Home Lifestyle Holidays & Celebrations Guide to Spanish festivals
Last update on October 13, 2020

Spanish festivals are celebrated all year-round. From the popular Spanish festival La Tomatina to Benicassim, we’ve found some of both the best and bizarre festivals in Spain.

Many festivals in Spain are specific to certain towns and regions, offering a huge variety in local specialties. You can also check which Spanish festivals coincide with Spanish public holidays.

Mark your calendar with this guide to the best Spanish festivals, from La Tomatina’s tomato fight to Benicassim’s international music festival to religious Spanish festivals.

6 January: Three Kings Day

This day is celebrated throughout Spain with the biggest processions in the major cities. It’s the traditional Spanish festival of annual gift-giving (similar to Christmas in Spain). In Spain, children receive presents from the Three Kings, who visit their homes at night. Before this, the kings take part in an elaborate procession where they throw confectionery to children in the streets. Though the official Dia de Los Reyes is 6 January, the gift-giving procession (Cabalgate de Reyes) takes place the night before.

13–21 January: San Sebastian Festival, Majorca and San Sebastian

An explosion of bonfires and dancing to celebrate St. Sebastian, with the famous tamborrada drumming taking place in Spain’s northern city of San Sebastian. This festival is one of the highlights of the Spanish winter’s festivities, with a concert and barbecues taking place in Palma.

Majorca coast

19–20 January: Jarramplas, Cáceres

The Jarramplas festival involves pelting thousands of hard turnips at a devil-like character to drive away evil spirits. The western village of Piornal, home to around 1,500 people, celebrates this day each year. Here, several young men take turns dressing up in scary costumes of colorful fabric, a mask, green horns, and body armor underneath. Portraying the Jarramplas, especially on the second day, is such an honor that there’s a waiting list of some 20 years. Unfortunately, the job entails being the target of turnip-throwing crowds that line the streets. The festival’s exact origin is unknown although various legends exist; one widely accepted theory is that the Jarramplas represents a cattle thief who was once punished by local residents.

23–27 January: CutreCon Film Festival, Madrid

Films that are so bad that they’re actually good are the cornerstone of this festival. This five-day Cutrecon film festival (only in Spanish) held in Madrid celebrates bad acting, terrible scripts, and tragic directing. This festival attracts several thousand visitors.

1–3 February: The Arizkun Carnival (Jumping the Bonfire), Arizkun, Navarra

Thousands of people queue up in the streets ready to jump over some 20 bonfires, a tradition dating back to pagan times. The jumps encourage fertility and ward off evil spirits. Locals dress up in instantly recognizable costumes that look like sheepskin coats, adorned with black pots, wearing maypole-style hats and carrying brushes.

21–24 February: International Animation Festival, Lleida, Catalonia

The Animac Mostra Internacional de Cinema d’Animació de Catalunya is a ANIMAC film exhibition open to makers of animated films using a variety of techniques. Takes place over four days with projections, conferences, workshops, and other special activities in the usual headquarters of the festival, La Llotja, CaixaForum Lleida.

28 February–6 March: Sitges Carnival, Catalonia

This Sitges carnival is the event where anything goes in one of the gay capitals of Europe. With wild partying launched by Jueves Lardero (Fat Thursday), there’s also a drag queen show and an enormous feast. The two main parades come through the town and the partying continues through the night. The names alone — Extermination and Debauchery Parades — are a clue to the extravagance of the event, so don’t dress down. Extra night buses and trains for the event can get you back into Barcelona if you’re not staying over.

1–19 March: Las Fallas Festival, Valencia

High-tech giant-size ninots (puppets or dolls) are shaped into traditional figures or even modern cultural icons such as Shrek and President Obama at the Las Fallas festival. The festival is actually on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List since 2016. The creations are on display all over the city before locals light them in one of the many bonfires, which take place amid much partying. This year, more than 800 Fallas monuments will be bursting with humor and satire, fireworks, music, and tradition.

Las-Fallas

14–21 April: Holy Week (Semana Santa), Seville

Semana Santa is one of the most important festivals on the Spanish holiday calendar. The Easter festivities take place all across Spain, but the biggest spectacle is in Seville. Semana Santa is mainly a series of processions of elaborate floats bearing jeweled statues of Mary and Jesus, penitents wearing pointed hoods, and brass bands. They begin on Palm Sunday the week before Easter, followed by those on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The city will be packed with visitors and locals, but the experience is worth it.

23 April: Sant Jordi (Saint George) Festival, Barcelona

Sant Jordi, or St George, is the patron saint of Catalonia. But St George’s Day in Barcelona is also the city’s version of Valentine’s Day, when romance sweeps the city. The tradition is for the man to give his lady a rose in return for a book. The streets and balconies are clad in Catalonia’s red and yellow flag, the Senyera.

