Haro Wine Festival | La Batalla del Vino

The Wine Battle of Haro

It seems like Spain can’t get enough of battles. Be it a bull fight, tomato fight or getting trampled by the charging bulls during the running of the bulls event, Spain has been the hub of weird but adventurous events. Wine Battle of Haro is an addition to the list. Every year on 29th June, thirsty local and tourists climb the mountain in La Rioja to throw the red liquid over each other. This is not that kind of a festival wherein the participants would stand around with glasses and scoff camembert. It is rioja-soaked carnage, the best kind ever. People come down to the town of Haro to Spray more than 50,000 litres of wine.

Now don’t lose your sleep over thinking that so much of wine is going to get wasted. Since the wine used in the Bacchanalian fight is no Gran Reserva, you won’t even use it in a sauce. However, participants don’t come with empty handed to this battle as their weapon is the traditional bota bag. They need to sling it over their shoulder to have vino access throughout the event. With this Bota Bag by your side, you have the power to shoot the red wine as far as possible.

History of The Haro Wine Festival 

For every Spanish fiesta, there is a history behind. And the wine battle dates back to the thirteenth-century dispute between Haro and Miranda de Ebro. It was then when the king ordered to mark Haro’s border with crimson banners on every Saint Peter’s Day as well as the first Sunday of September. Some four hundred years later, the Saint Peter’s Day began to be observed in a joyous wine sharing celebration.  This celebration turned into the purple shower and was dubbed Battle of Wine in the year 1965.

`People at Haro Wine Festival
`People at Haro Wine Festival

Start Your Day with Wine

Haro Wine Festival  starts early sharp at 7am. The mayor leads the procession on the horseback that is followed by the crowd including people of all ages, leading through to the Bilibio cliffs. Like the La Tomatina and the Running of the Bulls, the dress code is white teamed with a red scarf. By the end of the battle, the clothes will no more be white. Actually, they will never be so. The blotchy purple hue on the clothes will smell like winery when you take them home.

The Ultimate Twist

Unlike Pamplona’s savage bullfight, Haro’s bullfight is basically a heifer fight. It takes place in the local ring of the town in the evening letting the youth show off their agility amongst the heifers. The locals try their best to make sure that they aren’t cowardly with the heifers. Of course, this battle won’t bore you to death, so you can either be a spectator or participate in the adventure.

Mas Vino

When you have had sufficient, then come more wine to bring the end to the day. Bonfires rise and the rest of the time is spent by drinking and eating in Spanish fashion. Since the wine battle is a day’s matter, why not take an extra day to explore this part of Spain.

Things to Keep in Mind when Going to the Event 

Bring a Splash-proof Camera

It’s the time to click a whole lot of pictures. The Wine Battle of Haro will offer you ample opportunities to get photos. Bring a waterproof bag to keep your camera safe. It would be the best to bring a splash-proof camera so that you don’t have to worry about it getting wet.

Eye Protection

Wine in the mouth is definitely a treat, but not in the eyes. Individuals having sensitive eyes should hire goggles or mask.

Do not Drink

You can if you want, but it is best not to as stated earlier that this type of wine is not good for consumption. In case you require a little tipple in order to get ready for the fight, bring some with yourself.

How to Get There?

Haro is situated in the La Rioja region of Spain, which is like 48km from Logroño. Since Vitoria is the closest airport you can take a flight to this stop. And from there you can board a bus to Haro. This town is well connected with all the major Spanish cities.

Featured image credit : spanishwinelover.com

Top 10 Music Festivals in Spain

Fun-loving, jaw-dropping beauty and devoted to enjoy the good life, Spain stirs the soul from within. It is a country with diverse natural landscapes, charming modern architectural marvels and a paradise for culinary delights. Here, the passion of people is reflected in the reverberating music of the soul. Entertainment, fiesta and music go hand in hand. The word ‘Fiesta’ in Spain is one of the most used words and you will sense it on the crowded streets at midnight, in musical concerts or during tapping flamenco dancing sessions. Actually Spain is the place where life meanders across the streets, making you feel anything and everything can happen here, especially the good things of life.
Being a country steaming with culture and history, Spain has timelessly provided rich inspiration for many world-famous artists and creative personalities. On top of that the zeal to celebrate life, tropical weather and long nights makes this country the perfect locale to host musical festivals. Here is a list of top 10 musical festivals to be enjoyed in Spain, irrespective of your musical taste

Benicassim Music Festival

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim 

Benicassim Music Festival
James (British rock band from Manchester) performance at FIB Festival / Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Dates: July 14 – July 17, 2016

Benicassim Undeniably is the first entry on the list, Benicassim has been showcasing varied pop, rock and electronic artists, along with including other elements, like short films, art and fashion shows. The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, aka FIB, takes place in the coastal town of Benicassim, on the east coast of Spain, in the middle of Valencia and Barcelona, and goes on hitting the beach for four frantic days, bring out the biggest hits. Each year, the festival begins on the second Monday of July, that’s when the camp grounds open but the music gets on from Thursday afternoon, officially. So if you are sick of rain and mud, book your tickets for Benicassim this year and enjoy a sunny musical holiday break during this July.

