Festivals in Spain - Discover the best festivals of Spain Festivals in Spain - Discover the best festivals of Spain

Top Festivals In Spain During Your vacation

Summer is the high season for festivals in Spain, but they happen all year round. Most villages (and of course larger towns and cities) have one or more festivals throughout the year. Las Fallas in Valencia, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, and the Easter celebrations in Andalusia and Castilla to name but just a few are a few examples out of the immense list of festivals that take place in Spain. Many of the Festivals include parades, music, and dances.

Celebrations involve locals that start to participate when they are small children. The local fiesta is in their hearts, part of a yearly calendar. Children and adults alike work on preparations throughout the year and await anxiously the day they start. Join them. You will, for sure, be welcomed and enjoy Spain´s Fiestas!


Spain festivals guide

San Isidro in Madrid

Each 15th of May in Madrid is the festival of San Isidro, the patron of Madrid. For a period of five days, locals take to the streets to celebrate their pilgrimage in the Pradera of San Isidro and also to enjoy music, dancing and Madrid cuisine in the gardens of the Vistillas.

The day before the party, in the streets of downtown Madrid, you can hear the excitement from the Parade of Giants, announcing the arrival of the Proclamation that occurs on the afternoon of the 14th on Plaza de la Villa. … Read More

La Merce In Barcelona

The patron saint of the city of Barcelona is the Virgen de la Mercé, and is celebrated every September 24TH since the nineteenth century to dismiss the summer solstice and prepare for the arrival of the colder months.

A Mediterranean feast that brings back all the inhabitants of the city to enjoy music, dance and street entertainment with Giants, Castellars and Sardanas that dance to traditional instruments such as the “chirimía” a kind of hornpipe. … Read More

Carnival of Tenerife

On the island of Tenerife, the capital city of Santa Cruz hosts the world-famous Carnival of Tenerife every year. This frenetic and colorful celebration of life is the largest carnival celebration in Spain and the second largest in the world. 

The tradition dates back to the XVIII century and lasts a full month. The dates vary from year to year, but it is always celebrated leading up to lent, and the party lasts almost a month in its entirety. Here you will find all the information you will ever need on this magical island celebration. The Carnival in Tenerife is, without hesitation, one of the top Fiestas in Spain.

When is the Carnival of Tenerife?

The short answer is that the Carnival of Tenerife is held during February and part of March. The exact dates however vary from year to year, but this is the general time frame.

The Carnival of Tenerife is what is known as a pre-Lenten celebration, and although the carnival technically lasts almost the entire month of February, the festivities really kick-off the week prior to Ash Wednesday. During this week businesses close down and everyone heads out to party.

Queen’s Election Gala is the first main event of the celebration. The Election Gala is the ceremony where the Carnival Queen for the year is chosen. The Queen of the Carnival will lead the Carnival Announcing Parade during the celebration.

In 2020 the Carnival’s main event in the streets would have been held on Friday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m. This is the day when the major procession would have been held. Decorated floats and cars roam the main streets of the city, accompanied by the carnival and the new queen’s Maids of Honor.

The Tenerife Carnival Comparsa

The next day, the carnival starts up again. On this day the Rhythm and Harmony Comparsas contest are held, filling Francisco la Roche Avenue with the “batucada” and hundreds of party-goers.

The first carnival weekend closes with the Día Carnival, which begins at 1:00 p.m. This is the best chance you will get to show off your costume in daylight, and the shows and festivities go well into the afternoon.

About the Carnival of Tenerife

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the highest consideration for parties granted by the ministry of tourism of Spain. It is considered the second most popular and internationally carnival, after the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In fact, the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the sister city of Rio because of this.

As we mentioned, Carnival technically lasts almost a month but hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets every year for more than a week, during the hight of the festivities. In 1987 the famous Cuban singer Celia Cruz attended the Chicharrero Carnival with the Billo’s Caracas Boys orchestra, which was attended by 250,000 people.

The concert was registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest congregation of people to attend an outdoor concert, a record that stands to this day.

In fact, in 2019, more than 400,000 people danced to the rhythm of Juan Luis Guerra during the daytime Carnival on Piñata Saturday, breaking said record. However, organizers were caught off guard, as they were not expecting such a crowd to congregate. and there was no notary on hand to make certify the size of the crowd for the Guinness Book.

The Carnival of Tenerife On January was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest by the Secretary of State for Tourism in 1980 being the only Canarian festival that holds such a distinction, and the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is currently in the running to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The two parts of the Carnival of Tenerife

It has two distinct parts, the “official” carnival and the street carnival. The official carnival features over 100 participating groups with an average of 50 members each. These groups that actively participate in the celebration are in charge of getting the party going. Depending on what they do exactly for the festivities they are known as: murgas, comparsas, costume groups, rondallas and musical groups.

The street carnival is the participation of the citizens themselves in the party.

History of the Carnival

There is good evidence that the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival has been celebrated since the first European settlements in 1605. The first written references, however, are from the XVIII century, through the writings of visitors to the island, and later, through official provisions.

The diary of Lope Antonio de la Guerra y Peña in 1778 includes references to a dance held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. He even mentioned the term comparsas. In 1783 masks that totally or partially covered participant’s faces were vetoed to avoid mingling between the aristocracy and the commoners. In the year 1891 we see the first appearance of the rondalla as a group of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Orfeón de Santa Cruz was founded in 1897.

During the dictatorships of Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930), and General Franco (basically 1940-1960), the Carnaval was renamed “Winter Festivities” as a ruse to avoid prohibition. The Carnival continued to be celebrated in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and was the only place in Spain where such a celebration was held along with Cádiz and Isla Cristina.

In 1954, saw the birth of the first Murga as the Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá. When the Franco dictatorship finally ended the party changed its name back to  “Carnival”.

