Our round-up of the best Southern European festivals, exhibitions, concerts and events happening in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Britain this month.
Carnival of Santa Cruz, Tenerife
27 February – 9 March
Rhythm, colour, flamboyance, luxury – the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the most ‘Brazilian’ of all the Spanish carnivals and attracts over 200,000 people to the heart of the city. For 15 days, the streets of the Canary Islands capital come alive with ‘joie de vivre’, freedom and extravagance. Watch in wonder as hundreds of women from across the island dress to impress as they vie for the title of Carnival Queen.
The Blaze perform at The Roundhouse, London, UK
French dance music duo, The Blaze, come to London to perform their eagerly-awaited debut album Dancehall. The French duo, formed by cousins Guillaume and Jonathan Alric – both successful music producers and film directors, released their debut track Virile in 2016, followed by Territory in 2017 and Heaven a year later, and have fast been gaining a growing following for their cinematic videos and emotive slow-paced dance sounds.
‘Las Fallas’, Valencia, Spain
15 – 19 March
Every year, Valencia celebrates the arrival of spring with one of the most spectacular fiestas in Spain. Like a five-night-long cross between New Year’s Eve fireworks and world-class carnival rolled into one. Things get going on the night of 15 March when the ‘falleros and falleras’ – as the city’s parade organisers are known – put up 20-foothigh papier-mâché ‘giants’ with prizes awarded for the best one. Do not miss the flower displays laid out in front of the ornate tapestry of Valencia’s patron saint, Saint Vincent of Saragossa.
Christian Dior – V&A, London
Until 14 July
The V&A’s exhibition, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, as well as the six artistic directors who have succeeded him. The show spans the decades from 1947 to the present day, exploring both the designer’s own fascination with Britain and his enduring influence on fashion. Highlights include the famous Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, as well as other handmade pieces.
St. Joseph’s Day – Dia de São José, Santarém Portugal
Let your hair down with the locals in the historic city of Santarém, an hour’s drive north of Lisbon. Celebrating the city’s patron saint, St Joseph, this massive festival sees locals come from miles around to enjoy horse shows, fado nights, folk dancing, bullfights and traditional markets. Look out for the traditional ‘tasquinhas’ or bars in which to savour local food and wine from the surrounding Ribatejo region.
Ciliegi in Fiore – Cherry Blossom Festival in Vignola, Italy
23 March – 14 April
To celebrate the arrival of spring and the cherry trees in blossom, the Renaissance town of Vignola in the Modena province of northern Italy celebrates in style with a free festival. Look out for lavishly costumed street parades, concerts, exhibitions and food stalls. There is more to see – and taste – nearby too, as Vignola is also at the start of Modena’s ‘Food and Wine Trail’.
Pierre Bonnard at Tate Modern, London
Until 6 May
Renowned for his use of intense colour and small brush strokes, post-impressionist master Pierre Bonnard is the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Modern – the first in the UK for 20 years. Born in 1867 and known as an ‘intimist’, Bonnard was also famous for the intimacy of his paintings, which often featured sunlit gardens and interiors, nudes and ordinary domestic scenes.
Animalia Fashion Exhibition at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
8 February – 5 May
In contrast to the Renaissance masterpieces for which it is famous, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery’s new show, Animalia Fashion exhibition, takes a look at how nature inspires Haute Couture fashion. With nearly a hundred fashion pieces, shoes, accessories and jewellery spread over 18 rooms, the exhibition looks at how fashion mimics nature, with pieces inspired by insects, lobsters, hedgehogs and snakes. The show also explores the impact of climate change on the animal world and the rising extinction of many species.
TEXT: HANNAH KROLLE