4–11 May: Feria de Sevilla, Seville

Spring Fair, the Feria, comes two weeks after Semana Santa. The Feria is a joyful festival with masses of Spanish food, drink, music, and dancing. Southwest of the city, there is a huge area is for the fair, creating a small town of casetas (tents or pavilions) for drinking, eating, and socializing. Most of the tents are private and invitation-only, but there are seven public ones, so you won’t miss out. Sevilliano/as, in traditional flamenco dresses, or tight trousers and boleros, parade around on horseback and in carriages – providing you with some fabulous photo opportunities.

Feria_de_Seville

10–14 May: Fiesta de San Isidro, Madrid

It’s Madrid’s largest festival. The events offer an opportunity to wear the traditional castizo finery and sample tasty delicacies such as thick, steamy broth. Music and dancing is everywhere with flamenco, zarzuelas and Latin rhythms happening at concerts all over the city. The San Isidro Festival is starts with a grand procession of giants and cabezudos, with an opening speech in the Plaza Mayor afterward. Over the next few days, entertainment and revelry take over the city’s public spaces.

29 May–2 June: Feria de la Manzanilla in Sanlucar de Barrameda

If you like your sherry, this Sanlucar de Barrameda festival (only in Spanish) should be right up your street. The locals celebrate their local drink by consuming unhealthy quantities of it, along with plenty of fish and tasty tapas. The week officially begins when the lights turn on, but festivities usually start early the previous weekend. On Sunday, there is a spectacular firework display to end the festival with a bang.

23 June: El Colacho (Baby Jumping) Festival, Castrillo de Murcia, near Burgos

The Spanish El Colacho festival sees townspeople dress up in colorful costumes. They form a queue to leap over a mattress laden with babies born during the previous year. The ceremony rids the babies of evil spirits and guards against illness. This is one of the Corpus Christi festivals in Spain on the first Sunday after Corpus Christi.

Castrillo de Murcia

23 June: Night of San Juan, Valencia region

In this San Juan festival, you won’t see costumes or religious parades but a pagan celebration of the Summer Equinox. It’s the one night of the year that locals can light bonfires on the beach, barbecue, and drink. Later on, everyone jumps over the fires and waves to make a wish. You need to bring your own wood, food, and drinks, and celebrations last until sunrise. Valencia and Alicante have the biggest congregations of local partners, with celebrations in Alicante lasting several days and culminating in huge papier-mâché figures being burnt.

29–30 June: Haro Wine Festival

There are celebrations all over Spain to mark the Spanish wine harvest. One of the best is in Haro in La Rioja region. La Batalla de Vino, or the Wine Fight, starts with a huge street party on the eve of 29 June. The next day, the locals climb up a nearby mountain and drench each other with rioja using sprays, buckets, water pistols, or whatever they can lay their hands on. The battle then moves down the mountain and into the town where dancing and general merrymaking continues, all accompanied by the quaffing of lots and lots of vino tinto. Wear old clothes!

21 June–12 July: International Festival of Music and Dance, Granada

This Spanish festival is a celebration of flamenco and classical music that traces its origins back to the 1880s. It combines the vibrant energy of Spanish guitars, castanets, and flamenco dancers. It has also become widely known for the impressive performance venues and for the presence of the most outstanding performers of the day. Each year, outstanding young artists, musicians, and dancers include in their projects top professionals who are prepared to back interesting new projects.

Flamenco-dancer

6–14 July: Running of the Bulls (Fiesta de San Fermín), Pamplona

This is probably Spain’s most Running of the Bulls and is a magnet for thrill-seekers and spectators alike. Hundreds of thousands of Spanish and international visitors don white shirts and red bandannas for some serious partying. The bravest line up to engage in a mad dash ahead of rampaging bulls careering through narrow cobbled streets. Luckily the runners have a newspaper to protect themselves with. By night, the squares glow underneath fairy lights for drinking, eating, live music, and dancing.

25 July: Feast of St. James, Santiago de Compostela

A public holiday in the Basque Country and Galicia, this religious event commemorates the life and work of Saint James, the town’s patron saint who lies in the local cathedral. Theater productions, street shows, concerts, and dance events occur, together with religious services, during the Fiesta de Santiago Apóstol en Santiago de Compostela. Those walking the Camino de Santiago can also time their pilgrimage to end at this event.

29 July: Near Death Festival, Neves

Those who have had a brush with death in the past year are carried through the streets in coffins to thank Saint Marta, the patron saint of death. Known in Spanish as Romería de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, this Near Death festival takes place in the small village Las Nieves, which borders Portugal.

