La Tomatina – Valencia Tomato Fight Festival
August. Bunol. Valencia.
Every year around 30,00 people descend on the Spanish town of Bunol (in the Valencia region of Spain) to throw more than 240,000 pounds of tomatoes at each other as part of the La Tomatina festival.
Tamborrada de San Sebastian/The San Sebastian Drum Festival.
January. San Sebastian, Basque Country.
A march to the deafening sounds of drums, as groups of drummers parade through the city on the night of the first day of the year. The next morning, the Tamborrada Infantil (Child Drummer’s Ceremony) is celebrated.
La Endiablada/The Disguised Devils
February. Cuenca, Castilla y La Mancha.
People of this village celebrate disguised as devils in this festival of prehistoric origin. The young boys of the town dressed as devils – wearing pants and jackets painted in bright designs, with large cowbells tied to their waists, and multicolored paper hats, which are replaced later on with cardboard bishop mitres – run through the streets, dance at the entrance and inside the church, pretend to wash the statue of San Blas, and march in procession with it to the uninterrupted sound of the cowbells.
Fallas de San Jose
This Fiesta dates from the Middle Ages, but it did not acquire the personality we know today until the middle of the last century. The festivites include a nighttime parade; a procession of the old towns of Valencia; the offerings of flowers to Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), patroness of the city; and the famous Nit del Foc (Night of the Fire), on which all the fallas (grotesque and humorous scenes made up of cardboard figures) are burned.
Feria de Abril/April Fair
April. Sevilla, Andalucia.
Shortly after Holy Week, the Seville Fair opens, brimming over with joy and full of specularity. Morning, evening and night – the height being at midday during the long cavalcade of riders, and late at night when the spirit takes over the thousand throats of the cantaores (flamenco singers) and the legs and arms of the bailaoras (dancers) with their four sevillanas – the Real de la Feria blazes with multicolored tents, wreaths and paper lanterns outlined against the sky.
Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians)
April 22 to April 24. Alicante, Valencia.
Starting with the feast of the Holy Christ, in Valverde del Jucar (Cuenca) in January and ending with the Moorish King in Agost (Alicante) in December, almost one hundred and fifty celebrations of Moors and Christians take place over the length and breadth of the country. The majority are found in Alicante where the festivities become livelier and more numerous as the days pass. As early as the 17th century, groups of Moors and Christians drove through the town accompanied by noisy bands, after which a battle ensues, ending with the triumph of the followers of the Cross, who surround the Moors and defeat them. Everything goes on amidst the noise of fireworks and the ringing of bells.
Festival de los Patios Cordobeses/The Cordoba Patio Festival.
May. Cordoba, Andalucia.
This centuries-old festival includes the pilgrimage of the conquering Virgin of the Linares Sanctuary across the countryside with horsemen and richly decorated coaches, a competition of Mary Crosses and a Patio, Iron Grille and Balcony Contest in which the patios, small side street and plazas so typical of the city are filled with flowers.
May 29. Toledo, Castilla y La Mancha.
The nun Juliana of Liege used to have a strange vision every time she began to pray, in which a full moon appeared with its center darkened by shadow. Finally, Jesus himself told her of the significance of the vision: the bright circle signified all liturgical celebrations and these were only darkened by the absence of a feast day dedicated to the exaltation of the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which was debated at the time). Official recognition of the feast day was given in 1246. The new feast day arrived in Spain sometime during the 14th century. In the procession, the main feature is the Host, housed in magnificent masterpieces of silverwork.
Hogueras de San Juan
June 20 to June 29. Alicante, Valencia.
A series of ancient rituals which were followed on this, the shortest night of the year, when light triumphs over darkness, have been studied in minute detail in the work of Baroja. In these rituals, the essential features are the sun, fire and water. Around the feast of San Juan the streets are often decorated with branches and leaves, especially the balconies of young girls in love, who are serenaded; pines and poplars are planted; pilgrimages (‘romerias’) are undertaken; straw effiges are burnt; the herb thyme is blessed; and ‘sanjuanera’ songs are sung.
Fiestas de Haro
Summer. Haro, La Rioja.
Festivities are strung out through the summer, but the most famous Festival in the city is celebrated on the 29th June – the day of San Pedro. During this Festival the famous Wine Battle takes place in the Riscos de Bilibio.
Dia de Santiago
July 25. Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.
Celebration of the patron Saint of Spain. Fireworks, parades, televised mass. National holiday.
August 3. Pontevedra, Galicia.
An splendid simulation of the Viking invasion of the Torres de Oeste, which are defended by the Christian natives. After the ‘battle’ everybody drinks red wine from the Ulla River and eats seafood, all for free. The feast is followed by folkloric dancing, in which everyone participates.
August. Felanitx, Balearic Islands.
Felanitx celebrates its local fiesta on August 28th, Saint Augustine’s day. To tell the truth, it’s a bit of an exotic patron saint, given that most Majorcan towns and villages celebrate Saint John, Saint Anthony, Saint Joseph or Saint Sebastian. The Town Hall organizes a whole week of activities: sports, theatre, a children’s festival, etc., including four or five outdoors music and dance night festivals, called verbenes.
Fiesta de Verano
August. Malaga, Andalucia.
This festival usually starts the second Friday of August with spectacular fireworks. Then, the feria takes place in the centre of Malaga during the afternoon. People wear traditional Spanish costumes and dance sevillanas and malaguenas in the street; eat fish, cheese and ham and drink a delicious, sweet, red wine. The fair takes place during bullfighting season, so one can see a magnificent contest in the afternoon.
Fiestas Patronales de La Virgen de Gracia
September. Albacete, Castilla y La Mancha.
With more than 400 years of tradition behind them, the Fiestas of Caudete are celebrated every year to honour its Virgin, La Virgen de Gracia. The main components are the fireworks, gunpowder, music, procession, and flower offering to the Virgin.
Fiestas de la Vendimia Riojana/ La Rioja Wine Festival
September (around the 21st, the Day of San Mateo). Logrono, La Rioja.
Harvesting festivities of one of the most renown wine regions in Spain. The Rioja is the center of a very important wine culture.