The Carnival Poster

Since 1962 a Carnival poster has been made for each edition. Artists of the caliber of Juan Galarza, Gurrea, Javier Mariscal, Dokoupil, César Manrique, Cuixart, Pedro González, Fierro, Paco Martínez, Mel Ramos, Enrique González, Maribel Nazco, Elena Lecuona, and many more have produced artwork to promote the Carnival and have made the reveal of the artwork an event in itself.

Nowadays, tickets for the different events, especially the Adult Murgas Final and the Queen’s Election Gala, sell out within 15 minutes to an hour. We are talking about over 20,000 tickets, amazing!

Key dates of the Carnival

The weeks before the Wednesday of the election of the Queen, there are competitions for adult and children’s troupes, lyrical-musical groups, rondallas, the senior Queen, Child Queen, Song of Laughter and adult and children’s murgas.

The official carnival song is also chosen and those that will be candidates for Adult Queen are presented in the noble hall of the Town Hall.

There is also a choreography contest, a costume contest that rewards the most original, and the floats and cars that are going to participate in the procession are decorated. Shortly before Christmas, the Carnival poster is revealed.

Wednesday: Grand Election Gala of the Carnival Queen 

The Wednesday before the weekend of the carnival, the Queen of the Carnival is chosen in a gala that is usually broadcast throughout the country.

During the gala, the candidates parade through the main stage and an official and celebrity jury are charged with choosing the Carnival Queen.

The elaborate dresses used by the candidates can weigh up to a whopping 200 kilos and participants have to use wheels to move them around. Most of the costumes are so expensive that they rely on sponsors to get made. The chosen queen will be in charge of representing the carnival in the different tourism fairs attended by a representative of the Canary Islands.

Friday: The Parade Announcement 

On Friday, all the carnival groups go through the main streets of the city “announcing” the arrival of the carnival. It begins in the Parque de la Granja, and concludes in the Plaza de España. Crossing the Ramblas; Canary Islands Avenue; Plaza Weyler and Calle Méndez Núñez to return to Las Ramblas and from there turn towards Avenida Anaga and end at Plaza de Europa or at the rear façade of the Cabildo de Tenerife.

The queen and the bridesmaids pass in their own float, escorted by the troupes. The murgas and rondallas are scattered around the entourage. Private floats also participate in the parade. In total, they are more than 4 hours to the rhythm of batucadas and other Latin rhythms. At the end, well into the night, the party officially begins on the street.

Carnival Saturday 

Carnival Saturday is a day dedicated entirely to dancing. There are two main stages: Plaza de la Candelaria and another in the Plaza del Príncipe. 

On both of these stages, groups generally perform Latin music, and the party isn’t only confined to these two spots. Every street you go down that connects them will be teeming with party-goers. These side streets are filled with bars and floats with their own music. One of the main streets of the Carnival is the street “Bethencourt Afonso” popularly known as “Calle San José”.

Sunday: Day time Carnival 

Two Sundays are set aside for more family-friendly activities. Most of the Carnival involves partying and drinking but these two days are meant to be enjoyed by families and kids. During the first Sunday, a party is put together for the younger attendees, and activities like costume contests are held. On the second Saturday, there are more PG activities put together but the main attraction is the Carnival piñata which showers partiers with candies and goodies.

Carnival Monday 

This is the main party day of the whole Carnival. The main stage, located in the center of town, hosts a variety of A-list performers, and the music and partying last all day and well into the night. If you are looking to party this is the day you want to be ready for. 

Tuesday: El Gran Coso Apotheosis 

On Tuesday the Gran Coso Apotheosis takes place, a parade that runs along Avenida de Anaga and officially marks the end of Carnival. It is basically one last hurrah. All the carnival groups parade one more time: the floats; the decked-out cars and the queens. On this day the parade happens during the day and a show held especially for tourists, who are brought in by bus from the tourist areas of the island.

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the “Burial of the Sardine is celebrated“.

Everyone in Santa Cruz dresses up in black in mourning of a giant cardboard sardine which is paraded around town before being burned. The sardine is made by the prisoners of the Tenerife II prison. Pretty weird right? It gets even more bizarre.

An event is also held mocking the Curch and many participants dress up as popes, bishops and nuns imitating blessings and other religious rites on many occasions accompanied by objects of a sexual nature. 

San Sebastián Film Festival

The San Sebastián Film Festival is Spain’s most prestigious such award ceremony, celebrated annually towards the end of September and it is actually one of the top events in September in Spain.  The festival enjoys the maximum accreditation awarded by FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films; English: International Federation of Film Producers Associations) in the gorgeous Basque city of San Sebastián. The film festival’s first edition took place on september 21st 1953 and has been held annually ever since.

The San Sebastian Film festival is also the most important film festival in the world for Spanish speaking cinema and it is one of the most prestigious film festivals held in Europe and one of the oldest as well. 

Alfred Hichcock chose the San Sebastian Film festival to premier two of his greatest films: Vertigo and North by North West. The festival was also the site of the European premier of Star Wars in 1977. It has also been the launching pad of the careers of several of cinema’s brightest stars. Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, and Pedro Almodóvar all found international notoriety after participating in the festival. 


The history of Cinema in San Sebastián

San Sebastian has long been a city that has attracted the “creme de la creme” of the European bourgeois. Since the Belle Epoque, San Sebastián has been a favorite destination for the artistic and intellectual elite of Europe, and has even been the summer residence of the Spanish royal family for a long time. San Sebastian has always been a refined cultural hub in Spain, and it is easy to understand how a festival of these characteristics would emerge from such a city.

Another consequence of San Sebastián’s particular brand of incumbent tourism was the construction of venues like the Maria Cristina Hotel, one of the most spectacular hotel in all of Europe, the perfect place to host Hollywood’s brightest stars. The Victoria Eugenia Theatre, built in 1912, is one of the most emblematic monuments in the city and has hoasted all of the most important cultural events that have taken place in the city. Nowadays it is used as one the main venues of the festival. The original Casino of San Sebastian was renovated and modernized and is now an innovative convention center, known as the Kursaal, and is currently the main festival venue. Lastly, San Sebastián’s city hall known as the Miramar Palace, built right on the La Concha beach is the site of the festival’s closing party.

