Autumn is considered ‘shoulder season’ and is the perfect time to explore Europe; destinations are quieter (the lull between summer and Christmas), prices are lower and there are many special festivals and events that only take place in autumn.
The oldest city in France prepares to wrap up its year-long programme of European City of Culture events. Marseille was established 2,600 years ago and has spent the last few months showcasing its Greek and Roman heritage. Top events on this autumn include the September Sea festival which celebrates Marseille’s maritime heritage (until 6 October), the new Euromediterranée cultural centre opens to the public and Pavillon "M" tells the story of Marseille in a series of special exhibitions.
Cosmopolitan Athens fuses modern culture with iconic ancient sites effortlessly. And this autumn packs an almighty cultural punch with European Heritage Days, Athens Biennial and free museum passes. More than 50 European countries collectively take part in the European Heritage Days each year (28-29 September) to open up monuments, museums and buildings that are otherwise not on show to the public. The fourth annual Athens Biennale (29 September to 1 December) showcases the very best of the local contemporary art, with burgeoning as well as established artists taking part from Greece and also interationally. And each Thursday the respected Benaki Museum offers free entry to its 40,000 items on display.
The historic Austrian city of Salzburg really comes into its own during autumn when the world-class opera, classical music and dance festivals really take center stage. Austria’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is honoured with a ten month long calendar of concerts and events at the Mozarteum and throughout the city. As well as having over 35,000 titles within the Bibliotheca Mozartiana, the city also hosts Mozart Week from 23 January to 2 February 2014. And don’t miss the performances at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with a packed programme of seriously grown-up puppet fun.
The Bavarian city of Munich comes to life once again with the lively annual Oktoberfest, which is celebrating its 180th year in 2013. Merriment, traditional costumes and of course, consumption of beer are the order of the day! The 16 day event runs from 21 September to 6 October and involves plenty of eating and drinking – in fact over 6 million participants join in. and yes, the wearing of Lederhosen for the gentlemen and Dirndl dresses for ladies are an absolute must!
Bram Stoker Festival, Dublin, Ireland
Each 31st of October marks Halloween across the world and where could be more scary than the Bram Stoker Festival which celebrates the man that brought us Dracula?! Yes the Bram Stoker International Film Festival celebrates the life and (spooky) works of the novelist Abraham “Bram” Stoker, who was actually born in Ireland. Catch the gothic decadence including some 30 different films in Dublin from 24 to 27 October. Bram Stoker’s most legendry novel is of course the iconic 1897 Gothic novel ‘Dracula’, set in mysterious Transylvania. The four day is a combination of film and literary events centered on the world’s most famous horror novelist.
West Coast of Sweden
Did you know that lobster is dubbed the ‘black and white gold of the sea’ on the west coast of Sweden, where the local lobster and oysters are considered the finest in the world. So much so that the tourism authority offers both a Lobster Safari and Oyster Safari - which makes it one of the perfect travel destinations for Autumn! In particular the west coast region around the city of Gothenburg is well known for its exquisite shellfish which has a crisp sweet favour, matured by the freezing North Atlantic waters. Sample the supreme crab, lobster and oysters. Traditionally lobster season kicks off after the first Monday after 20 September (23 September 2013) along Sweden’s Bohuslän coast. And on the lobster safari in particular you get to travel into the Atlantic, land the special posts and cook your own supper!
Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland
The UK City of Culture 2013 finishes the season in style with a packed calendar of festivals, exhibitions, music and literature. Don’t miss the fascinating St Columba Photographic Exhibition (on until 30 September), the Japanese Manga-inspired ‘The Five & the Prophecy of Prana’ from artist Akio Tanaka (2 and 3 October) and the superb GymFusion from the British Gymnastics team (5 to 27 October).