Many festivals and events take place in Spain year-round, from Carnival in the spring to the Pamplona Bull Run in the summer. If you’re thinking about traveling to Spain, we’ve highlighted four of the top festivals that you won’t want to miss.
Held in February of each year in Cádiz, Carnival is a 10-day celebration of singing, dancing, drinking and dressing up. Although Carnival is held in many major cities across the globe during the February festive season, El Carnaval in Spain is simply one of the best and without a doubt one of the most famous. The large street parade is filled with fancy costumes, live bands, local cuisine and celebrations galore. Due to Spain’s extremely large Roman Catholic population, Carnival typically begins just before Lent to allow those celebrating to indulge in life’s pleasures before then sacrificing them for 40 days. To see this festival firsthand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Las Fallas de Valencia
What better way is there to celebrate the coming of spring than with a super-festival filled with lavish parades, grandiose costumes, locally crafted wooden sculptures and delicious food and drink? Known as the “Festival of Noise and Fire,” Las Fallas de Valencia incorporates these festival elements and much more from the 15th to the 19th of March each year, drawing in foreign visitors and Spanish tourists alike. What sets Las Fallas de Valencia apart from other festivals is that in addition to traditional festival activities, large and intricate pieces of wooden sculptures and artwork are burned in the city in honor of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. The day begins with an 8 a.m. wake-up call complete with a marching band, car alarms and firecrackers, followed by an afternoon of free beer and sangria and an evening of fire. Due to its ever-increasing popularity, hotels in Valencia and the surrounding areas sell out many months in advance and it’s imperative to book early if you’re interested in experiencing this unique cultural tradition.
Haro Wine Festival
The Haro Wine Festival, also known as “The Battle of Wine” and “Wine Warfare” in Haro, is celebrated from the 28th to the30th of June each year. Dating back to the 6th century, the Haro Wine Festival celebrates Saint Peter’s Day with a Battle of the Wine involving the tossing of wine from various jugs, buckets and bottles into a crowd donned in white clothing. The Haro region is known for its fine red Rioja wine and there is a very important heritage to be discovered throughout the picturesque town. Although it is a messy experience to say the least, it is without a doubt one of the most unique and fun events that everyone should strive to cross off of their bucket list!
The Running of the Bulls
Held in Pamplona each July, the Running of the Bulls may be the most popular Spanish festival that exists. The week-long celebration takes place each morning at 8 a.m. from July 7th to the14th to honor Saint Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona. You might be wondering how this odd tradition first began. History dictates that there was a need for butchers to move bulls from the ranches outside of the city into the bullring, and the butchers often enticed the bulls to move forward by running in front of them. As time passed, the general public took notice and began to participate, running through the narrow streets of the town ahead of the bulls to speed up the process. Today, the length of the course is fenced in to prevent any bulls from escaping and potentially harming onlookers. Participation is free for those over the age of 18 who are brave enough to run alongside the bulls!
Written by Travel Specialist Christine MacAllister
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