About Up Helly Aa
One of Europe’s largest fire festivals, Up Helly Aa, has a rich history running almost every year since 1880.
Up Helly Aa is a small local festival with a solid international following, held in Shetland annually on the last Tuesday of January.
So just what is it about this festival that lures visitors to Shetland in the dead of winter?
Is it the pageantry of the torch-lit procession of the costume-clad guizers led by the Guizer Jarl?
Perhaps it’s the warmth thrown off the bonfire created by burning a 9-metre Viking longboat replica (known as the Galley)?
Or maybe it’s the chance to party with some of Europe’s hardiest partygoers as the drinking, dancing, and general merry-making go on through the night and into the next day?
Traditional music, especially fiddles, play a significant role in the festival.
Positioned between Scotland and Norway, Shetland has a strong Viking history.
Shetland was handed over to Scotland from Norway as part of a royal wedding dowry in 1469.
Traditionally the festival marked the end of Yule, but today it’s more about celebrating the island’s Viking heritage.
Each year a new chief is elected to wear the Viking suit of armour, known as the Guizer Jarl. Leads the Jarl Squad.
The Guizer Carl selects his Jarl Squad and leads the procession, replete in his helmet, shield, axe and dagger, with the Galley following behind.
Other guests are invited to form the rest of the squad members, and these guests must be locals to take part in the squad and procession.
Close to a thousand participate in the procession.
It usually starts at 19:30, taking a route through town to the where the Galley is set alight at the Market Cross.
The firelight from the torches is the only lighting during the procession as the streetlights are turned off.
Enjoy some local hospitality when you stay at the Aald Harbour Bed & Breakfast.
Delightful rooms with bathroom, free WiFi and fabulous reviews from their guests.
Getting to Up Helly Aa
There are flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen to Sumburgh Airport, located approximately 40 km from the island’s capital, Lerwick.
Another option is the ferry running from Aberdeen to Lerwick – around 12 hours.
More About Shetland
The Shetland pony is well-known around the world.
This little beauty hails from the rugged archipelago known as the Shetland Islands.
Of the more than 100 islands, only 15 are inhabited.
The islands are bird lovers’ paradise and attract many walkers.
Otters and seals also draw visitors to the islands, especially during the weeks of the ‘simmer dim’ (the long summer twilight).
Its history, culture, creative industries, and musical traditions are great reasons to visit Shetland’s remote and fascinating islands.
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Battle of the oranges involves around half a million kilograms of oranges.
Yes, this is the Battle of the Oranges. It takes place in the city of Ivrea, and it presents an organized event steeped in history.
It is a story about people rebelling against the cruel and tyrannic government – now transformed into a carnival that attracts around 100,000 spectators every year.
Anyone can become a spectator, but there’s a thing you must take into consideration – you can suffer serious injuries, so for those who are not so enthusiastic, we strongly suggest relaxing and watching the battle from a distance.
It’s, of course, essential to wear a hat, or head wrap, because being a bit away from the battle won’t guarantee that you’ll be completely safe.
The battle of the oranges usually starts on Sunday around 2 pm ending with the judges’ decision on which team won this year’s battle.
Citizens of the town of Ivrea consider this carnival to be an important part of their culture and like to describe this battle as a “liberating” event.
If we look to the past, we’d see that this carnival is connected to the Lord of Ivrea’s attempt to take the virginity of the miller’s daughter on the eve of her wedding, sometime in the 12th or 13th century, as the legend goes.
But she made a bold move – a strike of the sword, and set the town free from his oppression.
Later on, the townspeople battled the Lord’s henchmen, so today, this unusual carnival is a recreation of the battle between the Lord’s followers and the so-called commoners.
The Lady, the miller’s daughter, is represented by a woman dressed in a red and white dress who throws yellow flowers to her admirers.
This is surely among the most unusual carnivals you will find, not only in Europe, but in the whole world.
It is definitely one you will remember.
