Spanish Festivals and Fiestas

 

Spanish Festivals and Fiestas are a
celebration of what it means to be a Spaniard to be a part of and to share
a common National and Local History and Culture…so with that said let’s
explore some of the many celebrations that take place throughout this
colorful country.

 


January

The year of Spanish festivals and
fiestas celebration starts off in January with La Fiesta de la
Reconquista (Festival of the Conquest) in Granada to celebrate the
taking back of the city fro
spanish-festivals-home-made-rosconm the Moors in 1492 with a number of parades
outside the historic city hall.  On January 5th in most
cities around Spain the procession of the Three Kings takes place to
celebrate the arrival o
f the Three Wise Men in the afternoon before
Epiphany day, bringing presents for children.  On January 17th
Dia de San
Antonio Abad patron of the animals is celebrated throughout
the Peninsula followed by the feast of St. Fabian and St. Sebastian on
January 20th when the whole town of San Sebastian dresses up
in celebration.  On January 29th Fiesta de San Valero
patron saint of the city of Zaragoza where locals and visitors share
pieces of a giant Roscon (a sweet pastry made out of flour, sugar,
milk, eggs).


February


Spanish-Festival-el-entierro-de-la-sardinaSpanish Festivals in February start
off with Carnival being celebrated throughout Spain, Madrid’s Carnival
was revived in 1976 after being prohibited under Franco’s Regime.  It
might not be one of the bigger ones but it still a lot of fun, I remember
going with one of my many cousins to many of the celebrations especially
the one that ends on Ash Wednesday with the traditional Burial of la Sardina (sardine) Parade where all participants are dressed in black and
carry a cardboard sardine in a coffin to be buried at La Fuente de los
Pajaritos symbolizing the beginning of Lent.  If you are looking to be a
part of the Carnaval celebrations  the biggest ones take place in
Barcelona, Cadiz, Jerez and Sitges.  Throughout the month of February
you can attend The Seville Tapas Fair, the city of Sevilla devotes
itself to catering to tapa’s lovers providing a perfect opportunity for
visitors to sample some authentic Spanish Cuisine.  Towards the end of
the month the Jerez Flamenco Festival takes place starting on February
25th and ending on March 12
th
.  H
ere thousands of flamenco students
gather each year to attend workshops and classes, a once in a lifetime
opportunity to learn from the masters.  Even if you are not lucky enough to
get a student invitation if you love flamenco it is still worth making
the journey to view some of the most famous bailaores of our time
perform at the Teatro Villamarta.


March

Spain has fiestas and festivals
throughout the month on March 15th we have
Las Fallas in
Valencia
a week long succession of parades and other activities leading
to its culmination on March 19th , the Night of Fire, with
the burning of the giant papier mache figures to chase away the demons
of winter.


April

April has some of the biggest
celebrations, Semana Santa or Holy Week the week before Eas
spanish-festivals-moros-y-cristianoster, lasting 10 days and finishing on Domingo de la Ressurreccion (Easter Sunday)
most impressive in Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, Cuenca, Jerez and
Zamora.  Feria de Abril in Sevilla takes place this year from April 3rd
to May 8th, a colorful celebration that includes Parades of
Horses in which local girls dressed up in flamenco costumes are paraded
in beautiful carriages, performances of flamenco,
bullfighting and
prancing on the streets.  We cannot forget the Moros y Cristianos
(Moors and Christian) celebrations that take place in various cities
along the Spanish coast most famous is Alcoy, Alicante where the
celebrations take place between the 22
nd and 24th of April
 reliving the battle between
Moors and Christians that took place in the area many centuries ago.
  Ending the month on
the 27th of April we have the celebration of La Virgen de
Monserrat in Cataluña declared patron saint of Cataluña by Pope Leo
XIII.


May

In early May takes place the Feria del
Queso in Trujillo where you can savor chesses not only from the area but
the world.  In mid May takes place the Spanish Festival La Feria del
Caballo in Jerez an event visited by thousands which highlights the
city’s equestrian heritage.  The Fair also includes a large number of
bullfighting and flamenco shows. During this month there is a low key
event that takes places in Cordoba called Concursos de los Patios or
Popular Patios Competition held during the second or sometimes the third
week of May residents of the old quarter of the city open their private
family courtyards to visitors.  In the meantime Madrid celebrates de
fiesta de San Isidro marking the start of the bullfighting season, a
weeklong celebration with parades, music, dancing food fairs and
bullfights.  At
the end of May beginning of June takes place the Spanish Festival la Romeria del Rocio in the region of Andalucia a pilgrimage either on foot
or carriage to the shrine of the Virgen del Rocio (Virgin of the Dew) in
Huelva.


June

In early June we find the Christian
Holiday of Corpus Christi, meaning the body of Christ, with some of the
largest processions taking place in Barcelona, Valencia, Toledo, Malaga,
Sevilla and Granada.  We cannot forget the Sunday after Corpus Christi
where an unusual Spanish Festival celebration takes place in Castrillo De
Murcia, El


spanish-festivals-noches-de-san-juan
Colacho, better known as the Baby Jumping Festival.  Babies
are laid out on mattresses and grown men dressed as devils jump over the
infants for the purpose of cleansing them of all evil doings.   In
Huelva we have La Romeria del Rocio.  The arrival of the summer solstice
is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks in places like the feast de
Las Hogueras de San Juan en Alicante, a smaller version of the Fallas de
Valencia, Las Noches de San Juan or the Night of St. John in Zaragoza
where bonfires blaze and fireworks are lit while families and friends
gather on the streets to celebrate,  and Barcelona’s Noches de San Juan
or La Nit de Sant Joan where thousands gather on the beach to light
bonfires and celebrate until dawn . 