How to get there – The nearest airports to the Benicassim site are Barcelona and Valencia. You can also book a car from these two places but book one with air conditioner.

Vida Festival in Barcelona

Vida Festival in Barcelona
Vida Festival 2015 / Photo Courtesy of indiespot.es

Dates: June 30 –  July 3 2016

Vida – This musical festival is specially catered for those who want to spend some moments in intimacy and ultimate relaxation. With plenty on offer, this fiesta of life (Vida means life in Spanish) is arranged annually in the beautiful coastal woodlands of Vilanova, south of Barcelona, during first week of July. From rock and pop performers to music, art and film festival, Vida exudes a multicultural atmosphere, attracting visitors from all parts of the world. Notwithstanding the relaxed pace, it still does include big hitters, likes War on Drugs, Wilco and Primal Scream. Besides the musical aspects, to get an outstanding experience, visit The Forest. It offers a stunning view on the old boat aground in the midst of plenty hundred year old trees. Hence you get to enjoy so many venues to soak in one unique experience. Official Website

How to get there – From Barcelona, take the highway to C-32 to Vilanova i la Geltrú (exit 21). Trains are also available. Train journey will take 40 minutes to reach the destination.

Azkena Rock Festival in Bilbao

Azkena Rock Festival in Bilbao
Azkena Rock Festival in Bilbao / Photo Courtesy of stereozona.com

Dates: June 19 – June 20, 2016

Azkena Rock – To prove that the UK don’t own monopoly rights on Hard Rock music, Azkena features two days of unlimited rock metal, all punk and vibrant. Also known as the ARF, Azkena hosts a variety of musical groups while maintaining a non-commercial atmosphere in Alava, Spain. In spite of high-class performances by international performers, including KISS, Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osbourne, TOOL and many more. With a subdued underground reverberating vibe, this musical festival has been a chartbuster from the year 2002, its debut year. Originating from the beautiful Victoria- Gasteiz, the picturesque capital of the Basque community, it is a sumptuous recipe waiting to be savored in its fifteenth year.

How to get there – The Victoria-Gasteiz airport is just 9km from the city. Trains are also available, ensuring a pleasant journey through Alavas landscapes. If you are coming from Madrid or San Sebastian by car, take the A-1 o AP-1 and in case of Barcelona or Bilbao, take A-68. Official Website 

Sónar Music Festival in Barcelona

Sónar Music Festival in Barcelona
Sonar Festival on June 19, 2015 / Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Dates: June 16 – June 18,  2016

Sónar – Ideal for any kind of electronic fan, Sonar’s lineups are always a thing to marvel. Proclaiming to be a festival of new-age music and multimedia arts, Sonar is dominating the musical platform since 1993. It first started as a hobnobbing event but soon attracted 80000 electronic music lovers. This progressive music festival gives the perfect excuse to come to Barcelona, a city which is composed of psychedelic buildings, boundless culture and unending drinking and dining scenes. The day can be spent at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Centre of Contemporary Culture, glancing through the musical genres. Even you can attend technological demonstrations and film screenings near the central Barcelona. But with the setting of the sun, the attention shifts towards the musical nirvana created by world-famous DJs and VJs. There is no shortfall of talent here, thanks to the stunning ‘OffSonar’ after-parties and stellar performances by international artists, including Richie Hawtin, Björk, De La Soul, Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers. In addition to all these elements, lots of conferences and talk-sessions by industry professionals are also on offer. Official Website

How to get there – No fixed place of performance. Throughout Barcelona, it takes place in various venues.

I Am Global Festival in Vilassar de Dalt

I Am Global Festival in Vilassar de Dalt
I Am Global Festival in Vilassar de Dalt /Photo Courtesy of premianoticies.wordpress.com

I Am Global – The most alluring feature of this musical festival is that it takes place in one of the largest water parks in Europe, Illa Fantasia. Mostly taking place in the first week of June, it is praised to host over more than 200 international artists over two wonderful days, filled with fun, music and entertainment. Various bars, food outlets and free transportation are available to cater the needs of 18000 people in attendance. Besides all this, the huge water park 18 attractions are open throughout the days but some selected pools are open during the night. To experience something more than normal camping, take a part in I Am Global this year!