Near-Death-Festival

15–21 August: Festa Major de Gràcia, Catalonia

All year long, the residents of Gràcia work on elaborate decorations with themes such as marine life, the solar system, or even local politics, to hang in the streets. By day, long trestle tables are set up for communal lunches as well as board games; at night, thousands invade the tiny streets for outdoor concerts, dances, and general revelry. The Gracia festival takes place outdoors in the hot, balmy weather in August.

17–25 August: Aste Nagusia, Bilbao

The Aste Nagusia, Semana Grande or Big Week, the Aste Nagusia festival in northern Spain, is held at the end of August when a rocket (txupinazo) shoots into the sky and the festival mascot Marijaia makes her appearance on a balcony of the Arriaga Theater. This nine-day festival celebrates Basque culture with live music and dancing; wood chopping, stone carrying and strongman competitions; parades of giants; food and drink; bullfights; concerts; and nightly fireworks, culminating in the burning of Marijaia.

28 August: La Tomatina, Buñol, west of Valencia

This is the world-renowned, tomato-flinging festival held on the last Wednesday of August. Thousands of joyful revelers use truckloads of overripe tomatoes as missiles. Only recently has the town started charging an entrance fee, so you’ll need a ticket to get in. Bring goggles and a change of clothes.

La-Tomatina

7–8 September: Fiestas de la Mare de Deu de la Salut in Algemesí, Valencia

The main local Algemesi festival in Algemesí dates back to the Middle Ages. The storied festival recently earned the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation. Theater, dance, and music are part of the celebrations and more than 1,400 people take part in the main parade. The festival also features giants representing King James I of Aragon and his wife as part of the Volta General, which also includes numerous biblical characters.

20–28 September: San Sebastián International Film Festival

The premier film festival of Spain takes place in the Basque capital in September, across several different theaters. Retrospectives are frequently featured, and week-long screenings are also held.

Dates TBC in September: Fiesta De La Mercè, Barcelona

This Fiesta de la Merce honors Our Lady of Mercy (La Mercè), the city’s patron saint. Free music concerts, from traditional to contemporary, occur in the plazas (particularly Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça Sant Jaume), and figures from folklore such as the gigants (giants) and cap grosses (fatheads) take to the streets. People come out to perform the sardana (the traditional Catalan dance) and to watch the nail-biting castellers (human towers). Firework displays light up the night, and the hair-raising correfoc, a parade of firework-brandishing devils and dragons, is the grand finale.

Barcelona by night

12 October: Hispanic Day/Columbus Day, throughout Spain

El Día de la Hispanidad is a national holiday of Spain that is celebrated on 12 October, commemorating when Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas. A special parade happens at La Plaza de Colon in Madrid, led by the military and the Spanish royal family. A wide array of other authorities, from foreign diplomats as well as the presidents of the autonomous governments, attend this parade. The Spanish armed forces also fly through the air doing aerobatics with red and yellow smoke drawing images for the crowd to see.

26 October–1 November: Annual Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, San Sebastian

Various venues show a range of horror movies during this Horror and Fantasy Film Festival. Together with outdoor performances and street theater, comedy events, horror-related exhibitions and many fanzine festivities.

1 November: All Saints’ Day, Cadiz

Although All Saint’s Day is a holiday throughout Spain, it is especially fun in Cadiz. There, celebrations are a little different: it is known as Tosantos and the Gaditanos (locals of Cadiz) do wacky things like dress up rabbits and suckling pigs in the market, as well as making dolls out of fruit. The whole region gets involved and the festivities last all week.

29–30 November: San Andres Festival, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

In theory, the San Andres festival is about tasting the new year’s wine, but it’s usually more about making a lot of noise in the streets with pots, pans, and assorted objects. Celebrants drag cans and other noisy metal objects tied to string and wire through the streets of the town, and everyone drinks into the early hours.

28 December: Día de los Santos Inocentes, throughout Spain

This equivalent of April Fools’ Day gives people an excuse to do crazy things, making practical jokes, and telling spoof stories. The tradition has links to the biblical story of King Herod’s massacre of the babies in a futile attempt to kill the infant Jesus. Others think it’s all a medieval joke, but whatever the origins, practical joke victims in Spain are known as “innocents”.

28 December: Els Enfarinats, Ibi in Alicante

This day-long Els Enfarinats festival is a mix of carnival and anarchy which dates back around 200 years. It’s part of the celebrations around the Day of the Innocents. A group of Els Enfarinats (Flour Men) dressed in mock military uniforms take control of the town, make satirical speeches (often against local politicians and businessmen), impose laws, in addition to a huge battle with eggs, flours, and firecrackers.