If you like to participate in a unique
celebration head to Haro, La Rioja for the the Spanish Festival
celebration  that takes place on June
29th when locals and tourist alike prepare themselves for the
wine fight of their lives.  The combat goes on for several hours
until around noon when the crowd makes it way to the town center for a
sort of mini running of the bulls.


July

As we know July’s famous Spanish
Festival celebration takes place in
Pamplona with the running of the
bulls (Fiesta de San Fermin)
which always begins on the 7th
of July and runs for a week.  Cordoba hosts EL Festival de la Guitarra
de Cordoba or Guitar Festival of Cordoba from the 6th to the
25th of July an International event which features many
masters of the guitar.  La Fiesta del Carmen takes place along coastal
towns such as Nerja and Fuengirola on July 16th to
commemorate la Virgen del Carmen patron of sailor’s and fisherman. 
Towards the end of July the 24th and 25th takes
place La Fiesta de Santiago or St. James Feast in Santiago de Compostela
where the faithful gather to see the great Botafumeiro or huge incense
burner in the cathedral representing the King’s Offering to the Apostle
and see the incredible fireworks display at the Plaza of Obradoiro. 
For a good choice of hotels with discount prices, visit Hotel in Santiago de Compostela for more information.  If
you love jazz you might consider attending the San Sebastian Jazz
Festival or Jazzaldia at the end of July 21st through the 25
th performances take place daily at the
Old Town’s Plaza de La Trinidad.  


August
 

Spanish Festivals in August begin at
Vitoria’s weeklong celebration of the Festiva
l

spanish-festivals-virgen-blanca
de La Virgen Blanca(White Virgin) starts on August 4th and runs through the 9th
culminating with a human style puppet that sores above the crowd in the
Plaza de la Virgen Blanca.  There is also La Fiesta de Agua celebrating
San Roque in the afternoon hoses, hydrants and buckets are brought it
for a major water fight.   You can also attend the Strong Men
Competition and sample lots of Basque food during Bilbao’s Aste Nagusia
celebration that runs for nine days starting on the 20th of
the month.  Let’s not forget the famous La Tomatina
Festival in Bunol, Valencia on August 31
st where you will have a throwing tomato fight
with very little rules…don’t fret about getting ammunition as the ripe
fruit is brought in by truck loads just for the occasion.


September

September Spanish Festivals start with
La Fiesta de La Vendimia (Jerez Sherry Festival) on the first Saturday
of the month in Jerez celebrating the Sherry grape harvest, including
the blessing and ceremonial crushing of a basket of grapes.  Meanwhile
on the second Sunday of the month the Fiesta del Arroz (Rice Festival)
de Valencia commences with its international paella competition.  All
the while in Barcelona the celebration de La Merce, its main annual
festival, takes place featuring human towers some as high as 10 stories,
fireworks, processions and dance performances.  Then on September 21st
the San Sebastian Film Festival begins an international renowned event.


October

October starts with a surfing
competition in the Basque Coast the ASP World Tour Billabong Pro. 
October 12th is the day of La Hispanidad, this day there are
celebrations taking place throughout the Peninsula commemorating the
arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492.  Also in
October the celebration de La Virgen del Pilar which lasts for seven days,
among the events that take place are
bullfights, fireworks and
concerts.  Foodies flock to Galicia’s O Grove Fiesta de Exaltacion del
Marisco Seafood Festival to taste the delicious Galician shellfish.  If
you are not into shellfish you can opt to attend the Saffron Rose
Festival in Consuegra to celebrate the harvesting of the flower.


November


spanish-festivals-festival-de-orujoThe 1st day of November is
Dia de Todos Los Santos or All Saints Day celebrated everywhere with one
of the biggest celebrations taking place in Cadiz. In Cantabria the
Festival de Orujo takes place with a lot of eating and drinking taking
place, locals dress up in their traditional costumes and there is music
and dancing.  Towards the end of the month and in anticipation of the
Christmas Holidays the Christmas Market is setup in the Plaza Mayor in
Madrid where over 100 booths are set up selling anywhere from religious
artifacts to bizarre costumes to celebrate el Dia de Los Santos Inocentes
on December 28th.


December

Christmas in Spain is big, on December
21st the Hogueras (bonfires) de Granada and Jaen take place
where attendees jump through bonfires to protect themselves from
illness.  The Christmas lottery draw takes place on December 22
nd a
tradition originating all the way back to 1812.  Christmas is a very
family oriented holiday in Spain starting with the Nochebuena (New
Night) on December 24th , I remember those evenings like they
were yesterday our whole family (a big one 25+) would get together and
celebrate by eating, drinking and being together.  December 28th
is El dia de los Santos Inocentes or the equivalent of April’s Fools. 
December ends with a huge celebration Noche Vieja (Old Night) and its
tradition of eating the 12 grapes of good luck.  As the New Year
approaches families gather in front of the TV with their grapes and at
12 seconds to midnight the countdown begins, each time the clock in La
Puerta del Sol in Madrid rings a new second every Spaniard eats a great
for a total of 12 grapes, a tradition believed to bring you good luck in
the New Year!


 



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