Travel

Fun, Firemen and Feria: Unmissable Events in Europe

This year has seen many events across the globe cancelled, so while you reminisce about past adventures, instead of getting down about it, here are three events to put in your diary for next year.

Bals des Pompier

If you are a fan of dancing, beer, live music, and firemen (yes firemen), then this is the event for you! This celebration happens every year on the 13th of July, the day before Bastille Day, the day that celebrates the storming of the military fortress and prison, the Bastille, by French Revolutionists, which occurred on the 14th of July 1789. While Bastille Day is well known throughout the world as the day France comes out in its millions to celebrate this famous turning point of the French revolution, through parties, parades and fireworks, the Bals des Pompiers, translated to The Fireman’s Ball, often sneaks under the radar.

The Firemen’s Ball is an all-night outdoor party hosted in fire stations across France, most prominently in Paris, and is staffed by the firemen and women themselves! Each event is open to the public, and in each one you will find dancing, live music, DJ sets, food trucks and plenty of drinks. It is a magical place where beer is 3 euros and it is extremely normal, and encouraged, to buy champagne by the bottle. Most events start at 9pm and go on well into the night, with peak times being between 11pm-3am. It is a party for all ages, but families don’t tend to stay past midnight, leaving the rest to dance until dawn and butcher the French language in order to try and make conversation with the firefighters, who are scattered around the grounds either dancing or behind the bar!

This tradition started in 1937 when a few fire stations decided to have small gatherings to celebrate the upcoming Bastille day, but over time this tradition has grown into a phenomenon which brings in thousands of locals and tourists every year to enjoy the festivities.

Cadiz Carnival

If you have always dreamt of going to Rio Carnival but have always found the airfare to Brazil a little over budget, then Cadiz Carnival could be your solution. The city of Cadiz is located on the south west coast of Spain, close to the Portuguese border, and is the home of tapas, cheap beer, incredible seafood, the beach from James Bond where Hallie Berry makes her famous walk out of the sea, and for 10 days every February, Carnival. Throughout the celebrations you will find concerts, parades, processions, puppet shows, and most famously, continuous singing in the streets, which can be heard from morning to night, all the way through to the next morning! It is especially famous for its Chirigotas, which are groups of performers that you can find singing satirical songs about politics and current affairs across the city, all the while dressed in extravagant fancy dress outfits. And even if you are a non-Spanish speaker and can’t understand anything they are saying, it is still a must-see spectacle, you just have to laugh when everyone else does!

While there are parties throughout the 10 days, Saturday is the night everyone looks forward to. Throughout the night people flood to party on the streets of the city in full fancy dress. They come from across Spain to celebrate, and often stay up all night to save money on accommodation, then catch an early bus home in the morning!

The streets are full of colour and chaos, whether it be fairy lights, confetti or elaborate, and sometimes bizarre, costumes, making Carnival a truly unforgettable event.

Feria

Similarly to Carnival, Feria is also found in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. While it is known as the April fair, this colourful event tends to happen throughout the entire summer, and runs for seven days. The dates depend on each town, and while Seville is by far the largest and most famous Feria, every town has their own.

Feria translates to ‘Fair’ in both word and definition, as in each one you can expect to find fairground rides, roller coasters and fast food, but unlike your traditional fair, Feria has a few very specific differences. Alongside the bumper cars and burger stands you can find a series of small and colourful tents called casetas, which make up a huge percentage of the grounds, each one offering live music, DJ sets, traditional Andalusian food, and plenty of drinks. While some casetas are privately owned, the majority are available to everyone, allowing you to bar hop from each one throughout the day and night, letting you enjoy both modern music, as well as traditional Sevillianas. Originating from Seville, this traditional style of music is accompanied by specific dances, which are normally danced in pairs, and is heavily influenced by flamenco. Spaniards often learn Sevillianas from a young age, so be prepared to be mesmerised by the flawless couples on the dancefloor. Luckily for the uncoordinated among us, this dance doesn’t involve too many steps, and as a clumsy tourist, the locals will be more than happy to help you out!

Along with Sevillianas, another tradition is the clothing. As you walk throughout the Feria you will be surrounded by women in brightly coloured flamenco dresses wearing large, bold earrings and dainty flowers in their hair. This style, along with the Sevillanas, while not mandatory, is most definitely encouraged! And while we are on the topic of clothing, while many women can be seen wearing heels, due to the dusty dirt pathway, and immensely long hours you will most likely be spending there, I would recommend something a little bit comfier. As for the men, things are much simpler, as the attire is usually a shirt and jeans.

Photo Credit: Nick Karvounis

Speaking of traditions, while throughout the Feria you will be able to find an array of Spanish food from tortilla to fried fish, you will also find something less well known: Rebujito. This drink is a mix of manzanilla, a dry white sherry, and Sprite, and has become the go to drink of Feria. However, if this combination isn’t your cup of tea, you will never be searching too long for a bar that serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

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