Indoor, Outdoor & Kids' Trampolines

Rick Steves’ European Festivals


Hi. I’m Rick Steves,
and it’s party time in Europe. In the next hour, you’ll see
no museums and no art galleries, just Europeans
having lots of fun. Europe is expert at festivals, and we’re about to enjoy
my favorites. Thanks for joining us! ♪♪ ♪♪ Europe, with so much history,
art, and high culture, also knows how to celebrate. And with so many centuries
of practice, they do it with amazing gusto. If you know where to go
and when to go, you can enjoy
festival extravaganzas throughout the continent
and throughout the calendar. We’re dropping in
on what you could call the continent’s top 10 parties, each rich in tradition and
a celebration of local culture and all of them full of
opportunities to sing and dance, feast on traditional food,
and party like a local. We’ll join
wild and crazy crowds… don a mask for anonymity… toss a caber
with Scottish strongmen…. -[ Grunts ] -…join in festive feasts… and run for our lives. We’ll browse holiday markets… sled down Alps by torchlight… dance with Spaniards… drink lots of beer… and light up the sky. With the entire continent
as our playground, fun is our mission. We’ll careen all over Europe — the Palio in Siena, highland games in Scotland, carnival in Venice,
Slovenia, and Luzern, Holy Week in Andalucía, and Easter in Greece, April Fair in Sevilla, Bastille Day in Paris, the Running of the Bulls
in Pamplona, Oktoberfest in Munich, and Christmas in Nuernberg,
Norway, and Switzerland. Across Europe, festival
traditions go back centuries and are filled with time-honored
pageantry and ritual. Entire communities
hurl themselves with abandon into the craziness. There’s no better example
than here in Italy — Siena’s Palio. In this gorgeously preserved
Tuscan hill-town, the Middle Ages seem to survive
in the architecture. Its towering City Hall tower fronts an elegant shell-shaped
main square, il Campo. While its streets are peaceful, they contain a lively legacy
of civic pride and independence. And twice a year,
that spirit shows itself in a crazy horse race, as it has for five centuries. The city is divided
into 17 neighborhoods, or “contrade.” These are autonomous,
competitive, and filled with rivalries. In this densely populated city, most of the year, the contrade
are almost indistinguishable. One small piazza or street
looks much like the next. But as the Palio approaches,
the battle lines are drawn. The distinctive flags and colors
of each contrada line the neighborhood, showing their namesake mascot, like turtle… eagle… dragon… and a fierce-looking dolphin. All year long, citizens prepare. Women lovingly stitch
vests and banners. Neighborhood fathers coach kids
in drumming and flag throwing. Any time of year,
if you hear drumming, check it out for a taste
of the Palio to come. And twice a year,
each July and August, the entire city readies itself as 10 of the 17 neighborhoods —
chosen by lottery — prepare for the big race. Its central square, il Campo, is transformed
into a medieval racetrack. Tons of clay are packed
atop the cobbles. Padding is added
to the treacherous corners. And bleachers and railings
are set up in anticipation of the big day. While the horse race lasts
only a couple of minutes, for the Sienese,
the Palio is a way of life. For many, it’s a philosophy. Locals joke that,
“In Siena, you’re born, there’s the Palio,
and then you die.” [ All singing in Italian ] While the jockeys —
usually from out of town — are hired hands, the horses are the stars. Each neighborhood gets its horse
through a lottery. They’re then adopted
and showered with love, respected as if special
neighborhood citizens. They’re groomed and washed and housed in stables
right in the city center. In the days leading up
to the race, they’re frequently paraded
through the streets for their admiring fans. As race day approaches, processions break out
across the city. Locals belt out
passionate good-luck choruses. [ All singing in Italian ] With the waving flags
and pounding drums, it all hearkens back
to the Middle Ages when rituals like these
boosted morale before battle. Each contrada marches
into Siena’s ornate cathedral. [ Drums playing ] The centerpiece of the parade
is the actual Palio. That’s the famed
and treasured banner, lovingly painted
and featuring the Virgin Mary, to whom the race is dedicated. The church is thronged as all the neighborhoods wave
their stirring flags in unison to honor the Palio’s
procession to the altar. Here, it’s blessed as the crowd
looks upon it reverently. Soon, it’ll be awarded
to the victorious contrada. With the horses
and jockeys chosen and the Palio blessed
and waiting for the winner, competing neighborhoods
gather for big community dinners that last well into the night. Each banquet
is beautifully situated in the heart of the district. It’s a multigenerational affair with old timers, the young,
and the very young. There are rousing choruses,
all cheering their contrade… [ All singing in Italian ] [ All chanting in Italian ] …and little ones soaking up
the centuries-old traditions. Even if I don’t fully understand
what’s happening, the excitement is contagious,
and the wine is delightful. I feel privileged to participate in a scene that’s changed little
over the centuries. [ Indistinct conversations ] On the day of the race, those honored to represent
their contrada put on elaborate
medieval costumes and armor. This requires many assistants who not only
help fit the clothing but make sure it looks
just as it did centuries ago. In full regalia, the contrade then process
to the neighborhood church, where there’s a colorful
