When it comes to traditional (if occasionally a bit bonkers) festivals then Spain is pretty much the place to be.
It seems that wherever you venture, from big city to quaint fishing port, you’re never far away from the next communal gathering. The welcoming of a new season, the celebration of regional identity or the giving of thanks for not dying (yes – see below!).
So if you thought that Fiesta was that car your mum used to take you to school in, or that magazine you found at the bottom of your dad’s wardrobe, then think again, good people. Here’s just a sample of the festivals in Spain throughout the year which brings the country its colour and own inimitable brand of Latin eccentricity.
The start of spring is the perfect time for visitors to Valencia to see the city at its most vibrant, colourful and crazy.
A fire festival from pagan tradition this is a fiesta seen to be believed. From endless fireworks and bonfires and enormous papier mache effigies of celebrities, politicians and anyone else deemed fit to burn.
And burn they must certainly, come the grand finale of the festival when pretty much everything goes up in flames.
It’s wild and crazy with day-night partying and a lot of very Spanish fun.
Feria De Abril – Seville
Seville’s April Festival is a week long fiesta traditionally held following the Easter celebrations and another Spanish ‘Ola’ to spring.
A week of traditional revelry from Spanish dancing and crafts to, of course lots to eat an drink with yet more fireworks to enjoy come the big finale over the Guadadalquivir River come Sunday night.
The last Wednesday of August sees the streets of Bunyal (near Valencia) run red. This is the entirely wacky Tomatina festival in which the entire town takes aim in the world’s biggest tomato fight. Now one of the most popular festivals on the Spanish calendar with people flocking from all over the world to ketchup with the action (sorry).
Brilliant – but utterly barmy.
Sonar Festival Barcelona
Techno lovers and discerning dance aficionados need to head to Barcelona in June for a three day celebration of the best groovers in the land, and beyond. Attracting thousands of revellers and blending traditional DJ-ing with modern multimedia the Sonar Festival is a hot ticket for the avant-garde and has played host to eclectic acts such as Bjork, the Chemical Brothers and Pet Shop Boys down the years.
The Baby Jumping Festival
I really don’t know what to say about this one as it pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin – astonishingly.
Laying new born babies onto a mat on the floor, some dressed as little devils, they are then subjected to adults jumping over them – to cleanse their souls.
Hosted in Castillo de Murcia near Burgos the festival has been going for nigh on four hundred years. And yes, this is a real thing.
Gay Pride Week Madrid
Celebrating the capital city’s reputation as a friendly venue for all genders and sexualities Gay Pride week has been a summer festival in Madrid since the 1980s (albeit on a smaller scale back then). These days it’s a bonanza of colour and fun amid parties, concerts and arts festivals hosted for an by the LGBT community from across the country.
Pamplona Running of the Bulls
One of the most well known (notorious?) festivals in Spain is the annual bull run for the festival of San Fermin. Literally thousands of people gather in the town square at dawn for the Mayor’s official start, after which the herd of disgruntled and probably a bit confused bulls are released into the streets to stampede and charge the hysterical revellers before being led into the bull ring for a more traditional spot of fighting with a nattily dressed matador.
Fiesta of Near Death Experiences
We love Spain in all its eccentric glory.
And this is a classic.
Held in the little town of Neves in Galacia, this is a festival in which people who have had a brush with death – illness, tomato in the eye, bull gouging, that sort of thing we suppose – head to the town to pay respects and thanks to the Saint of Death.
This is carried out by folk heading along the streets carrying open coffins in which contains the almost killed person.
Weird. Macabre. Spanish.