European Festivals II

European Festivals II

-Hi, I’m Rick Steves,
and it’s party time in Europe. In this special episode,
we’ll see no museums and no art galleries, just lots of Europeans
having lots of fun. People here
are expert at festivals, and we’re invited. Let’s go. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Europe has
some amazing festivals, and as traveler’s,
we’re welcome to join in. I found that the more you relax,
the more people the meet and the more you eat and drink, the more fun
you’re going to have. Now with that attitude,
let’s party. In this second of two episodes
on European festivals, we’ll drop in on some of
the continent’s top 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 dance with Spaniards,
join wild and crazy crowds, and run for our lives. We’ll browse holiday markets, sled down alps by torchlight, drink lots of beer, and light up the sky. With the entire continent
as our playground, fun is our mission. Over two episodes,
we’ll careen all over Europe. In this second one, we’ll visit
April Fair in Sevilla, Bastille Day in Paris, the Running of the Bulls
in Pamplona, Oktoberfest in Munich, and Christmas in Nürnberg,
Norway, and Switzerland. ♪♪ Europe, with all its history,
art, and high culture, also knows how to celebrate. And with centuries of practice,
it does it with gusto. If you know where to travel
and when, you can enjoy
extravagant festivals throughout the continent
and throughout the calendar. And what better time of year
to celebrate than spring, a season of renewal and rebirth. 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 Andalusian passion
for horses, flamenco, and sherry, is clear. Riders are ramrod straight, colorfully clad señoritas
ride sidesaddle, and everyone’s drinking
sherry spritzers. Women 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. No, no, no. -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 1,000
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. [ Up-tempo music plays ] People everywhere grab
their folk instruments, pull on their national costumes, and gather together
to celebrate their culture. Patriotic hearts beat stronger with the sounds of
each nation’s unique music, such as klapa music in Croatia. -[ Singing in native language ] -[ Singing in native language ] -Or rousing folk songs
in Romania. -[ Singing in native language ] ♪♪ -In university towns
throughout Spain, roving bands of musicians,
like medieval troubadours, are a festival
just waiting to happen. ♪♪ In Austria, cradle of
so much classical music, waltzing is the national dance,
and hearts beat in 3/4 time. [ Up-tempo classical music
plays ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] 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. ♪♪ 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. ♪♪ 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
is putting on this party. So I guess it doesn’t matter
if the fire marshal drops by. [ “I Gotta Feeling” plays ] -♪ 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 get, get off ♪ -Each year,
crowds pack the bridges and line the river as a grand fireworks display shares the sky
with the Eiffel Tower. ♪♪ ♪♪ [ 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. 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 2nd 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,
its a party for young and old. There’s plenty of fun for kids,
and towering giants add a playful mystic
to the festivities. ♪♪ [ Cheers and 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. [ Up-tempo music plays ] After dark, the town erupts
into a rollicking party scene. ♪♪ While the craziness rages
day and night, the city is 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. [ Mid-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ 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,
its 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 o’clock, 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. [ Indistinct shouting ] ♪♪ Bulls thunder through
the entire route in just 2 1/2 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. [ Indistinct shouting ] They say, on a good run,
you feel the breath of the bull on the back of your legs. [ Indistinct shouting ] Cruel as this all seems
for the bulls — who scramble for footing
on the cobblestones as they rush toward their doom
in the bull ring — 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. -Oh!
-Oh. -Oh!
-Oh! -The festival’s energy
courses through the city. Overlooking the main square, the venerable Café Iruña
pulses with music and dance. ♪♪ 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 Münchner 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 fair grounds. Dignitaries
are formally greeted, and another Oktoberfest begins. ♪♪ 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. -[ Shouting in native language ] -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. Its a slap-happy world
of lederhosen, dirndls, fancy hats, and maidens with flowers
in their hair. It’s a mutligenerational
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 100 miles away,
in Nürnberg. ♪♪ Each Christmas,
Nürnberg’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 Nürnberger Lebkuchen, still using the original
17th-century recipe. Back then, Nürnberg was the gingerbread capital
of the world, and its love affair
with gingerbread lives on. Shoppers can also munch
the famous Nürnberg 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. -Oh, that’s a good sign.
-Mmm. -In Salzburg,
they shoot big guns to scare away evil spirits. [ Gunfire ] In the Tirol,
fathers bless their house as their ancestors did. Families, friends, and food
are integral to the French Noël. ♪♪ 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. -“Down the chimney…”
-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. -[ Singing in native language ] ♪♪ ♪ Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia ♪ [ Applause ] -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 Olle and Maria
and their kids are giving my kids,
Andy and Jackie, a good lesson
in high-altitude Christmas fun. -Whoo! ♪♪ -Olle is taking us
high above his village on a quest to find and cut
the perfect Christmas tree. ♪♪ -Ah, what do you think?
-I like it a lot, Olle. -Yeah, this is a good tree.
I think we should cut it. -Yeah. ♪♪ All right!
-Wonderful! [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ -Still high above Gimmelwald, we’re stopping in a hut
for a little fondue. [ Laughter ] -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. -[ Laughs ]
-Oh, wow. – Before we know it, the light outside
begins to fade. Here’s to a happy Christmas.
-Yeah. -Whoo!
-Cheers. ♪♪ -As the sun sets,
we’ve got our tree and enjoy a fairy-tale ride
home to Gimmelwald. ♪♪ -Yahoo!
-Yahoo! ♪♪ [ Laughter ] ♪♪ -[ Laughs ]
-Whoo-hoo! ♪♪ [ Laughter ] -Festivals help keep
Europe’s rich heritage alive. As we’ve seen,
they bring families and communities together, and everybody is 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’. [ Indistinct shouting ] ♪♪ -Whoo! [ Drinkers speaking
native language ] -[ Laughs ] Whoo! [ Crowd cheers ] Whoo! Yeah! ♪♪

25 Replies to “European Festivals II”

  1. This is definitely my favourite channel on yt! I enjoy every second of every single video you made,thank you so much,sir. Wish you all the best from Republic of Srpska,Bosnia.

  2. Cool video Rick Steves! I like the Oktoberfest beer drinking party! The winter Christmas festivities looked really fun. I would go there to drink beer and mess around in the snow. 😆😁🙂

  3. Germany and Gimmelwald was my favorite part. Was in Lauterbrunnen May 2018. Stationed in Germany 1975-1978. Also visited in May

  4. i love Oktoberfest and Germany's beer.. haven't visited Spain yet but I will
    love from Alexandria of Egypt

  5. I usually love these, but half of it I already saw in the xmas episode. I was hoping for some smaller festivals in unfamiliar countries

  6. I couldn't do the running of the bulls. I can't run and I'm not a very stalwart person. I don't think my life insurance even covers that.

  7. Depressing to watch as these traditions will all be gone by century's end courtesy of the changing demographic.
    Thanks leftists.

  8. I just saw this on PBS! I love the way that Steve presents so many great places and highlights every single one. This reminds me of my first visit to Europe!

  9. This video is a re-upload from a video posted long ago before Rick Steve's hair started turning gray. This seems a bit disingenuous. Very disappointed.

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