flag ceremony… [ Drums playing ] [ Applause ] …followed
by a full-throated singing of the contrada’s hymn… [ All singing heartily
in Italian ] …and, finally, the traditional blessing of the horse
by the priest. -[ Speaking Italian ] -“Go, and return victorious,”
says the priest. Then — you guessed it —
there’s another procession with more drums and flags as each contrada marches
through Siena, eventually flowing together
at the cathedral, where, before the bishop, they showcase
their passion and talents. [ Drums playing ] [ Applause ] After all have gathered
at the cathedral, there’s one last grand parade
through the canyon-like streets. With drums thundering, the people crush
to join the scene. The town converges
on its main square. And then, with what seems like all of Siena
packed into the Campo, it’s time for the race. Bleacher and balcony seats
are expensive, but standing room with the
masses in the square is free. A cart pulled by oxen carrying
the coveted Palio banner enters. This only increases
the crowd’s anticipation. Then, 10 snorting horses
and their nervous riders line up to await the start. The jockeying includes a little
last-minute negotiating. It’s complicated. Then, silence takes over. Once the rope drops, there’s one basic rule —
there are no rules. [ Crowd cheering ] They race bareback like crazy
while spectators go wild. With nonstop spills and thrills, life in Siena stops for these
frantic three laps — just about 90 seconds. [ Suspenseful music plays ] [ Crowd cheering ] And Lupa,
the she-wolf district, wins. When the winner crosses
the line, 1/17th of Siena, the prevailing she-wolf
neighborhood, goes berserk. Tears of joy flow. People embrace. The jubilation is over the top
for both the winners and for the many neighborhoods joyously celebrating their
rival contrada’s defeat. The happy horde thunders
through the streets and up to the cathedral. Once there,
they pack the church, and the winning contrada
receives the coveted Palio — champions until the next race. Along with ritual and pageantry, some festivals originated with
a more practical purpose — to train their men
to be fit for battle. Warriors, whether in ancient Greece
competing in the Olympics, or clansmen gathering
here in Scotland, would go at it on the field. And today,
communities throughout Scotland still host a highland games, where kilted athletes from
the surrounding countryside gather to show off their speed,
strength, and grace. A highland games
is an all-day celebration of local sport and culture, like a track meet and
a county fair rolled into one. It’s a fine day out
for the family with a soundtrack
of traditional Scottish music and clan pride showing itself
in the tartan patterns. The community cheers on
the athletes and dancers. [ Lively bagpipe music plays ] The day’s events
typically kick off with the arrival
of a parading pipe band led by the local clan chieftain. After a lap around the field,
the competition begins. In the heavy events, billed as feats
of highland strength, brawny, kilted athletes
push their limits. -[ Grunts ] -In the weight throw, competitors spin
like bulky ballerinas before releasing
a heavy ball on a chain. The hammer throw involves
a similar technique with an iron ball
on a long stick. And the stone put has been adopted
in international sports as the shot put. In this event, highlanders
swing a 56-pound weight over a horizontal bar that keeps getting
higher and higher. -[ Grunts ] -And, of course,
there’s the caber toss. Pick up a giant log,
called a caber, get a running start, and release it end over end
with enough force to make the caber flip
all the way over and land at the 12:00 position. Or not. Meanwhile, the track events run circles
around all that muscle. The races offer fun
for all those attending, including events for the kids. -Ready!
[ Gunshot ] And visitors from far-away lands
are welcome to join in, as well. ♪♪ Okay.
I think I found my sport. Lifting what’s called
a “manhood stone” is a standard part
of these games. -Oho! -Brawny lads impress their girls
with a show of strength. Why not?
That’s good. Thank you. With a wee glass of courage, competitors lift and carry
the 250-pound stone — or at least give it a good try. [ Laughter ] I taught this guy
everything he knows. [ Crowd cheering ] ♪♪ There’s always a showoff. And it’s not all brute strength. Highland dancing shows off
both athleticism and grace. With years of practice,
young girls dance with an impressive confidence
and fluidity. A lone piper accompanies
serious wee dancers who toe their routines
with intense concentration. Within a few years,
they’ll likely be dancing with the same mastery
as the older girls. These highland games, like most European festivals,
go way back. And the time of year that
they happen is no accident. It’s often tied
to the struggles of the season. In fact,
some of Europe’s major festivals are scheduled
in the dead of winter. Many modern celebrations
are rooted deep in Europe’s Dark Age past. In a time filled
with superstition and mystery, when winters were bleak
and hungry, people craved
an off-season pick-me-up. Throughout the Catholic world, carnival was the ultimate
midwinter festival. A memorable way to experience
carnival traditions is in the countryside
of Slovenia. Whether it’s in the mountains
or the valleys, a common theme
is a visitation of masked, hairy creatures. Some are called Kurents, and others are called
simply “the ugly ones.” These wooly monsters parade
through villages making a racket, rattling and clanging
their bells from door to door, chasing away evil spirits and trying
