By Maggie Deffense & Enrique Díaz
In a previous post, we talked about some of the most bizarre festivals in Spain, all of them with some grade of insanity. In this post we will talk about the most inspiring, beautiful and pleasing festivals you can enjoy in Spain. Let's go!
Fiesta de los Patios, Córdoba
Residents in the old section of the city of Cordoba open their famous interior courtyards to visitors, showing off their beautiful patio displays, brimming with spring flowers. The owners compete for the awards, while the visitors can enjoy the magic atmosphere of those patios, decorated with plenty of colorful flowers and listening the running water of a lovely fountain. In some patios the schedule includes live music and other performances. Absolutely delightful.
Feast of Santiago de Compostela
A public holiday in Galicia, this event commemorates the life and work of Saint James, Spain’s patron saint. He is reputed to be buried in Santiago de Compostela’s impressive cathedral which was deliberately built to hold his bones. As only Spain can do it, eating, drinking and merry-making are all mixed in with spiritual fervor. Street shows, concerts and dance events are held during the Fiesta de Santiago Apóstol. The years that this feast day falls on a Sunday are especially brilliant. 2021 was one of this year and the special acts will continue also in 2022, because past year was quite strange because the pandemic. Pilgrims walking or biking the 'Camino de Santiago' often try to time their pilgrimage to end at this event., a proper fairy tale end!
Feria de Abril, Seville
What originally started out as a cattle fair in the 19th century has morphed into the social event of the year in Sevilla. It looks just like everyone’s idea of quintessential Spain. Beautiful ladies in colorful flamenco dresses with flowers in their hair, doing sevillanas (a form of flamenco), or riding behind handsome men on horseback. Plenty of parties and festive atmosphere in public and private stalls, and also a bid show off for locals.
La Noche de San Juan - The Night of Saint John
If you're into an all-night beach party and fun then the annual San Juan festival is for you. Held the 23rd of June each year, this ancient pagan festival is now legendary for bonfires that are lit for people to jump over. According to tradition, to be cleansed and purified you must jump over a fire three times.
As this Feast closely coincides with the June solstice (21st June), it's is considered the unofficial beginning of the summer. This tradition is especially strong in coastal areas of Spain, like in Galicia, where San Xoán festivals take place all over the region;
La Merce Festival Barcelona
La Mercè festival is the biggest in Barcelona which includes numerous live concerts, parades, fireworks and the famous human towers. It's a very eclectic festival held at the end of September, mixing contemporary arts with the Catalonian and includes music, arts, acrobatic shows, and street processions with giants among hundreds of activities.
One of the most striking event of the festival is the correfoc, where group of individuals will dress as devils and light up fireworks – fixed on devil's pitchforks or strung above the route. Dancing to the sound of drums, they set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators. The spectators that participate dress to protect themselves against small burns and attempt to get as close as possible to the devils, running with the fire.
The Fallas of Valencia
Around the middle of March, an explosive party takes place in Valencia. This fascinating event is called Las Fallas (The Falles), which has been declared an event of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
For an entire week, gigantic, colorful statues and figures fill the city's squares and streets. They are often satirical and reference political or pop-culture events that happened throughout the year. On the final night of Falles, around midnight on 19 March, these falles are burnt as huge bonfires. This is known as La Cremà (the Burning), the climax of the whole event, and the reason why the constructions are called falles ("torches").
Away from the falles, people frolic in the streets, the whole city resembling an open-air dance party, except that instead of music there is the incessant (and occasionally deafening) sound of people throwing fireworks around randomly. There are many stalls selling trinkets and snacks such as the typical fried porres, churros and bunyols, as well as roasted chestnuts.
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