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Festivals - Fiestas and Carnivals in Spain
 Fiestas in Spain

Fiestas and Festivals in Spain

Spanish people are known all over the world for their love of partying and enjoying themselves to the fullest. They make the most extravagant displays of affection for partying and celebrating in the popular festivals or ferias as known in their local tongue. These festivals take place in almost all the towns and villages throughout Spain. Some of the festivals in Spain have deep religious and historical meaning to the locals while others are simply meant for partying and having fun. The following are among the best festivals in Spain.

This festival is held on the last Wednesday of August each year in Bunol, Valencia. The Tomatina is a festival where tons of overripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets for one hour. It is typically a war of ripe tomatoes where people throw ripe tomatoes at each other that leave them red all over with tomato juice. The funniest part is that there are no winners as people just do this for fun and to enjoy themselves. You simply have to grab ripe tomatoes and throw them at anyone running, bending down, standing still, or moving. The rule for this festival is you have to squish the tomatoes before you can throw them at somebody else.

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
One of the most famous festivals in Spain is the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It is usually held on February of each year. This festival resembles the one held in Brazil that features parades with floats and bands who perform different types of songs throughout the streets. The colors and costumes worn during this festival are very colorful and delight everyone. The parades move through the streets with energetic musical groups and well-dressed performers. The most beautiful scene of this festival is the parade of pretty, well-dressed young ladies who enchant viewers with their way of dancing. These ladies weigh more than 100 kilos, and it takes them months of practice and costume design to come up with the most amazing costumes to be used during the festival.

San Fermin
his festival takes place from July 6 to 14 each year. It is a festival that brings the fiesta to every corner of the city of Pamplona. The festival starts by setting off the pyrotechnic Chupinazo from the mayor's balcony. The celebration lasts for 209 hours full of dance and song. The festival is graced with the amazing Bull Run, which takes place every morning at 8 a.m. The run starts from Santo Domingo and goes to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. Spectators wall off the bulls so that they cannot escape until they reach the bullring. And on the 14th, the mayor comes out and announces the end of the festival. It is one of those festivals in Spain you should not miss.

Las Fallas
The Fallas of Valencia are visually one of the most spectacular Fiestas you will come across in Spain. In mid-March, Valencia lights up its streets for an entire week of celebration and parties. With work officially suspended, the city inhabitants make paper mache representing notable people as well traditional figures. These are then displayed in the city during the entire week of celebration before being burned down in the most amazing bonfires that bring the Las Fallas to en enigmatic end. It normally takes place between the 15th and 19th October and was intended as attribute to Saint Joseph the patron of the carpenters guild, where this spectacular tradition arose from. It is an impressive display of huge figures , mostly comical depicting personalities in Spain and which are painstakingly built over the year only to be burnt on the last day of the fiesta. It is not only about that last night though when the giant figures are burnt, the week leading up to the Fallas comes alive with fireworks displays , street performances, performance by local bands and so much more. It also a highly tuned business well managed by the Falleros central governing board. There are now well over 100.000 Falleros and Falleras whom ensure that these fiestas are an unforgettable experience each year in Valencia.

The Carnivals of Cadiz and Tenerife
Spain is renowned for its festive carnivals; each year, people flock to Spain to experience the carnivals of Cadiz and Tenerife. The only rule during these flamboyant parties is that you have to have fun! There is so much color and rhythm, as well as spectacles everywhere and people enjoying themselves to the beat of the music. The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is quite famous and has a Brazilian flavor. It is known all around the world, as the streets come to life with rhythm, happiness and extravagance. Of all the places that offer carnivals Spain is as famous as Brazil and other countries for its wild festivities.

Semana Santa
This is among the most important festivals in Spain. It is a religious celebration among the Catholics who memorialize and mourn the final days of Christ on Earth and at the same time sympathize with the grief of the Virgin Mary. It is held on the week leading to Easter Sunday. Throughout the entire week, processions consisting of big floats are usually paraded all over the streets. The climax of the celebrations is the procession of Good Friday whereby the floats leave the churches in the middle of the night and they are carried throughout the night to their final destination: the cathedral.

A Colourful Spectacle
It's hard to beat the experience of arriving in some small Spanish village, expecting no more than a bed for the night, to discover the streets decked out with flags and streamers, a band playing in the plaza and the entire population out celebrating the local fiesta. Everywhere in Spain, from the tiniest hamlet to the great cities, devotes at least a couple of days a year to their festivals. Usually it's the local saint's day, but there are celebrations of harvests, of deliverance from the Moors, of safe return from the sea - any excuse will do.

