In here we’re show you 10 popular festivals in Spain. Spain has a rich history and diverse culture, and many centuries-old festivals and traditions are upheld today. From dazzling firecrackers and bonfires at Valencia’s Las Fallas festival to open-air street concerts at Fiesta de San Isidro in Madrid, here are some of the most popular festivals and events in Spain. If you time your trip well, you might be lucky to experience some of them for yourself!
01. Las Fallas
The origin of las Fallas comes from the old carpenter’s tradition who, when celebrating the arrival of spring on 19th March, used to burn pieces of wood (parots) that were used to prop up their lights during the winter.
To this bonfire they gradually started to add old belongings and rags, which gave the wooden structure a human-looking aspect, until they became the ninots that we know today. The Valencian sense of humour soon gave the irony shown in the ninots which is maintained at present.
The Fallas celebrations have evolved into temporary works of art which, in some cases, cost millions of euros.
02. La Tomatina
The small town of Buñol in Valencia has a population of just 9,000 people, but every August some 40,000 visitors arrive for the huge tomato fight known as La Tomatina.
The streets of Buñol become rivers of tomato purée, as crowds of revellers from all over the world pelt each other with over-ripe tomatoes in this huge, state-sanctioned food fight – undoubtedly the largest tomato fight in the world.
03. Semana Santa
Semana Santa in spain is a truly joyous occasion anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do ‘religion’ or church of any description. However, I have to say being in Spain for Holy Week (Semana Santa) has been moving and inspiring.
Celebrations in Spain often take place over days and weeks depending on the festival. What does Semana mean in English? The translation of Semana is week and Santa is holy.
Semana Santa is also called La Madruga, which is the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday and it is the most important religious celebration in Spain, (Semana Santa in English is Holy Week).
04. Sitges Carnival
Sitges Carnival is one of the world’s top 10 carnivals and attracts more than 250,000 people to Sitges over 7 days with amazing parades, shows and parties.
This is one Winter festival you don’t want to miss! Everyone dresses up for Sitges Carnival – Don’t forget your costume.
05. Fiesta de San Isidro
Fiesta de San Isidro is a Catholic festival to honour San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid. San Isidro was a farm labourer who lived in Madrid in the 12th-century, but it’s also believed he was a miracle worker, particularly those related to water. One of the most famous miracles he performed was when he saved his son from a well by asking God to fill it with water so he could float to the top.
Over the centuries, Fiesta de San Isidro has evolved to become an all-encompassing celebration of Madrid’s traditional and modern culture, from the stories of San Isidro’s life to live folk music to delicious street food.
06. Feria de Abril
Feria de Abril begins the night of the “alumbrao”, the inaugural moment when all the fairground lights are lit. This is also the night the traditional “pescaíto frito” (fried fish) is tasted in the stands. After a week of constant celebration, the Fair concludes with a great fireworks display over the Guadalquivir River.
The Fair is like a small, ornate town: an ephemeral world where the houses are booths, lit with lanterns and all the streets are named for legendary bullfighters.
07. Semana Grande
Semana Grande, also known as Aste Nagusia (meaning ‘Big Week’), is Bilbao’s biggest festival and is a nine-day event which occurs in the month of August.
Semana Grande honours the Virgen de Begoña and is also a celebration of Basque culture, it comprises a whole host of events from street concerts and fireworks to parades, as well as traditional Basque dances and rural sport competitions.
08. Haro Wine Festival
Every summer the Spanish town of Haro in the heart of La Rioja Province explodes into a wine war. Join thousands of wine lovers as unforgiving residents pump thousands of litres of booze out of water pistols, hoses and other vessels in this grand example of wine warfare – don’t worry, the fruit used didn’t make the cut for bottling.
It doesn’t take long until the crowd transforms into a sea of purple. Be warned: no one is spared – this is not a spectator sport.
09. Fiesta De La Merce
These fiestas were first held in 1871, in honour of the Virgen de la Merced, named patron saint of the city by Pope Pious IX in 1868. The programme for the fiesta centres especially on Mediterranean culture, and includes more than 500 activities to suit all tastes: from street entertainment and concerts to folk dances, theatre performances and dance shows in the street.
There are a host of things to see. Special mention should be made of the traditional human castles, parades of “giants and big-heads”, the Correfoc (characters in costume carrying flaming torches and flares), as well as the BAM independent music Festival
10. Pride Madrid
MADO (Madrid Pride) , is a series of street celebrations that take place during the city´s LGTB (lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual) Pride Week. The Statewide Demonstration is the central event of this very eventful week and is Europe´s largest.
Outdoor concerts -on six different stages-, parties, expositions, culture and sports (all of which are celebrated around the Chueca neighborhood in downtown Madrid) make up the whole of Madrid Pride.