Spain is definitely the land of “fiesta”. One of the best ways to get to know the Spanish people is through their carnivals, fairs and pilgrimages that are a magic blend of music, dancing, gastronomy and wine.
You can say whatever you want about this people, but one thing is for sure: when it’s fiesta time, no-one does it better than the Spanish!
If you are in the mood for a party you can choose from the most popular “fiestas”:
1. Sanfermines, Pamplona
The Feast of Feasts is the most popular in Spain and is celebrated in the honour of San Fermin, the patron Saint of Navarre every year starting with July 7. It is also very well known internationally as being the celebration of the running of the bulls, the race in which the bulls run on the streets in the old part of the city.
The only golden rule of this spectacular fiesta is: live and celebrate life; enjoy yourself the best you can and teach others to do the same. In fact, during the San Fermines, the population of Pamplona grows from 200,000 to more than 1.000.000 people. Let’s run then!
2. “Fallas”, Valencia
This is one of the biggest and most spectacular street festivals in Europe – one of those extraordinary and unique events that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.” Fallas” means ‘fires’ in the local Valencian language and on the night of March 19th, each year, the whole city appears to be a blaze when more than 350 beautifully made statues are burnt to the ground.
The world-renowned five-day fiesta has its origins in pagan rituals which, over the centuries, have become integrated into the religious festival in the honour of St Joseph.
It has recently become a very important tourist attraction with the participation of more than one million people. Each year, from 15 to 19 March, Valencia is preparing to receive spring.
The streets are filled with joy and bustle. The Valencians live their most international fiesta to the maximum, and the burning ritual signifies eradicating the bad and reborning from its ashes to welcome a new season of the year.
3. The Tomatina, Buñol
The Tomatina is a festival celebrated in the Valencian town of Buñol, on the last Wednesday of August. For the participants it is recommended to use goggles and gloves because the tradition says that the participants must throw tomatoes to each other. The tomatoes must be crushed before being launched so that they don’t harm anyone.
4. Seville April Fair
During a week Seville lives only for this feast. Traditional music, food, dance and fun create a very special atmosphere. The fiesta officially begins on Monday with the “proof of the lighting”. All the participants go to the’ Portada’, the beautiful structure at the entrance to the Feria which is almost 50 meters tall and is different each year, where thousands of coloured lights are switched on by the Mayor of Seville at midnight .
In the interior there are more than 1000 ‘casetas’ installed. These are privately owned tents where friends, relatives and guests can entertain and enjoy typical products of the land, drink wine, sing, and, of course, dance sevillanas.
Every day there is a procession called the ‘Paseo de Caballos’ in which beautiful horses carry people in their traditional attire and every evening some of the year’s top bullfights take place at the historic Plaza de Toros in Seville.
5. The Moors and Christians, Alicante
More than 80 towns and villages hold a Fiesta called’ Moros y Cristianos’ to celebrate the ‘Reconquista’, the region’s liberation from Muslim rule in the 13th century.
Although this feast is celebrated in many provinces, the most famous ones are those of Alicante and especially those of Alcoy, of International Touristic Interest. Between the 21 and the 24 of April, each year, the participants march around the town all day long accompanied by their bands, the Moors and the Christians, disguising themselves in the traditional costumes of the time to play the historical deeds of the ‘Reconquista’.
If you are looking for a berth for your boat Marina Deportiva del Puerto de Alicante is always a great choice.
6. Carnival of Cadiz
This traditional Spanish celebration is manifested as one of the most extravagant parties that you can attend in Europe. It takes place every year at the end of February or beginning of March and it’s an exuberant burst of emotion and colour celebrating life. Music of all types completes the atmosphere and, the most famous participants are the ‘chirigotas’, officially recognised groups of ‘gaditanos’ (people of Cadiz) who wander the streets entertaining everyone with their funny, satirical songs.
Although they are dressed in extravagant costumes these are less showy than the ones you might see in Rio. In the streets you can also find a wide variety of improvisational theatre performed by the ‘ilegales’, a term referring to just about anyone who fancies taking part.
If you come by boat and need a place to moor we recommend Marina Alcaidesa.
7. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
This impressive festival is world-famous for its exuberance and wildness and lasts for up to three weeks. Tenerife is only exceeded by Rio de Janeiro as the top world destination for celebrating carnivals.
The dazzling costumes and endless dancing are very important parts of the show and you should definitely consider wearing a costume, because you might feel a bit out of place in normal clothing.
There is fabulous live entertainment on Latin and Salsa music as this is one of the wildest parties in Spain spiced up with fancy competitions, spectacular vintage car shows and lots of fun.
Need a berth to moor your boat? Puerto Deportivo Pasito Blanco is a great choice .
8. Feast of the Sella River, Ribadesella
The Asturian town of Ribadesella turns every August into a reference point for sport, culture and fun. This famous fiesta consists of the descent of the River Sella in a tour of 15 kilometres. Thousands of attendees come each year to the most important summer event in Asturias. Tourists will find here a real traditional party that has it all; from objects of worship such as vests and cloth caps to folkloric music and rural tents, all adorned with splendid necklaces of flowers.
Marina Gijon is always a great place to moor in Asturias.
9. El Rocio Pilgrimage
The Rocío Pilgrimage is a popular Andalusian religious celebration in honour of the Virgen Del Rocio and takes place from 22 to 25 May. More than a million people visit each year this festival, to venerate the Virgin. This traditional fiesta, which is one of the most important in the Christian world, surprises by the incredible devotion of the participants that are overwhelmed with pure emotion and feeling.
The “fiesta” means an annual pilgrimage on foot, on horseback or in carts to the sanctuary of the White Dove, located in the village of El Rocio, only 17 kilometres far from the town of Almonte (Huelva).
10. Fiestas de San Miguel, Lleida
This is one of the most important agricultural fairs in the country, and is celebrated every year on the 29th of September in the Park of the Champs Elysees. There are many artistic manifestations and various traditional performances such as the typical dances of the sardana.
Huge figures called “giants” preside over the feasts and the famous “correfuegos” (fireworks of varied colours, with beautiful designs) illuminate the streets of the city.
The ‘Castellers’ are a representative part of the “fiesta”, building huge human castles to entertain the spectators.