How to get there – Vilassar de Dalt is the village in Catalonia, Spain where the water park is located. It is close to Barcelona, so you can easily drive and reach this exotic locale.

DCODE Music Festival in Madrid

DCODE Music Festival in Madrid
Crowd in a concert at Dcode Festival on September 12, 2015/Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Dates:10 September 2016

DCODE – Madrid’s DCODE is a sure winner, in terms of finances concerned due to its one day event tag. As the events unwraps itself in the month of September, it gives the last chance to the viewers to unfurl themselves in some of the best live band performances, while sun is still blazing in the sky. The open air arrangement is a good way to enjoy the pleasant weather, while giving adieu to the summer with some wonderful beats of music. It throws open arms to leading acts from Indie rock scene as well as to international artists, like Suede, Neuman, Natalia Lafourcade, Crystal Fighters and Hinds among others, and in this way, it always manages to equate quality with quantity.

How to get there – The event is mainly held in the city Madrid, so getting there won’t be difficult at all. Flights, trains and buses are available from various parts of Spain.

BBK Live Festival in Bilbao

BBK Live Festival in Bilbao
Bilbao BBK Live 2014 / Photo Courtesy of aftermusiic.blogspot.com

Dates:July 7 – July 9,  2016

Bilbao BBK – With breathtaking Arriaz mountains in the background, sandy beaches to wade around and late-evening music shows so that one can enjoy hours in sunbathing, BBK offers lot more than you can even imagine. Bilbao is a place located on the North Western coastal region of Spain and BBK Live is an event that lasts for three days in the month of July. The outskirts of Bilbao gets illuminated with live brand performances, penetrating disco lights, bright and wide LED screens. Since its launch in the year 2006, the entire event has been a smashing hit, attracting thousands and thousands of visitors, both national and international, each year.

How to get there – Bilbao has a fully functional airport and after getting down there, you can board any of the regular buses and reach central Bilbao. From there, Kobetamendi is just 10 minutes away and festival organizers arrange shuttle bus services.

Arenal Sound Festival in Burriana, Castellón

Arenal Sound Festival in Borriana, Castellón
Arenal Sound 2015 / Photo Courtesy of redbull.com

Dates: Aug 2 – Aug 7, 2016

Arenal Sound – If you are seeking a weekend fun to remember for ages, no need to look further than Arsenal Sound. This hyped musical festival offer six days of unlimited fun, rock and indie pop music. With the fast growing popularity, Arsenal knows the music lovers’ preferences and keeping that in mind, they have designed their entire curriculum.

How to get there – The festival takes place in the Arenal beach in Castellon, Spain and the best way to get there is by flight or train.

DGTL Music Festival in Barcelona

DGTL Music Festival in Barcelona
DGTL FESTIVAL 2015 / Photo Courtesy of runtheworld.es

Dates: Aug 1 – Aug 2, 2016

DGTL Barcelona – With interactive performance art, mindboggling set designs and crazy crowd, DGTL is any DJ’s ultimate dream of life. The relentless dancing sessions makes it impossible to forget. The 2016 event gears up to fulfill expectations from the likes of Boddika and Pearson Sound.

How to get there – Barcelona is highly accessible, thus very easy to locate.

Primavera Sound Music Festival in Barcelona

Primavera Sound Music Festival in Barcelona
Crowd at Primavera Sound / Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Dates: Jun 1 – Jun 5, 2016

Primavera Sound – Reeling with indie flavor, Primavera Sound festival at Parcdel Forum offers safe haven for the kinds of The Cure and Radiohead. With a brimming visitor-list of 100000 people, this rock festival is surely a stunner!

How to get there – Barcelona is highly accessible, thus very easy to locate.

Courtyards Festival in Cordoba – BATTLE OF THE FLOWERS!

Are you ready to indulge in a sensory overload of spectacular color and beautiful architecture?

Spring Flowers Decoration of Old House Patio, Cordoba
Spring Flowers Decoration of Old House Patio, Cordoba

Festival de los Patios Cordobeses

Imagine this; you are walking down a cobbled pathway, into someone’s garden. In the center, you see an old fountain and the yard is so colorful with blooming flowers that you fail to notice the music playing in the distance. All around, people interacting and taking in the scene that has been so carefully displayed, just for them. And yet there you stand…judging the beauty….one courtyard after another. You are drinking local wine and the atmosphere is full of energy. You are in Cordoba, Spain and you are participating in a yearly festival, where locals compete in The Festival de los Patios.

visitors during the Festival of the Patios on May 09, 2015
visitors during the Festival of the Patios on May 09, 2015 / Pabkov / Shutterstock.com

In May, every year, since 1918, the city of Cordoba comes to life in a way that can only be described as beautiful.