to frighten off winter. Homeowners eventually
come to the door and, to quell the clamoring mob, they give the leader
a sausage… and a few cups of wine
for the gang. The ugly ones swing their hips
wildly with satisfaction. This ritual is a remnant
from the distant past when families were persuaded
to share food during hard times. Another band of characters
also roves from house to house. A group of plowmen pull a colorful wagon decked out
in ribbons and flowers, representing fertility
and the coming of spring. The homeowner is asked
for permission to “plow for the big turnip.” The plowmen then drag
the fanciful plow behind men dressed as horses. This wakes up the soil
in preparation for a season of bountiful crops. Cracking whips announce
the procession. After the symbolic plowing
and sowing, the homeowner offers
the merry band eggs and sausage and wishes them good health
and a good harvest. [ All chanting
in foreign language ] The best-known
carnival celebration in Europe is in Venice. Each winter,
carnival casts a spell on Venetians and visitors alike. Following a tradition that
originated in the 13th century, the city slips behind a mask
of anonymity as Venetians promenade… pose… and pretend
to be someone they’re not. Authority is challenged.
Rules are broken. The goal? To indulge in all the pleasures
that will be forbidden in Lent. An elegant disguise is both
transformative and liberating, but it’s the mask, so symbolic
of this enigmatic city, that functions
as a cloak of invisibility. The pleasurable appeal
of anonymity is as powerful today
as it was in the Middle Ages. As dusk falls, the back streets come alive
with strangers. Now, as then, in Venice,
decadence rules the night. In palazzos off the Grand Canal,
elaborately staged parties take the aura of mystery
a step further. Behind their masks, all people, from bankers
to bakers, are equal. Tonight, no one knows who’s who, and reality seems
a distant dream. And as it was centuries ago, what happens in Venice
stays in Venice. Carnival is celebrated in a much less elegant fashion
in Switzerland where the locals,
often considered the most button-down people
in Europe, really let loose. And an epicenter of this
midwinter craziness before Lent are the celebrations
in the city of Luzern. [ Up-tempo march plays ] Before sunrise, the driving beat
of multiple parading bands wakes the city up
like a mobile alarm clock. Musicians, wearing weird masks
and playing loudly — often out of tune —
march through the waking town. [ Dissonant march plays ] Today is Mardi Gras,
French for “Fat Tuesday” — the same Mardi Gras celebrated
in New Orleans. After six days
of carnival celebration, this is the climax. Lent and fasting start tomorrow, but today is all about bringing
on what’s fun and tasty — music of all kinds,
costumes of all kinds, and food of all kinds. What better time
for a little cheese fondue? After sunrise, the bands forget typical Swiss discipline
and order and break up, wandering randomly
throughout the town. [ Up-tempo music plays ] The bands play on. The streets are filled with
the vibe of relaxed goodwill. Restaurants are packed. Bands spontaneously
take the stage and play enthusiastically. A children’s parade
is a sweet way to train kids to carry on
this tradition. Even five-star hotels
open their doors and let the partying public
celebrate inside. [ Up-tempo march plays ] Somehow, late in the afternoon, the groups reorganize
for a long parade. Band members,
with famous Swiss stamina, keep playing. Themes vary
from ancient pagan… to political satire… to every creative scene
in between. With the end
of Fat Tuesday parties, carnival celebrations in Luzern
and across Europe are finished. Festival-filled valleys
and towns are now quiet as after Fat Tuesday
comes Ash Wednesday, and the party
is officially over. The end of carnival coincided
with the leanest days of winter. Imagine 4,000 years ago when these stones
marked the seasons. Imagine in ancient times
the despair of winter. “Where did the sun go? Nothing’s growing. Will we all starve?” But, gradually, every year, flowers bloomed,
crops grew again, and the green promise of spring
returned. Back in pagan times, communities built stone circles, which experts believe functioned
as celestial calendars to track the sun
and mark the seasons. With spring equinox,
Druids would gather to celebrate the end of winter
and the arrival of spring, a time of renewal, birth,
and fertility. Over the centuries, the church embraced the same
springtime theme of new life, and that’s Easter. Easter is preceded by a week
filled with holy activities when Christians remember
Jesus Christ’s final week, progressing from suffering… to death… to resurrection. [ Dramatic music plays ] In Spain, Holy Week
is called Semana Santa. It’s celebrated with unrivaled
pageantry and emotion, most famously in Seville,
or Sevilla. Here, Semana Santa
is an epic event that stirs the soul and captivates
all who participate. On Palm Sunday,
the first day of Holy Week, families dressed up
for this important day head into their parish church
for Mass. Then, promenading with palm
and olive branches, they make a loop
through the neighborhood, eventually returning
to their home church. [ Solemn piano music plays ] Afterwards, they visit other
churches throughout the city, each displaying
elaborate floats. Sevilla has many
religious brotherhoods, or fraternities, that are entrusted with the care
of venerable floats that carry statues
of Christ and the Virgin Mary through the streets
during Semana Santa. Sevillanos hold a special place
in their hearts for Mary. Floats with Mary evoke