The cities culture and these landmarks have made San Sebastian and an amazing site to host a film festival of this magnitude and a magnet over the years for stars of the caliber of  Federico Fellini, Gloria Swanson, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen, to name just a few.

When is the San Sebastián Film Festival? 

The Festival is held annually at the end of September. The dates may vary from year to year, but it is always set for this general time period. 

The 2020 edition of the awards will be held from 18th to the 26th of September


What to know about the San Sebastian Film Festival 

Franco, the infamous Spanish dictator was actually instrumental in the creation of the film festival. The “generalisimo”created the award ceremony alongside a group of businessmen from San Sebastián. Franco saw the festival as a chance to show Spain as an open and inviting country on an international stage. 

The Festival in recent years is always held at the Kursaal Congress Centre and Auditorium on San Sebastián’s seafront, which was designed by Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo.

Only 15 other film festivals arround the world enjoy category ‘A’ film festivals accreditation from the FIAPF. Other European festivals with this accreditation are the film festivals of Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

Awards of the San Sebastian Film Festival: La Concha de Oro

The award of the San Sebastian Film Festival takes the shape of a shell. The best film of the festival is awarded the golden shell or “Concha de Oro” and the best actor and actress receive Silver Shells, or “Concha de Plata”. San Sebastián features one of the most famous beaches and spectacular beaches in the country known as “La Concha” or The Shell, from where the film festivals award gets its name. 

The festival also gives out a lifetime achievement award each year, known as the Donostia award. Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, Dame Judy Dench, and Danny Devito have all been chosen to receive this prestigious award. In 1989 Bette Davis, was also awarded the Donostia award at the festival. It would be her last ever public appearance, she died two weeks later.

The Malaga Fair

The Málaga Fair dates back to the fifteenth century when Málaga joined the Crown of Castilla in the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, who entered the city of Malaga the 19th of August after the reconquest. Since then the City Council set this date to commemorate the fact, and the Malaga fair is established as the big summer fair every August 15th.

Malaga Fair has a reputation for being very open and participatory, both national and international tourists, given the position of the city as the capital of tourism on the Costa del Sol, and the time of the celebration is when the beaches across the province are full of tourists enjoying the sunshine and the beach. That’s why the municipal transport company in Malaga not only covers special services fair metropolitan areas but also enables more intercity buses to cover coastal villages.

The Malaga Fair has always been characterized by its two celebration zones, The Center Fair and the Feria del Real, which brought many problems to the City, as the Fair Center in the historic center of Malaga was so successful, with its streets covered with colorful awnings, festooned with lanterns, with booths, tapas bars and flamenco clubs, that promoted the singing and dancing were lengthened to long hours of the night to finish with a swim on the beach at dawn.

This forced to take restrictive measures to put a time limit to the Fair Centre, with the aim to shift the party at night to the fairgrounds in the Cortijo de Torres in the outskirts of the city, so that residents of the city center did not have to suffer through the day and night rampage. From there comes the change of name to the Day Fair and the Night Fair.

Regardless of where you enjoy the fair, the flamenco, with their traditional dances and songs from Malaga, “verdiales” and carriages and Andalusian horses with riders dressed in their best clothes, or malagueñas with their flamenco dresses that cheer us up day and night.

Do not forget that the fairs in Andalusia are closely linked to bullfighting, and the Feria de Malaga is no exception, so during this week of August are brought together the best swords of the moment in a unique setting such as the Malagueta square, a few meters from the Mediterranean Sea.

Already in the Night Fair of the Royal area, the Malaga Fair proudly carries the fact that their houses have free entry, to enjoy any kind of music and atmospheres, while concerts are offered in the Youth Hut or the Municipal Auditorium. All this alongside a space with the best amusement rides to entertain the kids and the adults.

But all is not fun and games in Málaga, as its historical and cultural legacy is full of architectural options as the XIV century castle overlooking the town from the top of Mount Gibralfaro watching over her Alcazaba, a palace, a tenth century Moorish fortress that is found next to a Roman theater where some of its stones and columns were obtained. A few meters away, the Gothic-Renaissance Cathedral (the Manquita, having not finished one of its two towers of the facade), or museums such as the Pablo Picasso, that was born in the city.

San Juan Fiestas In Alicante, Spain

The San Juan Fiestas in Alicante, or Bonfires of San Juan, is one of Spain´s top celebrations of pagan origin that is repeated in many towns in Spain and similarly in other cities around the world for the arrival of the summer solstice. They can go on from the 21st to 23rd of June, the shortest night of the year. In the fires, the evil is destroyed and the freshly picked harvests are celebrated. The San Juan Festivals are one of the top things to enjoy in Spain in June!

In the city of Alicante (in the region of Valencia) , people have the custom to celebrate the arrival of summer around a bonfire on the beach with music, food, and drink, finally throwing rockets and swimming in the sea at night.

The “fogueres” or Alicante bonfires, are known as the “other fallas” since the early twentieth century, the city wanted to promote this event at a national and international like the Valencians had done, and today they are declared as a National and International Tourist Interest.

That is why, in this article instead of highlighting the similarities between the two fallas, as they share passion of fire and gunpowder with fireworks and “mascletás” or their parades and offerings, as well as highlighting the beauty of such constructions of this art as ephemeral, we will detail some of the most important differences:

The floral offering to the Virgin of the Helpless in Valencia is done by the devotees with their Fallera Mayor on their forehead, in the case of Alicante, parade in honor of their patron saint, the Virgin of the Remedy of all groups with their costumes with the “Beauty of Fire” as an ambassador.

The order in cremá and fireworks is different in the fallas and hogueras, while in Valencia fireworks are launched every night to end the Nit del Foc, in Alicante the week of firework castles begin after the “cremá” of the monuments, with its famous Palmera fireworks night of the 24th to the 25th of June.

