Bilbao’s fiestas organisers hope for clean celebration

15th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Organisers of Aste Nagusia will award three prizes to citizens will cooperate and ensure a clean txupin without flour or eggs.

15 August 2008

MADRID - Pamplona may have its txupinazo, but Bilbao has its txupin. Both words refer to the firecracker that officially sets off the local fiestas, not to mention their excesses.

If Pamplona's txupinazo is famous for the thousands of people spraying wine at each other to herald the Running of the Bulls, Bilbao's Aste Nagusia (Big Week) has unique traditions of its own that go back three decades.

This year, local authorities are "earnestly asking citizens to cooperate so we can have a clean txupin without flour or eggs," and in order to make the proposition more attractive, there are three prizes for the "cleanest" citizens, with first prize consisting of two tickets to see the bullfight on Saturday, 23 August.

The festivities begin on Saturday at 7pm and include many street activities, with free concerts the main draw.

The Aste Nagusia has always prided itself on the quality of its musical programming, and this year organisers have secured Scottish rock band Travis as its main international act on Saturday, 23 August.

The Teenagers, a French electropop band that caused a sensation via the website MySpace, will also stop here on Saturday as part of their European tour.

Spanish bands will be out in force led by Amaral, a duo from Zaragoza who reached the top of the charts in 1997 with their debut album Estrella de Mar and have followed it up with more big sellers. The pair is currently on tour with their latest album, Gato Negro-Dragón Rojo.

Another chart-topper to hit town is the veteran band Hombres G, who had their heyday in the 1980s, with catchy tunes that became classics of Spanish pop-rock.

This being Bilbao, there are also plenty of Basque bands, such as Delorean, who started out playing pop and have since developed a darker, Cure-influenced sound.

Besides the music, the international fireworks competition is the other big event of the week, although many people will opt to miss the display and instead trawl through the scores of bars offering pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas, which range from the traditional croquettes to fancy nouvelle cuisine.

Basque authorities, always keen to showcase regional heritage, have also organized traditional sports events such as pelota (a variant of which is jai alai, popular in the US) or traineras (regattas), as well as Basque dance and music, which features a drum and a small black high-pitched flute called a txistu.

The star of the week is Mari Jaia, a giant papier maché sculpture who will be carried through town until she is put away again on the last day - to wait for next year's festivities to start.

Aste Nagusia will be held at various venues in Bilbao from 16 to 24 August. For more information, go to

[El Pais / S U / Expatica]

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