Hotels in Ivrea
In the city
There are only a few hotels in the centre of Ivrea, and they are most likely already fully booked for the carnival.
The one with the best review score is Spazio Bianco
In the surrounding area
You can find many good hotels and Beds & Breakfasts around Ivrea.
Even when staying outside the town, it is best to book well in advance as the most popular accommodations book out quickly.
Check the Sirio hotel – situated on the banks of Lake Sirio.
It’s a hotel with a million-dollar view, spacious rooms and free parking.
It’s only a 5-minutes drive from the centre of the city.
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Carnival Las Palmas
It is an annual event to rival Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival.
Performers dance in flamboyant costumes bringing colour and richness to one of the island’s oldest festivities.
More about the Las Palmas Carnival
Carnaval has been celebrated in Las Palmas in one way or another over the last five centuries.
One of the island’s major tourist attractions reinvents itself, surprising visitors with new acts and events each year.
International visitors and locals get into the party spirit, taking it to the streets.
Carnival Las Palmas is a series of Galas and Carnivals, with the Drag Queen Gala – the first in Spain in 1998 – being one of its most extravagant and theatrical.
There are competitions for best costumes, with one lucky winner being crowned Queen of the Carnival.
The Great Carnival Parade takes place the last Saturday and follows a route of over 7 kilometres.
Children get in on the act with lots of designated festivities for the little ones culminating in a children’s parade towards the end of Carnival Las Palmas.
Where to stay during the Las Palmas Carnival?
If you are looking for an exceptional stay just 550 meters from the beach, you can’t go past Hotel Casa Mozart.
This boutique hotel offers free WiFi and has an airport shuttle.
There are plenty of options to choose from, but as it’s a busy time of year, we suggest you book early in advance.
Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria, one of the Spanish Canary Islands off northwestern Africa.
Flying is the easiest way to reach the island and many holiday flight companies offer flights.
If you feel like setting a slower pace, you can take a ferry from Huelva to Gran Canaria.
It’s seasonal, departing once a week, and at around 34 hours each way, it’s more of a mini-cruise than a ferry crossing.
More about Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is considered the capital of the Canaries.
It’s a major cruise ship stop known for duty-free shopping and white sandy beaches.
You’ll encounter steep mountains in the north, with green cliffs and gorges, while it’s drier and flatter in the south.
Filled with charming villages, one we recommend visiting is beautiful Tejeda, up in the hills in the centre of the islands.
It’s adorable in February (Carnaval time) when the almond trees are in blossom.
The Canary Islands are a volcanic archipelago situated off northwestern Africa and consist of Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro.
These lesser-known Spanish islands have a perfect year-round climate – not too hot, not too cold, just right!
More things to do in Las Palmas
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About World Club Dome Electronic Music Festival
It all began when they set up the “biggest rainproof club in the world” – the Deutsche Bank Park (formerly Commerzbank Arena) – and made a festival that stays in your memory once you visit it forever.
The mother of all electronic music festivals, nestled in over half a million square meters.
It’s a glamorous and open-air festival. If the weather gets bad, it can become a massive club in 15 minutes.
World Club Dome is a stadium and half of million square meters of surrounding land.
The lush green grass of the football pitches contributes to this festival’s excellent atmosphere.
Twelve floors of dance, EDM and trance DJs – a mind-blowing experience brought by Big City Beats in the heart of the city is something anyone interested in clubbing should visit.
The crowd drifted between stages with light shows and live actions and soaked up the unique energy for three days.
Things to do in Frankfurt
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Manchester Pubs Matter Festival – and 2021 / 2022 updates
Due to the situation with the pandemic, Manchester Beer and Cider Festival has been cancelled, and some new events are held online.
They also created a different festival called Manchester Pubs Matter Festival.
– You can see updates about it all on their website, where they also promise that MBCF will be back again.
Manchester Beer & Cider Festival
is one of the biggest beer festivals in Northern England.