The “Banya” is exclusive to Alicante on the cremá bonfires day, when firefighters try to cool the atmosphere before the flames of bonfires, to protect nearby buildings, when they tame the remains and are provoked by young kids for them to water them with their hoses.

The official drink during Fallas in Valencia there is the “agua de Valencia” (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) and in the hogueras it’s the typical “dove” consisting of a mixture of diluted anise.

The typical food these days during the fallas is, on top of Paella, chocolate pumpkin fritters, and in the hogueras the “coca amb Tonina” which is a kind of tuna empanada with onions and pine nuts, and of course its varieties of rices.

The volume of fallas and fires is also very different, in the Fallas of Valencia you have about 400 monuments with their children’s versions in some of them, and while in Alicante there are approximately 100 each year.

The artistic focus of the monuments between Valencia and Alicante teachers also seems to have a different character, according to the people of Alicante the Valencian juries already have established canons that do not allow artists to have freedom in carrying out their artistic work.

Although anecdotally, there has been a case where the same artist as was Pere Baenas in 2014 was the first to win the first prize for the best falla in Valencia, and three months later have the best hoguera in the special category in the festival of San Juan in Alicante.

Another peculiarity of Alicante is that it also features the spectacular Puerto campfire, burning in the waters of the harbor basin of Alicante.

Moors And Christians Festival

The Moors and Christians celebrations are religious celebrations that are recreated each year in many villages of the east of Spain. During these three or four days of celebration, the end of the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the XVI century is commemorated, after it was dominated for centuries by Muslim troops.

For tourists, the most spectacular thing of these festivals are the battles between Moors and Christians with colorful costumes and weapons of the time, scimitars, swords, cannons and muskets, to soar endlessly magical environments in medieval squares and in multiple Spanish castle that transport the visitors to the Middle Ages.  

For tourists, the most spectacular thing of these festivals are the battles between Moors and Christians with colorful costumes and weapons of the time, scimitars, swords, cannons and muskets, to soar endlessly magical environments in medieval squares and in multiple Spanish castle that transport the visitors to the Middle Ages.

During the days of the festival, the people are actively involved in the recreation of the various battles that took place, for it is organized in troupes, some Moors and others Christian, with their captains and other officers who lead their armies. All of them, with majestic uniforms and respecting the ranks, armed with muskets which together with the strakes, makes battles a noisy place and smell of gunpowder. After the battle, the groups retire to their respective stalls to eat, drink and celebrate their holidays with friends and family.

As with any celebration in Levante, mascletás cannot be forgotten, the castle fireworks, and all kinds of events in the streets of the city like the processions in honor of the patron, and other shows like medieval markets on the streets and squares.

Some of the most famous resorts for their Moors and Christians can be, those of Alcoy in April, the International Tourist Interest like those of Villajoyosa, or otherwise the ones that were declared of National Tourist Interest like Villena, Almansa, Caudete, Bañeres, Alcolecha, Concetaina, Crevillente, Petrel, Elda, Onteniente, Caravaca de la Cruz, Peñiscola or Murcia. Or  for its recreation on the coast like the El Campello, famous for making representation on the Carrer La Mar beach, of the disembarking Moor.


The Festival of Villajoyosa in July

One of the most colorful Moors and Christian festivals in Spain takes place in Villajoyosa. This festival has been celebrated for over 250 years and it traditionally begins on July 24th.

Different groups take the streets on this day wearing majestic dresses and are accompanied by the roar of festive music.

The most spectacular part of this festival takes place during the dawn of July 28th. Thirty boats with Berber pirates approach the beach. When they get to the shore the Christian troops await them and both armies recreate the fight from the shore to the castle

Cadiz Carnival – The Amazing Sound Of Comparsas

In Spain Carnival is celebrated in many towns and cities, but they are above all known for their traditions and grace, the Carnival of Cadiz, and for the color and beauty of Tenerife Carnival queens, two twin celebrations that were declared as International Tourist Interest. The city of Cadiz lives its carnival with great passion and locals participate in many different activities. 

The origins of the modern Cadiz Carnival, have a religious background following the ban on eating meat on days of Lent, which begins forty days before each Holy Saturday, also known as Ash Wednesday. This day is a period of reflection for Christians in which one of his penance is fasting in preparation for Easter.

Carnivals therefore end on Ash Wednesday with the burial of the sardine, after a week of festivities, dancing and entertainment with excesses of food and drink that will face the Lenten fast with the body well-fortified and with reservations. And like the body gave up on eating, worshiping Don Carnal, also the moral is relaxed and anonymity of the mask took advantage to outwit Doña Lent and to satirize freely to authorities and settle things that were put off during the year.

Masks carnivals have had their periods of light and shadows in the history of Spain and there have been times since the sixteenth century to the reign of Charles I in which they were banned, also with Felipe II, and finally during civil war where holding these parties were banned throughout Spain.

The famous Carnival of Cadiz, one of Spain´s festivals in January, already historically due to the influence of the Italian carnivals, due to the Mediterranean and be a part of the route of Genoese merchants take to African destinations.

For Cadiz, we can say that several carnivals, Carnival Grande, and Chico or the “Jartibles” called to those after the burial of the sardine who are reluctant to dismiss the celebrations and that are still dressed in their costumes in the streets. So the celebrations begin as early as January with the competitions Cluster (Troupes, Chirigotas, choirs and quartets) officers in the Gran Teatro Falla, and usually ends in late February or early March, when Easter falls.

However, the real Carnival of Cádiz lives on the street, where locals and tourists mingle under a disguise in the neighborhood of Vine and surrounding the old town, by the Market Square and other parts of a beautiful city to drink, eat, sing, dance and laugh with street or “illegals” jokes to liven up the party with its battles of verses full of wit and social criticism.