great emotions and remind them
of the grieving mother who has lost her only son. Every neighborhood church
has its own unique Mary. All are the grieving mothers
of the crucified Christ, but each one represents a different aspect
of her sorrow. And there are other floats. This one, nicknamed
“La Borriquita,” or “The Little Donkey,” depicts Jesus’ grand entrance
into Jerusalem. [ Fanfare plays ] La Borriquita leaves its church and begins its procession
through the narrow streets. This marks the official start
of Holy Week. From now on, every day
until Easter Sunday, the city is enlivened
with dozens of such processions. These ritual parades first filled the streets
of Sevilla 400 years ago. They’re designed to present
the story of the Passion, the death
and Resurrection of Jesus, in a way the average person
could understand. Today, some 60 fraternities
each make the journey on foot, carrying floats
in processions like these from their parishes to the city’s cathedral
and back. The journey, through miles
of passionate crowds, can take up to 14 hours. Strongmen called “costaleros”
work in shifts. As a team, they bear two tons
of weight on their shoulders, an experience they consider
a great honor despite and indeed because
of the great pain involved. As the floats slowly make
their way to the cathedral, moments of great passion occasionally bring everything
to a standstill. -[ Singing in Spanish ] -Centuries of flamenco singers have serenaded Mary and Jesus
with love songs as they process
through the city. -[ Continues singing
in Spanish ] -Traditionally spontaneous, these passionate songs occur when a singer is so overcome
with emotion, he must break into song. -[ Singing emphatically
in Spanish ] [ Cheers and applause ] As dusk settles on Sevilla, a long line of silent,
black-clad penitents escort one of the city’s
most moving floats toward the cathedral. The float portrays the dead Jesus
taken down from the cross and mourned by the people
who loved him most. Among the most dramatic
of the week’s processions, the float is decorated simply with purple iris
and a single red rose, symbolizing
the blood Jesus shed. ♪♪ As night closes in,
penitents’ candles sway like fireflies
dancing in the dark. The entire Holy Week in Spain
is a glorious spectacle. After a full day,
it’s hard to imagine more. And then the Mary
known as “Estrella” appears, ethereal and radiant. A shower of petals
rains down upon her as if heaven itself
is thanking her for her immense
and loving sacrifice. ♪♪ In Greece,
we’re in the city of Nafplio. Easter is celebrated as both
the welcoming of spring and as
a deeply religious festival with a distinctly
Orthodox Christian flavor. By late Saturday night
on the eve before Easter, the people spill
from their churches and fill the main square with
a palpable sense of expectation. When midnight strikes,
fireworks light up the sky, and, finally,
Easter Sunday is here. [ Fireworks screeching,
exploding ] The holy flame, which literally travels
from Jerusalem to Athens and then to towns
throughout Greece, is shared along with the ritual
Easter “kiss of love.” And it’s not over yet. Everyone then heads home for the biggest party
of the season. People carry
the Easter flame home as a burning candle. Raising it above their heads, they make a cross
above the doorway, symbolizing that the light
of the Resurrection has blessed their home
for another year. A long table awaits
as the extended family gathers. They have a competition
to find out whose Easter egg
will be the strongest. -[ Chuckles ] -Sighs of disappointment
from losers are mixed
with the laughter of winners until the proud victor, who’ll enjoy a particularly
blessed upcoming year, is declared. It’s a joyous family gathering. The feast continues into
the wee hours of Easter Sunday with lots of meat and eggs
and no shortage of Easter bread. And the feasting continues
after a little sleep. By the afternoon,
in villages all across Greece, families are grilling lamb,
eating, singing… -[ Singing in Greek ] -…and dancing. [ Upbeat music plays,
woman singing in Greek ] It seems there’s a spring lamb
on a spit in every backyard. The roast takes hours,
but no one’s in a hurry. It’s an all-day affair. People move between households, checking on each other’s lambs
and socializing. When the spit stops,
the feast begins — lamb off the bone,
lamb off the fingers, beer, wine, music… more food, more family fun,
more lamb. People party all day long. Eventually, the village
ends up back at the church, dancing and singing. Together, they celebrate as they have every year
for all their lives, celebrating the hope of renewal at yet another
joyous Easter Sunday. ♪♪ As if to continue this celebration
of the return of spring, some places let loose in
vibrant, secular festivals. One of the most exuberant
and colorful is in Spain — Sevilla’s gigantic Spring Fair. Throughout Southern Spain, a region so expert
at fiestas and romance, cities like Sevilla
greet each spring with a festival for all ages, a festival where the horses are nearly as dressed up
as the people. A springtime flirtatiousness
fills the air, and travelers are more than
welcome to join in the fun. For seven days each April,
it seems much of Sevilla is packed
into its vast fairgrounds. The fair feels friendly,
spontaneous, very real. The Andalucían passion
for horses, flamenco… [ Women singing in Spanish ] …and sherry is clear. Riders are ramrod straight. Colorfully-clad señoritas
ride side-saddle, and everyone’s drinking
sherry spritzers. Woman sport outlandish dresses that would look clownish
all alone but somehow brilliant
