Tips: google with name of town or city and name of festival for more information. Look carefully as there is often information from previous years still posted. If you are already in the area: check with local or regional tourism office as details vary from year to year – or dates may change slightly to hold celebrations on weekends. If you are in a village and there is no tourism office, ask at the local bakery or bar. See Madrid’s drop-down menu for fiestas in that city.
Hottest this trimester: Avila’s Medieval Market first weekend in September
July: Zumarraga (Guipúzcoa), July 2, regional dance and music. Pamplona (Navarra) starts July 7, San Fermin, the famous bull-running festival, a week of celebrating and the daily excitement of the bull-running and bullfights. Banyoles (Girona), first Sunday, festival of regional Catalan dances. Small village near La Estrada (Pontevedra) and small village near Vivero (Lugo), first weekend in July, Rapa des Bestas, when the semi-wild mountain horses are caught, branded and broken. Pontevedra, July 11, San Benito, special mass at a chapel, decorated boats cross the local river, kayak competition, traditional dance and music, grilled sardines. Upper Roncal valley (Navarra, nearest town Isaba), July 13, the tribute of the 3 cows, celebrating a 14th century agreement that ended conflict between Roncal valley and the French valley on the other side of the Pyrenees. Olot (Girona) second Sunday, regional dance festival. Teruel (Aragón), Sunday closest to San Cristobal (July 10), bullfights, processions and regional dance. July 16, Virgen del Carmen, the “July Virgen”, celebrated all over the country, especially in coastal towns. These celebrations often include processions of fishing or pleasure boats, decorated for the occasion; especially at night this is quite a spectacle. A few places to see this: Camariñas (La Coruña – also known for lace), Corcubion (La Coruña), Fuengirola (Málaga), Llança (Girona), Palamos (Girona), Perello (Tarragona), Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife), San Pedro del Pinatar (Murcia), Santurce (Vizcaya). Anguiano (La Rioja), July 22, stilt dancers whirl around and around on steep cobbled streets; the traditional costume for the male dancers is a colored skirt, vest and espadrilles. Lloret del Mar (Girona), July 24, maritime procession and a ceremonial dance. July 25, Saint James, “Santiago”, patron saint of Spain, celebrated all over the country, especially in the region of Galicia, and with the high point in the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Santiago fiestas often continue through Santa Ana on July 26. Puente La Reina (Navarra), July 25, the night before there is a drumming procession, the main day has regional music and dance and another procession. Valcarlos (Navarra), July 25, traditional dances and Basque rural sports. Villacarlos (Menorca, Balearic Islands), “jaleo” horse festival, where the local young men try to make the horses rear and unseat their riders. Conquista (Cordoba), usually four days after July 25, handcrafts, bullfighting, flamenco festival, processions. El Vendrell (Tarragona), regional dances and “castells”, pyramids of people standing on each other’s shoulders that can reach a second-floor balcony. Tudela (Navarra), usually 6 days around July 26, running of the bulls, “giants” statues from all over Spain, dances. Finisterre, last Sunday in July, “beach day”. Near Luarca (Asturias), festival celebrating an ethnic group (almost disappeared) from the mountains of Asturias. July 29, Santa Marta, Fiestas in these towns in Galicia: Laracha (La Coruña), Las Nieves (Pontevedra), Santa Marta de Ortigueira (La Coruña), VIllanueva de Arosa (Pontevedra), last two are coastal towns with part of fiesta on the beach. Villajoyosa (Alicante), days around July 29, “Moors and Christians” fiesta with the Moors trying to land on the beach defended by the Christians.
Avila’s Medieval Market: Three Cultures Festival: first weekend in September. DATES IN 2014: SEPT 5 – 7 What better backdrop for a medieval market than the walled city of Avila? This festival celebrates the cultural and religious tolerance of medieval Spain – in Avila celebrated with three neighborhoods (Muslim, Jewish, Christian), parades, street theater and a big medieval market. As well as people who come just to help make the market and theater happen, most of the locals get into costume – just imagine a waiter dressed in a burlap tunic using the touch-screen cash register, or a lady in a velvet gown talking on her cell phone and you get the idea. The market is usually excellent, with medieval-ish products (wooden swords and shields for your kids, herbal teas, cakes) plus other kinds of wood, leather, and way too much really nice silver jewelry for my own personal peace of mind. Usually also exhibits on archery, falconry and other medieval matters, not to mention a walk on the walls admiring the festival. Getting there: Avila is very accessible by train: the best trains to take are the “Intercity” or “MD” trains that continue to other destinations (forget the regional-it’s not as nice and takes an additional 30 minutes). It’s wise to get your ticket in advance for this kind of train, see www.renfe.es to get more information. There are also buses but much less frequent and departing from the less convenient Estacion Sur. Plan your day: Surprise! the market mostly closes down between about 2.30 and 5.00pm. There are lots of places to eat at the festival though none very fancy and they can get crowded. Avila restaurants tend to be meat-intensive, can be pricey and get really crowded on festival days. My usual strategy is to go early, see the market and have lunch on front end of Spanish lunchtime (sometimes a picnic in the park by San Vicente gate). Then if I want to stay longer I go up on the wall at lunchtime when it’s less crowded, maybe do a last spin around the market before heading back to Madrid.
