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Festivals on the Atlantic Coast

Even if the Atlantic Coast can be brooding and tempestuous, the array of wildly fun festivals held in the countries along this seaboard are anything but; music, dancing, art and treasured foodstuffs keep spirits up and minds engaged with a world of creative expression.

Celebrations for patron saints and the Virgin Mary are the liveliest of Portugal’s festivals. You’ll find music, dancing, plenty of color and streets full of flowers. Annual religious festivals are an ideal way to discover the culture and traditions of the Minho, replete with processions, music, special costumes and re-enactments of important events. The Flower Festival held in Madeira after Easter is a riot of blooms, beginning with thousands of flower-bedecked children flock to take part in building a mural of flowers called the Wall of Hope. The next day, dozens of flower-laden floats leave ephemeral perfumes in the air, as do the floral carpets brightening up the streets.

Fiesta! Enumerating the festivals in Spain is not quite possible, there are so many in every region. Madrid hosts a huge International Dance Festival annually that attracts dance companies encompassing the full range of dance styles, from classical to avant-garde, including Spanish and flamenco dance. Fancy some time travel? Streets decked out like the Middle Ages, magnificent processions and exciting mock battles mark the 400-year old festival of Moors and Christians: days filled with magic, legend and spectacle. Come and enjoy this unique festival in which thousands of people take part year after year, all trying to outshine each other in splendour and brilliance. These are only two of so many enriching and wildly fun festivals in Spain; start making your list.

Effervescent Ireland hosts scads of festivals that keep the streets alive with special performances, food and fun. Electric Picnic is specifically designed to attract families with young children in droves to enjoy an eclectic range mainstream international stars playing next to niche acts. Galway goes from The Galway Arts Festival, Ireland’s largest and most prestigious arts festival, with hundreds of writers, artists, performers and musicians, to a four-day festival devoted to one of its most famous natural resources – the Galway Bay Oyster. Belfast’s Open House lets traditional Irish, Americana, Bluegrass and Alt country tunes fill the air. Festival of Fools involves 75 artists from all over, 130 wonderful performances and 100,000 belly laughs.

Dedicated to the theme of light and energy, the Winter Lights Festival really cheers everyone up after a long dark winter in Iceland. Beer Day was first celebrated on March 1st, 1989 when a 75-year long prohibition of beer was lifted. Highly festive celebrations are held at pubs, restaurants, and clubs all around the capital city. The Iceland Food & Fun Festival is a week of indulgence showcasing chefs, brew masters and Icelandic gourmet products. DesignMarch is a four-day design festival featuring an impressive program of events, lectures and exhibitions reflecting the diversity of Icelandic design and architecture. Events at the Icelandic Horse Festival range from breeding shows to saddle making at ranches and horse clubs.

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