Valencia: World Design Capital 2022

As of 2022, the Spanish city of Valencia will become the epicentre of design. The World Design Organisation committee has chosen the city as ‘World Design Capital 2022’ creating the opportunity ‘to show the world the potential of Valencian design, its designers and companies’ – making it the first Spanish city to feature as a World Design Capital. Valencia’s candidacy was focused around the theme << ‘Mediterranean Design of Valencia'. Design for change, design for the senses>> and looks at all disciplines of design from industrial, space, architecture, services and the geographical, aesthetic, philosophical, ethical and cultural implications. A full cultural agenda is currently being developed to bring Valencia’s design closer to the public. https://wdo.org/press-release/valencia-named-world-design-capital-2022/

Ibiza celebrates 20th anniversary of World Heritage designation

Throughout 2019 Ibiza has been celebrating the 20th anniversary of the World Heritage designation: ‘Ibiza, biodiversity and culture’. In 1999, UNESCO recognised the island’s historic, natural and architectural value, choosing to preserve Ibiza’s assets for cultural and environmental reasons.The declaration highlighted the importance of the historical imprint left by Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and other civilizations all of whom left their mark on Ibiza. This includes the archaeological remains of the first Carthaginian settlement in Sa Caleta, the necropolis of Puig des Molins and Dalt Villa, the island’s fortified old town which features perfectly well-preserved Renaissance defensive walls. http://ibiza.travel/en/

50 Years of Spanish Formula 1

In 2020, the Spanish Grand Prix will celebrate being on the calendar of the FIA’s (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) most important racing series for 50 years. The first event was held in 1951 at Barcelona’s Pedralbes street circuit, Montjuïc another track in the Catalan capital, and the Jarama circuit in Madrid. From 1986 to 1990, the race relocated to Jerez de la Frontera, before making the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit its home again as of 1991. The world class sporting event that is highly popular in Spain, a country with a great motor racing tradition, has attracted more than half a million people over the course of the past three years. www.fia.com

World Cheese Awards 2020

It has recently been announced that Oviedo will play host World Cheese Awards 2020 in November 2020. It is the most important competition of its kind in which more than 3,000 varieties are judged by 250 international cheese experts and will be held as part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural Internacional Cheese Festival. It is estimated that more than 10,000 attendees, both consumer and trade, will participate in an event that will feature a number of tastings, panel discussions, training sessions and exhibitions. The hosting of the awards in Oviedo is recognition of the great work that has been carried out for years by the Asturian agri-food industry converting Asturias into one of the world capitals of cheese with more than 50 different varieties. https://gff.co.uk/awards/world-cheese-awards/

UEFA Euros 2020 to be held in Bilbao

The 60th anniversary of the UEFA Euros 2020 will be visit the Basque capital of Bilbao, one of Europe’s most famous footballing destinations. The competition itself, for the first time, is being held across Europe at 12 different venues: Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and Saint Petersburg. Bilbao is one of the cities to be chosen and its San Mamés stadium will play host to games on June 15, 20, 24 and 28. Of those four, the first three will be Group E matches while the fourth meeting will be one of the knockout round of 16 games pitting the champion of Group B against one of the nations that qualified third in groups A, D, E or F. The UEFA Euros 2020 is said to be the biggest yet forecasting to five billion viewers and playing live to three million fans in the stadiums. https://es.uefa.com/uefaeuro-2020/event-guide

La Siberia, Extremadura, declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

La Siberia, located in the north-eastern portion of the province of Badajoz in the Spanish region of Extremadura has been declared a Biosphere Reserve; a first for the province of Badajoz and the third in Extremadura, after Monfragüe (2003) and Tajo Internacional (2016). La Siberia is characterised by its meadows, plains, mountains and large reservoirs in the Guadiana and Zújar rivers. It is a territory with great biodiversity, a true paradise for nature lovers and ideal for fishing, water sports, hiking, mountain biking and bird watching. Its mountain range is part of the foothills of the Montes de Toledo. It borders to the east with Córdoba and Ciudad Real, and to the north with Cáceres and, more specifically, with another Extremadura territory that has a UNESCO seal: the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara World Geopark. La Siberia is also home to prehistoric sites and cave paintings to the imprint of Rome, through churches, castles and the abundant legacy of the Orders of the Temple and Alcantara. https://turismolasiberia.juntaex.es

Spain to celebrate Jacobean Year (Año Xacobeo) in 2021

2021 will mark the next Jacobean or Holy Year; an important year within the religious calendar celebrated when Saint James Day (25 July) falls on a Sunday.

In Spain, a Holy Year would typically see an increase in pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, particularly during the month of July when many pilgrims aim to arrive in Santiago de Compostela for the Saint James Day celebrations.During the Holy Year, the Holy Doors in Porta Santa, Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral remain open for the whole year and for those looking to repent their sins can obtain full plenary indulgence.

2010 was the most recent Jacobean Year.

