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Top 10 autumn events in Europe for under €550

If you’re looking for a cheap holiday in Europe this autumn, we’ve put together a list of unmissable events taking place over the next three months, from the Iceland Airwaves music festival to Halloween in Copenhagen – not to mention the legendary Oktoberfest in Munich.

The prices below are based on the cost of a return flight and three nights of accommodation.

1. La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain, from €499

When: 29th August

Every year on the last Wednesday in August, around 20,000 people gather in the town of Buñol in Spain to fling around 150 tonnes of tomatoes at each other. The main event is preceded by a bizarre competition in which people compete to climb a greasy pole and grab the ham atop it – then at 11am the starting signal goes off, the tomato trucks dump their contents, and everyone goes mad for the next hour until the end is signalled at midday. But that’s far from the end of La Tomatina – there’s a whole range of parties throughout the festival week. Check out the official website for more details and to grab tickets for the tomato throwing.

Where to stay: Accommodation in Buñol tends to book out weeks in advance of La Tomatina, but there are a few options in nearby towns, like Hotel La Carreta. This three-star hotel is just down the A3 motorway from Buñol and about half an hour away by train, and a three-night stay costs around €192. Alternatively, there are plenty of places to stay in Valencia, which has good rail and road links with Buñol.

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How to get there: The closest airport to Buñol is Valencia, and the train ride from the town to the airport takes around an hour and a half. Flights from Dublin to Valencia during the week of the festival are around €307 return.

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2. Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy, from €451

When: 29th August to 8th September

This year the Venice Film Festival, the oldest in the world, celebrates its 75th birthday. The festival line up tends to focus on more thought-provoking, arthouse films, but you’ll still find a few Hollywood star names in the credits – and a win at Venice is usually a good indication of Oscar success to come. This year some of the highlights include First Man, a biopic of Neil Armstrong starring Ryan Gosling, and a western called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs by the Coen brothers. Tickets to individual film screenings cost around €15 and are available through the official website.

Where to stay: Hotels in Venice itself can be expensive and heavily oversubscribed during the film festival, but there are some excellent accommodation options in nearby Padua and Verona, just a short train ride away. Three nights in the four-star Hotel Leon d’Oro in Verona will set you back around €294.

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How to get there: Return flights from Dublin to Venice during festival week start at around €157.

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3. Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Italy, from €449

When: 31st August to 2nd September

The Italian Grand Prix has been held at Monza since 1950, and the enthusiastic Italian crowds make it one of the most exciting races in the Formula One calendar. Bear in mind though that the race’s popularity means the queues for food can be astronomical, so you may want to bring your own supplies! Tickets for the Grand Prix can be purchased through the official F1 site, and range from £50 for a grandstand ticket all the way up to more than £4,000 for a paddock club hospitality pass.

Where to stay: The Klima Hotel Milano Fiere in nearby Milan bills itself as the city’s first green hotel, producing almost all of its electricity from the solar panels that cover its front. A three-night stay in this four-star hotel costs around €266 over the Grand Prix weekend.

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How to get there: The closest airport to the circuit is Milan Linate, but you can also fly to Milan Malpensa and Milan Bergamo (also known as Orio al Serio International Airport). Return flights from Cork to Milan Bergamo cost around €183 over the Grand Prix weekend.

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4. La Mercè in Barcelona, Spain, from €476

When: 21st September to 24th September

Barcelona sees in the autumn with the mother of all street parties. La Mercè is five days of parades, costumes, dances and general high jinks – including a human tower competition watched by thousands of people. One of the highlights is the fire run (correfoc), where the streets are filled with people dressed as devils and huge dragon floats covered with fireworks. Beware though – the sparks can fly directly into the crowd, so make sure you’re covered up.

Where to stay: The TWO Hotel is well placed for the pyrotechnics in Montjuic – and it also has a rooftop pool. Three nights’ stay during the festival will cost about €386.

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How to get there: Flights from Dublin to Barcelona during La Mercè start from around €90.

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5. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, from €458

When: 22nd September to 7th October

The world’s biggest beer festival and funfair returns to Munich in September, now in its 185th year. Fourteen ornate beer tents will appear in the centre of the city, serving an estimated 6 million litres of beer across the length of the festival. In addition, this year the accompanying funfair will feature a terrifying ride called the Chaos Pendel – essentially a propeller with people strapped to the end. The beer costs around €10 per litre – check out the official site for more details.

Where to stay: Unsurprisingly, hotel prices soar during Oktoberfest, but you can still find some reasonable deals if you look to the outskirts of the city. The NH München City Süd Hotel is about a half-hour train ride from the festival site, but three nights will only set you back around €388.