here en masse. Hundreds of private party tents,
or casetas, line the lanes. Each striped tent
is the party zone of a particular family, club,
or association. To get in, you need to know
someone in the group or make friends quickly. My local friend, Concepción,
is well-connected. -My caseta. Okay. -And as a friend of a friend,
we’re in. This is your caseta?
-Esta la caseta. -Because of the exclusivity, it has a real
family-affair feeling. Throughout Andalucía,
at spring fairs like Sevilla’s, it seems everyone knows everyone in what seems like
a thousand wedding parties being celebrated
all at the same time. Festivals help maintain
a culture’s identity. Pageantry stokes local,
regional, or national pride. And while annual festivals
are the big events, this celebration of culture can be just as rich
on a smaller scale. Traveling through Europe,
any day of the year, you can experience a festive
spirit powered by music that simply makes daily life
more celebratory. Beloved musical traditions have long helped
embattled cultures to assert their identity, to sing and dance their way
through centuries of challenges, like the Roma people
here in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe. People everywhere grab
their folk instruments, pull on their national costumes, and gather together
to celebrate their culture. Here in Bulgaria, dance troupes
in colorful dress whoop it up Slavic style. -[ High-pitched chanting ] [ Up-tempo folk music plays ] -[ Shouts ] -And people celebrate what
makes them unique as a nation. In this small Bulgarian town, in a land that uses a different
alphabet than most of Europe, the entire population is out
on the street for the annual celebration
of their Cyrillic script. [ All chanting
in foreign language ] Patriotic hearts beat stronger with the sounds of each nation’s
unique music, such as klapa music
in Croatia… [ Men singing wistfully
in foreign language ] -[ Singing in foreign language ] -…or rousing folk songs
in Romania. [ Singing continues ] -[ Shouts ] -In Austria, cradle of so much
classical music, waltzing is the national dance, and hearts beat in 3/4 time. [ Up-tempo waltz plays ] [ Flourish, song ends ] [ Applause ] [ Up-tempo folk music plays ] In the Czech Republic,
what could be more festive than listening
to lively folk music while enjoying some of
the best beer in the world with local friends? It’s a great way to celebrate a good day of travel
wherever you are. [ Men singing in Spanish ] In university towns
throughout Spain, roving bands of musicians,
like medieval troubadours, are a festival
just waiting to happen. These bands are generally
students available for hire. Here in Salamanca,
a folk group serenades a woman preparing
for her wedding. [ Men singing in Spanish ] Colorful traditions
are often rooted in a desire to stoke patriotism. Many European countries,
like Norway, are democracies, but still have
constitutional monarchs. And they celebrate
their royal heritage with a stirring
Changing of the Guard ceremony like this one
at London’s Buckingham Palace. These martial spectacles,
like here in Sweden, are holdovers from a time when
this coordinated show of force helped dispel
any thoughts of attack or revolution against the crown. And you’ll see cute,
little ceremonies by cute, little countries,
like here in Monaco. In Greece, fierce,
if gayly clad, soldiers remind their citizens of their
hard-fought independence with rituals
at the national capital. [ Fireworks whistling,
exploding ] Even though Europe
may be unified as one, each country
has its own national pride and national holiday. The most famous of these celebrates the violent end
of a monarchy and the advent
of modern democracy in France. France’s national holiday
is July 14th, Bastille Day, and that means a big party as all of France indulges
in a patriotic bash. In Paris,
that means lots of flags… and lots of parties. [ Woman singing in French ] Everyone’s welcome to join in. ♪♪ Like towns and villages
all over the country, each neighborhood here hosts parties
until late into the night. -The local fire department’s
putting on this party, so I guess it doesn’t matter
if the fire marshal drops by. -♪ I got a feelin’ ♪ -♪ Tonight’s the night ♪ ♪ Let’s live it up ♪ ♪ I got my money ♪ ♪ Let’s spend it up ♪ ♪ Go out and smash it ♪ ♪ Like, “Oh, my God” ♪ ♪ Jump off that sofa ♪ ♪ Let’s kick it up ♪ -Each year, crowds pack
the bridges and line the river as a grand fireworks display shares the sky
with the Eiffel Tower. ♪♪ [ Crowd cheering ] [ Cheers and applause ] Each country
has its iconic celebration. In France, it’s fireworks
over the Eiffel Tower. In Italy,
it’s a crazy horse race, and, in Spain,
it’s bullfighting. Next on our party tour, the biggest bull festival
of all — Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. [ Flamenco music plays ] Officially known as
the Festival of San Fermín, the Running of the Bulls is perhaps Europe’s greatest
adrenaline festival. For nine days each July,
throngs of visitors, most dressed
in the traditional white with red sashes and kerchiefs, come to run with the bulls
and a whole lot more. The festival, which packs
this city, has deep roots. For centuries,
the people of this region have honored Saint Fermín,
their patron saint, with processions and parties. He was decapitated in the second
century for his faith, and the red bandanas
you see everywhere are a distant reminder
of his martyrdom. And, you know, I don’t think
anybody on this square knows or even cares. But at the Church of San Fermín,
it’s a capacity crowd, and there’s no question
what to wear for this Mass. To this day, locals look to Fermín,
