To Europe! Face-Off: Most Memorable Festivals
We're in week 4 of the To Europe! Face-off. Last week's winner was Munich International Airport. See the original post here.
For this week, we're matching up two iconic European festivals that draw scores of tourists from around the world each year: Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany) vs. the Running of the Bulls (Pamplona, Spain). Each festival has a wild side, but there's still a lot of atmosphere to take in even if you're sitting on the sidelines. Which festival offers visitors a more memorable experience?
Have more to say than just a simple vote? Feel free to write a comment to explain your opinion, share a memory of one of the destinations, or simply tell us we're off our rocker because we didn't include your favorite festival in the matchup. The poll will close at 12:00 PM EST Wednesday 6/16, and we'll crown week four's European Face-Off winner later that afternoon.
|The Running of the Bulls|
Oktoberfest began in 1810 with the celebration of Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghause's marriage to the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig I. The fair was such a success that it became an annual event that has now morphed into a 16-day international beer bonanza attracting more than 6 million people each year.
Not even the wildest Bavarians can be held wholly responsible for the staggering consumption of beer and food at the annual Oktoberfest, which starts at the end of September and ends in early October. On average, around 1,183,000 gallons of beer along with 750,000 roasted chickens and 650,000 sausages are put away by revelers from around the world. Take advantage of an hour or two of sobriety to tour the fairground rides, which are an integral part of Oktoberfest. But under no circumstances attempt any rides--all of which claim to be the world's most dangerous--after a couple of pints.
The Running of the Bulls
In the Sun Also Rises, Hemingway describes the Pamplona encierro (bull running or literally "enclosing") in anything but romantic terms. Jake Barnes hears the rocket, steps out on his balcony, and watches the crowd run by. Men in white and red sashes and neckerchiefs, run faster than the bulls. "One man fell, rolled to the gutter, and lay quiet." It's a textbook move--an experienced runner who falls remains motionless (bulls respond to movement). In the next encierro in the novel, a man is gored through and through and dies. The waiter at the Iruna café mutters, "You hear? Muerto. Dead. He's Dead. With a horn through him. All for morning fun..."
Despite the risk, generations of young Americans and other internationals have turned this barnyard bull-management maneuver into one of the Western world's most famous rites of passage. The idea is simple: six fighting bulls are guided through the streets by 8 to 10 cabestros, or steers (also known as mansos, meaning "tame"), to the holding pens at the bullring, until the fight that afternoon. The course covers 924 yards. The classic run, a perfect blend of form and function, is to remain ahead of the horns for as long as possible, fading to the side when overtaken. If all goes well--no bulls separated from the pack, no mayhem--the bulls will have arrived in the ring in less than three minutes.
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Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain. Art, music, fireworks, and world famous noise concerts ( Mascletá) everyday at 2 pm from March 1st until March 19th, the last day of the festivities.
Come the week leading up to the final day ( date never changes.. March 19th) to see how these monuments ( Fallas) are actually put together. The efforts of a year working on the design and intricate manufacturing come to a head a few days before the climax of the festival.
Celebrating San José, March 19, the carpenter's Saint, Valencia and the Comunidad's hundreds of local Fallas Clubs has created a festival that has something for everyone. Parades, falleros in historic garb, fireworks and art in the street.. give it a try one year.
Hotel room prices are lower until the last two or three days. There is plenty to do and see without staying until the end when prices rise and crowds thicken.
All the efigies are burned the night of the 19th when the crowds might be too much for some. TV coverage of the last night burning is excellent also for those who cannot come.
To see the winners of past contests of the "best fallas" in the several participating categories go to www.fallas.com or www.fallasfrom valencia.com which will also have the mascletás, parades and fireworks live on their website as will the local TV station Canal Nou.
Hope to see you here one day! Mark your calendars for the week before March 19th!
This one is hard for me to answer because I've been to the Oktoberfest in Muenchen at least 6, perhaps 7 or 8, times, but I have never been to the Running of the Bulls. I love the "fest"....one of the best times I've ever had. There are some 14 beer tents sponsored by the breweries in Munich, each holding something like 6000 to 8000 people and an Oompah band. You go in a tent and sit down at a big wooden table with people you don't even know, and then you drink beer, eat chicken and radishes, and lock arms and sing with these people to the oompah band drinking songs! It's great fun. That broasted chicken is some of the best food I have ever eaten....so good. About those rides, in my younger days, I actually did go on one of those rides after a couple of pints of beer. It was one of those swings that spins around horizontally and then goes vertically. After spinning around for awhile, the ride slowed down and stopped, and I thought the ride was over. However, after it briefly stopped, it went backwards! I didn't get sick, and it was fun, even after the 2 pints of beer....but I wouldn't recommend it now that I'm a bit older! The "fest" is really, really crowded, especially at night....but it's great.
Just a quick plug...if you go to the Oktoberfest in Munich, consider going to Andechs Monastery outside of Munich. Take he S5 train to Herrsching (about half an hour). There actually are 2 S5 trains....one makes it's last station just one station short of Herrsching, so you have to hop on the next S5 that comes by. Once in Herrsching, you can either walk up to the monstery (a good walk up a hill.....might take an hour), or you can get there in 5 to 10 minutes via bus. The monks there brew their own beer, which is quite good. And, the scenery is wonderful....the monastery itself, and overlooking the fields below it are really nice, especially in the fall.
Having said that, I would love to go to Pamplona, but I wouldn't run in it. One of these years, I'll have to go.
The course covers 924 yards.
We have been to both - love Munich and Pamplona. However, we would prefer to return to the Running of the Bulls. My husband ran when he was 60 years old; and everytime it comes up in conversation, we wish we could return just for the festivities.
The Oktoberfest is a safe, drink, eat n make merry event. Would love to go back to Munich!!
We went to Pamplona 4 years ago and are heading to Oktoberfest this year!! I won't be able to cast my vote until after I've experienced both. Very excited!!
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