Spain celebrates 500 years since the first circumnavigation of the world

Beginning on August 10, 2019, Spain initiated its celebrations recognising the 500th anniversary since the start of the first circumnavigation of the world, by Ferdinand Magellan

The Portuguese navigator Fernando de Magallanes launched the Spanish expedition that first went around the world in 1519. The expedition, consisting of five ships and about 250 men on board, and with Magellan in command, was initiated on August 10, 1519 from Seville’s docks.

After the death of Magellan, the expedition continued under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano, arriving in Seville, Spain in 1522. Of the five ships and approximate 250 men that departed, only one ship, the Victory, and 18 sailors returned. To commemorate the V Centenary of the First World Tour, a series of activities have been organised in Seville and throughout Spain to showcase the importance of this historic milestone.



Palacio de Liria open to the public

In September 2019, the Palace of Liria opened its doors to the general public for the first time. Up to now, only private guests or art aficionadas willing to go on an extensive waiting list were able to visit. The Palace, home of the Duke of Alba, is one of the most important private residences in the city and will allow groups of 20 visitors to tour its ground and first floors every 30 minutes with tours lasting a total of 65 minutes. The Palace houses one of the greatest artistic legacies in the history of Spain and is the fruit of 600 years of patronage and collecting by the House of Alba. More than a dozen rooms are accessed, including the library, which contains more than 18,000 volumes including the only collection of autobiographic letters by Christopher Columbus in private hands, the last testament of Fernando 'El Católico' or the first edition of 'El Quixote' of Madrid of 1605. Among the most outstanding pictorial works are the portraits of Francisco de Goya, as well as works by Titian and Rubens, Velázquez, Murillo, Zurbarán or El Greco, among other important artists. Tickets, which include audio guide in different languages, have a general price of €14. www.palaciodeliria.com

The Routes of Guadalupe and the Year of Saint Guadalupe 2020

The Monastery of Guadalupe has, since the 14th century, been one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe and so significant efforts have been made to preserve and protect these routes. One such project is ‘Itinere 1337’ which has managed to recover 12 historic pilgrimage routes and create a network of routes that lead to Guadalupe. Among those routes are the Royal Route (from Madrid), Road of the Montes de Toledo (from Toledo), Road of the Miners (from Ciudad Real) and the Path of the Discoverers (from Caceres and Trujillo). In 2020, the Holy Year of Guadalupe will begin on Sunday 06 September to coincide with the day of the patron saint of Extremadura. http://caminosaguadalupe.com

Castilla-La Mancha’s new network Hospederías (Guesthouses)

The region of Castilla-La Mancha has created a new network of its finest guesthouses, lodges and hotels known in Spanish as Hospederías. The network groups together the best of the region’s Hospederías with between three and five starts and located in buildings of traditional architecture among landscapes of great natural beauty. Featured Hospederías include Hospedería Santa Elena in Ciudad Real, Hotel Boutique Adolfo in Toledo and Hotel Convento del Giraldo in Cuenca. The idea behind the project is to preserve and protect buildings of significant cultural wealth and offer visitors to the region the highest quality service during their stay. http://hospederiascastillalamancha.es

Balearic Islands launch Underwater Atlas: a cartography of the Posidonia Oceanica’

The Balearic Islands Tourist Board launches ‘Underwater Atlas: a cartography of the Posidonia Oceanica’ in the Balearic Islands. The project, fully financed with funds of the sustainable tourism tax (ITS), aims to complete the existing cartography of the Posidonia Oceanica to protect the unique seagrass growing around the coast, said to be a vital source of oxygen in these coastal waters. The project is accompanied by the development of a new app that will be launching in May 2020, allowing users to know if they are in a permitted anchoring area (and indicating no-anchorage zones for boating vessels). The new campaign aims to conserve the Posidonia meadows to protect the unique ecosystem and the quality of the water, allowing the islands to remain a sustainable tourist destination for years to come. www.illesbalears.travel/en/baleares

Spain’s World Heritage Cities launches new initiatives

Spain has one of the largest numbers of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world with a total of 47 putting it third in the world behind Italy and China. To showcase the 15 cities, Ciudades Patrimonio (World Heritage Cities of Spain Group) has developed a number of initiatives such as La Noche del Patrimonio (World Heritage Night) which is celebrated across the 15 cities simultaneously on 15 September every year and features a programme of events such as contemporary and traditional dances. El Circuito de Carreras (World Heritage Cities Circuit) aims to combine sport and wellbeing with cultural heritage. The circuit consists of a network of 15 running trails across the 15 cities and takes place between October and December. It provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to experience and embrace these historic sites alongside local people. www.ciudadespatrimonio.org

The World’s Most Dangerous Footpath undergoes full restoration

El Caminito del Rey (The King’s Path), located about an hour northeast of Malaga, was formerly known as ‘the world’s most dangerous footpath’. However following a comprehensive restoration project, the Camino is now a lot safer and has even received an award for heritage conservation. Although the walking route is now much safer, it still offers visitors an exhilarating experience as they navigate the eight kilometre walkway which hangs 100 metres above El Chorro gorge. www.caminitodelrey.info/en

A Coruña Presents ‘The English Way of St James’ (Tues 6 November @14.00, Stand EU710)

