March is an incredible time to explore Europe. The continent is in the early stages of thawing off after winter, and the summer crowds are yet to arrive. Though the streets may be quieter and the events sparser, there are several designed to get you out and enjoying the last of the cold months before everything goes full steam ahead into spring. Here are some best European events in March to plan your trip.
1Florence, Italy – Taste of Florence Food Festival
Florence isn’t simply home to stunning architecture and priceless art – it’s also one of the world’s global food hubs. Taste of Florence aims to make it easier to get to the heart of the city’s, and country’s, epic foodie culture. The festival has approximately 300 stands serving food from across the country from March 11 to 13. There’s no better way to get to grips with a nation’s food than at a diverse festival such as this, and if previous years are anything to go by you’re in for a treat – in 2014, vendors sold an estimated 23,000 products in just three days.
How to get there by train: There are regular trains to Florence from throughout Italy, and several direct trains from other major international cities.
2Valencia, Spain – Las Fallas
On the off chance that you’ve been anywhere near Spain, you’ll realize this is a country that takes fun very seriously. There’s no such thing as an early night or an off-season, and you’ll find a party in most cities throughout the year. But many think the pre-spring festivities of Las Fallas are some of the wildest celebrations. This large-scale puppet show is a sight to behold. These massive fallas, essentially papier-mâché sculptures, take over much of the city for five full days and nights. It starts on March 15 and ends with a fireworks display in Plaza del Ayuntamiento on March 19.
How to get there by train: There are regular, direct trains to Valencia from Barcelona and Madrid.
3Dublin, Ireland – St Patrick’s Day Festival
You may think you’ve had an epic St. Patrick’s Day celebration or two in your lifetime. But until you’ve experienced this world-famous holiday in the heart of Dublin, you haven’t experienced it at all. This year the festival events run from March 16 to 19. On March 17, revelers will take to the streets to watch the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade and take part in the most important national pastime – drinking a pint or two of the black gold.
How to get there by train: Dublin is easily reached by rail from throughout Ireland. Eurail Pass holders can also get discounts on ferries to Ireland from France and the United Kingdom.
4Munich, Germany – Starkbierzeit
Don’t despair if you missed out on the shenanigans of Oktoberfest last year. The Starkbierzeit may be Oktoberfest’s little brother, but it’s still a beer festival to be reckoned with. The direct translation, Strong Beer Time, should give you an indication of what to expect. But unlike Oktoberfest, you’ll have fewer crowds and more agreeable prices to deal with. With spring just around the corner, it’s only right that you celebrate with a nice strong brew. This festival happens on March 19, with celebrations spreading to a week on either side.
How to get there by train: Munich is an accessible rail hub in Germany, with regular connections from throughout the country and high-speed and overnight connections from most large European cities.
Some Hotels : Stolls Alpina
5Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona Beer Festival
Barcelona Beer Festival may be somewhat more civilized and low-key than the Munich equivalent that takes place each year, but it’s still worth a look-in if you’re in the area during March 24 to 26. This year the festival takes place at La Farga en Hospitalet de Llobregat, and you can expect a wide range of beers from around the continent available for tasting. A flat rate entry fee gets you a glass and two coins, and each producer sets the prices for their beer based on what they consider a fair amount. With more than 300 beers on offer, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll track one down that suits your budget and taste buds.
How to get there by train: Barcelona is easily accessible by train from throughout Spain, and via trains through the south of France.
6Vrontados, Greece – Rouketopolemos (Rocket War)
While many Greeks tend towards traditional celebrations around Easter, two churches have decided to take a slightly different spin on things over this religious holiday. Each year two orthodox churches on Chios Island combine traditional services with something a little more unusual – a full-on fireworks battle. This year the rocket war takes place on March 26 to 27.
How to get there by train: As an island, there’s no train to Vrontados. There are regular ferries from Athens which is serviced by several trains in Greece.