their hometown saint, for protection. Back out on the streets,
it’s a party for young and old. There’s plenty of fun for kids,
and towering giants add a playful mystique
to the festivities. [ Applause ] The literary giant
Ernest Hemingway is celebrated by Pamplona
as if he were a native son. Hemingway first came here for
the 1923 Running of the Bulls. Inspired by the spectacle, he later wrote
his bullfighting classic, “The Sun Also Rises.” He said he enjoyed seeing two
wild animals running together, one on two legs
and the other on four. Hemingway put Pamplona
on the world map. When he first visited,
it was a dusty town of 30,000 with an obscure
bullfighting festival. Now, a million people a year
come here for one of the world’s
great parties. After dark, the town erupts
into a rollicking party scene. ♪♪ While the craziness rages
day and night, the city’s well-organized, and, even with all the alcohol, it feels in control,
and things go smoothly. Amazingly, in just a few hours, this same street will host
a very different spectacle. ♪♪ The Running of the Bulls
takes place early each morning. Spectators claim a vantage point
at the crack of dawn. Early in the morning?
Nope. For many of these revelers,
it’s the end of a long night. The anticipation itself
is thrilling. Security crews sweep those
not running out of the way. Shop windows and doors
are boarded up. Fencing is set up to keep
the bulls on course and protect the crowd. The runners are called mozos. While many are just finishing up
a night of drinking, others train for the event. They take the ritual seriously
and run every year. [ Rocket fires ] At 8:00, a rocket is fired,
and the mozos take off. Moments later,
a second rocket means the bulls have been released. They stampede
half a mile through the town from their pens
to the bullfighting arena. At full gallop, it goes by fast. [ Crowd shouting ] Bulls thunder through
the entire route in just two and a half minutes. The mozos try to run
in front of the bulls for as long as possible,
usually just a few seconds, before diving out of the way. They say, on a good run,
you feel the breath of the bull on the back of your legs. [ Crowd screaming, shouting ] Cruel as this all seems
for the bulls, who scramble for footing
on the cobblestones as they rush toward their doom
in the bullring, the human participants
don’t come out unscathed. Each year, dozens of people
are gored or trampled. Over the last century, 15 mozos have been killed
at the event. ♪♪ After it’s done,
people gather for breakfast and review the highlights on TV. All day long, local channels
replay that morning’s spectacle. [ People shouting in Spanish ] -Ohh!
-Ohh! -The festival’s energy
courses through the city. Overlooking the main square, the venerable Café Iruña
pulses with music and dance. [ Upbeat music plays,
people singing in Spanish ] While the masses
fill the streets, VIPs fill the city’s ballrooms. It seems everyone is caught up
in this festival of San Fermín. Of Europe’s
many great festivals, one of the wildest
is Oktoberfest here in Munich. Germany’s favorite
annual beer bash originated about 200 years ago with the wedding reception
of King Ludwig I. Ludwig’s party was such a hit, they’ve been celebrating
every year since. Oktoberfest lasts for two weeks from late September
into October. Filling a huge fairground under a dramatic statue
representing Bavaria, locals set up
about 16 huge tents that can each seat
several thousand beer drinkers. The festivities kick off with
grand parades through Munich heading toward the fairgrounds. The queen of the parade
is the Muenchener Kindl, a young woman
wearing a monk’s robe, riding the lead horse
with her beer stein raised. With thousands of participants,
the parade seems endless. You’ll see traditional costumes from every corner
of Bavarian society. Elaborately decorated
horses and wagons along with keg-filled floats from each of the city’s
main breweries entertain the crowds while making their way
to the festival grounds. Revelers fill massive tents,
awaiting the grand opening. After trotting through
much of Munich, the parade finally enters
the fairgrounds. Dignitaries
are formally greeted, and another Oktoberfest begins. [ Upbeat German folk music
plays ] From now on,
for the next two weeks, it’s a beer-fueled frenzy
of dancing… music… food… and amusements. There is no better place
to see Germans at play. The tents are surrounded
by a fun forest of amusements. There’s a huge Ferris wheel. The five-loops roller coaster
must be the wildest around. For locals and tourists alike,
the rides are unforgettable — and probably best done before
you start drinking your beer. Inside the tent,
the party rages day and night. Bavarian culture is strong here. Each of the tents
has a personality. Some are youthful. Some are more traditional. It’s a festival
of German culture. While there are plenty
of tourists, it’s really dominated by locals who look forward
to this annual chance to celebrate Bavaria
and its beer. [ Whistle blowing ]
-[ Shouts in German ] -Fast-moving waitresses hoist
armloads of massive glasses. The beers are served
in cherished glass mugs, each holding a liter
of their favorite local brew. The people-watching,
Germans letting their hair down, is itself entertaining. It’s a slap-happy world
of lederhosen… dirndls… fancy hats… and maidens
with flowers in their hair. It’s a multigenerational blowout complete with schmaltzy music
and lots of new friendships. Rivers of beer are drunk
and tons of food are eaten — radishes… pretzels.. lots of sausage… all served by saucy maids. While I was too tipsy to count, locals claim there are