It starts off with a parade known as “THE BATTLE OF THE FLOWERS!” (Seriously…how can this not be incredible to witness?) Can you imagine how fresh and fragrant the air must be this time of the year? Imagine the colors!  But wait, it gets even better… Not only are they doing this on the streets, but now, once a year, residents also compete in The Festival de los Patios! That’s right – They all decorate their courtyards and gardens and leave them open for the public to view and judge. Claiming the prize for having the most beautiful patio is a BIG DEAL in Cordoba. They have even expanded on the competition by allowing two categories, instead on just one. One for ancient architecture and one for modern. They have even turned it into and educational festival to help students appreciate heritage and architecture.

Courtyards Festival in Cordoba
courtyard during the Festival of the Patios /Andrey Lebedev / Shutterstock.com

This all started a long time ago. First the Romans added to their home architecture, a center courtyard. They usually put a well or fountain in the middle so as to cool down the home. It was pleasing to the eye and made each home functional in the warm, dry climate. Then the Muslims improved on the pleasing building design by adding decorative plants and cobbled pathways. Together, they created one of the most visually appealing cities in the world.

Visitors to Cordoba do not usually get to see the beauty behind the heavy doors, but if you come in May, you will not be disappointed. The streets come to life around this time of the year as residents start preparing for a battle. The patios become the focus of the town. Flowers, mosaics, ceramics, decorative art and spectacular water features are all put on display. Luxury homes and palaces open up their gates for the public and everyone gets excited as to who is going to claim the final prize.

Courtyards-Festival-in-Cordoba--Festival-de-los-Patios-Cordobeses-spainadvisor
An old church with the traditional flowers set up of this town

Viana Palace is a 14th century palace and has been declared a National Historical and Artistic Landmark. It is one of the most visited attractions in Cordoba and It has 12 patios – yes twelve. They have even called it “The Museum of Patios.” One would think it would be very hard to compete with a palace boasting so many decorated gardens. But each garden does compete – and compete Very well! You see, in Cordoba, this is a big title and no one competes without having put in a lot of effort. Each proud patio decorator tries to outdo the next. There is an explosion of intrigue and envy as each garden gets unveiled. Can you imagine living next door to some of these competitors. It must be stressful. Good thing it only happens once a year and that we get to enjoy it for its visual splendor.

Festival de los Patios Cordobeses
Viana Palace at the courtyard gardens. /Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Cordoba is filled with numerous religious buildings and spectacular architecture.  It is no wonder that they host such an extraordinary festival. The streets also come alive with music and dancers. The local wine, Montilla-Moriles, is celebrated and the people that live there welcome each visitor with such warmth.

Of course, Cordoba can be visited all year around and it will always be a beautiful destination because of the buildings and history behind it. But to go there in May, during the festival…now that definitely sounds like a cultural extravaganza of color. Visitors can even spend a pre-arranged night in someone’s patio. Yes, you get to camp out in someone’s garden. Some of the most sought after flamenco artist, travel to Cordoba this time of the year just to be part of the festival; as well as other well-known singers and dancers that perform daily. There is also no entry fee. You just go there and join in on the festivities.

Maybe it is the wine…maybe it is the competition…Maybe it is the pungent scent of Jasmine and Orange Blossom…Who knows! All we do know is that when you get there, you feel warmth and cultural beauty like nowhere on Earth.

Feria De Abril , Seville April Fair 2016

Lights go on, loud Sevillanas music is integrated in all of the local party playlists and thousands of emblematic flamenco dresses embellish the streets of Capital city Andalucía. Spanish people have an eye for organizing mind-popping events and festivities, and the Seville fair is one of them. Two weeks after Easter, preparations start and everyone that’s involved will do what’s in their abilities to make sure this big event will be as prestigious and above all as festive as possible.

Feria de Abril de Sevilla 2016

Origin of The Feria de abril de Sevilla

To introduce you to this collection of happiness and colors, it’s good to expound what exactly this spring festival is about. To begin with, the origin of the festival goes back to the days of 1847. Originally organized as a livestock fair it took approximately one year to sense some transformation in regards to the festival, and step-by-step little sparkles of festivity started to transform the ambiance of it all. Success started arriving, and the event reached its peak during the 1920’s, and this is what made it exactly what is today.