There are numerous colourful national and local festivals celebrated all around Spain, especially in spring and early summer. Concerts and recitals can be enjoyed throughout the year in Madrid. The Teatro Real reopened recently after many years of renovations and is now on a par with all the major opera houses in Europe. There are several festivals which feature visiting theatre and dance companies and orchestras - the main ones are Veranos de la Villa (music festival, July-mid-Sept), Festival de Otoño (theatre and dance festival, October) and Festival Mozart (classical music, June-July). Important events through the year include: January Epiphany: The three Kings arrive by boat, by camel or even helicopter; festivities in towns all around Spain. February Carnival: on Shrove Tuesday, celebrated everywhere. Cádiz city hosts one of Spain's best Carnival celebrations. March/April Semana Santa: Holy Week, religious processions in most towns. St George's Day, Sant Jordi: 23 April, day of books and roses - lovers' day (Catalonia only). Running of bulls in Vejer de la Frontera and Arcos de la Frontera.

The fallas, Valencia: on 19 March, the streets, plazas and balconies fill up with citizens, tourists and - most importantly - firemen, as colourful papier-mâché figures are put to the match, so that at midnight the entire city, illuminated with an orange glow, appears to be burning down. May Corpus Christi: flower carpets and other religious celebrations, late May and early June. Horse Fair, Jerez: display of horses and horsemanship. June St John's Eve: 23 June, bonfires and other pyrotechnics. International Festival of Music and Dance, Granada. One of Spain's leading festivals offers a varied programme of music and dance by national and international companies. Concerts in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla and the Palacio Carlos V in the Alhambra, dance in the Generalife. July Fiesta del Carmen: The fishermen's feast day on 15-16 July is celebrated at ports. September Vendimia: the wine harvest festivals are in mid-September. Verge Mercè festival: 24 September, Barcelona's biggest festival. Fiesta de Otoño (Autumn Festival), Jerez, including Sherry harvest festival. The best flamenco to be found is in the festivals and contests held between the end of June and the middle of September in small towns - there's one, or more, every Saturday, in Andalusia. The best known are the Potaje in Utrera (Seville) at the end of June, La Caracolá in Lebrija (Seville) in mid-July, the festival in Mairena del Alcor (Seville) at the beginning of September, and Fiesta de la Bulería held in the Jerez bullring in mid-September. The bullfighting season lasts from mid-March to mid-October.

There are also the events of the Catholic calendar, most notably Semana Santa (Holy Week), which in Audalucía sees theatrical religious floats carried through the streets, accompanied by hooded penitents atoning for the year's misdeeds. Each festival is different. In the Basque country there will often be bulls running flamenco and the guitar are an essential part of any celebration; in Valencia they specialize in huge bonfires and deranged firework displays (climaxing in Las Fallas in March). But this is just the mainstream. Fiestas can be very strange indeed, ranging from parades of devils to full-blown battles with water or even tomatoes.

Fiestas calendar Fiestas are an absolutely crucial part of Spanish life. Even the smallest village gives at least a couple of days a year over to partying, and happening across a local event can be huge fun, propelling you right into the heart of its culture. But as well Fiestas are an absolutely crucial part of Spanish life. Even the smallest village gives at least a couple of days a year over to partying, and happening across a local event can be huge fun, propelling you right into the heart of its culture. But as well as such community celebrations, Spain has some really major events: most famously the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona, the April Feria of Seville, and the great religious processions of Semana Santa, leading up to Easter. Any of these can be worth planning your whole trip around.

Following is a very basic calendar of fiesta highlights . For more detailed information, consult local tourist offices. Outsiders are always welcome at fiestas, the one problem being that it can be hard to find a hotel, unless you book well in advance.

National Holidays in Spain

Jan 1st New Years Day - Año Nuevo
Jan 6th Dia de los Reyes - 12th night, The Three Kings
Mar 19th Fathers Day - San Jose
Variable Good Friday -Viernes Santo
Variable Easter Sunday -Dia de Pascua
May 1st Labour Day - Dia del trabajo
Aug 15th Assumption - Asuncion
Oct 12th Spanish National Day - Dia de la Hispanidad
Nov 1st All Saints Day - Todos los Santos
Dec 6th Constitution Day - Dia de la Constitucion
Dec 8th Immaculate Conception - Imaculada Concepcion
Dec 25th Christmas Day - Navidad

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