September: Sept 1 celebrated in these places among others: Castalla (Alicante) with “Moors and Christians”, reinacting a battle and negotiations between the groups. Molina de Aragon (Guadalajara), procession with “giants”, running of the bulls, and folkforic groups.Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real), grape harvest festival. Aug 2, Palencia, with processions, crafts fair and descent in kayak of the Pisuerga river. Sept 8, Virgin Mary’s birthday, celebrated all over the country under different names, including these places: Alaejos (Valladolid), with traditional dances, processions and bullfights. Alcala de la Selva (Teruel),procession with typical dances done by children and shepherds; theater representing battles between Christians and Moors during the Reconquest. Barbastro (Huesca), procession with music, folkloric groups and “giants”; traditional games and songs. Calatayud (Zaragoza), processions, crafts fair, traditional dances. Calera de Leon (Badajoz), walk to a pretty medieval monastery in the country, with folkloric groups. Eibar (Vizcaya) procession with regional costume and competition of rural sports typical of the Basque country. Iznajar (Córdoba), procession with an image of the Virgin, local men struggle for the honor of carrying the statue; pre-dawn procession with songs. Mahón (Menorca) and other towns on the island, processions with exhibit of horsemanship. Miranda del Castañar (Salamanca), procession with people wearing pretty regional costumes, traditional dance and ceremony where local youths present their hopes and problems to the Virgin statue. Olot (Girona), weeklong fiesta with processions, traditional dance, crafts fair; the “giants” from Olot are especially famous. Santoña (Santander), maritime fiestas in this seaside town, with processions, contests of maritime skills. Simancas (Valladolid), fiestas usually start the day before with a bonfire that young men leap over, processions and traditional dance. Sept 10 San Nicolas de Tolentino (Gran Canaria), procession with roots in the original “Guanche” culture, asking for rain, then communal bath in a huge muddy pond near the sea. Sept 14, Santa Cruz, another important fiesta day in all of Spain, celebrated in these places among others: Ainsa (Huesca), with theater representing apearance of the cross to Christian soldiers during the Reconquest. Cariñena (Zaragoza) where the religious fiestas fuses with grape harvest fiesta and first pressing of the grapes. Elche de la Sierra (Albacete), procession and running of the bulls. Navaconcejo (Cáceres), procession and pre-dawn singing of verses to the image of Christ of the Valley. Olite (Navarra) running the bulls, both men and women, processions and fireworks. Telde (Gran Canaria), where locals ask the religious statue for protection, especially in times of drought; the statue is from Mexico where locals follow the same custom. Villafranca del Bierzo (Leon), processions, traditional music with bagpipers, livestock fair. Second Sunday: Escorca (Mallorca), one of the biggest fiestas on the island, starts a few days before with procession; island folklore groups, typical dress and music. Sueca (Valencia) Rice festival, where different groups have a paella cookoff. Villanueva de Arosa (Pondevedra), processions with “giants”, maritime procession and local music complete with bagpipes. Sept 21, Cuenca, where a young cow is let loose in the twisting streets of the old quarter. Sept 21, Logroño (La Rioja), processions, music and first pressing of the grapes; some of the first juice is ovverd to the patron saint of La Rioja. Reinosa (Santander), with origin in the old livestock fairs, bowling chamionship and procession. Sept 23, Tarragona, with processions, music and again with the human pyramids called “castells”. Sept 24, La Merced, Our Lady of Mercy. Barcelona, patron saint of the city, with processions showing “giants” from all over Catalunya. Sept 26, Covarrubias (Burgos), fiestas for the patron saints that mix with grape harvest fiestas. Last Sunday. Granada, patron saint of the city, long, elaborate procession, crafts and agricultural fair. Sept 29, San Miguel, celebrated all over the country and sometimes considered the end of the good weather (“Indian Summer” is “San Miguel’s little summer” in Spanish) Altura (Castellón), fiestas centered around running the fulls, with local music and processions, too. Cortes (Navarra), traditional dance for this day and usual regional dance; basque sports and folkloric groups. Granada, in the Albaicin neighborhood. Last Saturday: Anguiano (La Rioja), with stilt dancers (usually men) that spin down a steep, narrow hill on their stilts, wearing a short skirt that flares out as they spin.