Hottest in this post: Medieval Market in Avila! Scroll down for more.
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.
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,
August is so packed with fiestas that it’s hard to know where to begin. Just about every region celebrates the “August Virgen” (Aug 15) + San Roque (Aug 16). These fiestas are sometimes celebrated together, and even if separate, usually start at least 4-5 days, if not a full week, before the saint’s day. Aug 5 (Virgen of the Snows) is also celebrated in a lot of places. Here are some suggestions for August fiestas: Aug 2, Pollensa (Mallorca), for a “Moors and Christians” fiesta in memory of pirate attacks in the 16th century. Aug 4, Argentona (Barcelona) for the “Fiesta del Cántaro”, when traditional clay drinking jugs are sold. 5 Aug and night before, Agaete (Gran Canaria), for Virgen of the Snows fiestas that may be a continuation of pre-Christian traditions, with local dances and procession. Aug 5, Esinosa de los Monteros (Burgos), traditional dances. Same day celebrated in Trevelez (Granada), Almagro (Ciudad Real), Puebla de Lillo (Leon). First Saturday: Famous descent o the Sella river, between Arriondas and Ribadesella; the elite kayakers and canoers race is followed by people just out for a good time. Aug 10, Foz, San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence), procession through the seaside neighborhood and crafts fair. Same day , Frontera (Hierro, Canary Islands), crafts fair, procession and local style of wrestling. Same day, celebrations in Covaleda (Soria), Guecho (Vizcaya), Laredo (Santander), San Lorenzo del Escorial (Madrid). Aug 14, Carcelejo (Jaen), Moors and Christians festival where the Virgen is “stolen” during the procession and recovered the next day. Mid August, can vary so check: descent of the Pisuerga river from Alar del Rey (Palencia). Aug 15, La Virgen del Asuncion or Virgen de la Paloma (Virgen of the Dove), celebrated all over the country under this name or other names including: Central Madrid (see Madrid page link at left). Bilbao, their “Semana Grande”, traditional dances and music. Cantalejo (Segovia), procession, dances and bullfights. Chinchón (Madrid), processions and bullfights in the main square. Elche (Alicante). Guecho (Vizcaya), with traditional dances and rural sports competitions typical of the Basque country. Jumililla (Murcia), fiestas coincide with the grape harvest. La Alberca (Salamanca), traditional theater piece; some local people wear the tradtional regional dress, which is very attractive. Melgar de Fernamental (Burgos), fiesta ends with traditional dance. Olivenza (Badajoz), interesting fiesta as this town belonged to Portugal for several centuries. Peñafiel (Valladolid), fiesta centered around running the bulls and bullfights. Santa Pau (Girona), dances and procession in a pretty medieval village. Vejer de la Frontera (Cadiz) procession with the local Virgen statue, dances. Vinuesa (Soria), with tpical dances and songs; also raise big trees in the town for part of the fiestas. Aug 16, San Roque, celebrated in these towns among others: Alfaro (Rioja), with running of the bulls, processions and dances. Amer (Girona), procession, “giants” and an unusual line variation of the regional dance which is usually in a circle. Betanzos (A Coruna), with dances and boats crossing river estatuary, Bronchales (Teruel) with a typical dance in which only people over 65 can participate, also bullfights. Burgo de Osma (Soria), with processions and typical dances. Llanes (Asturias), typical dances and processions. Mombeltran (Avila), processions and typical dances in this town with a great castle. Vivero (Lugo), procession up San Roque peak, communal meal. Aug 19: Tarragona, with procession of “giants” and “castells” – human pyramids with people standing on each other’s shoulders. Aug 22: Luarca (Asturias)procession with typical regional dress and bagpipe music. Aug 24, San Bartolomé, celebrated in: Almagro (Ciudad Real), with bullfights and theater in a small 16th century theater. Barro-Llanes (Asturias) “witch-burning” with costumed “witches” dancing around a bonfire, chasing the crowd with brooms, and ending with fireworks. Marcilla (Navarra), centered around running the bulls, typical dancing and rural sports competitions. Montuiri (Mallorca), with procession and very old regional dance. Aug 25, La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia), with typical music and all the fountains of the Granja Palace gardens going full squirt. San Luis (Menorca), with display of horsemanship in the processions. Aug 28, Bocairente (Valencia), traditional dances several nights in a row. Aug 28, Toro (Zamora), with bulls, processions and a “wine fountain” in the square. Last Sunday, celebrated in a number of places including: Arenas de Cabrales (Asturias), best to check as this is not celebrated every year: traditional dances and fair of the Spanish version of blue cheese. Cuellar (Segovia), with one of the oldest running of the bulls in Spain. Sangenjo (Pontevedra), procession to a chapel on the beach; this chapel and beach are connected to semi-pagan fertility rites. Aug 30: Villafranca del Penedes (Barcelona), competition between groups making the human pyramids called “castells” – there are a number of variations. Processions with “giants” and the “dragon”.
Avila’s Medieval Market: Three Cultures Festival: market starts the first Friday in September, lasts until Sunday. 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. The festival also usually has exhibits on archery, falconry and other medieval matters; top it all off with a walk on the walls for a full, fun day. In past years there have also been conferences and concerts, even in the few days before the medieval market, but in these times of budget crunch it is not clear how much of that will happen. Sorry, festival program still not posted, if I find it in time will add link here.
Getting to Avila: 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.