 

Feria-de-Abril-de-Sevilla-2016,-spainadvisor

But what is it exactly that makes the festival so extraordinary, and what happens in this week of joy and delight? The week has its own time scheme, and everyday serves a particular purpose while holding a specific range of activities and things you can do or explore:

 

  • Monday is referred to as “fish day”, and on this evening fish will be eaten traditionally. After dinner people go and watch the thousands of lights being switched on at the entrance to the Feria. When people are done romanticizing next to exotic light decoration around them, it’s time to grab a fresh bottle of cherry wine and start the party.
  • Tuesday is the first day of the horseback parades and also the beginning of people wearing the traditional Spanish flamenco’s and of course the “El traje corto” suits. It’s a real spectacle seeing all these people dressed in these sensational costumes, and it adds this little spark of enchantment to the whole phenomenon of drinking and partying.
  • The rest of the week does not have a specific time schema or ritual bound to it, however that doesn’t mean the that the following days are less important. People are carried by beautifully dressed horses to al different kinds of places, and the whole occasion makes it look like, for a moment, we’re back in history

 

Sevilla Aprill fair , horses

If you want to visit the festival, make sure you plan some of your activities beforehand. A lot of festivities will be busy and booked before you’ve even arrived, and some of the big parties that are taking place are only accessible by private invitation. However, even looking around can already be a completely inspiring and satisfying experience. The things you’ve seen in romantic Spanish movies are being played on a real life screen right in front of you, while you can enjoy a delightful sip of some of the region’s most luscious and sweet wines. This will be an adventure you’ll probably never forget.

Sevilla April Fair 2016

 

San Isidro Festival 2016 – Fiestas de San Isidro Madrid

Fiestas de San Isidro in Madrid

For those who dare and love adventure, for the fun lovers, there is the world’s largest event which is the heart throb of all the youngsters as well as the old. San Isidro Festival in Madrid is the most awaited festival for the bull-fighters and the bull-breeders. Bull fighting is one of the main features of this occasion that sells all the nights over there in Madrid in advance.

If anyone wants to experience a festival of glitz and glare with a modern as well as the vintage traditional look, he/ she must plan to visit the annual festival of San Isidro. One can find the fascinating anecdote of Madrid’s traditional dress, “chulapo” which is worn in captivating colors. So, grab all this fun and eye catchy scenes of tradition and festivity by visiting the venue on 15th of May every year.

Historic Background of San Isidro Festival

This fiesta of San Isidro Madrid starts with full bloom on the 10-day i.e. 10th of May and lasts till the 19th of May. The most enthusiastic day of this festival usually falls on 15th of May when a public holiday is declared by the government and is popular by the name of Madrid’s Patron Saints Day. This is the day when Madrid bursts into sparkles of colors and costumes, when the native people celebrate the city wide fiestas of its saint San Isidro.

Madrid is the real Spanish melting pot as it is the center of culture and economics where this festival activities sputter to a start with the week but its celebrations lasts for long almost a week. Here every day is a fun gala for the general public, an event where they can chill around forgetting all the tensions of life at least for a while.

 

The Most Enthusiastic Day

Some of the dynamic features of this festival include the following;

  • Breath taking Bull fight
  • Traditional Costume parade
  • Midday Mass
  • Family food festival
  • Open air Dancing Ball
  • Carnival of Big heads and Giants
  • Stunning wine parties under Fascinating Fireworks

 

Specialty of the Festival

Thanks to the typical chotis dance which is considered as the cultural hallmark of Madrid. One can find each and everyone involved into himself and entertaining with the open air street dancing in the traditional ‘chotis’ style. The history of this dance relates back to 1850 from Vienna when all the people are supposed to be enjoying dancing up to their lives.

 

Traditional Pastries

Not only dancing and gaming fun is the only thing to enjoy rather there is a full treat for the food lovers by arranging a food carnival of its own kind. It includes the mouth-watering traditional pastries for its guests. Some of the traditional recipe includes the following;

  • Las Listas
  • Las Tontas
  • Las de Santa Clara
  • Las Francesas

The ingredients are basic, they mainly consist of sugar, wheat flour, eggs, yeast, lemon peal, olive oil and anise.

Enjoying Day-drink on the Streets

Besides the rides and games, fun freaks can entertain themselves with the day-drink on the streets, ”Paseo de 15 de Mayo”, where all the streets are given names according to the festival.

In short, there is much to enjoy at this festival, plan a trip to Madrid this year in May and do not miss the plethora of fun and festivity.

San Fermín Festival, Pamplona 2016

As summer and winter gears up in their hemispheres, wise globe trotters seek to take full advantage of the weather in July. Individuals whose New Year resolution have been to live their life a less ordinary, San Fermin festival in Pamplona will offer them ample opportunities. Running with the bulls is one event during the fest that is worth doing once in your life. If you wish to run right in front of the horny friends like some do, you will surely experience adrenaline rush, but also it is a good way to get trampled. Note, in case you fall down during the run, choose to stay down. Allow the bulls trample over, till someone notices and picks you up. Well, getting trampled is less dangerous than actually getting yourself gored to death by the charging bulls.