Parades, concerts, musical performances and fireworks make up a unique holiday atmosphere in a majestic city on the Mediterranean, with endless beaches and natural landscapes, peaceful after those days of revelry and fun.

Seville Fair In April

After Easter vacation is over, halfway through spring, the city turns into the bride of the world, and for this, the streets tidy up with perfume and orange blossom flowers. The April fair in Seville puts on a flamenco outfit, striped white, red, and green, with frills to celebrate the Seville April fair.

The origins of the April feria, La Feria, as locals refer to it,  dates from the year 1846 when Narciso Bonaplata and Jose Maria de Ybarra signed a proposal presenting it to the town council, asking if the days 19, 20, and 21st of April could be spent celebrating the annual Seville fair. A year later, after its acceptance, Seville celebrate its first Seville April fair supported by many farmers and ranchers.

From then on, the three-day Seville fair has now become a 7 day fair. It starts in Prado de San Sebastian, the current area of the Remedy neighborhood, and gains more momentum regarding the evolutions of its lighting that starts with old oil, or the constitution of their “casetas”, that are no longer dedicated to lively stock but are dedicated to dance, music and the good gastronomy for the Sevillians and the tourists. 

The Seville fair starts Monday night with the traditional “pescaito” dinner and the lighting of the “alumbrao”, and finished the following Sunday. The city of Seville receives a good number of tourists, mainly from Spain. Despite their numbers are not as high as at Easter, if you plan your trip to Seville around these dates it makes sense to book well in advance.

During four years year of history, illustrious and kings have visited the Seville fair, for example the Queen Isabel II, that when to enjoy the fair in 1877, the 1st year were paper lanterns were put up. In 1916 the kings Don Alfonso XII and Doña Victoria Eugenia visited the Seville April fair for the first time, then in 1966 the princes of Monaco and finally, in 1968 the King Don Juan Carlos and the Queen Sofia.

In short, the Seville April fair is a tradition that keeps the whole Seville busy during one week, which causes an important part of Seville’s activity in the its “casetas”, amusement parks and all other services. It is not easy to decide if it is Seville Easter week  or the Fair that Sevillanos prefer…. both are an so deeply rooted in the city that the question is a bit like “which of your sons or daugthers….?”

Today, tourists, on top of the usual transportation ways can now use two metro stops that have been place right next to the Seville fair area.

The monumental façade stands out because of its colors and its attractiveness and it is for a few days Seville´s top attraction. It is dedicated de the city or its history, together with the decoration in the streets near the fair, the lights and the “casetas”.

The feria varies from day to night. During the day, from 12am to 8pm, on top of dancing, eating and drinking, it is nice to walk around the feria surroundings to admire the women dressed in beautiful flamenco gowns that change from season to season, or the large quantity of horse cars or horse riders that pass through the “casetas”. These horse riders and carriages transfer, during the night to the center of the city and the plaza de toros. The Spanish fiestasevillanas and flamenco dancing is what really stands out during the night. You can enjoy this while having a drink with friends until dawn.

The fair has room for all: kids, young and older people, tourists… The most important thing is to submerge yourself into the atmosphere. The “casetas” are usually private but you might be able to get in, if are a tourist. Sevillians are proud of where they come from and want you to have a good time. It is an unforgettable experience, having a glass of manzanilla or rebujito (manzanita with a soft drink), some shrimps and also a good Spanish iberico ham and cheese.

The Battle Of Wine In Haro

Let´s start with the origin of the wine battle. They say that the tradition of going on a pilgrimage to Bilivio (the old name Haro used to have)  Crags comes from the XV century where the master of San Millán (Felices de Bilivio) lived and died.  A chapel was built in his name in the eighteenth century and every 29th of June a mass and subsequent lunch was held for the festival of San Pedro. This has evolved big time and the battle of wine is one of the top festivals in Northern Spain, and very popular due to the use of wine as a main component in the day! The wine battle is without a doubt one of the top fun things to do in Spain in June. 

Haro is a small size town located in the eastern part of La Rioja region and at one hour´s drive south of Bilbao. 

It seems that the lunch following the pilgrimage was washed down with plenty of wine and always ended in jokes between the pilgrims who then smeared each other with wine from their “botas” (leather recipients filled with wine). Special amusement came from smearing wine spots on women who did not want to spoil their clothing and for this reason, it seems there was a time when the influx of staff was scarce, until 1949 when the feast was revived in full force. From then on it was called the “Battle of the Wine”. 

The cliffs of Bilivio can be found just 6 km north of Haro where the Ebro river makes its entrance into La Rioja,  and every summer the jarreros go up there on a pilgrimage loaded with all kinds of containers that serve as weapons to throw the wine. They come with their traditional bota bags, bottles, cans, or backpacks equipped with sprayers filled with wine in order to stain the others in the best and the fastest way possible.

To have a great time and participate in the fun celebrations, you only need to follow these simple rules: 

Dress in white with the typical red bandana

You have no friends during the battle; anyone can shoot you

– You can throw wine on your neighbor from a plastic bottle, water pistol or any other recipient that isn’t glass (to not hurt any of the participants)

Have a good time during the battle

Stain any part of the clothing that is still white

The battle usually ends when all the wine is on the ground. That is why you need to take to time to replenish your strength by eating snails, typical on this occasion, or some good lamb chops that are roasted on wine shoots.

After the procession, the groups come back singing to the sound of music until they reach the town center to parade through the Plaza de la Paz and continue the festivities through the streets of Haro.

This festival has been taking shape over the years and from June 24th when San Juan is celebrated, the town has festivities until the day of the Battle of wine of Haro on the 29th of June. Other parallel activities are held in the city during these days, such as a children’s battle. Because the influence of these festivities has become much more important it has been declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest since 2011. 

If what led you to the wine festival is your love for the delicious wines of the Rioja, you must also visit some of the ancient cellars that are in the neighborhood or in the vicinity of Haro. Names of historical winemakers like Muga, López de Heredia, CVNE, or RODA deserve a tour (must be booked in advance).

