Planning a trip to Spain? Read our list of upcoming Spanish festivals you won’t want to miss for ideas on how to party the Spanish way. Find out where you can run with bulls, throw tomatoes at complete strangers or take a midnight dip in the ocean.
Feria de Abril
The Feria de Abril (April Festival) is a highly anticipated festival in the Andalusian capital of Seville. During the festival Sevillanos (Seville residents) eat, drink, dance and party for a week. All the action takes place in the real de la feria where you’ll find over a thousand casetas. These canvas tents are put up by businesses, groups of friends, clubs, affluent local families, or political parties and can be accessed by invitation only.
Within the walls of a caseta, you can expect drinks to be flowing, delicious tapas being served, and people dancing to Sevillanas, the official folk music of the city. Don’t have an invite? Don’t worry! There are also a number of public casetas which are happy to welcome everyone. This festival is usually held about two weeks after Holy Week. This year the Feria de Abril runs from April 21st to the 26th.
Heading to Seville and looking for an authentic taste of scrumptious local cuisine? Check out the newly launched Seville Food Tour!
La Diada de Sant Jordi
In Catalonia, a Spanish autonomous community in the north, Valentine’s Day isn’t in February but in April! On this day of love and romance, friends and lovers exchange books and roses. Traditionally men are supposed to buy roses for women, and women should buy books for men. However, times have changed and gender no longer dictates who gets what. La Diada de Sant Jordi commemorates Catalonia’s patron saint, St. George and is celebrated on his death anniversary on April 23rd.
Fiesta de San Isidro
Every year on the 15th of May, Madrileños (Madrid residents) celebrate their patron saint’s feast day. During the Fiesta de San Isidro (Festival of St. Isidore) the city celebrates with concerts, fireworks and other special events. The festival originally began as a religious holiday, and many Madrileños still celebrate the festival with a religious pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage finishes at the la Pradera de San Isidro (St. Isidore’s Meadow), where people can picnic on the grassy green lawns or purchase prepared meals from the many food vendors set up specifically for the event. If you head to the pradera de San Isidro don’t forget to try rosquillas, the sweet treat typically eaten on this day.
La Noche de San Juan
To welcome the summer, coastal cities all over Spain celebrate La Noche de San Juan (the Night of St.John) on June 23rd. This festival takes place on the summer solstice, the shortest day of the year and a period of time believed to be magical.
During La Noche de San Juan, revellers come together around bonfires and partake in superstitious activities. These include jumping over fires, burning a piece of paper with a lover’s name or burning something personal to cleanse their spirit. Once the clock strikes midnight, many will also go for a swim in the ocean as they believe it will purify the body and soul. Celebrations take place in many Spanish cities, but the biggest party is held in Alicante in the south of Spain.
Fiesta de San Fermín
The Fiesta de San Fermín (festival of San Fermin) takes place in the city of Pamplona. It is rooted in celebrating Saint Fermin the co-patron saint of Navarre, the region where the festival is held. Often referred to as the running of the bulls, this festival was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his classic novel The Sun Also Rises.
Though there are numerous events during the festivities, the running of the bulls is the most popular event. It occurs every morning from the 7th to the 14th of July at 8 o’clock in the morning. During this event, hundreds of brave participants try to outrun six bulls which have been trained for bullfighting. Thinking of doing the run? Think carefully! Over it’s history, 15 people have died and hundreds have been wounded during the event.
Dubbed the “World’s Biggest Food Fight”, La Tomatina is a fun festival that encourages participants to throw tomatoes at each other. Though no one knows for sure, there are various theories as to how this messy tradition started. Some say it began as a class war, others say it began with townspeople started throwing tomatoes at local politicians. Who knows that they truth is!
What is clear however, is that the event attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world. In previous years attendance was as high as 50,000 people, but due to safety concerns it is now limited to “only” 20,000 participants. The event takes place in the normally quiet town of Buñol, near Valencia on the last Wednesday of August. This year La Tomatina will be held on August 26th.
Have you attended any of these Spanish festivals? Which one sounds like the most fun to you?