8 Festivals in Spain, you AB-SOLU-TE-LY cannot miss
From January to December, Spain is a country that can amaze you with many ancient festivals that are unique and full of folkloric history.
Many are the interesting and colorful festivals all around Spain, if you think we missed out on one that you feel is special, let us know and we will add it!
Here we will outline the main ones, not just in terms of participants or popularity, but in terms of history and importance mainly. Some of them are actually not that well known, in case you are not a huge fan hordes of people.
Ok, here we go!
Las Fallas, Sagunto (Valencia), 15-19 March
Saint Joseph (Santo Josep in Valencian Catalan) is the Patron Saint of the guild of the carpenters. In his tribute,
giant sculptures made of wood, cardboard and paper are created in satirical shapes, different each year. They are called, the Ninots, and they often tease the political protagonists of that year, both national and International. Actors and
famous characters are also depicted in these 7 meters (22 feet) tall art chariots.
The festival takes place in the nearby city of Sagunto, 30 minutes from Valencia. A charming roman ancient city with a well preserved ruin that you should not miss. The best part of the festival? The last day, all of the sculptures are set on fire!
Tomatina – Buñol (Valencia) – Last Wednesday of August
Around 10 am this picturesque christian festival starts its last day with the Palo Jabon tradition. Brave Spaniards try to conquer a tasty leg of ham hanged on top of a large wood pole scattered with soap and grease (!).https://www.youtube.com/embed/tO6I2geR8O4?&w=640&h=385&showinfo=0
Only once the ham has been obtained, finally the Tomatina can begin. Around 11 am usually, 6 large trucks distribute 150 tons of Tomatoes that are actually thrown at full speed towards the mass of people, and the tomatofight begins! 22.000 were the participants in 2015, the tomato trucks turn over boxes and boxes of tomatoes on the streets so that people have enough ammunition. Don’t worry, it really isn’t that painful. Many are the safety precautions and rules, such as breaking the tomatoes a bit before throwing them to avoid them hurting too much.
The tomatoes are B quality tomatoes grown in the nearby region of Castellon, the taste is not good enough for eating and the whole production of this area is dedicated to this international festival.
The history is not certain, but the most probably talks about a fight that broke out during a carnival parade in which a group of young locals wanted to join the chariots but were strongly pushed out. It was 1945 and this happened near a grocery that had its fruits and vegetables in display. The young group once pushed away from the main parade path decided to start throwing vegetables at the other group (as you might imagine, yes, tomatoes). The group responded picking them up and throwing it back. A fight started until the police arrived.
The locals however found this fact very amusing so they decided to replicate the happening the following year.
You might think the habitants of Buñol might complain for the tomato rivers? Well… no. The acidity of the tomatoes together with prompt cleaning of the municipality leaves the streets clean and shining each year.
San Fermin – Pamplona – July 7-14th
In the region of Navarra, north of Spain the Sanfermines are a fastival that dates back in the midlle age. Yet another celebration of the local Patron Saint, but also amusement for Kings and Royals of the past.
The celebration do not include of course just escaping from 6 humongous nervous bulls, but it is basically an ongoing party bathed in Sangria and Wine.
The escape from the bulls takes place in the narrow streets of the center, into a very limited path that is of course, bull proof. In order to participate, you must be totally sober (police will control this) and ready by 6am as the run starts around 7. No cameras are allowed whatsoever, as the biggest danger are actually not the bulls but the mass. If anyone trips over, will probably engage a domino effect that will lead to serious damage. The bulls are more scared than you of this unusual situation, so they will try to jump you over, but let’s just say that you better be VERY careful.
If you are all about adrenaline, this is for you. Every year 2 or 3 people die, this is true, but with the preliminary cautions you can have a safe run and experience the felling of a Bull the size of a car running just next to you.
Battle of the Wine – Haro – 29th June
If you like red wine, and you like it a lot, then this is the place for you. 130.000 liters of wine are each year sprinkled upon over 9.000 participants in the outside of Haro. Any possible liquid container, from water guns, to buckets, sprays, literally anything is used to sprinke upon each other in this recreation of the fancy village feasts of the past that often would degenerate in participants freely throwing wine at each other in abundance (and maybe promiscuity?).
Feria de Abril – Sevilla – One week after Easter
Officially Andalusia’s most important Festival, this tradition dates back in 1846 when 2 business men from the north of Spain that were living in Seville, asked to have this popular festival. The mayor initially opposed the idea as the fair of Mairena de Alcor and Salucar la Mayor were just before and after it. Anyhow, it was eventually approved and soon to become an international point of interest for its strong folklorist nature.
Programme of the week:
Monday: The partners of the various clubs that rent the booths meet up and there is an opening with the “cena del pescaito” a large supper with fish based delicious dishes. In the test of decoration lights, the mayor gives light to the Portada and other lanterns initiating this way a long week of celebrations and reunion in Seville at midnight.
Tuesday: Friends and co-workers enjoy lunches together as well as official arrivals.
Wednesday: central day of the Fair. The highest number of visitors is expected.
Thursday: First of the busiest days. The number of horses and chariots that frequent the fair, ascends.
Friday: frequented by a large number of visitors, many of them famous from the show business, nobility and other popularly known. Usually the camino real reaches one million visitants strolling up and down.
Saturday: the second busiest day.
Sunday: last day of fair. Double session of bull fights. In the morning the famous Miura bulls are expected, bulls for its size. Little influx of visitors as it is the last day. At midnight, large fireworks will mark the end of this glorious Andalusian week
Patios of Cordoba – 2nd and 3rd week of May
This local contest started in the 1930 as a celebration to the beauty of the historical center of this city. It unique mixture of Oriental art and architecture, that perfectly mashes into catholic tradition in a very organic way. What better moment to celebrate it than during this flowery festival?
Gay Pride – Madrid – 28th June
Once Berlin, now Madrid hosts the largest Gay Pride Festival of Europe. Musical events, talks, conventions, cinema forums, art exhibitions and installations are only some of the activities found in this 10 days of glamour.
In 2009 during the Europride, Madrid reached almost 2 million participants. Generally between 1 million and one million and a half people join this event, Barcelona also celebrates this event with over 500.000 participants. In 2015 United States passed a law
allowing people from the same sex to unite, exactly 10 years after Spain did.
Semana Santa – Week of Easter – All over Spain
Also known as the Holy Week, this is definitely a good reason for you
to visit Spain. This festivity celebrates the week before the resurrection of Jesus. Will you be religious or not, trust me that the energy, the mysticism and the amount of devoted people that gather for Semana Santa will leave you speechless. Many believe that Italy could be one of the most catholic countries of Europe, mainly as it hosts the City of the Vatican, but in reality, Spain is actually among one of the most devoted with 75% catholic presence.
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