Posted by on 01 Nov 2019 , in Europe
Some countries will take your breath away and some will lull you into taking it easy, but Spain? Ah! Spain will seduce you! Take a trip to Spain and before you know it you will fall in love with its rich history, architectural marvels, Spanish traditions, and of course, the delightful Mediterranean cuisine. The country is also home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the world’s most important museums, but more importantly, Spain is a land of festivals.
You’ll find that every city, town or village in Spain has a fiesta of some kind that brings people out onto the streets and celebrating. Whatever month you visit, there is sure to be a Spanish fiesta going on somewhere and there’s no avoiding street parties should you find yourself in a city in celebration. No trip to Spain is complete without experiencing one of its fiestas. If you’re thinking of a Spanish holiday and joining one of the country’s many well-known colourful festivals, here’s a list of six must-see events and festivals in Spain that attract hordes of people from all over the globe.
The Carnival is not to be missed! If your calendar can make room for only one festival in Spain, make sure to block it out for the Carnival. The intensely fun and wild Carnival celebrations happen in the week leading up to Lent, and the largest and most important fiestas that easily rival those of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil are held in Cadiz (Andalusia) and Tenerife (Las Palmas). Join the world-famous street parties and lose yourself in a sea of vibrant costumes and masks, flamboyant floats and dancers, and blaring music and laughter. You’ll likely run into medieval knights, toothy pirates, superheroes, crazy clowns, or the walking dead! Really, imagination is the limit when it comes to Carnival costumes and nothing is over the top. People of all ages participate in the celebrations, and the drinking and dancing last well until dawn. And because the Spaniards don’t do anything by half measures, the Carnival in Tenerife lasts for three solid weeks!
LAS FALLAS DE VALENCIA
Held to welcome spring and in commemoration of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, Las Fallas is the city of Valencia’s most important festival, celebrated with an entire month of fireworks, fiestas, puppets and food! Although March 1st marks the start of Las Fallas at 2pm with a traditional mascletà, gunpowder explosions timed to beat out a unique sound, it is the week of 15 to 19 March that sees the much talked-about highlight of the festival: the fallas. The fallas, or monuments, are constructed early in the week, displayed in the streets of Valencia in a series of parades, and are then set on fire at 10pm on 19 March in an event called La Cremà, or The Burning. The last to burn is always the falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, at 1 in the morning, and is preceded by a stunning firework display that fills the square with light, colour and noise. The burning of the Valencia’s last falla marks the end of the festival.
SEMANA SANTA (HOLY WEEK)
25th March – 1st April
A number of Catholic countries hold various events during the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, as an annual tribute to the Passion of Christ but you won’t find traditions more varied or elaborate than those in Spain. Semana Santa is the last week of Lent, or the week immediately before Easter, and is observed in almost every Spanish city and town. Since it is a religious holiday, Holy Week in Spain means penance processions performed by religious brotherhoods and fraternities. These processions vary from city to city, but there are unmistakeable common elements including the carrying of the two pasos or floats (one with Christ and one with the mourning Mary), and the wearing of the nazareno or penitential robe. Other magnificent floats depicting gospel scenes related to the Passion of the Christ or the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary are also included in the procession.
THE SEVILLE APRIL FAIR
No one welcomes and celebrates spring better than the Sevillanos. Feria de Abril, or April Fair, starts on the Monday two weeks after Semana Santa and is a week-long festival of serious drinking, dancing and eating. Celebrations start at around midday and runs until early evening, but the socials last late into the night if not all night! You’ll also see the Seville society in carriages or on horseback, wearing the traditional costume of traje corto (short suit) for men and traje de gitano (gypsy outfits) or flamenco dresses for women. Be sure to take time to see a bullfight! Bullfights part of the Seville April Fair are considered the best and most important bullfighting events in Spain and tickets are often sold out months in advance. If you’re planning to watch a specific bullfight, better book your ticket online. You can still get a ticket on the day itself by the bullring ticket office or from one of the peddlers in the plaza but expect to pay more.
LA TOMATINA IN BUÑOL
29th August 2018
Get ready to be messy! Each year on the last Wednesday of August, thousands of people from all corners of the world gather in the streets of small town Buñol to hurl over one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes at one another on a crazy fun and uniquely-Spanish festival. Dubbed the “World’s Biggest Food Fight” today, La Tomatina actually started as a simple fit of rage when one participant of the Giants and Big-Heads parade of 1945 got accidentally pushed by some young people and fell. The man started hitting everything in his path and since a vegetable stall happened to be at hand, people pelted each other with tomatoes thereby launching the first tomato battle. Before 2013, between 40,000 and 50,000 participants crammed into Bunol for the huge tomato fight, making the Valencian town’s 9,000-person population swell massively out of proportion! An official ticketing system has been implemented in recent years to limit the participants to 20,000.
The town square is covered with inches of tomato debris after the tomato fight, which usually lasts just an hour. Participants then use hoses or head to the “Los Peñones” pool to clean up, and fire trucks hose down the streets. Trivia: the tomatoes’ citric acid actually makes the washed surfaces very clean, so you may be surprised to learn that La Tomatina leaves the streets of Buñol cleaner than when they start!
LA RIOJA WINE FESTIVAL IN LOGROÑO
Wine lovers, this one’s a big must for you! The city of Logroño spares no expense in its annual wine harvest festival which will take place from 15th to 22nd September, 2018. Be fascinated as the city comes alive with a wide array of festive events that fill the streets with sound and colour, with wine and grapes taking centre stage. Witness young people wearing traditional local costume and crushing freshly-picked grapes with their feet to get the season’s first grape juice, or attend one of the concerts, bullfights and public tastings. You might also want to take part in the festival’s colourful parades where people in costumes with monstrous heads, known popularly as cabezudos, conquer the streets, or watch as aerial dance shows and fireworks contests light up the night sky. With gallons and gallons of the famous Rioja wine pouring from establishments and tasty tapas being served everywhere, there really is no excuse not to go ahead and paint the town red!