No need for a long holiday to catch a break – there are a lot of destinations right at your fingertips, or, rather, a direct flight away!

Some places in Europe may not sound that interesting at first, or maybe you’ve been before, but go at the right time of year and it will be a new experience.

If you have a long weekend or a few days off, check flights and see if you can catch one of these events for a change of scenery. All of them are sure to break up your routine!

The Netherlands

Tulip festival in The Netherlands

You can fly direct to Amsterdam from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Belfast, Norwich, Durham and Bristol. And even if you’ve already walked along the canals and explored the red-light district or other Dutch “delicacies”, schedule your getaway in April or May to catch the famous tulips!

There is actually a direct bus that takes you from the city centre (and there is an option from the airport) straight to Keukenhof, where the famous flower display is, which encompasses much more than just tulips. Note that the 27th April is King’s Day in the Netherlands, so there will be celebrations all around the country – your choice if you want to experience that as well, or aim for a different date.

Croatia

Folk festival in Zagreb

You know Croatia as the seaside holiday destination, but what about going for a traditional Folk Festival in Zagreb? There are direct flights from Manchester.

The festival is usually mid-July and will take place from the 19th to the 23rd of July this year. It is actually part of a global movement by UNESCO to promote cultural heritage. Unlike at the beach clubs along the coast, here you will be immersed in traditional song and dance.

France

No need to hop on a plane for this one, just catch the Eurostar from London straight to Lille, in the north of France, and experience Europe’s biggest flea market. Held on the first weekend in September (Saturday afternoon to Sunday night), around 60 miles of the city centre are pedestrianised and the streets lined with vendors, from the professional antique dealers to the locals emptying their attics as well as collectors of everything under the sun. Grab a newspaper to get a colour-coded map of the event to know where to find the different themed stalls.

Alternatively, stay on the train all the way to the end and you will end up right at Disneyland. Yes, there is actually a stop right at the park. Alternatively, you can get direct flights to Paris from Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bristol.
While Disneyland is always an adventure, you could celebrate Pride there on the 17th June for an extra colourful party with concerts and events. The park also celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, with special events happening up until the end of September.

Belgium

Ghent folk festival

For one week a year, the town of Ghent in Belgium comes to life and more than a million people come to see the town’s festival.

Easily accessible by train from Brussels, you can come in by train from London or fly directly into Brussels South airport (with regular shuttles into the city) from Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

This year the festival will be held from the 14th July to the 23rd and it is both a cultural and folk event as it is a festival with concerts and parades: Podiums and stages will be set up across the city, musicians, comedians, street performers and acrobats take over the city and food stalls line the streets.

Ireland

If you haven’t ventured outside Dublin, now is the time to see a little more of Ireland. Galway is only two to three hours away from the capital, where you can easily fly into from Glasgow, London, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Newquay, Belfast, Southampton, Exeter and Aberdeen, and its International Arts Festival is renowned.

Taking place from the 17th to the 30th July this year, most music and theatre acts are already announced and you can plan your trip around what you want to see.

Germany

Aside from Oktoberfest, which is much later in the year, you can have another beery getaway this summer. From the 1st to the 10th September is Beer Week in Berlin. Hop on a plane from Nottingham, London, Manchester or Glasgow.

The event kicks off with Brew Cruises to taste the brews of different countries and then all events are based around beer and brewing (and a bit of food for good measure) as well as some Bourbon. There is even a beer brewed specifically for the event!

Spain

You’ve seen the pictures, but experiencing it is a different story entirely: La Tomatina.

On the 30th August this year, the tomato fight will take place in Buñol. There is no point to it except to go wild and have fun.

And while it’s a small town, known only for the yearly tomato carnage, it’s easy to get to from Valencia (direct from London, Bristol, Belfast or Nottingham) or by flying into Murcia (Corvera airport) from London, Birmingham, Nottingham or Bournemouth.

Tour de France

Seeing the Tour de France live is on the bucket list for many people, and it’s much easier than you might think.

This year’s race will start in Spain before it heads to France, covering plenty of areas near big cities so you can easily experience some of the action. And since you only have to be in place for a short time to see the athletes go past, you get do a bit of sightseeing or relaxing as well.

For this year’s Tour, these are some of the easiest spots we have identified:

1st July: Bilbao (direct flights from Manchester)

7th July: Bordeaux (direct flights from Birmingham, London, Manchester)

23rd July: Paris (direct flights from Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Belfast, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh)

If you want to see the real action in the Alps, your best bet is to fly into Geneva (direct from London, Manchester, Bristol) or Lyon (direct from London) and make your way to the alps where the race will be taking place from the 15th to the 19th of July.

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