Anytime is the perfect time to visit Spain. The warmth of the Mediterranean climate is only matched by the warmth of the Spanish people. Whether you’re interested in sport, fashion, art, music or history – Spain has it all. If you want a truly unique experience, time your visit to coincide with one of the countries raucous, historic and sometimes downright wacky Spanish festivals.
8. Festival of Moors and Christians
In the Alicante town of Alcoy, locals dress up and reenact the Battle of Alcoy. The battle was a crucial turning point in the history of the city as Moorish rule was ended during the Reconquista.
7. Festival of Saint Marta de Ribarteme
In Galicia people who have survived near death experiences thank the patron saint of resurrection by marching through the streets, often times while carrying, or even being carried in, a coffin. If that sounds too morbid for your liking, remember this is Spain – so there are still fireworks and refreshments.
6. Goat Tossing
Banned in 2000, villagers in Manganeses de la Polvorosa in Zamora threw goats from a 50 foot church tower and, if all went to plan, the animals would be caught by a giant canvas sheet held by locals. Legend suggests that the festival began when a goat climbed the church tower to eat bird seed left out for local pigeons.
5. Rapa das betas (Shearing of the Beasts)
In Sabucedo every July 9th, locals trek into the mountains and wrangle hundreds of wild horses. They are then herded down into a small arena in the central town and then thrown off the local church steeple… just kidding. After being herded into the arena, their manes are trimmed and they are branded.
4. Antzar Eguna (The Day of the Geese)
Every year in the Basque fishing village of Lekeitio the locals suspend a (humanely killed) goose over the harbour by a sturdy rope. Participants then charge off the pier and jump for the goose and try to decapitate it with their bare hands. On the other end of the rope locals hoist and lower the goose until either the head is removed or the participant falls off. The winner gets to keep the goose.
3. El Colacho (the Devil’s jump)
Although officially known as the “the Devil’s jump” this unique event is often informally referred to as “the baby jump” and has been going strong since the 17th century. In Burgos during the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi men dressed as the Devil jump over babies (born during the previous 12 months) that are lying on mattresses. The actual baby jumping is the culmination of a week long festival. The jumping is said to cleanse the infants of original sin, however the Catholic Church disputes this.
2. La Tomatina
The Valencian town of Bunol has become famous around the world for its tomato throwing festival in which participants pelt one another with tomatoes. Every year since 1945 the festival has been held on the last Wednesday in August. The tradition was born out of an unplanned food fight which erupted in 1945 and had to be broken up by police. Young people then brought their own tomatoes to emulate the fight the next year, but were again broken up by police. It was only in 1957 that official rules were implemented and in 1980 that the local town council became responsible for planning the festival and providing the tomatoes. In 2015 an estimated 145,000 kg of tomatoes were thrown.
1. Running of the Bulls
Perhaps the most famous festival in Spain, the Running of the Bulls occurs in a number of towns and cities around Spain. The most famous iteration takes place in Pamplona during the festival of Sanfermines. The tradition originates from when bulls were transported from the surrounding countryside into the bullring. Young men would try to expedite the process by rushing the bulls through the streets, and eventually some would then also run in front of the bulls to prove their bravery. Despite safety precautions, every year between 50 and 100 people suffer injuries – with 50 people hospitalised in 2013.
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