If there’s one thing many of our students love about living in Madrid, it’s that there’s always something going on and something new to see. The Spanish are a festive bunch, and Spain certainly has no shortage of festivals country-wide and all year round. We talked to some current IE students to hear about their favorite festivals, and compiled this list of 5 must-see Spanish celebrations!
1. Seville April Fair (Feria de abril de Sevilla)
The Seville Fair is held every year in April, in the capital of Andalucía, Seville, and generally takes place two weeks after the Easter holiday. The fair is situated next to a beautiful river just to the south-west of the city, in an area called Los Remedios.
The festival is known for its size and those attending enjoy a week full of dance, food, drink, socializing and very late nights! You’ll see Seville locals riding horseback or by carriage around the fair, along with traditional bullfights everyday. A real taste of Spanish culture not to be missed!
2. Las Fallas
Las Fallas is without a doubt one of Spain’s most unique (and crazy) festivals, taking place every year in the third largest city, Valencia. With a population of 1 million inhabitants, Valencia hosts another 2 million over the 5 day event. Literally translating to “the fires”, the festival centers around the creation and eventual destruction of the magnificant “ninots” (puppets or dolls), which are massive statues created from wood, paper-machè and cardboard.
The statues are erected around the central city until March 19th, the day of La Cremá (the burning). On this day, with the chanting of the festival-goers, all lights within the streets are turned off, and at midnight all ninots are set on fire! Of course, as with all festivals in Spain, Las Fallas is full of many other exciting activities including fireworks, parades, bullfighting, food and drink.
3. La Tomatina
No doubt you’ve heard of this one. La Tomatina is the famous Spanish festival held in the Valencian town of Buñol, where participants throw tomatoes at each other for pure fun and entertainment.
It is estimated that over 150,000 tomatoes are used! After the tomato fight ends, the whole town of Buñol is a beautiful color of red, with tomato juice flowing through the streets.
4. San Isidro
This one’s local! San Insidro is held every year around the 15th May, in Madrid. If you ever want to see Madrid at its heart and soul, San Insidro is the festival for you.
During the event, chulapos and goyescos (Madrid locals who are dressed in Madrid’s traditional costume) enjoy music and engage in traditional dance of the region, chotis. Of course, we can’t forget the prestigious and famous San Isidro bullfighting festival – a must-see for anyone living in Madrid!
5. Semana Santa
Arguably one of Spain’s most spectacular celebrations, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated the week before Easter, with a unique and beautiful array of music, culture, theatre and religion. Most famously celebrated in Seville and Málaga, Semana Santa is known for its unrivalled, breathtaking processions.
Everyday throughout the week, 17th Century floats of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ enter from the town/city’s churches and are paraded around the streets. A beautiful and uniquely Spanish ceremony that we absolutely recommend attending!
Have you been to any of these festivals? Comment below with your thoughts, questions or experiences!