The Three Kings Parade (January 5-6)
Spanish people love Santa Claus but they love even more the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. This is a great day for little kids, and not so little. That’s why we have a huge parade with kids throwing candies and other gifts. There is a parade in the main cities and neighborhoods on January 5 and 6.
Carnaval (February – flexible date)
This festival has a different duration depending on the city. It is an event in which people dress up (as funny things, characters…) in most places. In Cádiz, people walk around the city to hear original songs sung by different groups too and a contest is held in the Falla theater. In the Canary Islands and Badajoz, as well as in some other countries of Latin America, the festival is called “murgas”. There is another type of Carnaval in Las Palmas (a huge one) in which they choose the Queen of the Carnival and there is a drag contest too .
Semana Santa (or Holy Week) (March – flexible date)
There is not an exact day for the beginning of Holy Week or Semana Santa: it depends on the moon. Semana Santa begins the first Sunday of March when there’s a full moon. It is a huge event for lots of Spanish people but it might change depending on the region. Find everything you need to know in the post and in “Semana santa: Seville’s biggest holidays”:
Las Fallas de Valencia (March 15-19)
Artists work really hard on building colossal statues made of paper, cardboard, wood or cork. From the 15th to the 19th of March, there are lots of people in the streets wearing traditional costumes, eating sweets, and there are sculptures that can be visited outside and inside. Las Fallas starts with the “Crida” the last Sunday of February in which the Fallera Mayor (the ambassador of this festivity) calls all the population of the city. A contest is held the last day of the festivity and then all of the artwork is burned at night. You can also find the “mascletàs” that are held from at 2PM and consist of a huge pyrotechnic show. The fire is the essence of the party, it purifies the vices and evils of society and a new cycle begins. It is a renewal from the ashes, the beginning of spring.
Feria de Sevilla (April-May – Flexible)
We have a lot of ferias (fairs) in Spain and in different dates. However, the one in Sevilla is the main reference. Here you have everything you need to know about the Feria of Sevilla:
“Vocabulary to enjoy the Feria de Abril as a true sevillano”
“A bailar a bailar alegre sevillanas”
Fiesta de las Cruces (May – Flexible date depending on the city/village)
The “Cruces de mayo” (May Crosses) is a Christian event takes place in May because it is the Virgin and the flower’s month. Depending on the city, it is celebrated during the first week of May, every weekend or both. Córdoba is really famous for its “Cruces de mayo” because every square is fully decorated with flowers and a cross in the middle (decorated with flowers too). Some people wear flamenco dresses in some villages. Córdoba also holds contests for the best decorated square.
La noche de San Juan (June 23)
It’s summer! and in many places of the world we celebrate this festivity. Many Spaniards spend the night at the beach, with huge bonfires and fireworks. It welcomes the summer and originally it was celebrated on the 21th, but because of St. John the Baptist we celebrate it on the 23th.
San Fermín (July 7)
It starts with the “chupinazo” from the balcony of the City Hall of Pamplona on July 6 at noon and it ends at 12 AM on July 15 with the song “Pobre de mí…” (Poor me), which is a farewell song. One of the most famous activities of the Sanfermines is the “encierro”, which consists of running through a route of 849 meters in front of the bulls to lead the bulls into the bullring. Each “encierro” normally lasts an average of 3 minutes. After that, all day long consists of eating and having fun with friends. There are open air music and dance.
Fun fact: the famous film “Knight and Day” (starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) placed this event in Sevilla and Cádiz. However the event takes place in Pamplona (Navarra) only.
La Tomatina (August flexible)
La Tomatina takes place in the Valencian municipality of Buñol (Valencia). It is always celebrated on the last Wednesday of August. The participants throw tons and tons of tomatoes (that are not edibles) at each other.
La Mercè (September 24)
La Mercè is the one of the biggest festivity in Barcelona. It is celebrated in honor of La Virgen de la Merced (Mercy’s Virgin). There are parades, a meeting of giants from all over Catalonia, a contest of castells (human towers) and Sardana dancing (typical dance from Catalonia). There is also a wine fair, the correfoc (people running and dancing with fireworks wearing demon’s costumes), a marathon and the “Piromusical” (fireworks and lights accompanied with music all over the Montjuïc).
Día de la Hispanidad – Fiesta Nacional de España (October 12)
This is the national day of Spain. The celebration traditionally includes a military parade attended by the King, along with the Royal Family, the President of the Government and other high representatives of all the powers of the State. October 12 is celebrated in Zaragoza too with Fiesta del Pilar (local festivity).
Día de todos los santos (November 1)
This day (All Saints’ Day) many people visit the graves of their deceased and they pray for those who left. We do the same thing the 2nd November and it is called the “Deceased’s day”. On the other hand, the night of Halloween is celebrated on Oct. 31 (1 night only) and is more and more popular in Spain.
The Constitution Day (December 6)
This is the day that our constitution was signed after several years of dictatorship and a process of transition. Two days after this day, we celebrate the day of the Immaculate Conception. Although Catholic in its origins, this festivity remains as one of the official State holidays and there are events in some cities like Sevilla. In this city the Tunos go around the city singing and glorifying the Virgin.