What to do in Europe in October?

After a long summer relaxing on the beach and recharging our batteries, it’s time to get out there and experience some new things. And there’s no better place to find them than Europe in October. With the leaves changing to a riot of colour and the evenings drawing in, cities across the continent are in a magical period of transformation.  

If you’re looking for an autumn getaway, here’s our guide to the best of Europe in October.

Hamburg - Don’t leave your autumn holiday to chance: visit our latest blog to find the best events in Europe this October.

German harvest festivals

Autumn in Europe would be far less raucous and fun without the German harvest festivals. Oktoberfest Munich is perhaps the most famous example – as people gather from around the world to enjoy beer and good Bavarian food between 22 September and 7 October – but there are lots more to enjoy.

Gourmets should take a short trip west of Bavaria to Baden-Württemberg, where they can attend the Fellbacher Autumn Festival. It's a four-day feast for the senses, centred on the region’s wine producers. Look out for the ‘new wines’, also known as Federweisser. Because they’re bottled early, they’re much sweeter – and only available to autumn travellers in the know.

Barcelona (and Lisbon) parties

La mercè Barcelona began as a festival honouring the patron saint of Barcelona, but has steadily grown into Europe’s biggest street party. It also gets started early, running between 21 and 24 September.

Today’s version still contains some traditional folk elements, but also not incorporates music, fireworks and performance art. It’s even expanded beyond the boundaries of Barcelona, with this year’s sister event taking place in Lisbon.

Parisian culture

Unlike Munich during Oktoberfest or Barcelona during La mercè, Paris in October is pure art and culture, mostly thanks to the growing reputation of Nuit Blanche. This translates as ‘sleepless night’, because 6 October is all about a night of wakeful contemplation in which you'll see the city afresh. As you wander the streets, you'll be treated to concerts, installations and experiences planned by avant-garde artists – so you’re guaranteed to find something new for the senses.

If you arrive later in the month, you can also enjoy contemporary art week, a series of events that includes the FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair). This year you’ll also find a huge Cubism exhibition at the Pompidou Centre beginning on 17 October.

Budapest: a microcosm of Europe in October

While Paris might carry an international cachet that few can match, Budapest boasts its own programme of arts and culture – but without the throngs of tourists. And this year, the city has managed to attract a range of artists that stand shoulder to shoulder with its westerly rival.

The CAFe Budapest contemporary arts festival runs from 5 to 21 October this year, and it brings the already-vibrant city to life with international artworks and fresh, local treasures. There’s also a large art market, so you can take some home with you too. You never know; it might just be the first holiday from which you make a profit.

Even though the days are getting colder and the nights longer, there’s no doubt that Europe in October is still bursting with colour and culture. Whether you take a short break or a longer trip, a visit to one of the continent’s great cities at this time of year is sure to be richly rewarded with autumnal cheer.

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