Insider’s Guide: 7 unforgettable summer festivals


Cultural, educational, musical, traditional, there is no shortage to the different kinds of festivals that the lakes and mountains throughout the Alpine region have to offer. Whether you’re planning a local cuisine adventure, or you’re searching for a local slice of history, we have pulled together this short summary of some of the funniest, most interesting and exciting summer holiday festivals there are on offer.

1. The Bardolino Wine and Grape Festival
2. The Almabtrieb
3. “Knödelfest!”
4. The International Wild Flower Festival
5. Palio delle Barche/ ‘Festival of Boats’
6. Montreux Jazz Festival
7. Fete de la Musique / Festival of Music


The Bardolino Wine and Grape Festival 

© Italian National Tourist Board

When: First week of October
Where: Bardolino, Lake Garda, Italy
Getting there: Bardolino is situated on the south-eastern shore of Lake Garda. The festival takes place throughout the town with live music on the Piazza Matteotti (main square) and parades along the Lake Garda promenade.

The Wine and Grape Festival is a 5-day long festival taking place in Bardolino, Italy, on the shores of the Lake Garda which celebrates the new harvest of grapes in the autumn.

The local vineyard workers and winemakers put on traditional dress and parade along the Lake Garda promenade.

You can sample an abundance of locally produced wines whilst watching the sun go down. Live music and street performers create a party atmosphere. The perfect setting to enjoy a nice chilled glass of dry white.

It’s not just about the wine though, the incredible food on offer at the festival such as risottos, pasta dishes and cured meats, make it an all-round great experience. Better yet, you are given a ‘hands free’ wine holder to hang around your neck so you can enjoy all these delicious dishes without any juggling difficulty.

Inghams recommends: We suggest the Bologna Hotel as it is a charming bed and breakfast close to the town centre giving you the best opportunity to sample all of the food on offer at the stalls during the festival.

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The Almabtrieb 

When: Mid-late September  
Where: Söll, Austria
Getting there: The train of cows make their way down the valley, past Hochsöll and into the village. The whole place is alive with food and drink and festivities.

The Almabtrieb is the festival of cows, celebrated in late September/early October in many Austrian towns and villages. The literal translation of almabtrieb means ‘driving down the mountain’. The festival celebrates the tradition of creating a cow train to lead the cows down the mountain at the end of summer to their stables for the winter.

But in the town of Söll, the Almabtrieb festival goes the extra mile. Enjoy a whole week of end-of-summer festivities. Sample some of the best cuisine and drink that Tirol has to offer, enjoy music, hiking and the Almfestmarket.

Local farmers and produce merchants line the streets of the villages with stalls and decorations to celebrate this event. The streets aren’t the only thing that is decorated; the cows are elaborately dressed with flowers and bells as an extravagant display of celebrating an accident-free summer spent in the high pastures of the Alpine mountains.

Enjoy the cattle march through the village between 12:00-15:30 on the given day in September, and don’t forget your camera! Not every day do you witness a carnival of cows wearing bright coloured hats!

Inghams recommends:
Make the most of the Almabtrieb festival from the comfort of the Hotel Eggerwirt in Söll. The hotel provides free packed lunches for your adventures and excursions, as well as free guided walks around Söll at an easy level, exclusive to Inghams.

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When:Late September
Where: St. Johann, Austria
Getting there: The festival takes place in the Hauptplatz (main square) in St. Johann, Tirol, Austria.

A more alternative festival is the Knödelfest in St. Johann which is an annual event celebrating dumplings. Yes, you read correctly, a celebration of dumplings!

The Dumpling Fest takes place each year in September. Over 25,000 dumplings are served in the duration of the festival, with more than 23 different kinds on offer. Some sweet, some savoury, the 17 restaurants around St. Johann open up their doors and spill out onto the street for the annual festival.

Measuring 300 metres in length, the festival also boasts the longest dumpling table in the world and also has on offer live music, great food and local traditions make this festival a real cultural treat.

There is a small entry price but with that, you get a free copy of the recipe booklet to take the dumpling fest back home with you!

Save some room for the annual dumpling brunch on Sunday morning where friends and families gather to bring the festival to a delicious close.

Inghams recommends: The Gasthof Mauth is a small, family run hotel with tons of traditional Austrian charm. It is actually an original village inn therefore it has some fantastic rustic features.

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The International Wild Flower Festival

© International Wild Flower Festival in Bohinj 2011

When: Two weeks from May-beginning of June
Where: Bohinjska Bistrica, Slovenia
Getting there: The festival takes place throughout the town, in various venues, halls, hotel conference rooms, market squares and more.