A vast and tasty selection from breweries in the Greater Manchester area offers.
More than 750 assorted beers and ciders are available (contributing to more than 62,000 pints downed).
Local street food vendors are also on hand to help you match the ale with scrumptious nosh.
Enjoy tutored tastings with beer experts, peruse and buy some beer memorabilia, books or pub games while away your afternoon and evening.
Places to stay and Hotel Tips
Jurys Inn Manchester City Centre is located in the centre of Manchester, 4 minutes walk to St Peter’s Square.
Directly opposite the Manchester Central Convention Centre and the Bridgewater Hall.
Rated highly for its boutique-style rooms and central location.
Jurys Inn Manchester City Centre is only 8 minutes walk to the Manchester Oxford Road train station and Manchester Piccadilly Station.
More to see and do in Manchester – Tours and Sightseeings.
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Chocolate festival Amsterdam
With over 700 different flavours of chocolate Chocoa festival in Amsterdam is one of the sweetest events in Europe.
Chocolate magicians will come from the Netherlands and around the globe (Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Hungary, Italy and England).
They will teach you all about this magnificent grocery and present their work of art.
A story about the origin of chocolate and its impact on cocoa farmers’ living conditions is something you shouldn’t miss.
And of course, the best part – tastings, discovering and enjoying new flavours is a key of the chocolate festival.
Also, there’ll be other complimenting products to the chocolate such as coffee, tea, wine and craft beers.
The organizers of this festival haven’t forgotten children.
They will create art masterpieces with chocolate, have their faces painted and many more things.
The overview of things to see and do at the Chocoa Festival:
- Meeting chocolate experts and tasting the finest chocolates;
- Combining wine and food with chocolate in free tasting;
- The story about the sustainability of chocolate production;
- Live music in the afternoon and evening;
- Movies and documentaries about chocolate;
- Choco trends and developments.
Places to stay and hotel tips
City Hotel in Amsterdam is situated in the city centre, only half a kilometre from Central Station.
It features rooms with private bathrooms and TVs plus high speed wired internet.
The charm of staying at the City Hotel is the exterior since it’s an 18th-century building.
The Westcord Art Hotel is just a 15 minutes walk from the historical centre of Amsterdam.
Colourful, modern rooms make this a go-to locale when you’re in the city.
The hotel has a unique art collection by the famous Dutch painter Herman Brood.
Enjoy the atmosphere, which includes a terrace with a bar.
More things to do in Amsterdam
More from The Netherlands
2022 Festival Cancelled
Due to the Covid-19 situation, the 2022 -festival is cancelled.
Read more at their website for details.
More about Berlin Culture Festival
The Berlin Culture Festival and Carnival occur every year during the Pentecost weekend, and the main attraction is the big carnival parade on Sunday.
Lots of people are joining to watch the grand parade on Sunday. It goes on for more than four hours.
Over 900 artists maintain and participate in the four-day street festival.
It is a massive platform for most forms of cultural expression with both traditional and modern features.
The first culture carnival was on 16 May 1996 and has been celebrated each year during the Pentecost weekend, a great festival with colours, music and happy dancing people worldwide.
Over one million visitors come to the Berlin Culture Festival
The carnival is visited by over a million participants during the festival and parade.
Between 4000 – 5000 artists, both professionals and non-professionals, participate in the colourful rolling plateaus parade.
What’s nice about the Berlin culture festival is that it’s for all ages from different cultures and parts of society, and everyone seems to have they’re the best weekend ever during this great festival.
Accommodation during the festival
There are always large crowds in Berlin this weekend, so plan the trip well in advance.
The best location to stay during the Cultural Carnival is Kreuzberg, where the festival takes place.
You then basically walk or take the metro only a few stations to Hallesches Tor (Metro U6 and U1) or Mehringdamm (Metro U6 and U7).
The festival area is between those stations.
