Europe’s 5 greatest (free) street art festivals

There are all kinds of them out there and you probably have a few near you: street art festivals. Fun for everyone and an ideal way to get to know the local atmosphere and culture. In this blog we’ll give you five (free) cultural street festival tips from all over Europe.

1. World Street Painting Festival in Arnhem

When you were little, I bet you used coloured chalk to make works of art on the pavement. But did you manage to make your creation “come to life”? Probably not, but then you aren’t a seasoned artist. The creators of the 3D street paintings in the city centre of Arnhem are, and it shows! Their art works, varying from 12 to 120 square metres, jump out at you from the tiles and are much more than just a pretty picture.

This 3D-creation and others can also be admired in the Arnhem centre

This year the World Street Painting Festival took place in Arnhem, and Europe’s best street painters flaunted their talent at numerous locations. One minute you’ll be on the street, and the next you will be in a bar full of bears, or you’ll be taking a ride on a rhinoceros on Willemsplein Square. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the artists at work anymore (the drawings were created in late May), but you can still wander around and take in all the 3D creations. Download the WSP app for the route and don’t forget your smartphone or camera. Looking through a lens really makes the 3D painting come to life.

2. Karneval der Kulturen in Berlin

There are summer carnivals all over Europe, but the Karneval der Kulturen (Culture Carnival) in Berlin really combines all kinds of art and fun. The four-day festival is all about diversity and reflects the city’s multicultural culture. People with all kinds of cultural backgrounds come together once a year around Whitsun to share their passion for street art. Music, dance, folklore and art: there’s room for everything.

There is a parade, which you can join if you want, there are free concerts, and there is some kind of street art on every street corner. Some magicians might even share their secrets with you!

3. Idéklic in Moirans-en-Montagne

If you are looking for a festival which is also great fun for the kids, then the French toy capital Moirans-en-Montagne on the beautiful Vouglans lake in the Jura mountains is the place for you. You can visit the local toy museum to get to know the evolution of toys and see an exhibition of more than 15,000 objects. But that isn’t all…

In the month of July this town hosts Idéklic. This international festival for kids is the event of the year. For four days there are all kinds of artistic shows for young and old. You can enjoy story gardens, music, dance, street theatre, and parades. Fifty creative workshops are organised especially for children. You can just walk in and out of events and it is an ideal place to introduce your kids to art, creativity and culture.

4. Notting Hill Carnival in London

We continue our list with one of Europe’s largest street festivals. Notting Hill Carnival in London attracts more than a million visitors a year and is one big Caribbean party. This carnival is organised by the afro-Caribbean community which takes this event as an opportunity to bring a whole lot of tropical atmosphere into the English neighbourhood.

The sounds of Caribbean steel drums can be heard throughout the Notting Hill streets

Notting Hill Carnival is a two-day celebration for the whole family. Sunday is especially family-friendly; there are special activities for the kids and there is a wonderful family parade in the afternoon. Monday afternoon sees the end of the event with a traditional Grand Finale Parade. Many people are there to see it, as it is the Summer Bank Holiday. This parade includes dozens of floats making their way through the Notting Hill streets while the sounds of Caribbean steel drums drown out the bells of Big Ben.

5. ESTAU street art festival in Estarreja

The Portuguese village of Estarreja, a little south of Porto, has become a gathering place for street art. There is even a street art route that takes you through the town so that you can admire all the (wall) paintings. So how come all these artworks are here? It is the result of the yearly ESTAU (Estarreja Arte Urbana) street art festival. In September, artists from across the globe are invited to express themselves in (and on) the town.

All this started in 2016, when the famous Portuguese street artist Bordalo II created a huge kingfisher to mark the yearly Birdwatching Fair. This piece of art was created from refuse that he moulded and then painted, and it became the start of an impressive collection of street art. Anything goes, as long as there is a link to the local culture; the kingfisher, for example, lives and breeds in the local nature reserve.

Bram Kuhnen
  • Author: Bram Kuhnen
  • European cities, touristy beaches and impressive landscapes and countryside. Travelling through Europe, Bram has already visited many places, and he likes to write about his experiences and share tips.

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