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Spanish festival, be fascinated or horrified

Spain is full of festivals and it is almost quite impossible to have a full list because each villages/towns/cities have their own one. It doesn’t matter if it is religious or pagan because for villagers, it is their tradition and it is totally normal and for foreigners, we can only react in 2 ways, to be fascinated or horrified.

Spain is considered as one of the countries which has the most savage festivals. For majority of them, the main actor is an animal which is mostly the bull so if you are going to participate to one of them, even if it is just to take a look, you won’t be indifferent to the event. Following some famous festivals and I will start first by the funny ones to end with the wild ones.

The entertaining festivals without animal

Patum. It is celebrated every year at Berga between the end of the month of may and june, there is no a specific date because the festival has to coincide with the Corpus Christi period. One of its main characteristics is the fire battle where people have to fight against others with firecrackers and fireworks, of course each participants are very well protected.

Water battle (batalla naval). It is celebrated at Vallecas on the third sunday of july every year. The rule consists to throw water by any means to anyone who is at your reach during more or less 2h so you can use water gun, bucket… a refreshing battle during a hot summer.

Wine battle. It is celebrated at Haro on june 29 each year. Like the one above, it consists of a battle but instead of using water, people use wine, the goal, not to get drunk at the end of the battle ;-)

Tamborrada. It is celebrated each year at San Sebastián on january 20 at midnight. This is one of the noisiest festivals in Spain which consists during 24h to play drums or to ear drums if you are not one of the drummers including kids have their own tamborrada.

Fallas. It is celebrated every year at Valencia from march 15 to 19. This is an art event because the streets are decorated with giant cardboard monuments called “ninots” and the last day, all of them will be burnt in an impressive show of light, music and fireworks.

Apostle Santiago. It is celebrated each year at Santiago de Compostela the last 2 weeks of july. Normally people, who is doing the Saint James’ way (camino de Santiago), try to end his pilgrimage by arriving to the city before the 24 because at night time, there is one of the best and wonderful show of light, music and fireworks on the cathedral.

Cascamorras. It is celebrated every year between Guadix and Baza on september 6. One guy is dressed like a harlequin and the others have to paint their body, the goal of the harlequin is to reach Baza totally clean, running from Guadix and the goal for the others is to catch him and to dirty him.

Tomatina. It is celebrated at Buñol the last wednesday of august each year. This festival consists of a tomato battle so the goal is very simple, throw the most tomatoes against every one, one advice for participants, put clothes that you don’t like.

St John’s day (verbena de sant Joan). Also called fire night, this event is to celebrate the summer so during the night of june 23rd until the morning of the next day, people throw fireworks, jump above a bonfire, walk on small hot rocks...

The “light” festivals with animal

Belfry goat (la cabra del campanario). It is celebrated every year at Manganeses de la Polvorosa on january 22. The rule was to throw a goat from the bell tower trying to repeat an old miracle, it was said that a goat climbed on the top of the tower by itself and after the jump, it landed on the ground without a scratch. Since some years, the animal, instead to crash on the floor, is landing on a soft sheet hold by people so still alive after the fall.

Belfry turkey (la pava del campanario). It is celebrated at Cazalilla each year on february 3. The rule is quite the same as the goat but with the difference that someone has to catch the turkey, it is said to bring luck to the person who catch it. In spite of many penalties, the village keeps going on with this old tradition.

Chopped cock (los gallos descuartizados). It is celebrated at Guarrate every year on the last sunday of january. The event consists of someone running on horse with a sword and to chop cocks hanging on the main square, according to the tradition, the goal is to change a young man to a man by this act. In the past, cocks were hanging alive but since some years, only dead cocks are hung.

Sanfermines. It is celebrated at Pamplona each year from july 6 to 14. Starting at 8h AM, you will have to run in front of bulls during more or less 3 minutes until you reach the bull square.

Jaelo. It is celebrated at Menorca each year on june 23 and 24. A man, dressed in white and black, rides a horse until the main square where his horse have to dance in the rhythm of the traditional music called “jaelo”.

Bulls in the sea (bous a la mar). It is celebrated on the 2nd week of july at Denia. The goal is to try to attract the bull in the sea, of course, the animal has to do it by itself.

Shaved beast (rapa das bestas). It is celebrated at Sabucedo during 3 days, the first saturday to monday of july. The goal consists to gather wild horses from the mountain and to bring them inside a corral, when with your own hands and abilities, you have to cut their manes and tails.

The “wild” festivals with bull

Strand bull (toro de la vega). It is celebrated every year at Tordesillas the 2nd tuesday of september. It consists to chase and to kill a bull on the strand of the Duero river with spears by a rider.

Exultation bull (toro júbilo). Also known as fire bull (toro de fuego) or plastered bull (toro embolado), it is celebrated at Medinaceli each year during the night of november 12. The bull is tied firmly by the horns meanwhile some people put on them a kind of device with big balls of fire, when done, they release the animal and play with the bull. Due to a lot of critics, a lot of towns have replaced the device by a kind of electric lamp.

Tied bull (toro enmaromado). It is celebrated at Benavente each year on june 9 to 14. This event is also called fastened bull (toro ensogado) and it consists to tie the bull by the horns then to drag it on the streets until to reach the abattoir.

Saint John bull (toro de San Juan). It is celebrated on june 23 to 28 at Coria each year. It consists to cover the body of the bull by the most of sharpened darts as possible until it can´t stand anymore then it will be killed by a bullet.

Before to close this topic, I would like to add that those festivals are prohibited in some places but not in the whole country and some are also practiced in other villages/towns like the tied bull, the fire bull… keeping the old tradition. One of the bull parties, that many places like to do it, is called “concurso de recortes”. This event is not a festival but a competition which consists to jump above the running bull and the winner is the one who does the best and impressive jumps. This competition is celebrated any day of the year so if you want to see one during your journey in Spain, check the official website of the City Hall of the village/town/city.