From film festivals and car shows to centuries-old cultural events, here’s a snapshot of what’s on in September across Europe.
As we prepare to say goodbye to summer (‘what summer?’ I hear you cry!) and autumn fast approaches, there’s still plenty of events and offerings taking place across Europe, perfect for combining with a city break in one of the continent’s most appealing of destinations. Here’s just a little look at some of the activities planned for the month of September…
Venice – Regata Storica di Venezia – 6th September
The Regata Storica is the main event in the annual ‘Voga alla Veneta’ rowing calendar and traditionally takes place each year on the first Sunday in September. Dating back to the 13th century, this unique sport has been practised in the Venetian lagoon for centuries and today it is particularly well-known for the spectacular historical water pageant that precedes the race. Scores of typically 16th century-style boats called bissone with gondoliers in period costume carry the Doge, the Doge’s wife and all the highest ranking Venetian officials up the Grand Canal in a brightly-coloured parade.
Today there are four races divided in terms of age and type of craft. The best known and most exciting of these is the ‘Campioni su Gondolini’ race, where a series of small, sporting gondolas fly down the Grand Canal to the finishing line at the famous ‘machina’, the spectacular floating stage located in front of the Palazzo Ca’ Foscari.
Frankfurt – Frankfurt Motor Show – 17th – 27th September
Rotating biennially with the Paris Motor Show, the Frankfurt Motor Show ranks amongst the largest international motoring shows on the planet. Organised by the German Association of the Automotive Industry and now in its 66th edition, the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) is the keynote event for Germany’s mighty car manufacturing industry, with all the big name players involved, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen to name but a few.
Alongside the German heavyweights are some 1,000 different exhibitors from 40 different countries, each showcasing the latest trends and technological highlights from the automotive world.Held at the Messe exhibition centre in Frankfurt, the first two days are reserved for those in the motor industry, with press days taking place on the 15th and 16th of September.
Barcelona – Les Festes de la Mercè – 18th – 24th September
Dedicated to the city’s co-patron saint, the Virgin of Mercy, Les Festes de la Mercè is Barcelona’s main annual festival and a definite sight to catch if you are planning a city break in the Catalan capital. While feasting is kept for the last day, a public holiday, the festival kicks off several days before with a wide programme of celebratory events including parades of giants and mythical character, musical performances (of which traditional drumming is a particular highlight), sports events and fireworks.
A particular highlight of the festival is to watch the ‘castellers’, a competition taking place on the Plaça de Sant Jaume in which groups of (brave!) people in traditional costume form human towers, often as tall as eight levels high!
San Sebastián – International Film Festival – 18th – 26th September
One of the world’s most highly regarded film festivals and without question the most important of its kind in Spain, the 63rd edition of San Sebastián’s International Film Festival takes place towards the end of September, with a wide selection of films up for the coveted ‘Concha de Oro’ (Golden Shell) award. Dating back to 1953, this year’s line-up opens with Alejandro Amenábar’s Regression, and includes cinematic releases from across the globe, including UK contributions Sunset Song, London Road and High-Rise.
Munich – Oktoberfest – 19th September – 4th October
The king of beer festivals, Oktoberfest has a long and distinguished history, dating back as it does to 1810 when it started as a horse race, held as part of the wedding festivities of Bavarian King Ludwig I. Such was its popularity that it became an annual event, slowly shifting away from a one-day, horse-racing spectacular and evolving into the Oktoberfest so internationally renowned today, a two-week celebration of all things beer-related.
The beers served at Oktoberfest all comes from within the city limits and are generally a little stronger than your traditional Munich beers. There are 14 beer tents from which to choose, all offering something a little different to the next. Amongst the larger tents, Augustiner-Festhalle is considered to be the friendliest and most family-oriented, whilst Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke enjoys a reputation as a gourmet temple and meeting place of celebrity visitors. Officials estimate over seven million litres of beer are consumed during the festival. Prost!