Everyone’s invited! 5 parties not to be missed

Whatever the time of year, you can be pretty sure that someone somewhere is having a cracking party. At Explorer, we’ve been getting in the festival spirit and planning a party tour…


Oktoberfest: If you like a party, then the Munich Oktoberfest has to be on the list. Opened this weekend by the mayor with the glorious words ‘O’zapft is!’ – ‘It’s tapped!’ this world famous, 16-day long beer festival is off the scale: last year it was attended by six million people who proceeded to get through 6.7 million litres of beer and 114 oxen. Dating back to 1810 when it celebrated the wedding of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig to princess Therese, it now occupies the top spot as the world’s largest festival.

The Palio di Siena: A far briefer affair, the actual Il Palio lasts no more than 90 seconds but is an event packed with thrills and plenty of spills. Thousands of visitors squeeze into Siena’s Piazza del Campo to watch ten horses, ridden bareback by jockeys representing the city’s different wards and dressed in dazzling colours, race at high speed three times around the square. Held twice a year (2 July and 16 August) and in honour of the Assumption of Mary, it is a festival where passions and intrigue run high.

La Tomatina: Less keen on being a spectator and eager to join in with the action? Then take yourself to the Valencian town of Buñol for the world’s largest tomato fight. When the signal goes, the frenzied crowd hurls some 150,000 (crushed) tomatoes at each other. An hour later, the stop signal sounds – and must be obeyed – and participants marvel at the rivers of tomato juice that flow down the streets before both town and reveler are hosed down. La Tomatina takes place on the last Wednesday in August; if you can’t wait until next year, why not head to Ivrea in Italy in February for the Battle of the Oranges…

St Patrick’s Festival, Dublin: First held on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, in 1996, the festival has since become a major international celebration of being Irish. The six days are packed with a huge number of free events across the city: treasure hunts, ceilidhs, funfairs, comedy, street performers, and much more. Go with friends or take the family and, whether you’re Irish or not, you’re bound to have a ball. The festivities culminate with the traditional parade on St Patrick’s Day.

The Scarlet Sails, St Petersburg. A spectacular extravaganza and the largest annual public gathering in Russia, this is a party not to be missed. The White Nights festival runs for many weeks, making the most of the light-washed summer nights of St Petersburg. Come mid-June, the sun never quite sets; the city stops sleeping and puts on a host of parties, festivals and operas. The highlight is the Scarlet Sails where the appearance of a haunting tall ship with blood red sails follows an electrifying mock pirate battle and a majestic firework display.



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