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Vacations are over. Finally, for many. But after the many events of the summer, the month of September is not to be underestimated. The start of the new school year in Europe means more cultural events, with an important place given in particular to cinema. Cinephiles will thus have a choice: Hispanic cinema (and much more) is in the spotlight in San Sebastian, in the Spanish Basque Country. Are you more into American cinema? Then head to Deauville, in Normandy in the north-west of France. The Venice Film Festival, one of the biggest festivals in the world, would impress anyone. But if you still want to party, that’s obviously possible. Barcelona offers its famous Festa de la Mercè and Munich hosts Oktoberfest which starts this month, so make them your priority destinations. Without further ado, here is where to go on a trip to Europe in September, depending on the festivals and events taking place there.
Update: In 2022, some of these meetings have either been cancelled or modified due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In San Sebastian for the Zinemaldia International Film Festival | Spain
Where? San Sebastian, in the Spanish Basque Country (map)
When? Visit the official website to find out the dates this year
For lovers of the seventh art, Zinemaldia has become the unmissable event of the year. It was founded on September 21, 1953, and, since then, this festival (and competition) has continued to grow in reputation, despite suffering a form of demotion in the early 1980s. The official selection includes fifteen feature films in competition and two to three films screened out of competition during the week of the festivities. The screenings as well as the opening and closing galas take place in the magnificent Kursaal Palace. This major cinema event is also an opportunity to visit the sublime Basque city of San Sebastian.
In Barcelona for the Festa de la Mercè | Spain
Where? Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia (map)
When? Every September 24th
Where should you go in September? To the feast of Mercè! It’s a real highlight of the year for Barcelonans and has been since 1871. This street celebration is in honour of Mare de Deu de la Mercè, the patron saint of the district, who is said to have protected the region during an invasion of locusts in the 17th century. La Mercè is celebrated in many ways: pyrotechnic shows, correfocs (literally “running fires”), races disguised with fireworks in hand, castells (the human castles typical of Catalonia), and plenty of concerts and giant balls which span five days.
In Deauville for the International American Film Festival | France
Where? Deauville, Normandy, north-western France (map)
When? Consult the official website of the festival for the dates of the next festival
A love of America and cinema should lead you to this festival dedicated to cinema from across the Atlantic at least once in your life. It first took place in 1975 and the first competition between feature films was held in 1995. Short films were added from 1998. In addition to a fine selection of films, to be devoured in the darkened rooms of the city, the festival is an opportunity for many tourists to discover the region, and in particular the cities of Cabourg, Trouville-sur-Mer, and Hontfleur.
In Stradbally for the Electric Picnic | Ireland
Where? Stradbally, south-west of Dublin (map)
When? For the exact dates, go to the official website of the event
Located just one hour from the Irish capital, 250 hectares of greenery await you for an unmissable event for the country’s youth (and many others). On the program of this electric and electrifying picnic there is always many concerts, theatrical performances, and many activities around health. The local cuisine is not to be outdone either. An original event that attracts more and more people annually. Remember to book your tickets early!
In Munich for the Oktoberfest | Germany
Where? Munich, capital of Bavaria, in southern Germany (map)
When? The first Saturday after September 15th
Still wondering where to go in September? The Oktoberfest! This event is not only European, it’s global. The Munich Oktoberfest, or simply “Oktoberfest”, attracts millions of visitors every year. It begins on the first Saturday of the second half of September at noon exactly and ends on the first Sunday of the following month: the “October Festival” is therefore a bit of a misnomer. But who cares! The festivities begin with a giant parade in traditional costume, then take place in large tents where beer flows freely for more than a fortnight. A very attractive program.
In Venice for the Mostra | Italy
Where? Venice, in north-eastern Italy (map)
When? For the dates of the next festival, go to the official website
Another major cinema event in September and what an event! Created in the early 1930s, the Mostra is part of the larger organization of the Venice Biennale, the famous contemporary art festival. As at the Cannes Film Festival, there are several sections and a competition between feature films. At stake: the famous Golden Lion. The Mostra is also the ideal opportunity to visit the Serenissima at the very end of the high season. Double hit!
In Savonlinna for the Savonlinna Opera Festival | Finland
Where? Savonlinna, north-east of Helsinki (map)
When? For the exact dates, check the official festival website
For moviegoers, September is a blessed month. But there is also plenty for opera fans to do, especially in the heart of Finland. The Savonlinna Opera Festival has the particular attraction of being held in a fortified castle. More precisely, the castle of Olav, built in 1475, in a spectacular lakeside environment. The programming is world-class and many companies perform throughout the month in which the festivities take place. Visitors usually average around 70,000 in number. A beautiful event that benefits both the eyes and the ears!
A bit of magic? Finland is also home to Santa Claus Village. Yes! For more information, visit this article where we tell you how to visit it.
There you go, our little list of destinations for a trip to in Europe in September is over. But this is obviously not everything so don’t hesitate to share your ideas with us in the comments.