Let me share with you the 5 most epic festivities in Spain everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Spain is one of the best countries in the world to celebrate life itself. So, no wonder that local fiestas are vibrant, loud, and unforgettable. Spanish celebrations always go beyond a simple day off work: they embrace local culture and history most vividly and entertainingly.
Festivities in Spain form a huge part of daily life. Especially since there are so many of them…
Along with national holidays, every small town in Spain has at least a week of local celebrations per year. This large number of festivities in Spain provides locals with a constant excuse to enjoy an abundant social life, as well as spend time with family and friends.
In my post about Spanish habits, I have already confessed that local fiestas have been adding fun to my Spanish weekends over the last 15+ expat years on the Iberian Peninsula. Even though I tend to avoid crowds and venture out on trips across Undiscovered Spain, Spanish festivities are everywhere.
To name a few recent examples on the road: my family weekend in Benicassim overlapped with Belle Epoque Festival, my trip to Soria – with local celebrations in Burgo de Osma, and my trip to the Spanish ceramic museums – with local celebrations in Alcora.
So, what I am trying to say is that festivities in Spain are inevitable, even if I don’t plan to attend them. However, some celebrations are so unique that they are worth building a whole trip around them.
Here are the top 5 Spanish festivities that should be a must-do on your Spain Bucket list.
The Most Epic Festivities in Spain
Las Fallas / Valencia
Let´s open this list of top Spanish festivities with my home region of the Valencian Community and its iconic celebration of Las Fallas.
So far it´s the only globally-known Spanish fiesta I have visited in person quite a few times. While taking place every year in March, Las Fallas is a flashy Spanish week-long celebration that you can’t miss if planning to visit the city of Valencia.
While the origins of the festival could be traced back to the Middle Ages, locals still part-take in the celebrations with enthusiasm and personal investments. The main attraction of this Spanish festivity is the paper-mache figures built by different neighborhoods of the city. During the holiday week, the contest for the best creation is held, afterward the rest of the figures are burned and the winner gets stored in the museum.
During Las Fallas week you will often see traditional local costumes of la fallera. Just for the record, the average cost of the fallera dress is 700-1500 euros (although with more exclusive fabrics it might even reach 25000 euros) and you will see thousands of local women and girls wearing this traditional outfit.
La Mascleta is another unmissable attribute of Las Fallas. It takes place around 2 p.m. every day during the holiday week at the central square Plaza de L´Ajuntament. La Mascleta Is essentially a display of firecrackers. That´s honestly the part of Las Fallas that I am not quite into (it´s extremely crowded and basically, you stand still and listen to the noise).
Another spectacular event of Las Fallas Festival is La Ofrenda, when the huge statue of Virgen de los Desamparados is decorated with flowers.
These are only a few highlights, but the schedule of Las Fallas is always packed with events from dusk to dawn. Attending is free and available for everyone.
San Fermin in Pamplona
The Festival of San Fermin is one of the most iconic festivities in Spain, and one of the top attractions In Pamplona, Navarra Region. I bet even people who have never visited Spain, have occasionally heard about the crazy local feast where people run in front of the bulls. Yes, this is the very same fiesta.
But it would be unfair to narrow down the celebration to the bulls only.
The Festival of San Fermin has long historical roots in the Navarra region. Initially, it was celebrated in October in honor of Christian missionary San Fermin de Amiens since 1186. However, back in 1591, the date was changed to the 7th of July.
Nowadays the celebrations take place every year from July 6 to July 14. In between the older generations (and even the younger Spaniards from more traditional and rural areas of the country), it is still popular to watch encierro (eg. the bulls running) every morning during the Festival of San Fermin. As I´ve previously shared in my post about the almuerzo culture in Valencia – many local bars will have the TV on broadcasting the bulls´ run of San Fermin around 8 a.m. Chances are high you´ll accidentally see it during your breakfast in Valencia, or anywhere else across Spain.
La Tomatina in Buñol
La Tomatina is one of the most eye-catching festivities in Spain, taking place every year at the end of August in the small town of Buñol.
While I have already visited Buñol quite a few times while exploring different hikes in Valencia Region, La Tomatina is still in the plans for me. The feast originated back in 1945 as a food fight, but with time has turned into one of the most fun and savage fiestas. The essence of the festival is quite simple – during one hour locals and tourists throw at each other tomatos. Everywhere is a mess.
To visit this festival you need to book in advance. The easiest way to get to Buñol is to take one of the official buses taking you to the Tomatina festival from Valencia or Barcelona.
I honestly still have second thoughts about visiting La Tomatina. On the one side, I feel like I will not enjoy being thrown tomatoes at, but on the other hand, I feel extremely curious to see it all with my own eyes.
Moors and Christians of Alcoy
Ever since my trip to the Alicante Region, The Moors & Christians of Alcoy has been one of the Spanish festivities I wanted to see the most.
The celebration commemorates Spanish history and the events of the XIIIth century, back when King Jaime I El Conquistador was fighting against the Moors for the city of Alcoy.
According to the legend the Saint George (or San Jorge in Spanish) appeared on the horseback to save the city and this helped the Spanish troops to obtain the desired victory. To thank the Saint locals built a church in his honor and promised to hold early celebrations.
Every year (around the 22nd-24th of April) Alcoy hosts colorful parades representing the historic events of the battle between Muslims and Christians.
Spring Fair in Seville
While I have briefly mentioned the Spring Fair (or Feria de Abril) celebrations while discussing with you the best time to visit the city of Seville, one of the most romantic places in Spain and one of my favorite Spanish destinations ever, – there’s a lot to be said about this fiesta.
Seville’s Spring Fair or Feria de Abril is one of the biggest festivities in Spain. It takes up an area of over 450000 square meters with over 1000 casetas (e.g. decorated marquee tents for partying and drinking, mostly privately owned by the groups of locals). It´s actually quite an investment, since having own caseta costs from 600 euros to 12000 euros per year. Here, you can see again that locals are taking festivities in Spain seriously and even are willing to assume the yearly costs for this one holiday week.
At the same time, there are also casetas publicas (e.g. public tents) set by the local Government with free access for everyone (local authorities themselves spend at least a few million on Feria de Abril every year).
The celebrations involve parades of carriages and riders, bullfights, locals wearing traditional flamenco outfits, and lots of partying, sevillanas dancing, drinks, and tapas. The most typical drink for the Seville Spring Fair is rebujito (a mix of sherry and soft drinks, like lemonade or lemon soda).
The street of Calle del Infierno during the Spring Fair is full of lights and attractions for kids and adults (usually each will cost around 5 euros).
While it´s a very basic list of the biggest festivities in Spain, you should consider experiencing in person at least one of these unique events. Those of you visiting Spain in search of fiesta, can literally find something somewhere to celebrate all year round – you just need to research your region of interest to know the exact dates of local celebrations.
Also, set your eyes on Medieval Fairs and Gastronomic Weeks in Spain taking place all year round. Another unique celebration in Spain is the Bonfires of Saint John on June 23/24 (you can check it on my IG).
Have you ever attended any Spanish festivities? Which one would you like to experience the most?