19th Jan 2013 1:50pm | By Helen Elfer
From food fight festivals to a town on fire and camel riding, tick off as many of these must-do adventures as you can this year
If you’ve just touched down in London (welcome!) we’ll bet one of the things you’re most looking forward to this year is hitting up all those juicy destinations that are now right on your brand-new doorstep.
All of Europe’s wildest festivals are just a short hop over the Channel, while within a few hours of London you can reach sizzling Egyptian desert, snowy Alpine slopes, and sparkling Adriatic seas.
And best of all, you won’t have to remortgage your house to afford to get to any of them.
So we’ve done all the legwork for you, with this handy list of unmissable trips. Now, how you fit them all in is your problem ...
A two- or three-day bender at one of Europe’s maddest and baddest festivals is the ultimate opportunity to let your freak flags fly.
Here’s where to watch charging bulls, throw tomatoes at each other and get doused in buckets of wine.
Head to sunny Valencia in Spain for a fiesta that’s every bit as hot as its name suggests.
Las Fallas, meaning ‘the fires’, is a pyromaniac’s dream come true, featuring fireworks displays, and ‘ninots’ – huge effigies that are displayed in the streets and then set on fire at midnight on the final day of the event.
In addition to these beautiful flaming pyres, live bands, street performances and parades are all part of the festivities, held in honour of St Joseph.
More: Las Fallas runs March 15-19.
Go: Fly from London Stansted to Valencia from £55 return with Ryanair .
The humble tomato becomes a weapon of war in this epic mess-fest. La Tomatina in Bunõl, Spain is essentially one giant tomato fight, where tens of thousands of combatants fling around 150,000 mushed fruits at each other, skidding around in the swamps of juice that cover Bunõl’s streets, and ending up covered head to toe in red goo.
Must be a good reason? Nope – there are a few contested explanations, but there doesn’t seem to be any religious or historical significance.
More: La Tomatina is held on the last Wednesday of August, which this year falls on the 28th (spain.info/en).
Go: Fly from London Stansted to Valencia from £55 return with Ryanair.
La Batalla Del Vino
Let’s face it, most festivals are a thinly veiled excuse to get rat-arsed, and no one knows that better than the villagers of Haro, Spain.
These guys don’t just like to drink Rioja, they love it so much that they host an annual wine battle, where they lob buckets of the stuff all over one another, glug it from huge aluminium wine bags and splash it all over the streets.
Join them this year for the Wine Battle and a night out in London will look positively tame for evermore.
More: La Betalla Del Vino is on June 29 (spain.info/en).
Go: Fly from London Stansted to Santander from £55 return with Ryanair.
Known as the Running of the Bulls, this event is an incredible sight.
At 8am, rockets are launched, and brave locals wearing the traditional garb of white clothes and red neckerchiefs speed off ahead of a group of bulls, who charge after them.
It’s an old-fashioned way of getting the bulls from the city centre to bullrings and a run usually lasts between three and four minutes.
If watching that doesn’t get your adrenaline going, nothing will.
More: The Running of The Bulls takes place every day between July 6-14 (bullrunpamplona.com).
Go: Fly from London City Airport to Pamplona via Madrid from £326 return with Iberia Airlines.
Mardi Gras is the annual celebration known for its flamboyant colour, fantastic food and...
From Miami’s muscle men to poker pros in Vegas and flamboyant Mexican wrestlers, North America...
No matter your budget or skill level, say goodbye to wind and rain and hello to fluffy white powder...
Forget the Inca Trail. Hike to Machu Picchu along the higher, more beautiful and less touristy...