In Haro, besides enjoying the Battle of wine and local cuisine with tapas at La Herradura, you can stroll through the streets discovering its historical heritage, making it a perfect place to spend a few days. Churches like St. Thomas, the Basilica de la Vega, Convent of the Augustinians along with the palaces of the Condes de Haro and Paternina show the economic strength that Haro had in the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries.

Seville Easter Festival

Semana Santa is the time of “La pasión” as locals refer to it. Seville Easter Festival or holy week is one of the busiest times of the year. Local sevillanos and Spaniards from other regions alike gather in the streets to encourage the different brotherhoods whilst they parade with heavy and beautiful art masterpieces through the narrow streets of Seville.

It is a tradition to go witness the Spanish Holly Week in the streets, going to see the starting point of one of the processions and waiting in a nearby bar, having some tapas, for the next one to pass. For those who know Seville very well, it’s great, but for the ones who don’t, it is more difficult, with the number of blocked streets and the famous “Bullas” that don’t even let you take a step. It might be best to stay close to the Cathedral, next to the back door leading to calle Mateos gago and the archbishop, because there you will see a lot of the processions that are obligated to pass next to the Cathedral.

You should also bear in mind that hotel reservation need to be booked early, because prices shoot up, the same goes if you want to rent a balcony and chairs, it is very expensive and usually have a lot of subscribers from one year to another.

Getting to experience Spanish Holy Week from a balcony is an unforgettable experience. You can enjoy privileged views, almost touching Christ or Mary as the processions pass bay. On top of that you can get catering and a private area to get together with your family and friends. This way you can avoid the crowds in the streets that enable you to properly enjoy the processions. You can also get some really good pictures from the balconies.

Further from the religious aspect, during the week you can see the streets sculptures of uncountable historical value entirely free surrounded by a mysticism halo.

A lot of Sevillians accompany the procession dressed in Nazarene custom, carrying large candles, crosses… Others choose the penance station, carrying on their shoulders the processional frames as bearers. Some carry the musical accompaniment like music groups or musical chapel, although some brotherhoods lack in musical accompaniment.

Las Fallas of Valencia

They say that the city´s bonfires originated from wanting to burn everything old: branches of the fields and all the bad things from the past year are burnt to start the spring strong with new strength and optimism for the new harvest. Fallas Valencia. These 2 words, like also paella, go together in the minds of Spanish people. Las Fallas, due to is spectacular sculptures is probably the preferred Fiesta by Spanish children. 

Particularly in Valencia city, they say the carpenters cleaned their workshops to have them ready for the San Jose festivities and burned all the remains in big bonfires, that with time got decorated, resulting in the Valencia Fallas. 

Currently, carpenters are no longer just the architects of these structures but real sculptors who create wonderful works of art composed of cardboard and cork with a unique imagination and satire. They depict scenes of social events and politics that they want to be censored and therefore want to be burnt to ashes.

During Las Fallas, held from 15 to 19 March, with the “plantá” taking place the night of 15 to 16, many can be seen in the streets a week before (assembly process) to put on the final touches on the night of the 15th. They get to about 400 scenes, each with a children’s version and some of the larger ones can measure up to 30 meters high.

The fallas are judged depending on expectations, wit and grace and the winning one will get a ninot, which will become part of the museum ninot; a place where you can enjoy the Valencia fallas throughout the year but without the fire.

During the 18 days of the festival, from the last Sunday in February where the proclamation is celebrated until the 18th, stunning and colorful fireworks are set off every night at 12. The last night ends with the famous “nit del foc” which is the most spectacular and is a prelude of the next night for the “Crema”.

Another event worthy of mentioning for its beauty is the offering to the Virgin that takes place on 17th and 18th of March where the falleros and falleras are dressed in their best costumes and parade through the city streets accompanied by their own band to pay tribute to their patron saint – the Virgin of the Helpless. When they arrive in front of the Basilica, the falleras offer a bouquet of flowers that are carefully placed on the mantle of the Virgin.

La Tomatina Festival in Buñol

You may not have heard of the tiny town of Buñol in Valencia, Spain before, but you have probably heard of or seen photographs of a massive, strange food fight where people rocket tomatoes at one another for fun. That peculiar battle is known as the Tomatina and it’s the peculiar tradition of the small village of Buñol and it is definitely something you should experience once in a lifetime. 

The tomato fight (la Tomatina festival) is celebrated each year on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol – a village of barely 9000 people in the province of Valencia. The event goes from 11 to 12 in the morning and more than 20,000 people flock there every year to take part in the world’s largest food fight. The ammunition consists of over 160.000 kilos of tomatoes which end up painting the small-town red, rivers of tomatoes pure running through the streets.

The battle is preceded by “el palo jabón”  a traditional commencement ritual, common though out Europe that dates back to 6000 BC where people try to scale a greased pole and reach a prize at the end. Once some on reaches the top and secures the prize a small explosion signals the beginning of the the fight and 6 truck loaded with the tomatoes back up and begin slowly creeping through the streets of Buñol, so participants have ammo readily available. Locals ride in the trucks distributing tomatoes  to those who need them. One of the best and moments of the battle occurs towards the end when the truck, low on tomatoes, open their back doors and the remaining tomatoes spill out onto the streets.     

The tomatoes are brought from the nearby town of Xilxes in Castellón and they are grown EXCLUSIVELY for the Tomatina. It is a specific variety of tomato that doesn’t taste great, but is perfect for throwing at another human being. 

The history of this peculiar festival dates back to 1945. There are several theories on how it started but the most widely accepted version is that during a parade of the Spanish “carnavales” several young men joined the parade without permition. The group of people who had been participating in the parade demanded that they leave and a fight broke out that was stifled by the police. The next year the same thing happened but this time the young men brought tomatoes with which to pelt the parade.