6 million visitors, 7 million liters of beer drunk, half a million chicken cooked, and 100 oxen eaten. That’s one
truly memorable festival. Just a few weeks after Munich
folds up its Oktoberfest tents, Germany celebrates
in a different way by rolling out
its Christmas markets. Perhaps the most beloved
Christmas market is about a hundred miles away,
in Nuernberg. [ “O Tannenbaum” plays ] Each Christmas, Nuernberg’s main square
becomes a festive swirl of the heartwarming sights,
sounds, and smells
of the holiday season. Long a center of toy making
in Germany, a woody and traditional spirit that celebrates local artisans
prevails. Nutcrackers are characters
of authority — uniformed, strong-jawed, and able to crack
the tough nuts. Smokers, with their
fragrant incense wafting, feature common folk
like this village toy maker. Prune people with their fig body,
walnut head, and prune limbs are dolled up
in Bavarian folk costumes. Bakeries crank out
the old-fashioned gingerbread, the lebkuchen Nuernberg, still using the original
17th-century recipe. Back then, Nuernberg was the gingerbread
capital of the world, and its love affair
with gingerbread lives on. Shoppers can also munch
the famous Nuernberg bratwurst, skinny as your little finger, and sip hot spiced wine. Like Easter, Christmas is built upon a pagan
pre-Christian festival, and we celebrate it today with
plenty of pre-Christian rituals, often without even knowing it. -Ooh. -Oh. That’s a —
-[ Laughs ] -In Salzburg,
they shoot big guns to scare away evil spirits. In the Tyrol,
fathers bless their house as their ancestors did. Families, friends, and food
are integral to the French Noel. [ Sleigh bells ringing ] Winter brings
a sense of magical wonder to Germany and Austria. Italy reveals
the sacred nature of the season from its countryside
to its grandest church. Nature, in all its wintry glory, seems to shout out the joy
of the season in Switzerland. And everywhere, Christmas
is celebrated with family as, together,
Europe remembers the quiet night that that holiest family
came to be. The European Christmas season
is long and festive. Rather than counting down
the shopping days left, it’s all about traditions
and saints’ days. For example,
December 13 is big in Norway. It’s Santa Lucia Day, one of the darkest days
of winter, and an important part of the Scandinavian
Christmas season. All over Nordic Europe, little candle-bearing
Santa Lucias are bringing light
to the middle of winter and the promise
of the return of summer. These processions are led
by a young Lucia wearing a crown of lights. [ Children singing
in Norwegian ] -♪ Santa Lucia ♪ ♪ Santa Lucia ♪ -This home has housed widows
and seniors for over 200 years, and today, the kindergartners
are bringing on the light in more ways than one. The children have baked
the traditional Santa Lucia saffron buns, the same ones
these seniors baked when they were kindergartners. Taking their cue
from Santa Lucia, Norwegians, cozy in their homes, brighten their long,
dark winters with lots of candles,
white lights — you’ll never see
a colored one — and lots of greenery. And high in Switzerland
where the churches are small and the villages huddle
below towering peaks, the mighty Alps seem
to shout the glory of God. Up here, Christmas fills
a wintry wonderland with good cheer. [ Bells jingling ] In these villages,
traditions are strong. And warmth is a priority. Stoves are small,
so firewood is, too. ♪♪ My family has arrived
for a Swiss Alps Christmas. They’ve joined me here in
the tiny village of Gimmelwald. Our friends Ollie and Maria
and their kids are giving my kids,
Andy and Jackie, a good lesson
in high-altitude Christmas fun. ♪♪ Ollie’s taking us
high above his village on a quest to find and cut
the perfect Christmas tree. ♪♪ -What do you think? -I like it a lot, Ollie. -Yeah, this is a good tree.
I think we should cut it. [ Indistinct conversations ] -All right!
-Wonderful! [ Indistinct conversations ] -Yeah.
-Ooh! -Still high above Gimmelwald, we’re stopping in a hut
for a little fondue. [ Laughter ] -It goes too far. -Fondue seems perfect in winter if you’ve come in from the cold. For them, it sets the tone
for a warm and convivial time. Combined with good friends
and family during the Christmas season, we have all the ingredients for a delightful,
little Alpine festival. Ooh, wow. Before we know it, the light outside
begins to fade. Here’s to a happy Christmas. Whoo! -Cheers! [ Laughs ] ♪♪ -As the sun sets,
we’ve got our tree and enjoy a fairy-tale ride home
to Gimmelwald. -Yoo-hoo! [ Laughter, shouting ] ♪♪ [ Laughter and whooping ] -In every part of Europe
and in every season, in big cities
and in remote farmsteads, from timeless traditions… to modern celebrations… people embrace life
through festivals. They celebrate
what the season brings with great parties. They bargain with God and show their faith
with festival rituals. They remember
the accomplishments and lives of their forebearers. They enjoy
fun-loving opportunities to dress in traditional costumes
and wave their national flags, all the while gorging themselves
with great feasts and lubricating themselves
with the local drink. And all of it may be
just an excuse for the very human need
to celebrate family, friends, and culture year after year. [ Indistinct conversations ] Festivals help keep
Europe’s rich heritage alive. As we’ve seen, they bring families
and communities together, and everybody’s welcome. They create lifelong memories,
and are flat-out lots of fun. Thanks for joining us. I’m Rick Steves, encouraging you
to enjoy festive journeys. Keep on travelin’.

