but on the third Sunday of September in Pienzo the cheese isn’t just eaten, but part of a game similar to boules in the Cacio El Fuso Festival. Of course, you can buy some to eat too!
– Arezzo goes Renaissance in September for the second of its biannual jousting fairs. The whole of the city gets caught up in the excitement of the Giostra del Saracino, and while there’s loads of events to enjoy the jousting is very much at the heart of the festivities.
– With winemaking being so important all over Italy, it’s hardly surprising a festival has sprung up that solely celebrates the humble grape. The Fiesta dell ’Uva pits the local wards of Impruneta against each other to create the most impressive grape-inspired float!
– Perfect for kids, Florence’s Festa della Rificolona has young visitors to the city parading around the streets at night with lanterns – while other kids try to destroy the lanterns with pea shooters!
– Sansepolcro celebrates its own palio – a traditional Renaissance event – with a crossbow competition on the second Sunday of September. Old rivalries in the Palio de Balestra are resurrected as Gubbio and Sansepolcro fight it out for supremacy!
– September sees the Immagimondo in Lecco really taking off. This culture and travel festival is all about broadening the mind, and there’s plenty of talks, exhibitions and photography that’ll do just that.
– Celebrating couscous as an international dish of peace, the International Couscous Festival is about more than food, with concerts and music to enjoy too.
– Take in the best of Sicilian wine with the ViniMilo, which begins at the end of August and stretches right into the middle of September with tasting opportunities galore.
– The Fest ate lu Mieru in Salento could be seen as another wine festival, but it’s more about celebrating the land and all its abundance. Highly recommended if you’re into your food!
– The port town of Bari hosts the annual Fiera del Levante. Technically a trade fair, it dates back to 1929 and attracts about half a million visitors each year with local and international stalls.
– The Patron Saint’s Celebration in Alberobelo is (unsurprisingly) a celebration of the town’s patron saints. It’s quite a religious affair with formal processions, but there are fireworks and music too.
– I Prima di Italia in Perugia gets to grips with another of Italy’s passions – pasta! You’ll look at it a whole new way after watching workshops and talks and enjoying all the dishes on offer. Probably not that much fun if you’re allergic to wheat.
– Montilla’s Fiesta de la Vendimia celebrates the start of the grape harvest, and in particular the harvesting of the renowned Montilla-Moriles grape. It’s not all wine though – there’s plenty of opportunities to sample some tapas and flamenco too!
– A smaller festival in Malaga, the Moclinejo Wine Festival explores the history and production of the town’s famous sweet muscatel wine. You can even visit the Museum of Muscatel, if you’re so inclined.
– The Fiesta Rey En Jaume in Santa Ponsa is a festival celebrating the liberation of Mallorca in 1229, with boisterous historical re-enactments, food, music and loads of partying.
– Got a sweet tooth and want to stay healthy? The Mallorcan Melon Festival puts fresh fruits (and everything that can be made from them) centre stage to celebrate a successful harvest.
– For a relatively small city, Palma de Mallorca has a vibrant art scene. The unquestioned highlight is the Nit de l’Art, where various museums and galleries open their doors to show off their new collections.
– The Grape Harvest Festival in Binissalem centres around the grape harvest and wine, but it’s no genteel sipping affair. You’ll find giant puppets and a fiery procession, as well as a traditional grape fight that gets very messy indeed.
– Castello d’Empuries is the place to be for the Land of the Troubadours Festival, which brings a Renaissance feel to the town with pageantry, processions, and readings from the poets of the age.
– The Pirate Festival of L’Estartit is an absolute must for the kids! Harking back to the days when the coast was harassed by pirates and buccaneers, with shows, talks and a whole lot more for the whole family to enjoy.
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