The police once again stopped the fight and after that the parade was cancelled, but the neighbours continued with this odd tomato fight.

In 1957 the Tomatina festival was prohibited, so the neighbours held a makeshift tomato funeral in protest. Finally, in 1959 the Tomatina was re-instated and rules for the fight were agreed upon. The battle has become one of Spain’s most popular Festivals, so much so that in 2002 the Tomatina was declared a “celebration of international touristic interest” by the Spanish government. 

Nowadays visiting Buñol is free but if you wan to participate in the “battle” there is an entry fee, around 10€, and proper attire must be worn and the battles rules and safety measures must be observed. Also keep in mind that Buñol is a very small village and accommodations are hard to come by.

Your best option is probably shacking up in Valencia and go to and from, plus you get to visit Valencia which is always a good thing. Another option is to head over to the El Planell camping grounds if you are looking for a more adventurous experience. Also make sure to bring a change of clothes and if you are afraid of getting tomato juice in your eyes you better bring goggles or snorkeling gear.

The battle itself is only an hour long but the festival lasts the whole week. During that week the town lights, up and the streets are filled with vendors, there are parades, fireworks, a junior tomato fight for kids, paella cook-offs, all the classic staples of a good Spanish “fiesta de pueblo” of village festival, which is as an authentic experience you can have in Spain.

In recent years a small music festival has also been taking place the same week, just outside of town. The Tomatina Sound Festival keeps the party going straight throw the night. The festival attracts a decent array on Spanish and international bands who rock Tomatina festival goers the last two days of the festival. So, if you were so inclined, you could party all night and head straight into the battle.

How ever you choose to enjoy la Tomatina festival, it is one of Spain’s quirkiest and most unforgettable festivals you can experience. If tomatoes aren’t your speed, you might want to check out the wine battle in Haro instead! 

San Fermin Festival: The Running Of The Bulls

The running of the Bulls of San Fermin, known as the San Fermin Festival, is celebrated each year in the city of Pamplona from the 7th to the 14th of July.  

The start of these bull runs at any town festival goes back to the necessity of transporting the animals from the holding pens outside the city to the plaza where they will engage in the San Fermin bull fights later in the evening.  

In Pamplona’s case, the butchers’ labor union – the ones who got the bulls for the fights accompanied the shepherds behind the cattle during transport until one day, running in front of the bulls became a popular entertainment. Up until 1852 before the actual bull ring (plaza de toros) was built, there was no set route for the bulls to run. In 1899 the route was shortened starting at the Plaza de Santo Domingo and ending at the Plaza de Toros. San Fermin is, together with Las Fallas in Valencia and Easter in Seville, one of the top festivals in Spain

For those who would like to run, the running of the bulls is free, however to participate you need to know a few important details such as the opening hours for access from 6:30 am to 7:30 am through the main door of the town hall square (Plaza Consistorial). You must also comply with certain basic rules that; failure to do so could result in sanctions.

To avoid accidents we would first advise you to choose your running path wisely as all of the routes combined amount to a bit less than one kilometer and it is impossible to complete all of them. The fastest one is the Santo Domingo path; the one with the most risky reputation is the Mercaderes; the zone of the  Estafeta is the most wide open and finally the Plaza is the most spectacular one but also a bit dangerous due to its very narrow entry.

Secondly, prior to the first “bang” indicating the start of the bull fight at precisely 8am, you should warm up as you would before any demanding physical activity to prevent injuries and to be ready to sprint. The second “bang” indicates that the bulls are out of the pen.

Once you see the bulls approaching you need to start running slowly so that you can eventually accelerate when they get closer and also to find a good spot depending on what lies ahead and behind you. It is very important that, when you can’t run anymore, you remove yourself to the side quickly and safely so as not to endanger yourself and the rest of the runners. 

Your “running of the bulls” ends when you overtake the bulls. When the third “bang” sounds you still won’t know if all the bulls have arrived to the plaza. Once the fourth “bang” sounds you will know that the bulls have already been locked in pens.

If you were unlucky and got knocked over by a bull, or just simply fell on the ground, do not get up and cover your head with your hands while following the instructions of the shepherds and guiders. Never touch the bulls!  

For tourists who don’t want to miss any detail of the running of the bulls and want to immortalize the celebration with their cameras, we recommend renting time on balconies that overlook the streets. 

These balconies rent between 80 to 150 euros per person and if you like, you can have breakfast served while waiting for the “bang”. From the balconies on the slope of Santo Domingo, you can hear the chants of the runners before the loud “bang”: A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro, dándonos su bendición”. (“We ask San Fermín to be our patron saint, to guide us in the bull fight, giving us his blessing.”) 

You can also “live” the San Fermin Bull Run from the streets, however you can’t see much since spectators must remain behind a second fencing for safety.  If you prefer a calmer, less expensive option you can watch from the town hall square. The price is 6 euros (free for kids) and you will be able to watch the running of the bulls and see them enter the arena from giant screens. 

The Horse Fair In Jerez

May is an excellent time of the year to visit Spain. Jerez de la Frontera is a lovely town, the homeland of Flamenco art, the famous wines of Sherry, Formula 1, and also a real capital of the Andalusian horse.

The horse fair in Jerez takes place in May and it is actually one of the best things to do in Spain in May every year. It is a must-visit for people in Andalusia around this time of the year. One of the top Festivals in Spain.

Let´s start with Jerez de la Frontera. A mid-size town (more than 200,000 inhabitants) located in the province of Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera is one hour’s drive south of Seville.

The horse fair in Jerez takes place after the Feria de Abril in Seville and lasts between 7 and 9 days.

History of the horse fair

The fair dates back to the middle ages. Many cattle fairs were organized in the middle ages all over Spain and in Europe.  In the case of Jerez, Alfonso X the Wise granted the town the faculty to hold two fairs each year; in May and one in September. This happened after Jerez was reconquered from Moor rule. These fairs aimed at developing trade with merchants from Europe, mainly England and today´s Netherlands. Wine and horses were of utmost importance and special tax rules were put in place

Most cattle fairs disappeared, but horses are essential in the history and present economy of Jerez.  Jerez de la Frontera is home of the Royal Andalusian School of equestrian art, and also home for the Spanish stud farm, la yeguada military de Jerez de la Frontera.