The port city of A Coruña has historically welcomed pilgrims from afar travelling the maritime route of the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James). Known as the English Way of Saint James, this particular route is one of the ten official routes to Santiago de Compostela. Music icon John Legend always wanted to travel the English Way of Saint James with friend Salvador Dalí however this dream was never realised. With this as her motivation, Lennon’s sister Julia Baird has participated in the creation of a video with singer Carolina Rubirosa to promote the famous English Way. The video features a number of the famous sites along the route such as Ferrol, Santiago de Compostela and the Abbey of Finchale, one of the starting points in the UK. The video will be presented on Tuesday 5 November at 2PM in the Presentation Room of the Spain stand EU710 by Lanzada Calatayud, Manager of Turismo A Coruña and Carolina Rubirosa, theme singer. www.turismocoruna.com/web

Andalucía launches film route for cinema lovers

The Andalucía Film Commission, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the regional Government of Andalucía, has launched the ‘Great Film Route around Andalucía’ which will allow cinema lovers to visit the destinations that have starred in some of cinema’s most iconic films. Visitors can explore the lands of their most beloved film characters such as James Bond and Indiana Jones. Furthermore travellers are able to personalise their choice by selecting different tour options with a specific tour type, destination area or even movie in mind. The new project welcomes speakers of English, Spanish and German. http://andaluciadestinodecine.com/?lang=en

Seville introduces ‘Coventum’

The Seville Tourism Board has launched a new tourism product known as ‘Coventum’ which aims to promote and showcase the value in Seville city and province’s religious convents. ‘Coventum’ is a new way for visitors to enjoy and learn about the individual stories of each religious institution such as its history, the way of life and its unique spirituality. Visitors can enjoy guided tours, theatrical visits that bring the buildings to life, virtual reality tours, concerts, private masses or breakfast and lunches within the convents. Guests can buy their tickets to visit the convents in the ticket booths or on the web platform. In the first phase of the launch, the convents that form part of the scheme include Convento del Santo Angel, Convento de Santa Paula y Convento de Pozo Santo.


Seville creates new virtual tour guide ‘Rafa’

CityMe, Seville’s visitor application, has launched the first virtual tour guide to help visitors in the city maximise their stay. Through CityMe, visitors can interact with their virtual tour guide named ‘Rafa’ who offers information on the city and points of interest that may otherwise go unnoticed. ‘Rafa’ speaks both Spanish and English and recounts anecdotes, suggests places of interest and recommends shops, bars and restaurants across the city and wider province. CityMe has a free version that offers a limited range of information and a premium version which costs €3.49 and allows users to discover Seville in its entirety. The application is available on both IOS and Android. www.visitasevilla.es/en/official-webguide-seville



Madrid on the road to becoming car-free

Madrid is working towards becoming car-free and cut nitrogen dioxide levels by 23% in 2020. In order to do this the city has developed new strategies to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gases including increasing pedestrianised areas and cycling highways. The city’s ‘Madrid Central’ project has already widened the walkways along the city’s central road – Gran Via - and it's in the process of transforming one of the busiest intersections of the centre, the Centro Canalejas, into an area with a greater pedestrian space from which to admire the newly restored facades of seven historic buildings. The transformation of this large space between three streets will also result in a new large complex including a luxury hotel - the first of the Four Seasons chain in Spain - a residential area, an exquisite shopping arcade and a gourmet space. www.esmadrid.com/en

Costa Verde Express; a new rail journey through Green Spain starting 2020

A new rail journey through Green Spain, from Bilbao to Gijón (or vice versa) is being launched by RENFE in May 2020. The new rail journey entitled ‘Costa Verde Express’, offers a unique six-day, five-night programme aboard the luxurious and historic Costa Verde Express staying in a Gran Clase Room. The new launch maintains the philosophy of RENFE’s Luxury Tourist Trains, highlighting the gastronomy, landscapes, excursions, and magnificent trains, visiting Bilbao, Laredo, Santoña, Santoña, Santander, Santillana del Mar, Llanes, Covadonga, Oviedo and Gijón. The Costa Verde Express is priced from £2,390 per person including luxury accommodation, all meals, gala dinner, activities on board, excursions and scheduled tours, tour guides, and other extras. www.renfe.com

New train route through northern Spain

Easter 2020 will see the arrival of a new range of low-cost, high-speed AVE trains from RENFE. One of the main routes is a new high-speed train travelling between Madrid and Barcelona reaching speeds of up to 350 km/h (186mph). The announcement of one of the most modern train fleets in Europe comes as an attempt to get Spaniards off the roads and onto the train tracks. Despite coaches being the primary choice of young travellers in Spain, the AVE trains are expected to provide them with a more luxurious and efficient way to get around the country. It will not be difficult to spot the brand-new carriages either as the first created models come in very eye-catching colours, with a distinctive purple coat of paint and a bright orange finish. Thanks to the prices more than 25 per cent cheaper than the current service, the high-speed AVE trains are expected to attract over a million passengers in the first year. www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html



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The Spanish Tourist Office in London is represented by LOTUS (spain@wearelotus.co.uk/ 0207 953 7470).