Top Fall Events for a Vacation to Europe

Houses of Pariliament and Big Ben
Houses of Pariliament and Big Ben // Photo by TomasSereda/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

While we’re still feeling the summer heat, it won’t be long before the days get noticeably shorter, nights get colder, and the leaves start to change. It’s a great time of year for travel; from wine harvesting to cultural events, there's plenty to do in Europe.

And according to a report from Virtuoso, Europe is one of the most popular destinations in the world to travel to in the fall. Topping the list was Italy, followed by the United Kingdom and France. Other countries in the top 10 included Spain, Netherlands, and Germany

Here are some of the best things to do in Europe this fall. 

Italy

A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without some sort of food-centric event. And what’s better than an entire festival dedicated to Italian Truffles? 

The Alba White Truffle World market takes place every weekend between October 7 and November 1. There are quality-controlled stands selling not only truffles, but wines, cheese, cured meats, pasta, baked goods, and more. There’s also a tasting area where guests can try some local wine or truffle specialties.  

The market is located in Cortile della Maddalena, around two hours by car from Genoa and Milan, Italy and three hours from Nice, France. 

If truffles aren’t your thing, there’s also Eurochocolate; an event that celebrates all things - you guessed it: chocolate. Admission is free and there are chocolate tastings, workshops, and plenty of chocolate confections to buy. The festival takes place in Perugia, Umbria October 13-22. 

The 12th annual Rome Film Festival will take place October 26 to November 5 at the Auditorium Parco della Musica and in other venues throughout the city. There will be screenings, master classes, tributes, panels, and more. 

United Kingdom

Totally Thames 2017 is set to take place all September long. The event is an annual celebration of the river that runs through London and brings a variety of events to the city.

Every day there will be multiple activities to check out including visual arts, performance, archaeological, film, workshops, sailing and more. Highlights include an all-female cycling performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” (September 5), specialty cocktails made from foraged ingredients and toasted marshmallows served at the Brunel Museum's rooftop garden (weekends), and the ninth annual Classic Boat Festival featuring 40 vintage sailboats and yachts (September 9 and 10). 

Are your clients planning on being in the U.K. during Halloween? There are lots of events happening across the country in the days leading up to the event that aren’t just for kids.

Museums at Night is a festival where dozens of select museums and galleries open after hours for specialty events, many of which are themed to the holiday. Participating museums include the Black Country Living Museum, Little Wittenham Nature Reserve, Wrest Park, and more. 

France

The Paris Autumn Festival brings together theater, music, dance, the visual arts and film from September through December. There are over 50 events to check out. And this year, the festival will feature director Suzuki Matsuo, the composer Irvine Arditti and choreographer Jérôme Bel.

For those staying in Paris September 30 or October 1, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe will be taking place. The event is one of Europe’s most prestigious horse race. The two day event takes place at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris. There are over 15 flat races, nine of which have a group one status. Jockeys from all over the world will race over 220 horses during this event. 

As the sun goes down on Paris October 7, the museums will be opening their doors for Nuit Blanche. Throughout the city, artists take with exhibitions, concerts, light and sound shows, street art, and more. Public transportation will stay open throughout the night to make getting around from location to location easier. 

Spain

Every year around September 24, Barcelona celebrates La Festes de Mercè, also known as Festa Major, in honor of the patron saint la Mercè, or the Virgin of Mercy. There are hundreds of events happening throughout the city, including singing, dancing, musical performances, light shows, and more.

This year, the festival is set to take place September 22 – 25 and will be co-hosted by the Icelandic city of Reykjavik. Since 2007, Barcelona has invited a different city from around the world to take part in the celebration. The guest city showcases contemporary artists from that city, in addition to Barcelona artists, to strengthen the friendship between the two cities.

Popular events during Festa Major include human towers, giant figures of royalty on parade, and the procession of the fire-breathing dragons.

There are plenty of grape stomping festivals throughout Spain during the fall harvest, but the best way to experience it is will a tour guide who can fill you in on the history and give great information on the grapes. Grape stomping is an ancient tradition of stomping on grapes barefoot to press juice out of them, usually to make wine.

The Spanish Touch offers a tour from August to October where guests will go on a guided walk through the vineyard and winery, harvest grapes by hand, learn to grape stomp (and actually do it, of course) and have a grape juice and wine tasting. Guests can also opt for a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyards and private transfer to the hotel.  

Netherlands

Every year on the second weekend in September, historical Dutch buildings and sites allow guests to visit for free. This year, the event will take place September 9 and 10 and around 4,000 buildings are expected to take part in Open Monumentendag, also known as Heritage Day.

Almost all historical buildings take part and many also offer special programming and entertainment. If clients are expecting to be in the country during those dates, make sure they plan accordingly to take advantage of this special event. 

If clients won’t be around for Heritage day, they still have a chance for special cultural events at Museum Night Amsterdam. On November 4 between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. more than 50 museums open and offer special programming. Tickets are  €19.95 but will get you into every museum, great for those who want to see multiple locations. Popular museums include Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. There are also plenty of smaller galleries to choose from. 

Germany

If clients are already going to be in Germany this fall, chances are they already know about Oktoberfest. The two biggest are scheduled for September 16 to October 3 in Munich for its 184th year and September 22 – October 15 in Berlin.

Make sure they know that they need to make reservations at individual tents and get there early as tents usually close early because of overcrowding, especially on weekends. While beer is definitely the main attraction, there are still plenty of things for kids to do including six brand new carnival rides this year.

Good to know: Germany’s drinking age is 16 for beer and 18 for spirits. 

There is not one, but two light festivals in Berlin during fall. The first, smaller event is Berlin leuchtet, or Berlin illuminated. Historic houses stores, train stations, bridges, and parks light up with laser light shows. There are also musical performances and fireworks around this city to celebrate.

The second light event takes place the 5th-16th of October. Famous landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral and the Funkturm are illuminated by international artists. Special events take place and there are also bus and walking tours around the city. 

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