Is the horse fair worth-visiting?

During the days of the fair, visitors can enjoy many activities: horse riding, horse shows, and competitions. Similar to the case of the April fair in Seville, the Jerez horse fair boasts many booths (above 200). Along with horse shows, there is, as you may anticipate, sherry wine, flamenco shows, and food.

One of the main differences of this fair in Jerez, if compared to other Andalusian fairs, is that booths are opened to the public (in other fairs, like the April Seville fair, most booths are private booths). These booths (casetas) offer sherry wine and food.  The fair is huge, though of smaller size if compared to the Feria de Abril (with over 1,000 booths every year). It is however important to mention once more that at the Sevilla fair most booths are private.

The fair takes place at the Parque Gonzalez Hontoria and, as in other festivals, lights are essential. There are 2 fairs: the day fair and the night fair.  During the day fair, most horse-related activities take place. At night, lights are on and the Calle del Infierno (Hell street) is packed with families that bring their children to the attractions.

Andalusian horses, Flamenco and sherry wine!

For any lover of horses, this is a must-visit. Horse and carriages are found during the day in the streets of Jerez. Pure bred Andalusian horses march smartly guided by their riders. Flamenco music sounds, a group of dancers starts a “sevillana” and glasses are filled with rebujitos (7up and sherry wine) and fino wine.

You will get caught by the traditional costumes (flamenco costumes but also the horse riding costumes) Everybody look really smart at the Fair! And we do not just refer to the dancers or riders, but also all jerezanos, that wear their best clothes to enjoy the fair. Something that is really pleasant in Jerez at the time of the fair is the shades and fresh air offered by the trees in Parque Gonzalez Hontoria.

Visitors from all over the world arrive to Jerez to enjoy superb shows of doma vaquera and doma classica. There are also riding competitions, polo (Jerez de la Frontera has had a very strong british influence throughout its history), and carriage driving. Besides flamenco, there is also bullfighting at the time of the fair.

In case you are however not able to make it to Jerez around those days you will always have the possibility to enjoy both Flamenco shows and horse riding shows in Jerez. The famous show by the Royal Andalusian school of equestrian art is organized every week. Under the name, how the Andalusian horses dance, this show offers a good way to get introduced to the art of la doma.

The Patios De Cordoba

Summer can be sweltering in the Andalusian city of Cordoba. Even in spring and fall, there are days in which temperatures reach 30C (85F). It was initially the Romans who started to build courtyards. They made fountains in the middle of the courtyards. The water brought freshness to the house, and the water dripping contributed to a feeling of relaxation.

The Romans also started to build wells. When it rained, the wells were filled with water that could be used later. Since the courtyards were protected to the sun, evaporation was prevented. The Moslems introduced the use of plants and flowers, which improved the overall feeling of freshness inside the houses.

The patios of Cordoba are today a Unesco protected attraction. Some of them are opened and you will be able to enjoy them if you get to walk next to them. Other patios can be visited as part of a guided tour and many others, private patios mainly, are shown to visitors only during the patios de Cordoba festival.

What is the date for the patios de Cordoba Festival?

The festival of the patios de Cordoba takes place in May. It lasts a bit less than 2 weeks. The festival started as a public competition in 1921. That year, for the first time, the local authorities in Cordoba (the Town-hall) organized a competition. The owners of houses with patios were asked to decorate their patios for this special occasion. Prizes were put in place, besides, of course, the already distinguished honor of winning this prestigious award.

Today this festival is a major tourist attraction in Cordoba and people from Cordoba get ready for it not only decorating their patios, but also with the celebration of music and dance festivals inside the patios. Local wines are an important part of the festival too. 

How are the patios de Cordoba?

There is not a single type of Patio. Their size, for instance, varies from the huge Patio of the Mosque, to very small patios inside humble private houses.

As we have already mentioned, the idea of the patio originates in Cordoba from the Roman domus. The domus was however very large in size, and in areas in which the population concentrated in small extensions of land, they had to be redefined. Under these circumstances, many patios were made from the addition of several block of houses, each containing more than one apartment.

The patio, in these cases, was a shared space. In the ruins of Medina Zahara (the impressive Alhambra style fortress and ruins located near Cordoba) there is a very good example of how these initial Muslim patios were (el Patio de Pilates and the Casa de la Alberca).

If we were to establish a way to classify the patios this could be the following one: Patios: popular patios, religious and monuments.

Where are the patios or courtyards located in Cordoba?

There are patios in many areas of Cordoba and even modern buildings include them today. But the patios that constitute a Unesco heritage monument are located between the Alcazar and the Parish of San Basilio (this area is known as the Alcazar Viejo district). But there are other areas of Cordoba that are also well-known for the presence of beautiful patios: the San Marina district (around the churches of San Lorenzo and La Magdalena), or in the old jewish quarter, close to the mosque.

During the weeks in the month of May when the contest takes place it is possible to visit the different patios freely. There is no entrance fee but it is essential to bear in mind that many of these patios are private houses. The owners open the patios to visitors, and in return they expect silence and respect. Some 50 patios participate every year in the contest, and there are several awards given (up to 20) The town-hall understand that this festival requires private effort and it is an important festival for the city of Cordoba. This explains why the amount of prizes is high.

Things to bear in mind to visit the Patios de Cordoba

It is essential to differentiate between the weeks of May (the time of this Spanish Festival) in which the contest takes place and the rest of the year.

It is essential to differentiate between the weeks of May in which the contest takes place and the rest of the year. But there is no need to worry. If you are planning your trip to Cordoba in any other month you will also be able to enjoy the Patios.