The Spanish social calendar is bursting with incredible festivals, fiestas and celebrations for every sort of event you can imagine, be it of religious, natural or pagan origin. If there is a reason to drink much, eat more and create general merriment, Spain is the place that will take the celebration and make it amazing.
Every month has a major festival, but there are tons of other, smaller-sized festivals that take place in tiny towns throughout Spain. Whether you plan your visit to Spain meticulously to see a specific festival or if you wander in and out of towns and cities on your journey, eventually you will come across the extravagant and welcoming displays of partying and celebration! Here are some of the more popular festivals that local Spaniards enjoy throughout the year:
People of this village celebrate disguised as devils in this festival of prehistoric origin. The young boys of the town dressed as devils—wearing pants and jackets painted in bright designs, large cowbells tied to their waists and multi-coloured paper hats, later replaced with cardboard bishop mitres—run through the streets, dance at the entrance and inside the church, pretend to wash the statue of San Blas, and march in procession with it to the unceasing sound of the cowbells.
This Fiesta dates from the Middle Ages, but it did not acquire the personality we know today until the middle of the last century. The festivities include a night-time parade; a procession through the old towns of Valencia; the offerings of flowers to Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), patroness of the city; and the famous "Nit del Foc" (Night of the Fire), on which all the "fallas" (grotesque and humorous scenes made up of cardboard figures) are burned.
Semana Santa is the Spanish name for Easter. Members of local parishes carry ornate decorated floats that depict the passion of Christ into the city cathedral and there are general celebrations and events. Though Seville and Malaga are the most famous cities for these celebrations, the Castilla-Leon cities of Valladolid and Leon are impressive in their own right.
Shortly after Holy Week, the Seville Fair opens, brimming over with joy. Morning, evening and night - the height being at midday during the long cavalcade of riders, and late at night when the spirit takes over the thousand throats of the "cantaores" (flamenco singers) and the legs and arms of the "bailaoras" (dancers) with their four sevillanas - the Real de la Feria blazes with multi-coloured tents, wreaths and paper lanterns outlined against the sky.
This festival is a series of ancient rituals which were followed on the shortest night of the year, when light triumphed over darkness. In these rituals, the essential features are the sun, fire and water. Around the feast of San Juan, the streets are often decorated with branches and leaves, especially the balconies of young girls in love, who are serenaded. In addition, pines and poplars are planted, pilgrimages (“romerias”) are undertaken, straw effigies are burnt, the herb thyme is blessed and “sanjuanera” songs are sung.
The San Fermin Festival, where the Pamplona Bull Run takes place, is a week-long bull running and bullfighting festival. Every morning at 8am, the city’s brave and the world’s foolhardy run ahead of the stampeding angry bulls. The rest of the town looks on in amazement. The spectacle has become increasingly popular and likewise increasingly dangerous since its inception in the 14th century. Given the extreme danger of this event, any participation in the Running of the Bulls—spectating and especially running with the bulls—is not covered by any Cover-More Travel Insurance policy. As always, be careful about engaging in needlessly risky behaviour on your travels.
The Tomatina Tomato Fight is probably the world's biggest food fight. Every year around 30,000 people descend on the Spanish town of Bunol (in the Valencia region of Spain) to throw more than 240,000 pounds of tomatoes at each other as part of the La Tomatina festival. The origins of the festival are unknown and, to most people who like throwing food at each other, largely unimportant.
This festival usually starts the second Friday of August with spectacular fireworks. Then, the feria takes place in the centre of Malaga during the afternoon. People wear traditional Spanish costumes and dance "sevillanas" and "malaguenas" in the street; eat fish, cheese and ham and drink delicious, sweet, red wine. The fair takes place during bullfighting season, so one could see a magnificent competition in the afternoon.
Some Spanish festivals are grandiose and energetic while some are more modest. Some have religious connections, and some are based in historical events. All of these festivals will give you unbeatable insight into Spanish culture. Buy your tickets, pack your bags and before you leave, consider buying adventure travel insurance from Cover-More Australia to protect your health, holiday and more! And remember, if you decide to participate in dangerous activities, ensure you’ve read the policy guidelines so you know what is, and isn’t, covered.