If you don’t want to get little bumped, watch the Running of the Bulls that is how the event is named, from a balcony for rent. While San Fermin festival is not only about getting knocked down by the bulls at the Dead Man’s Corner (carefully chosen name, indeed), Chupinazo, Riau-Riau, Struendo, Pobre de Mi, Saint Fermin procession and fireworks will heal your slightly beaten up body after the race.

San Fermin Festival - Running of the Bulls
People are running in street during San Fermin festival

History of The San Fermín Festival

The San Fermin festival, held in Pamplona, Spain calls for the celebration of life, shared history, family and religion. The fiestas are celebrated every year continuing from 6th to 14th July in the region of Navarra. Although, the festival is celebrated in the honor of San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, the religious aspect has taken up a secondary role in the last few years. These days, the fiestas are seen as the gathering of people hailing from different parts of the world to party and have fun.

The celebration of the fiestas dates back to two different events of the medieval period. This includes commercial secular fairs held during summer, wherein cattle merchants came to the city with their animals for bullfighting. This was specifically documented in the 14th century. And on the other hand are the religious ceremonies that were held on every October 10th to honor the saint. Well, it is in 1591 that these two events were culminated and transferred to 7th July. This marks the commencement of the San Fermines.

Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival
Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival

Single Day Events in the Town

Chupinazo: This is the opening of the festival marked by setting off a rocket (pyrotechnic chupinazo) at 12.00 noon on 6th of July from the city hall balcony. Since 1941, this tradition is being carried out to officially mark the beginning of the celebration.

Riau-Riau:

It a mass activity taking place on the same day (6th July). In here, the council members of the city parade from the City Hall to the chapel, which is dedicated to Saint Fermin. You can expect a spectacular view while the participants dance to the Astrain Waltz. This ritual was introduced by Ignacio Baleztena Ascarate in 1911.

Saint Fermin Procession:

Held on 7th July, the procession of thousands of people accompanying 15th century Saint Fermin’s statue hits the key day of the festival. The statue is usually accompanied by street entertainers and political as well as religious authorities, which includes the city mayor. You can witness Jota (a traditional dance performed for the saint) and the gigantes dance and twirl when Maria, the cathedral bell, rings.

Struendo:

If you are all set to go haywire and shout until your heart is out, participate in this 50 years old event. People gather at the Town Hall at around 11.59 pm to make as much of noise possible for hours. They beat drums (of course, not beating their own drums), whistles and bowls to celebrate.

Pobre de mi:

It is a mournful note, meaning ‘Poor Me’ that is sung in the City Hall Plaza on 14th July at midnight after nine days of fun and partying. It is a kind of ritual done to mark the closing of the festival and hence ‘Poor Me’ is the note.

Pamplona Navarra Spain - S Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza
Pamplona Navarra Spain – Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza

Daily Events during theSan FermínFestival

Running of the Bulls:

It has become an internationally acclaimed event and a subject to many documentaries and movies, where the bulls run through the old quarter’s street. The Encierro (the Running of the Bulls) takes place every day during the event (7th to 14th July) at the corral in the Calle Santo Domingo. As the clock strikes 8 in the morning, the bulls charge behind the participants (runners) for 825 meters.

Even though the run usually lasts somewhere around three to four minutes, the time is sufficient for you to seek EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment). However, don’t tease these horny friends as they can actually change their directions and run after you. And the rest would be history! Be excited, but not so much that you compel the bull(s) take things personally and put up a fight with you.

Apart from being right on the field and getting almost to the death bed, you can choose to enjoy the spectacle from above (from a balcony, of course). But, for that you might have to pay 75 Euros or so, which is worth spending. Fast, furious and dangerous; this is one event in the world, which you shouldn’t miss as it is likely to be outlawed in the future.

Traditional Sports:

Be a sporty and become a part of the exhibition and competition of the Basque rural sports occurring in the Plaza de los Fueros every morning. Sports include, wood cutting, hay bale lifting and wood cutting.

Bullfight or Fireworks or Both: Your Choice Of Course:

Between July 6th and 14th, every afternoon a bullfight takes place, wherein six bulls that are driven to the bullring at the time of bull running are killed. While this might not be a treat to the eyes, fireworks held every night at the Citadel Park is a sight to die for.

Opening of San Fermin festival
Opening of San Fermin festival

How to Get There?

