Biking, Discovery, Walking

10 great cultural celebrations and festivals

17 Mar , 2017  

It is St Patrick’s Day this week (March 17) and across the world people will celebrate the day that commemorates Christianity’s arrival in Ireland, as well as highlighting the heritage and culture of the Irish.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations involve public parades and festivals and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. You might like to take a look at the walking holidays in Ireland, too.

Worldwide, a host of cultural celebrations take place throughout the year.

The Carnival of Venice in Italy

The Carnival of Venice.

The colourful and historic festival dates back to 1162 and takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. A carnival of fun and theatre takes place in the city’s streets and many people wear Venetian masks.

Why not visit Venice on this day as part of a cycling holiday? Although, Venice is a lovely city to see at any time of the year.

La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain

La Tomatina festival

Since 1945, this rather messy but very colourful celebration taken place on the last Wednesday of August and during a week of festivities in Buñol. It’s not known for sure how the mass tomato fight started, although a popular theory is that disgruntled people in the town rioted and attacked city leaders with tomatoes. These days it’s more of a fun tomato fight and can attract many thousands of people.

Buñol is in Valencia, which can be visited en route a walking holiday on the Camino de Santiago.

Palio di Siena, Siena, Italy

The parades before the Il Palio.

Il Palio is a horse race held twice annually on July 2 and August 16. Tradition has it that 10 horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent 10 of the 17 city wards.

The Palio held in July is called Palio di Provenzano while the event held in August is the Palio dell’Assunta.

Siena is the destination on the Macs Adventure walking holiday from Florence to Siena.

Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling, near Gloucester, England

Cheese rolling day on Cooper’s Hill.

Competitors in the cheese rolling competition come to Cooper’s Hill on the spring bank holiday to race a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese down the hill. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.

You could Escape to the Cotswolds at any time of the year but why not tie in with this world famous cheese rolling event?

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland

Uo Helly Aa. Pic credit: Anne Burgess.

Up Helly Aa, which takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, on the last Tuesday in January involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. It’s a bight, colourful and noisy festival that is hugely popular.

Burns’ Night, Scotland

The birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns is celebrated throughout Scotland – and the rest of the world – on January 25. The best place to find out more about the world famous 18th century bard is in Burns Country in Ayrshire.

The Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy

The traditional festival sees oranges being thrown between organised groups. It is the largest food fight in Italy and a great spectacle every February.

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany.

Oktoberfest. Pic credit: Bayreuth2009

The hugely popular festival has been held since 1810 and originally commemorated Prince Ludwig’s wedding. It’s now an annual Bavarian celebration that plays host to hundreds of beers and beer fans. It actually takes place from mid-September.

We might suggest the Macs Adventure Bicycle Beer Trail of Bavaria as the best accompaniment to this festival!

Verslunarmannahelgi, Iceland

The first Monday of August is a bank holiday that plays host to numerous outdoor festivals around the country. It’s a time, too, when many city people try to get away for a weekend at their summerhouses or to camp.

Iceland is a fantastic place for a walking holiday.


If you would like to find out more about our range of self-guided walking and cycling tours in the UK or Europe, get in touch with a member of our team on [email protected]. To receive travel tips and advice straight to you inbox, sign up for our adventure travel newsletter!

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By
A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she's not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she'll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.