The International Wild Flower Festival is an enormous event for Slovenia, and marks an important date in their cultural calendar. The two week festival is a huge celebration of the botanical wildlife that decorates the hills of Slovenia and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Local farmers markets, folk dance festivals, music, arts, crafts, concerts, exhibitions, lectures and guided botanical excursions are just a few of the events happening around the town during the two weeks of the festival, with many more scheduled and planned.

Fantastic occasion for adults and children alike, the festival is both celebratory and educational; it raises awareness about the sanctity of nature, the importance of conservation and preservation, and also gives lectures and talks about how the flora can be used for homeopathy and in your kitchen!

Inghams recommends: Inghams guests can enjoy free tickets to the International Wild Flower Festival! The Hotel Jezero has one of the best spots in Bohinj, located right in the centre and just metres from the lake. You can enjoy a nice cold drink on the terrace after a day out at the festival.

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Palio delle Barche / ‘Festival of Boats’ 

When: Week leading up to the last Sunday in July
Where: Passignano sul Trasimeno.
Getting there: The main event takes place on the lake and the runs are through the old part of town, make sure that you get there early to find a good spot on the lake front so that you can watch the race go by!

The Palio in Passigagno is an annual event which is the highlight of the year for many of the locals and tourists alike.

For a brief overview, the town is made up of four quarters, and this is when Centro Storico, Centro Due, Oliveto and San Donato, who come together to compete against each other in a very fast paced lake and land race.

The reason for this day of celebration is to commemorate and re-enact a historical tension between two Perugian families, the Baglioni and the Oddi. The festival begins with a parade through the streets with each Rione (quarter) dressed in regal medieval and walk behind their representatives and flags.

Later in the day, you will hear the local men chanting which signifies the start of the race!

The whole event is performed as a relay and is fiercely competitive and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and team spirit that engulfs the town!

In the week building up to the race, there is a fantastic festival vibe all across the town with plenty of food, drink and culture to indulge in. There is a fixed programme for the proceedings of events throughout the week, feel free to drop in to see the various teams doing their practice runs of the old part of town, or stop by some medieval themed showcases!

Inghams recommends: To truly capture the vibe of the festival we would recommend staying at the lakefront Hotel Lido, particularly for the stunning fireworks display as these can be seen from the comfort of the restaurant terrace with a glass of local Umbrian wine.

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Montreux Jazz Festival 

When: First three weeks of July
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
Getting there: The festival takes place across an array of venues in Montreux, the most famous being the Auditorium Stravinski

The annual Montreux Jazz Festival takes place for three weeks in July. If music is your thing, this famous event won’t disappoint.

Since the 1980s the festival has changed and now includes a variety of genres alongside Jazz, such as Brazilian, Pop, Punk and Rock. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva the music matches the beautiful backdrop, so there’s something for everyone!

The Montreux Jazz festival has been name-dropping for many years and has seen the likes of Frank Zappa, Muse, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, The Strokes and Jamiroquai.

Over the past year alone there have been some serious headlining acts at Montreux Jazz Festival including Emeli Sandé, John Legend, Sinead O’Connor, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, James Blake, Alt-J and Damien Rice... Just to name a few!

As this festival is so well known globally, attracting over 200,000 visitors you’ll need to book early.

Inghams recommends: The lakeside Hotel Suisse Majestic is in prime location just minutes from town centre with wonderful views over Lake Geneva.

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Cosmo Jazz Festival  

© Chamonix Mont Blanc Tourism Board

When: Last week of July into August 
Where: Chamonix, France
Getting there: The festival takes place in the streets of Chamonix and at the landing stations of the Aiguille du Midi, Lac Blanc and Grand Montets cable cars.


Another one for the music lovers out there, the Cozmo Jazz Festival in Chamonix is a celebration of music in the stunning mountain setting. Enjoy natures very own amphitheatre by setting up a blanket on the steep hills that surround the stages.

As the sun begins to sink below the horizon, head back into town for the Aprèojazz, the party continues on the streets and in the bars around the town late into the night when the musicians come together for the Cham Jam.
The whole event will have you foot-tapping and finger clicking in the shadow of Mont Blanc in no time!

There is an action packed schedule of events, and to top it all off, the event is free! Bars and restaurants open out into the streets of Chamonix to showcase a range of local bands, famous musicians and DJs.

Inghams recommends: If you chose to stay at the Chalet Hotel Sapiniere, everything is taken care of, so you can enjoy the festival. Your holiday includes everything from a daily cooked breakfast, afternoon tea and a 5 course dinner each evening with free flowing wine. All served by our friendly Inghams staff.

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