Many years ago while on a surfing trip through the northern parts of Spain, some locals invited us to a local fiesta. This fiesta is not much talked about but it was extraordinary, and it follows a theme that I did know about Spain. Fiestas with strange but interesting activities, like the running of the bulls in Pamplona and the Tomatina outside of Valencia.
The Goose Pull- El Dia los Ganos- early September
The fiesta I visited was in a small fishing village in Pais Vasco- the Basque Land, in a village called Lekietio. We arrived at 3pm in the afternoon to find the action centred on the quays in the harbour area. There were boats lined up in the harbour their traditional, basque attire. White clothes, with a blue scarf and blue sash around their waist. Now anyone who knows anything about basques would say that they don’t wear blue, they wear red. Well in this village it was blue. Suspened across the harbour was a rope, which was being pulled by a pulley team, tug of war like, and in the middle a greased up featherless goose suspended by the rope. Forget about the animal cruelty for a moment, and experience the moment. It was an extraordinary fiesta. The boat crew all dressed in their traditional basque clothes rowed up to the goose, one man on the boat standing up, he then grabbed onto the goose with both arms, and the team on the pulley lifted him itno the air, and dropped him. Then they lifted him again, and agian, unitl he fell into the harbour either with or without the goose.
Feria del Caballo, Jerez, late April early May
Jerez is a city close to Cadiz in the south of Spain. It is well famed for the royal Spanish dancing horses. Check out this fiesta to see the art of horsemanship that this town has a part of it’s culture
Carnival de Cadiz February/March
This is one of the largest parties in the whole of Spain and also in all of Europe. Want a good party? Go there!
San Fermin- Pamplona 6-14 July
This fiesta is well known, so do we need to say more
Feria de Cordoba 19-26 May
A good party from the area which is the true home of flamenco, all things Andalucian and Spanish
Feria de Malaga 15th August
a huge 10 day party in a great city with a good climate
Fiesta de Moros y Critianos- Alcoy, Alicante province, 22-24 April
mock battles take place to commerate the Reconquest of Spain
Las Fallas in Valencia,
Las fallas means fires in Valencian Catalan. The is a well known and visited fiesta parading effigies made of papier-macheé, which eventually get burnt, and later they also light up the fireworks
La Virgen Blanca – 4 August -Vitoria, Alava
A dummy holding an umbrella (the celedon) is lowered from San Miguel church to a house below – from which a man in similar dress emerges. The mayor fires a rocket and the crowds in the square light cigars.
Las Carantonas – 20 January – Achehuche, Caceres
This is a fiesta in honour of patron St. Sebastian , the Carantona is a costume of a wild scary animal usually in amimal skins which parade through the town and afterwards party like a happy Spaniard does.
Os Peliqueiros Carnival – February/March – Laza,Ourense
Dressed up in grinning masks and outlandish costumes, with cowbells tied to their belts and brandishing sticks, Os Peliqueiros take to the streets on Carnival Sunday.
They are licensed to lash out at onlookers, who are forbidden to retaliate. On Carnival Monday a battle takes place, with flour, water and live ants used as ammunition. Laza’s carnival comes to an end on the Tuesday with a reading of the satirical ‘Donkey’s Will’ and the burning of an effigy.
(Spanish-living.com provides one of the most in-depth guide to crazy Spanish fiestas. Click here to go to page then navigate through the fietsas to see the various different fiestas for the region to coincide with your travel itinerary.)
Wine Battle – 29 June – Haro, La Rioja
This sounds like a typical crazy and great Spanish fiesta. The party people are dressed in traditional Basque costume: red and white and throw wine over each other. Haro is the capital of the Upper La Rioja wine growing region
Danza de los Zancos – 22 July and the last Saturday of September – Anguiano, La Rioja
Dancers on stilts, wearing ornate waistcoats and yellow skirts, hurtle down the stepped alley from the church to the main square.
Bou en la Mar – early July – Denia, Alicante
People dodge bulls on the quay until one or the other falls into the sea.
Seeing some of these great Spanish fiestas has opened our eyes to the multitude of different fun times to be had in Spain. If you are nearby at the time don’t hesitate to visit. The Spanish like to have a good time, and have a great imagination about how to make a party interesting.
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