Pamplona has an airport connected to several cities, including Madrid and Barcelona. Close by, there are international airports like Bilbao or Zaragoza. There are direct flights from Madrid to Pamplona with Iberia airlines,  so the most recommended way is to fly internationally into Madrid Barajas airport, and from there change flights directly to Pamplona.  Otherwise you can also take the bus or the Renfe train from Atocha station into Pamplona, which takes approximately 3 hours.  Also, you can get to the town by train, bus or car from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian, etc.

Moros y Cristianos festival in Alcoy 2016

Can you name one festival on earth that doesn’t only take place in one particular city, but generates festivity and joy throughout a whole nation? In Spain it’s possible! The Moros y Cristianos Festival is an event celebrated mainly in the Spanish province of Valencia, but one that also finds home in villages and cities in other regions of the warm and sunny country.  The festival memorializes the ancient fights between the Moors and Christians during the Reconquista period, and carries a lot of historical value because of this. It lasts for a number of days and exists out of parades, presentation of medieval fashion, music from the same period of time, battles between the former “rivals” and fireworks.

 

History takes us back to the year 711, the time period in which Tariq ibn Ziyad was the leader of a very vigorous army in Gibraltar. Despite his noted strength he got defeated rapidly by forces King Roderick’s army. A 700 year hundred battle between both Christian and Islamic parties found its beginning, and even though the Moors lacked the significant ability to protect their own territory, the whole war lasted until the late days of 1492. The Christians had won. This is the reason the event is still being celebrated by this very day.

 

Locals dress up like either Moors or Christians and re-enact the former battles between both parties. The biggest implementation of the festival takes place in the city Alcoi at the end of April. There is live marching band playing marches moras music and the Spanish people once again expose their unconditional love for fireworks. Also streets are decorated extensively and Red Cross flags are hanging at every street corner. There is an unexplained connection between the Spanish people and their historical siestas. Such passion and enthusiasm can’t be found anywhere but in-between the Mediterranean palm trees of the Spanish East Coast. Missing the event is no option, and people of all ages will make sure to be present the days the festival takes place even if this means traveling from the other side of the country. Preparations for the festival start almost a year beforehand. Fundraisers are being held and everyone contributes to make sure the festival is nothing but one big success by the time the last days of April arrive.

 

If you’re interested in visiting Spain and being a part of this enormous spectacle (whichever place in Spain you chose as your city of residence) be aware of the fact that the corresponding traditional costumes are pricey and that it isn’t always easy to get your hands on a proper one. Also, there are enough hotels available in the celebrating villages and metropolises but you have to be on time with booking. The events are always extremely popular, and if you don’t decide quickly, somebody else might take your wanted place. It’s also important to look up the dates of the event before booking, every city has a different timetable, and even though dates can be close, it’s not the same in every city.

 

How to Get There?

Close to Alcoy there are two international airports, one in Valencia and the other in Alicante.  There are direct flights into Alicante and Valencia from London, with Ryanair, Iberia, Easyjet, British Airways.  From Valencia to Alcoy its an easy ride by car, all you have to do is take the A-7 highway south direction directly from Valencia to Alcoy.  Its a total of 110 km which should take you one hour and 20 minutes to get there.  From Alicante it is evern closer.  You just take the A-7 north direction.  Its only 60 km away around 50 minutes distance.  You can also take the train, and actually it takes less time to take the train from Valencia then it does from Alicante because the train goes in a straight path from Valencia.  It takes two and half hours by train from Valencia Estacio del Nord station to Alcoy.  From Alicante even though its closer it takes almost 4 hours.

Hogueras de San Juan, Bonfires of Saint John

While the sun reaches the northernmost point of the equator, people get to the San Juan beach to celebrate with roaring bonfires, friends, drinks and foods. If you have been planning to experience a surreal scene, then you can be a part of the Bonfires of Saint John fest in San Juan. Who knows, you can even get lucky enough to see some pagan gods on this night.

Bonfires being the theme of this night, men, women and children spend most of their time in making the effigies that is to be burned. According to tradition, you can throw yourself over a bonfire three times to get cleansed and purified unless you burn yourself away in the very first attempt.

The Bonfires of Saint John is a traditional festival celebrated across the globe during Midsummer taking place on 23rd June, St. John’s Eve. This is customary in cities of Spain. And the largest celebration is organized in Alicante, wherein this festival is marked the most important. On the other hand, the celebration in Portugal occurs in Porto and it called the Festa de Sao Joao do Porto. The bonfires are popular in Catalan-speaking regions such as Catalonia and in the Valencian Community.

