When I first set up Spanish-Fiestas.com I hadn’t really given much thought to the wonderful world of festivals in Spain. At the time I was working at San Pablo CEU University in Madrid and started organising weekends for British football fans who wanted to see a Real Madrid game. Shortly afterwards I met a bloke from Barcelona called Miquel who had started doing the same kind of thing for FC Barcelona matches so we found ourselves cooperating quite a lot at that time. I then packed in my ‘proper job’, moved to Andalucia and started working hard on the website. The more I researched the more I became fascinated with festivals around Spain and soon recognised the importance of fiestas in local communities. As soon as one year’s fiestas come to an end preparations begin for the following year. I’m sure such voluntary work which unites young and old is a key factor in explaining the impressive community spirit which prevails throughout Spain.
Valencia in March is the ‘Fallas‘ when huge papier-mache figures are burnt in the streets every night after a year has been spent building them. And in Bunyol in August it’s La Tomatina, the world’s biggest tomato fight. These are certainly some of the biggest annual festivals as far as foreign tourists are concerned but what about all the little festivals that take place all over the country?
Every single city, town and village in the country celebrates its own unique fiesta and it’s the smaller, local festivals that can prove just as rewarding to the visitor. In Miraflores de la Sierra in the Guadarrama mountains of Madrid we used to always go to the annual village festival of San Blas in February. The whole village heads out to a local hillside where a shrine to the village’s patron saint stands. Everyone is equipped with chairs, tables, food and wine and huge pots are put on open fires where ‘bacalao con patatas’ (cod and potatoes) is prepared for the whole village. By late afternoon all the villagers have returned to the bars which remain packed throughout the night.
In Tenerife the burial of the sardine (El Entierro de la Sardina) usually takes place on Ash Wednesday which marks the end of the enormous Carnival celebrations when a 30 foot papier-mache fish get taken through the streets of Santa Cruz whilst being mourned by male “widows” in miniskirts and fishnets. If you think that sounds bizarre I don’t know what you’ll make of the annual baby jumping festival in Burgos or the Fiesta of Near Death Experiences in Galicia!
There are many festivals of international interest which celebrate music and the arts notably the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance which takes place in the grounds of the Alhambra Palace. San Sebastian in the Basque Country is packed to the seams during its annual jazz and film festivals and the Benicassim Festival has become an important European music festival in a small town north of Valencia.
There are plenty food and drink related fiestas throughout the country and some bizarre ones involving donkeys and church roofs, but we won’t go into that right now! Because of the sheer number of festivals the Spanish-Fiestas website will probably never be complete, however, we’re adding more and more all the time. Please take a look at our Spanish Festivals page where you’ll find a description of most of the best known festivals and a calendar of events.