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How to get there: Return flights from Dublin to Munich during Oktoberfest start at around €70, and the train from the airport to the festival site takes about 45 minutes.

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6. Festival of Lights in Berlin, Germany, from €351

When: 5th October to 14th October

In early October, landmarks across Berlin are lit up with amazing moving projections as part of the Festival of Lights – which is also completely free. Last year, Berlin Cathedral was covered with a 3D video themed around the future, while a booth at the city’s iconic TV Tower offered visitors the chance to have their bodies scanned in 3D and projected onto the edifice.

Where to stay: The Best Western Hotel am Spittelmarkt offers smart rooms at an affordable price – around €312 for three nights. It’s in a very central location, too, not far from the museum district.

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How to get there: Return flights from Kerry to Berlin during festival week start from around €39.

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7. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, from €342

When: 6th October to 7th October

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, held at Longchamps Racecourse near Paris, is the most prestigious horse race in Europe, with prize money totalling in the millions. The Arc Village and Arc Gardens feature food courts and big screens so you can watch the races in comfort, and the action includes nine Group 1 races – the premier league of horse racing. Tickets can be purchased from the official site and start from just €15 – but they tend to sell out quickly, so be sure to book in advance.

Where to stay: If you want to be near the racecourse, Novotel Paris Pont De Sevres is a good option – three nights’ accommodation over the racing weekend costs around €269.

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How to get there: Return flights from Dublin to Paris start at around €73 over the competition weekend. Free shuttle buses to the racecourse operate from the Porte d’Auteuil and Porte Maillot Metro stations.

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8. Tivoli Gardens Halloween Party in Copenhagen, Denmark, from €444

When: 12th October to 4th November

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is the second-oldest amusement park in the world, dating from 1843 – and it goes all out for Halloween, with stage shows for kids, monster parades and around 20,000 pumpkins festooning the park. The most popular ride, the Rutschebanen, dates back to 1914 and is one of the oldest functioning wooden rollercoasters in the world. The Demon, on the other hand, is bang up to date – a hanging rollercoaster with the option to don a VR helmet while riding.

Where to stay: The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel costs around €384 for three nights in October and is only about 20 minutes’ walk from the amusement park.

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How to get there: Return flights from Dublin to Copenhagen in October start from around €60.

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9. British Champions Day in Ascot, UK, from €492

When: 20th October

British Champions Day signals the end of the UK flat racing season and is the country’s richest race, with a prize pot of more than £4 million. Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc will be providing fine dining in the Parade Ring Restaurant, and once the five races are over, the after-party will get going to tunes from the chart-topping DJ Sigala. Tickets start from £35, with a discount for groups of 10 or more, and can be bought through the Ascot website.

Where to stay: The Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa is set in a beautiful old red-brick building just under three kilometres from the racecourse. A three-night stay over the weekend costs around €408.

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How to get there: The nearest airport to Royal Ascot is London Heathrow, which is about 25 minutes away by car. Return flights from Dublin to Heathrow over the race weekend start from around €84.

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10. Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik, Iceland, from €541

When: 7th November to 10th November

Iceland’s longest running music festival started in an aircraft hanger in 1999, but nowadays the event is located at various music venues scattered across Reykjavik city centre. Around 200 acts played Iceland Airwaves last year, and the festival attracts a mix of international musicians and homegrown talent – artists appearing in 2018 include Fever Ray, Blood Orange and Alma. Tickets cost 19,900 krona (€160) and can be bought through the official website.

Where to stay: Hotel Lotus is an excellently rated boutique hotel in the west of the city, with cozy, modern rooms and friendly staff. It will set you back around €420 for three nights during the week of the festival.

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How to get there: Return flights from Dublin to Reykjavik during the festival week start from around €121.

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Now check out some handy tips to make your holiday easier:

7 easy ways to make airport security stress-free

Getting stuck in airport security isn’t just an irritation. These days, with so many passengers travelling with just a carry-on bag, a backlog of cases waiting to be checked manually can quickly build up. So take the stress out of the process by preparing thoroughly and following the rules. Here’s how.

Cheat the baggage charges with this handy guide

Don’t get caught out with hidden fees on your next short haul flight: compare cabin luggage sizes and weight allowances on all major European airlines with Skyscanner’s easy to follow chart.

The smart way to pack your carry-on bag for a whole week’s holiday

Whether you want to avoid the high cost of checked-in luggage, or get out of the airport quickly, restricting yourself to a small carry-on bag is always a good idea. What’s more, packing light and tight isn’t as big a challenge as you might think – provided you follow these eight simple rules.

Published August 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.