Pay a visit to Spain at any time of the year and you will probably come across a fiesta or two. This is a country that enjoys a good party and never says no to a celebration. While the exact dates of each fiesta may vary from year to year they generally all take place around the same time every year. Detailed here are some of the more famous of the countries celebrations.
January – March
Januarys sees the Festividad de San Sebastian taking place within the town of San Sebastian. It commemorates the capture of the city in 1812 by the Duke of Wellington who’s forced defeated the French troops that had been in occupation. February is a month where the taste buds are tantalised by tapas at the Seville Tapas Fair. Seville is regarded as the world capital when it comes to tapas and the fair offers up a feast for the senses. February also marks ‘Carnaval’ time in Sitges, Barcelona, Cadiz and Tenerife this is a large and colourful celebration with music and dance and a host of fancy dress costumes. Things pick up in March with the Festival de Jerez. This is a festival of flamenco and the top performers will come together in Jerez to do flamenco battle. It is also festival time in Valencia. This is the Fallas de San Jose which involves massive street parties, nightly firework displays and at the end of the celebration the burning of huge papier-mâché effigies of some of the countries famous figures.
April – June
Spain is a predominantly Catholic country and as such some of the biggest fiestas of the year take place around Easter time. The events start with Semana Santa (Holy Week). This is celebrated right across the country however if you want to experience the best on offer from this festival you should make your way to Malaga, Grenada, Seville or Cordoba. In Andalucia this is the major festival of the year and the streets are filled with religious themed floats. April also sees plenty of activity in Alicante where stage the celebration of Moros y Cristianos (Moors vs. Christians). The streets are filled with mock battles marking the struggles that once took place here. Two weeks after the easter celebrations the Seville April Fair hits the ground running, this has to be one of the biggest events of the year, it also marks the Romeria de Andujar, a mass pilgrimage undertaken in Andalucia to the shrine of the Virgin Mary. During Cruces de Mayo parishes in the towns of Cordoba and Grenada are dressed with large crosses and there are many street parties. The parting continues in Cordoba with the Fiesta de los Patios a town wide competition to discover who has the prettiest patio. Hot on the heels of the patio completion comes the Feria de Cordoba, similar to the Seville April Fair this fiesta is a mix of flamenco and everything that defines Spain. May is also the month of the Jerez horse fair and the Fiera del Caballo. Meanwhile Madrid hosts the biggest of the Spanish bullfighting festivals and the city’s patron saint is celebrated across the nation. One of the largest festivals of the year takes place in June, yet many people outside of Spain won’t have heard of it. It is La Romeria del Rocia a mass pilgrimage of around one million people who travel to the El Rocia in Huelva to worship and pray at the shrine of the Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage is generally made on foot or by horse and cart only. The International festival of Music and dance takes place in Grenanda while the south of the country celebrates Hogueras se San Juan which involves fireworks and bonfires to celebrate midsummer.
July – September
The Festival de Cordoba is a celebration of Spanish guitar which takes place every year in the Alcazar gardens. Pamplona meanwhile sees the famous running of the bulls through the city streets. One of the highlights of the music calendar takes place in Valencia, namely the Benicassim Festival while jazz performers head to San Sebastian for the annual jazz festival. On the 16th across the south of the country you will probably see statues of the Virgin Mary being walked onto land from the sea complete with firework displays. There is also one slightly odd festival which takes place at this time of year, the Fiesta of Near Death Experiences is on odd one, It takes place in Gailicia and involves the participants carrying their own coffins. Things so a little crazy in August as the Tomato Festivals comes to Bunyol. Basically arrive during the festival and you will be entering into the world biggest tomato fight. The Feira de Malaga turns that whole of the south coast into one big party. Then all things Basque are celebrated in Bilbao. September brings the wine harvest and this is celebrated in Jerez da la Frontera by means of the Jerez Sherry Festival and goes on for a full three weeks. Spanish champagne, ‘Cava’ is celebrated in the aptly named Cava Week while a paella festival takes place in Logrono.
October – December
The buzz of activity that has filled the summer months starts to tail off now. The biggest celebration taking place this month is to be found in Zaragosa. It is another religious festival linked to the Virgin Mary. November begins with All Saints Day, quite a dark and sombre day when everyone returns to the place of their birth to remember the deceased members of their families. Tourists to the country looking to feel a little winter sun will enjoy the fiestas that take place in Benidorm at this time of year. Christmas in Spain is very much a family oriented holiday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are generally very quiet, but once midnight strikes on the 31st December the parties here will rival any taking place anywhere else in the world. With one year of fiestas an celebrations over the calendar comes full circle and the parties start all over again.