Reader Comments

  1. Excellent, Steve. Thank you. Only an hour long, this is better education about European culture than what is taught throughout grade school.

  2. It's always enlightening and entertaining to watch and learn about Europe and beyond from Rick Steves. This compilation from Rick's European videos is a great idea. Festivals abound on the continent, so putting them together like this is a wonderful idea. Thank you.

  3. Nice video, really great content, Rick is a great teacher. Some of this footage is recycled from the last two specials though.

  4. Espectacular espisode! I hope to be able to participate in all these festivals especially the ones in Spain, my favorite European country

  5. I’m glad some of the bull runners are killed.
    They deserve it.
    After all the bulls are running towards an arena where they’ll be poked and prodded and brutally attacked.
    F the people

  6. So other than the bulls, this compilation is so cheerful and if you can’t smile or laugh at least once, then you mustn’t have a soul.

  7. Rick's travel videos are done with such care and passion – they always bring a tear to my eye, seeing all the good in people across the globe. THANK YOU RICK !!

  8. I like your episodes but unfortunately this is one of your worst episodes. Not only did you miss out on the most unique and better festivals of Europe, but you also promoted abuse. Both Sienna and Pamplona are two festivals which we Europeans are ashamed of. They are backward barbaric festivals which promote the abuse of animals. These festivals are in need of extinction, not promotion. And it is thanks to people like you, who keep promoting these sick events, that the abuse of animals will continue for years. As for the Highland Games, I would not even put that in the top 100. I travel the world a lot, particularly Europe, and you unfortunately missed a big opportunity to celebrate the most unique European cultures and festivals. I could go on for ages about the festivals in Europe. My own country has many festivals which are better but just a small example, are from my favourite country, Ireland, which despite being one of the most modern countries in Europe, is loaded with festivals which promote culture. In Ireland, alone, you have the Fleadh Cheoil (a magnificent music festival aimed at promoting the very rich culture of Ireland, and Europe, and is for all age groups), the Wexford Opera Festival (named 'the best little festival in the world'…..and for a very good reason), St. Patrick's Day (for obvious reasons), Lisdoonvarna Match-making festival (…..with evena special gay one), ……and of course, the many music festivals which Ireland is very famous for.

  9. I caught the last bit of this. The scene at 51 mins and about 45 seconds is beyond amazing. Sledding through the snow with the fires going, carrying the Christmas tree. Just looks so beautiful.

  10. The Christmas one…Gave me chills and brought a tear..such beautiful scenes and music. Memories came flooding back, and hope for the future.

  11. I have learn a lot of about Europe's natural beauty, music, art, food, history etc through your videos. It's like masical feel. You are American, so I believe that infuture the friendship between "EUROPE & USA" will be more united & deep. By history, culture, migration you are so close among each other. You are like brothers & sisters. Your friendship will rise again. God bless You.

  12. 😮 WOW 😮 Thank You Rick Steves for taking us through a wonderful tour of Europe and festival… I Hope to travel through Europe one day… Thank you.

  13. Rick, you and your team are awesome. Simply superb. Your videos are so realistic that viewers feel like they themselves are traveling and participating in the events. Such a wonderful visual clarity and narration of the scene.. Thanks for entire crew and God Bless You All…

  14. For yrs I've wondered how do you get a gig like Rick Steves.?, been watching him forever…..Thanks MPT.for helping me become an armchair traveler, I go everywhere Rick goes.

  15. myself enjoy and love these gathering, dance, feast celebrations of common…… wish Long live culture, tradition, joy and prosperity!

  16. was würde das deutsche equivalent reise trip sein, zb von fritz kraut: hmmmh.

    in zB los angelas – grösste jüdische gemeinde neben jerusalem in US.

    richtig- unheimlich gloreiche menschen, du hast das recht dein blut zu spenden, 9$ ein schuss. abends kannst du in "happy hour" localen für 1 euro bier kriegen, food umsonst, bevor du am strand schlafen gehst. arbeitsplätze für deutsche sind extrem discouraged.

    warum beschreibt dieser kerl nicht die touren seiner heimat. remember-in diesem land werden pro monat 1000 menschen durch mord getötet, die fasczination wenn J U D E N , in deinem land an der macht sind, hier in Dtland, a la DGB, Spd, Grüne etc. mit ihrem mentalem gehirnwäsche-nunmehr seit ca 70jahren. etc –

    in diesem – schönstes land der erde – god`s own country – ist es kommunistisch ! wenn es für jeden gesundheitskarte, -versorgung gibt.

  17. The carnival in Basel is much more picturesque and impressive than the one in Luzern. Especially Morgenstreich and its lanterns. Its really magic.

  18. Baloney Rick Steve’s one false premise leads into another True Luther left the Catholic Church because of corruption

  19. Every earthling has his/her distinct culture…. Just accept.. Without criminal intent!… All happy….👌✌✋👆😍😛😌😱😳👍💕💖💗👼👼👼👼👼👼💞💟💓💜💛

  20. Hi Rick, it was great movie, sadly I could not seen any seen from Poland as it part of Europe. We hope you will have a chance amend and add few seen from polish festivals. I can imagine you can find quite few. Best regards. Thank you.

  21. If I had the means, I`d spend the rest of my life visiting European Festivals, and would hardly see any need to leave the continent.

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