MUST-SEE SPANISH FESTIVALS TO VISIT THIS SUMMER
With the start of summer comes Spain's most anticipated and exciting time of the year - festival season. Spain welcomes hundreds of festivals every year, celebrating all kinds of things from religious symbolism, to gastronomy and art. Some of Spain's most famous summer festivals include La Tomatina in Buñol, the Sant Joan Festival in Menorca and the Castells Festival in Tarragona.
Spanish summer has a little something to satisfy revellers from all over the world. Here is a selection of some of the must-see festivals for those travelling to Spain this summer.
1) Cordoba Guitar Festival, Cordoba
Held in the southern city of Cordoba for the past 33 years, the Guitar Festival is a must-see visit featuring a large selection of Flamenco artists both traditional and modern, as well as jazz musicians, dancers and groups. The festival is one of the cultural highlights of the city and takes place in a variety of locations including some of Cordoba's must illustrious venues such as the Corredera Square, the Royal Stables, the Congress Palace and the Grand Theatre. The festival also has a training programme run by quality artists and teachers who run courses in guitar making, ancient guitar, classical guitar and Flamenco guitar. The festival will take place from 4-14 July 2018. www.guitarracordoba.es
2) San Juan festival, Alicante
In Alicante, the arrival of summer is celebrated with the bonfires of San Juan Festival from 20-24 June. The festival begins with the “planta” when huge bonfires and cardboard figures are built and marquees with public dance floors are constructed. Celebrations during the festival include parades with dancers from all over the world and impressive firework displays every two days in Plaza de los Luceros. On the last day, revellers can enjoy the “crema” (burning) when all the bonfires across the city are set alight and fire-fighters shower the crowds with water. www.hogueras.org
3) Festival of Sant Joan, Menorca
The festival of Sant Joan is the largest, most popular and most anticipated festival in Menorca marking the start of all summer festivals. Every year, thousands of people flock to the official celebrations in the city of Ciutadella from 23 to 24 June, which features bonfires, music and dancing. Throughout the fiestas, the famous black Menorcan horses play a central role with horse-riding shows including jousting and jaleo – when the horses dance on their hind legs. During the festival, revellers traditionally drink ‘pomada’, a potent mixture of Menorcan gin and lemonade or fresh lemon juice. www.visitmenorca.com
4) Sanlucar horse races, San Lucar de Barrameda, Cádiz Province
San Lucar de Barrameda located on Spain's southern coast, plays host to one of Europe's oldest equestrian events called the San Lucar horse races. The competition dates back to 1848 when fishmongers would race along the beach on horseback to the market in the town. The races will take place from 8-24 August and comprises two three day cycles where riders compete for various prizes. Anyone may attend the races free of charge and spectators can place bets on who will win each race in stands located at the finish lines. www.sanlucarturismo.com
5) La Tomatina, Buñol
La Tomatina, also known as the 'World's Biggest Food Fight', is a festival that takes place on the last Wednesday in August in the town of Buñol. Every year, thousands descend on the sleepy town to take part in this much anticipated annual event that sees participants throwing overripe tomatoes at each other until the streets are covered in the remains of the fruit. The festivities begin at 11am when one hundred tons of tomatoes are dropped off in the centre of town, and waters cannons are set off signalling the start of the battle. For one hour, it is every man for himself as the tomato fight unravels in the streets. Spaces to attend the event are limited and those wishing to participate must purchase a ticket. www.latomatina.com
6) La Bienal Flamenco Festival, Sevilla
La Bienal is the biggest Flamenco event in the world taking place every two years in Sevilla, also known as the home of this traditional southern Spanish dance. In 2018, the 18th edition of the festival will take place from 6 to 30 September and will feature over 67 shows including Flamenco competitions, concerts, conferences, talks and seminars. This year, visitors will be able to see performances from artists such as Israel Galvan, an award-winning Flamenco dancer who has performed in shows across Spain; Antonio Rey and Diego del Morao two of the most prominent guitar players in Spain who have won numerous awards in some of the most important Flamenco competitions in the country; and the Compania Andrés Marín that creates Flamenco performances with a twist. The event is the perfect festival for those wanting to discover the roots of flamenco and enjoy different modern and experimental performances. www.labienal.com
7) Festival ‘De la Rama’, Gran Canaria
On 4 August, thousands of people travel to the town of Agaete in the north-west of Gran Canaria to celebrate ‘La Rama’ (the branch festival). During the festivities, revellers take to the streets to dance to traditional music, waving branches in the air to honour the Virgin of Las Nieves (the virgin of clouds). ‘La Rama’ is one of the Canary Island’s oldest and most popular festivities and serves as a reminder of when the original inhabitants of the Canaries prayed to the gods of the rain. www.grancanaria.com/turismo/en/
8) Cider Festival, Gijon
From 20-26 August, Gijon, also known as the capital of Asturias in norther Spain, will welcome the 27th edition of the ‘Fiesta de la Sidra Natural’ (Cider Festival). Visitors to the festival are treated to pouring competitions, a special apple and cider market where they can taste home-made cider and traditional food such as ‘Fabada Asturiana’ (a sausage and bean casserole), Caldereta (fish stew), and ‘cabrales’ ( local blue cheese). Other activities include visits to emblematic cider cellars to learn about the production of ciders, theatre and dance performances and parades. www.turismoasturias.es
9) Castells Festival, Tarragona
The city of Tarragona, located in the northeast of Catalonia is famous for celebrating its tradition of ‘castells’ – a popular event involving the creation of human towers up to a height between of six and ten tiers. From 25 September to 2 October 2018, the city hosts the Concurs de Castells (human tower competition), one of Catalonia’s most important cultural traditions, recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Thousands of men, women, and children participate in the competition forming human towers up to ten tiers high, watched by up to 6,000 spectators from Spain and abroad. www.eng.concursdecastells.cat
The Spanish Tourist Office in London is represented by LOTUS (firstname.lastname@example.org/ 0207 953 7470).