Crowne Plaza Berlin – Potsdamer Platz
A good hotel we’re staying at during the festival is Crowne Plaza Berlin – Potsdamer Platz, an excellent hotel just 700 meters from the venue.
Also walking distance to Potsdamer Platz (20 minutes). Additionally very close to S Metro station Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof.
More things to do in Berlin
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The town Orihuela, not to be confused with the beach resort of Orihuela Costa on the Mediterranean, is located 60 kilometres from Alicante.
Orihuela’s unique is the medieval town centre with a cathedral, palaces, churches and abbeys.
These marvellous and well-preserved buildings form a natural stage for one of the biggest festivals in town: the Medieval Market.
It’s a great medieval festival with hundreds of stalls spread out over three kilometres.
In February, the first weekend, Orihuela turns the clock back for hundreds of years and hosts a festival that brings back life as it was in the Middle Ages.
The market covers a large area beginning at the cathedral with countless stalls, selling food and drink, trinkets, artefacts, jewellery and clothes.
In between meander musicians, drummers and groups are parading in ever more fanciful outfits and entertaining visitors with their performances.
At midday, you find some shows outside the town hall.
Nobody needs to go hungry at this fair.
A popular attraction is suckling pigs roasting on a spit.
Vegetarians can indulge in helpings from roasted vegetables prepared with potato slices in huge, flat pans, similar to those used for making paella.
Stonemasons demonstrate their skills, bakers and pastry cooks, shoemakers and weavers.
You can buy bread with nuts and raisins, cakes and sweets, spices, cheeses and sausages, wine and olive oil.
You can still see the Arabic past in Spain.
Therefore you’ll also find a bazaar, complete with camels, and you may also see a belly dancer dancing down the street with her musicians.
Orihuela is 60 kilometres from Alicante and it can be a nice daytrip to Orihuela.
It’s about one hour to drive by car.
You can also travel by train and it takes a little over one hour from Alicante.
More things to do in Alicante
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Courchevel – Luxury in France
Enjoy Art Galleries – Fantastic Restaurants – Luxury Hotels – Great views and Skiing
Michelin-star restaurants and luxury 5-star hotels.
In addition, access to the world’s largest skiing area makes this the place to see and to be seen.
Enjoy the boutiques, après-ski, fine dining, spas and festivals Courchevel has to offer.
Michelin Star Restaurants
It’s unusual for a large city to have more than one or two Michelin star restaurants.
So when we think about the size of Courchevel, its seven Michelin star restaurants is outstanding.
You can find a real mix of cuisines across them all; Cuisine Moderne, French, Asian, and the Mediterranean.
So if you enjoy fine dining and the very best cuisine, this is the place to be.
Getting to the Resort
Courchevel Airport is mainly used by smaller planes and helicopters to bring the elite as close to the ski resort as possible.
Most skiers get to the resort via the closest major airport, which is Geneva, and transfer from there.
Two other options are Lyon and Grenoble.
Hotel La Sivoliere is just outside the town centre but set on gentle ski slopes.
This authentic mountain retreat has rooms that feel like alpine chalets with warm wood, fireplaces, and a cosy yet luxurious atmosphere.
Les Suites de la Potiniere is a place to be pampered – this one is also right in the heart of the town with a spa and wellness centre and indoor swimming pool.
More from France
When: 17 – 19 June 2022
Where: Lac de Montendre, France
Official website: freemusic-festival.com
Camping: The camping is free at Freemusic Festival
Freemusic is back in 2022
17 – 19 June 2022
ACID ARAB – ASHE 22 – BELARIA – DAMSO – FASME – FEU! CHATTERTON – GЯEG – GAZO – HILIGHT TRIBE – KENDAL – LA FÈVE – LUV RESVAL – M.I.A. – MARINA TRENCH – MÉZIGUE b2b MAD REY – PAUL KALKBRENNER – SALUT C’EST COOL – SHLØMO – SOPICO – SUZANE – TATYANA JANE – U.R.TRAX