Spanish people seem to be true experts in gathering huge crowds of people for partying, carnavals and fiestas.
Here are some of the most exciting Spanish festivals:
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Place: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Date: Each February
Celebrated in the city of Santa Cruz, on one of the famous spanish islands Tenerife the carnival bears a strong resemblance to the one in Brazil, featuring parades with floats and bands performing songs. Street musicians perform in the streets, various types of music are heard from every corner, and the colors and costumes simply delight the view. Festive parades snake through the city with energetic music groups and vibrantly costumed performers. One of the most celebrated traditions is the selection of each year's Tenerife carnival Queen from the parade's most beautiful girls. It took girls months to create these costumes and very often they weight more than 100 kilos. This bright event attracts lots of travelers as well.
Place: Buñol, Valencia
Date: last Wednesday of August
The most unique attraction of this festival is the one hour during which tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. Tomatina official website says: “This is a war, where there are expected to be no winners, but where all have fun. The attire is simple: COME DRESSED TO WEAR TOMATO JUICE!! Just grab those red ripe tomatoes and throw them at anyone that runs, moves, stays stills, bends down, or turns around (that just about covers it). But as in all games this carries its rules: You may ONLY use tomatoes, and you are to squish them before slugging them. Bottles, water bombs and the like are totally forbidden as it is to rip other’s clothes.”
Other attractions of the festival include music, parades, dancing, and fireworks. There are no certain reasons behind the start of this festival, but whatever happened to start the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on.
Date: from 6th to 14th of July
Each year in July Pamplona becomes the place where you can feel ‘fiesta’ in each corner of the city. The celebration starts with the setting off the pyrotechnic ‘chupinazo’ from the mayor’s balcony and the festival is to last for the next 209 hours with songs and dances. But the most famous tradition of the festival however is the Bull Run which takes place at 8am every morning during the festival. The run stretches from Santo Domingo where the bulls are kept, to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. The length of the run is 825 metres and the average time of the run from start to finish is about three minutes. The streets through the old town which make up the Bull Run are walled off so the bulls can't escape. For those who just want to watch – the best place is behind the fence. Another good spot is in front of the museum on Santo Domingo. Be also aware, that the tickets for the bullfights in the afternoon are usually sold out well in advance.
The festival became really popular in the 20th century thanks to Hemingway who came to Pamplona for the first time in the 6th of July 1923. Its events were central to the plot of the book ‘The Sun Also Rises’ which made Hemingway world famous as well as the city.
On the 14th of July at midnight the mayor of Pamplona announces the official ending of the festival, but the fun will still continue till the sunrise in order to start again next year.
Place: Costa Blanca, Valencia
Date: 5 days up to Saint Joseph’s Day (19 March)
The Spanish are experts in city-wide festivals and other parties. Valencia is famous for its annual Las Fallas festival which commemorates St. Joseph.
The main attractions are the ninots; massive cardboard, wood and plaster statues located all over the city which portray a current version of events whether it is about politicians, celebrities, or the both combined. On the 19th of March, they are set on fire during ‘La Crema’. Not all the puppets however get burned. There is a public vote to decide on the very best puppets for this year. These are taken to the Museo Fallero, Valencia's Fallas museum.
Alongside burning the giant puppets, the Las Fallas festival also includes beauty pageants, paella contests, parades, bullfights, and many, many fireworks.
Place: Though Seville and Malaga are the most famous cities for Semana Santa, many others celebrate it as well.
Date: The week leading up to Easter Sunday.
Semana Santa is a religious celebration in which the Catholics commemorate and mourn the last days of Christ’s life, and sympathize the grief lived by Virgin Mary. During the week numerous processions consisting of large floats are paraded along the streets of the city. The different floats symbolize the last days before Christ’s crucifixion, portraying different scenes from the Bible and are shown in major statues and images. There are approximately 55 church brotherhoods that will parade the streets with their own floats, meaning that about 115 different floats will be seen around the cities during the week.
The highlight of the week is the processions of Good Friday, in which the floats leave the churches at midnight and are carried throughout the night until they reach their final destination, the cathedral. Being one of the most important and biggest celebrations in Spain, Semana Santa is definitely something that should not be missed. Experience the spirit and the passion of the people and join them by living the great atmosphere during the week full of tradition and culture.