Planning on visiting Spain? Whatever else you want to do, you should make sure you attend at least one "fiesta." There are several traditional festivals held in Spain throughout the year, celebrating different events, and the joy and excitement involved will stay with you for a long time to come. Below we list just a few.
• Travel Spain: Sanfermines
This event is more commonly known by its English title: the Running of the Bulls. The Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona starts on July 7th of every year and lasts for a week. Each morning men, wearing the traditional white shirt and red sash, take to the streets, trying to outrun the bulls behind them. There's more to it than just the bulls, of course. You'll find carnivals and ferris wheels during the day, (as well as "drunken revellers".). At night the Comparsa de Gigantes - gigantic puppets - are paraded through the streets, accompanied by brass bands. The festival culminates at midnight on July 14 at the Plaza Consistorial, where people congregate to sing the traditional mournful notes of the "Pobre de M?".
Similar festivals on a smaller scale are held in Tudela (July 24th – 28th), Estella (first Saturday in August), Tafalla (August 20th – 25th), and Sanguesa (September 11th – 17th).
• Travel Spain: Semana Santa
Almost a million people will pour into Seville during Easter Week to witness the processions of this holy festival, which begins on Palm Sunday and culminates on Eastern Sunday.
In the 16th century, the Catholic church decided that the Passion of Christ should be brought home to the common people through the medium of art. The Church commissioned the best artists to craft the holy figures out of wood and costume them in the richest of fabrics. They then achieved pride of place in front of the parades winding through the city. Today, 57 "brotherhoods" march through the city from their church to the Cathedral of Seville and back.
If you'd like to see the Semana Santa you must make reservations years in advance. It is that popular.
• Travel Spain: Feria de Abril
Just a couple of weeks after Semana Santa, tourists will pour back into the capital city of Andalusia for the Feria de Abril. Perhaps the most visited tourist spot in Seville is the city's cathedral, the Catedral de Santa Mar?a de la Sede. - the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world, and the largest medieval Gothic religious edifice as well. Construction began in 1402, it was completed in the 1600s. Facing this cathedral is the Alc?zar, or Moorish Palace. Construction on this building began in 1181 and continued for over 500 years.
In addition to its architecture and its Barber, Seville is famous for its two festivals held within weeks of each other, the Easter Holy Week, (Semana Santa), and the April Fair or Feria de Abril.
Flamenco dancing and bull-fighting. That's what you'll find at the Feria de Abril. There are no set dates for the festival - the exact dates are not decided until December, but its going to take place some time in April!
Flamenco: beautiful women in flowing dresses, slim men in tight-fitting white and black, clapping, stomping, and the classical guitar.
Bull-fighting: The flamenco dancing starts in the evening. During the day, revelers can get tickets to see the traditional Spanish "corrida." Several fights take place each day.
This festival takes place in a huge area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River. You'll recognize it immediately because of row upon row of tents which are temporarily built on the fairground. There are two sections of these tents - one an essentially private area for the hundreds of Spanish families who congregate to celebrate, and the other section for the tourist.
• Travel Spain: Las Fallas de San Jos?
Seville is way down in the south of Spain. But Valencia is located on its eastern, Mediterranean coast, overlooking the Gulf of Valencia.
If you're in Spain in the spring, then Valencia is the place to go. For ten days in March – from March 13-19, you'll want to attend Las Fallas de San Jos?. The Fallas are gigantic models made out of papier mache, wood and wax. Models are chosen from Spanish social and political current affairs. After the ten days of celebrations the fallas are burnt on the final night to the accompaniment of cheers and fireworks.
• Travel Spain: Romeria Vikinga
If you like a bit of action with your festivals, you'll want to visit Catoira in the region of Pontevedra, Galicia. On August 3 of each year, they hold the Romeria Vikinga. It's a festival that's not concerned with religion at all, but with a reenactment of a Viking raid on the Spanish coast.
Catoira looks out over the North Atlantic Ocean. In the reenactment, a Viking longship sails into view to attack the remains of the 'Torres de Oeste' - 'Towers of the East'. Usually 30 armed 'Vikings' come ashore and fight each other, calling for wine. After the reenactment, a feast of red wine and seafood is devoured, to the accompaniment of dancing and folksongs.
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