Spanish fiestas - the art of celebration

by Neil Morris

fiesta san rafaelSpanish fiestas reflect the very essence of Spain through their unabashed displays of exuberance and passion. Whether it is a celebration of a significant religious event or the eulogizing of a local ingredient, no-one is better than the Spanish at finding a reason to rejoice.

This unique ability to ritualize a situation has resulted in an incredible number of official and unofficial fiestas and festivals taking place in each and every village, town and City across the country. To give you an example of how the Spanish like to celebrate; I once visited a town where nearly all the inhabitants turned up for the opening of an underground car park. What started as a simple and solemn ribbon-cutting on a Saturday afternoon, soon turned into an evening of food, drink, music and revelry that would put many New Years Eve parties to shame in other parts of Europe!tomatina

There are some festivals – mainly the larger religious ones - that are celebrated nationwide with regular public holidays and there are many more, such as food and drink festivals, that are unique to certain areas. No matter what the occasion the Spanish have an attitude to celebration that is truly unique and attending a Spanish fiesta can give you a true taste of Spanish culture.

Many of the festivals in Spain are so famous that they attract visitors from all over the world. Events such as the 'running of the bulls' at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, 'La Tomatina' Tomato festival in Bunol and the 'Battle of Wine' at the Haro wine festival are renowned for their sheer craziness and images of the revellers enjoying the antics at these festivals has drawn global interest from the more adventurous travellers.tenerife-carnival

The 'Carnival of Santa Cruz' which takes place every February in Tenerife, is the second largest carnival in the world after the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The carnival features night after night of music, dancing and fancy dress all culminating in 'entierro de la sardina' (burial of the sardine), where a dead fish is ceremoniously buried to officially end the festivities.

The art of the Spanish fiesta

tomatina postersan isidro posterharo festival posterferia del caballo jerezsomontano wine festivalThe Spanish fiestas are promoted by colourful and artistic posters many of which have traditionally been designed by famous artists; more recently there has been a trend of allowing members of the public to design posters through open competitions. The posters can be vibrant, creative and witty just like the fiestas themselves.

Some well-known Spanish fiestas

Spanish Christmas - Nationwide (December)

El Dia de los Santos Inocentes - Various locations (December)

The Three Kings - Nationwide (January)

Tamborrada of Donostia - San Sebastián (January)

Tapas Fair - Sevilla (February)

La Candelaria - Nationwide (February)

Cadiz Carnival - Cadiz (February)

Carnival of Santa Cruz - Tenerife (February)

Carnaval de Toro - Ciudad Rodrigo (February)

Entierro de la Sardina - Various locations (February)

Flamenco Festival - Jerez (February/March)

Las Fallas - Valencia (March)

Moros y Cristianos - Various locations (Throughout the year)

Semana Santa - Nationwide (Week leading up to Easter)

Romeria de la Virgen de la Cabeza - Andújar (April)

Feria de Abril - Sevilla (April)

La dia de Sant Jordi - Barcelona (April)

Lunes de Aguas - Salamanca (April)

Cruces de Mayo - Various locations (May)

Festival de Patios - Cordoba (May)

Feria de Cordoba (May)

Feria del Caballo - Jerez (May)

San Isidro - Alicante (May)

Corpus Christi Festival - Cordoba (June)

Dia de San Juan - Various locations (June)

Fiesta del vino - Haro (June)

Jazz Festival - San Sebastián (July)

Danza de los Zancos - Anguiano (July)

Las Nieves - Pontevedra (July)

Festival Internacional de Musica - Ciudad de Trujillo (July)

Dia de la Virgen de Carmen - Various locations (July)

San Fermin - Pamplona (July)

Herri Kirolak - Bilbao (August)

Feria Malaga (August)

La Tomatina - Buñol (August)

Fiestas de Otoño - Jerez (September)

Fiesta de San Mateo - Logroño (September)

La Merce - Barcelona (September)

La Vendimia - Various locations (September)

Salamanca Ferias (September)

Santa Tecla - Tarragona (September)

Semana de Cava - Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (October)

Fiestas del Pilar - Zaragoza (October)

Concurs de Castells - Tarragona (October)

Dia de la Raza - Various locations (October)

carreras de caballos

santa tecla

aste nagusia

pilar zaragoza

fiesta del olivo

moros i cristians

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