Spanish Fiestas & Festivals

Spain is the nation of festivals and there are festivals all over the country in every city, town and village. The festival celebrations in Spain are full of life and mark the passing of time much more effectively than a simple date on the calendar. There are nearly hundreds of small celebrations with ancestral rites which have been preserved for centuries in Spain. From the tiniest hamlet to the great cities, there are at least a couple of days gets devoted in a year for festivals, usually it's the local saint's day, but there are celebrations of harvests, of deliverance from the Moors, of safe return from the sea. Below we've listed some of the most famous festivals and specific dates of festivals vary most years.

January
On 5th January, There will be processions all over Spain where sweets are thrown from the floats to all the people who come out to watch. Every town has its own deviation such as in the Sierra Nevada where the Three Kings can be seen to ski down to the village. The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. This is the most import ant day of the year for Spanish children when they wake up to find that Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) have left gifts for them in their house. During Christmas, Santa may leave them a token gift but the Three Kings are their favorites, particularly Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the gifts.

The Festividad de San Sebastian is the carnival of Lord Wellington's capture of the city of San Sebastian from French troops in 1812.

February
The Seville Tapas fair is a chance to relish a feast of Spanish snacks with as many as 50 restaurants and bars officially participate in the Festival ‘proper’ as well as other 'unofficial' establishments will be offering their own individual specialties for people’s delight. Seville is widely regarded as matchless destination because of the almost endless variety of dish that can be found there and Andalusia prides itself on being the true home of tapas in Spain.

March
The Festival de Jerez is a flamenco festival with some of Spain's top performers and usually takes place during the last week of February and the first week of March in the town of Jerez De La Frontera, Cadiz in Spain: the festival lasts 2 weeks. This Spanish festival has lots of workshops and performances both ticketed and free with lots of traditional Spanish Flamenco acts to see.

April
Some of Spain's biggest festivals take place during April and May starting with Holy Week (Semana Santa) which is considered by many to be the most important of all Spains's festivals and is epitomized by the remarkable processions of brotherhoods of robed men carrying huge sculptures depicting the Virgin, Christ or other religious icons and symbols of their faith. Every night through the Easter week, the processions can go on for miles and will not stop until the early hours of the morning. For some it is a festival filled with fun, for others a spiritual week that encompasses ritual and reflection. This festival is especially recommended in Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga.

The celebration of Holy Week is the highlight of the year in Andalusia with teams of parish members carrying mammoth religious floats. The Easter Week, known in Spain as Semana Santa begins with the Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and ends with Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday).

May
The Festival of the May Crosses (Cruces de Mayo) is celebrated all through Andalusia however it is in Granada and Cordoba where the most remarkable displays are on show. The festival consists of the construction of large temporary crosses made of beautiful flowers in many of the city's main squares. The locals congregate each evening for a good few drinks and tapas which predictably leads to natural flamenco style dancing into the early hours. The festival takes place during the first few days of May with the first weekend tends to be the busiest when visitors from all over Spain arrive to join in the party.

San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid and his feast day is on 15th May which is celebrated with a range of varied events take place after the Mayor's speech and continue until the following Sunday when there is the cooking of an enormous Cocido Madrileño (Madrid's most traditional dish). San Isidro marks the start of the capital's season in bullfighting and is the world's largest event which attracts all the top bullfighters and bull breeders.

June
The small Hamlet of El Rocío in the middle of the Parque Nacional de Doñana, near the town of Almonte, is just about as deserted a place as you could wish to find for most of the year. The Romería Del Rocío pilgrimage brings El Rocío to life amazingly, perhaps Spain’s biggest festival. The weekend before Pentecost Monday –as many as a million people can throng the streets.

The wooden figure of the Virgin Mary, La Virgen El Rocío, which was found in a tree trunk near the park which is believed by its devotees to help cure infertility, mental disorders and other diseases, is kept in the enormous church, the Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de El Rocío – usually simply referred to as the Ermita.

Corpus Christi is celebrated to varying degrees all over the country most notably in Seville and and in Cadiz, the Corpus Christi celebration is second only in religious and celebration terms to Semana Santa. This festival always falls on the same date each year, i.e the Thursday following the eighth day of Whitsun and has been observed since the 14th Century. The festival after originating in Girona and Barcelona soon found its way into Valencia and down into the south and Andalucia. In Cadiz, the feast of Corpus Christi involves a procession in which a Holy Host is protected in fine silverware and brought onto the narrow streets and lanes surrounding the Cathedral and paraded through amazingly decorated streets.