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A Year's Worth of Language Trips

You know you want to run a trip – after all, it’s the best way to get your students talking and will also help to inspire a passion for languages in them. 

And you know when you want/need to go. But how do you know which destination is best at that time of year?

Why not make it extra special by planning your trip around a local festival? Here are some ideas to inspire you. 

And, don’t forget, our Language Tour Specialists know our destinations very well, so if you want to chat through the options, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

Spring

Las Fallas in Valencia 

This spectacular festival commemorates Saint Joseph and has been designated part of the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO. 

Taking place in March, it’s one of the biggest festivals in Spain and is famous for the huge structures that are created, paraded through the streets of Valencia, and then set on fire.

Usually made of wood and papier-mâché, they are often satirical and take on the form of popular figures and politicians. And they can reach heights of up to 20m!

Each area of the city has its own fallas commission, which spends the entire year working on their fallas monument. 

And every year, just one ninot (the name given to the individual figures making up the monuments) is spared from the flames and placed in the Museo Fallero – a museum dedicated to this incredible festival.

But it’s not all about the burning of these huge structures. During Las Fallas you’ll see many of the locals dressed in traditional Valencian costume. There’ll be light shows and flower offerings to the Virgin Mary too. 

And, of course, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food! Whether you fancy grilled meat, sausages or seafood, or prefer something a little sweeter like churros, there’ll be plenty on offer. 

But make sure you don’t leave without trying the traditional Fallas treat, buñelos, which are pumpkin fritters covered in sugar, and are delicious!

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Carnival in Cologne

Carnival is a Christian tradition celebrated throughout the world. It acts almost as a pre-Lent blowout, where people party hard and eat all the things they’re soon obliged to give up when the Lent period of abstinence and fasting begins on Ash Wednesday. 

Cologne is home to Germany’s largest carnival. From the Thursday before Lent until Ash Wednesday, the residents of Cologne, along with one million visitors, dress up and celebrate out in the city’s streets. These five days are known as the ‘crazy days’. 

The highlight of the carnival really is the parade on Rosenmontag, where the floats famously satirise political figures, both domestic and international. 

And flowers and sweets are often thrown into the crowd from the floats as they travel 6km through the heart of Cologne. 

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Summer

 

Bastille Day in Paris

On 14th July 1789, revolutionaries stormed the iconic Bastille, marking a turning point in the French Revolution. 

Now the day is celebrated as France’s national day and is a great time to experience French culture and history. 

Although celebrated throughout France, it is Paris where the largest festivities are held. 

In the morning, the French president presides over Europe’s largest military parade, which marches along the world-famous Champs-Élysées, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. 

And in the evening, the Eiffel Tower becomes the setting for the most spectacular firework display. 

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Feria de Agosto in Malaga

Malaga’s Feria de Agosto commemorates the taking of the city in 1487 by Catholic monarchs, Isabela I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, after over 700 years of Muslim Arabic rule. 

There are two very distinct aspects to the Feria – the Feria by day, and by night. By day, the Feria is centred on Malaga’s most elegant shopping street, the Calle Marques de Larios. 

Music is everywhere and people dance flamenco in the street. Richly decorated horse-drawn carriages ferry people around the festivities. And everyone enjoys the plentiful good food and sherry. 

When night falls, the action moves over to the Real de la Feria, on the city’s outskirts. There is a funfair, along with many casetas where you can enjoy delicious tapas and chat to the relaxed Malagueños. 

Malaga’s Feria is an assault on the senses but, if you need an excuse to visit Malaga during the summer (really?!), then this is it!

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Autumn

Tag der Deutschen Einheit in Berlin

The Day of German Unity, which takes place on 3rd October every year, commemorates the anniversary of the formal reunification of Germany in 1990. 

As Germany’s capital, Berlin always hosts a festival to mark the day. Taking place around the Brandenburg Gate, the festival usually features live bands and plenty of food and drink stalls. 

But the main, national event is usually hosted by the state capital of the state currently presiding over the Bundesrat. 

In 2018, it will be hosted by Berlin, making the nation’s capital the best place to experience Germany’s national holiday in 2018. 

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La Mercè Festival in Barcelona

La Mercè is Barcelona’s biggest street party and takes place around 24th September every year. 

Celebrated since 1871, the festival marks the Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy and is a riotous affair. 

Among some of the highlights include a parade of papier-mâché giants, a ‘fire run’ and famous castells – human towers. 

As you explore the festival, keep an eye out for the traditional Catalan dance, the Sardana, in which a group of people dance in a circle, while holding hands. 

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Winter

Christmas markets in France and Germany

From the start of December, town squares around France and Germany are transformed into winter wonderlands. 

Wooden huts selling Christmas decorations, tasty treats and warming drinks spring up and the air is filled with festive smells, like cinnamon and roasted chestnuts. 

These charming markets are the perfect places to get your students talking. Surrounded by festive cheer, they’ll forget their nerves and will enjoy having a go at speaking the target language with the friendly stallholders. 

You’ll all learn more about the local culture through discovering their unique Christmas traditions and you’ll also have the opportunity to get some last-minute gifts for friends and family!

Not only is this a great choice for a school language trip, but it’s a wonderful, festive treat for students who’ve worked hard since September. 

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Fête des Lumières in Lyon

For four days around 8th December every year, Lyon becomes the city of lights. Spectacular displays dance around some of its most famous buildings and monuments, and every window is lit up by rows of votive candles. 

The festival’s roots lie in an historic act of solidarity among the Lyonnais. In 1852, a statue of the Virgin Mary was installed on the summit of the city’s Fourvière hill. The inauguration of the statue was scheduled for 8th September. 

But a rise in the waters of the river Saône led to the authorities deciding to postpone the event until 8th December. When that date rolled round, terrible weather all day led the authorities to once again cancel the event. 

But as the storm cleared, the Lyonnais, who had so been looking forward to the event, spontaneously put votive candles in their windows and took to the streets, to celebrate anyway. And the tradition continues to this day!

The main action takes place around Fourvière and also at the city’s central Place des Terraux, which always features the most impressive display every year. But light shows can be found all over the city – prepare for a surprise around every corner!

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