Festival Watch: February in Europe

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“Surely as cometh the Winter, I know / There are Spring violets under the snow.”
–  R. H. Newell

Traveling around Europe this February? Like many of our American readers, a lot of Europeans celebrate Valentine’s Day come February 14. But the Day of Love isn’t nearly the only event around the Continent. Steeped in tradition, Europe is all about them carnivals and pre-Lent dances!

Here are just some of the happenings this month:

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Vienna’s Opera Ball

If glamor is your thing, spend time with the socialites at Vienna’s famous Opera Ball. Vienna hosts more than 400 balls throughout the year, and the Opera’s is the most expensive. Dance with the glamorous on the State Opera’s dance floor. February 23.

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Reykjavik’s Festival named after Fish

Iceland’s capital peeks its head from the winter blizzards and ice come February. Look out the famous Stockfish Film Festival, nonprofit screenings of art-house and independent films. The get-togethers are usually intimate and friendly, featuring filmmakers from all over the world. Feb 23-Mar 5.

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Paris’ Carnaval

Mardi Gras, or “Carnaval” as it’s known in France, is a tradition that dates back to the 11th century. A raucous day of parades, dances, colorful costumes and music, it’s a fun break from the gloomy skies of a usual February day. Heralded by a cow in a beautiful red dress named Pimprenelle, the fete is all about joy, festivity, and good cheer. February 26.

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London’s Day of the Pancake

Tuck in a crepe on Pancake Day. A leftover from Lent tradition, Pancake Day is a time to indulge in sweet or savory pancakes. Dare your stomach with a pancake crawl at Here East’s Canal Side at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

And did you know there’s also a long tradition of pancake races in London? Yes, you read that right—there’s the annual Parliamentary Pancake Race between politicians and journalists; and the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race that raises funds for London’s Air Ambulance. February 28.

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