A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires of Saint John Festival
A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires of Saint John Festival

History

The Midsummer’s Eve festival has its roots in the ancient celebration of welcoming summer. Bonfires were lit to get rid of the evil spirits that were believed to roam when the sun took the southward fork. While these mythologies keep you mesmerized and a doubtful, you will get good stories to pass onto your next generation.

The Bonfires festival in Alicante came into being in 1928. It was Jose Maria Py who came up with the idea of combining bonfires with Valencian tradition, named ‘fallas’ or ‘falles’ in Valencian. And now this festival is recognized as the most important event in the Alicantinian society.

Both natives and globe trotters flock in the San Juan beach as well, located near Alicante to view the bonfires. The summer solstice looks magical as the fire purifies, water recuperates and people rejuvenate.

 

Events to Witness

The Bonfires commence on 19th June with the ‘Set Up’ when street ninots, archways and monuments are lined up in the streets. This is followed by ‘desperta’ occurring at 8.00’o clock. A great deal of noise could be heard all over the city awakening the neighbors. Also, you get to witness the spectacle of fireworks.

It is not the end yet as in the night between 23.00 and 6.00 street parties are conducted in the districts of the city. Dance and drink continue to keep the night lively. Aside, the Street Band Parade, the Prize Giving Parade and the Flower Offering Parade that takes place on 21st and 22nd June, respectively. However, it is 24th June that marks the closure of the Bonfires of Saint John festival followed by magnificent display of fireworks.

But then, this doesn’t cease the partying spirit of the natives as the Bonfires commissions continue with a number of events throughout the year. This includes musical and dancing competition in autumn, Christmas carol competition in December, Beauty of the Fire Contest in May and so much more.

Clothes to Wear

Three types of traditional clothes are worn. The Beauties and the Honor Ladies’ costumes are made of a band in the hair, a small lemon blossom bunch, two hangings, a white round mantilla, a black velvet waist, a black apron braided with jewelry, a petticoat and much more.

On the other hand, the common women costumes should be made of a cross with a black ribbon, a waist made in colors, a long skirt, a white apron, white stockings and a white piece named manteela.  The men are supposed to wear a cotton, white shirt, a scarf in the neck and head, a blanket with pockets, white stockings, a long sash and full white trouser known as zaraguelles.

A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires Puppet Festival
A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires Puppet Festival

Things to Do

Aside from being a mere spectator of the celebration, opt for camping for a single night on the San Juan beach as it serves as the best campsites in Spain. You can quickly take a splurge in the sea in the midnight as that is also supposed to be a way to do away with the evil spirits around you. As a ritual, the people wash their feet and faces thrice, so that their three wishes are granted. So you just wait for your turn and watch a genie suddenly appearing to grant your wishes. Of course, only if you think so.

Continuously munecos and dolls are burnt, so much so that the entire night sky gets covered with thick smoke. While the Colossal-like bonfires take larger shape, San Juan beach gets noisier with music. Originally, the effigies represented Judas Iscariot, but that has become secondary to enjoyment as bonfires made today have no religious relevance.

If you could take some time-out, then visit Puerta de Tierra a hub of so many attractions. Also, witness the fountain in the International Convention Center District. Take a stroll to visit the museums featuring modern art. Museums, art, architecture and festivals will take you close to the Spanish-based culture in San Juan. There you can also experience African culture.

Make sure you reserve the night and bring plenty of drink to spend an adventurous night on 23rd June in San Juan. Carry sweater as it is likely to get little cold there.

Bonfires of Saint John is a magical night when your wish can turn real. In Spain, it is celebrated with bonfires. A kid buns his notebooks after the school year has finished
Bonfires of Saint John is a magical night when your wish can turn real. In Spain, it is celebrated with bonfires. A kid buns his notebooks after the school year has finished

How to Get There?

There are flights to Alicante airport, including Ryanair, Norwegain, British Airways, Easy Jet, Iberia, Cimber Sterling and much more. Bus n V-6 connects the Alicante airport with the city. It leaves from the stop in every 20 minutes. If you are travelling from Madrid or Barcelona to Alicante, then you can even think of boarding a train. Suburban train can also get you from to the city from Elche in half an hour.

You can avail tram services as well. They are quite enjoyable and reasonably priced. The city boasts direct ferry links as well, serving as exist to Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca. Once you have reach Alicante, take a bus or tram to reach San Juan beach.

Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza

With an enriching history of 2000 years, Zaragoza, situated by the serene Ebro river, is one of the greatest places of historical and artistic significance in Spain. Warm and inviting, this place offers a spectacular view of Bassilica-Cathedral across the banks of the river, along with other impressive tourist spots and captivating landscapes. When you are there, don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll through the fascinating Primo de Rivera Park or visit the Calle Alfonso, sited in the heart of the city.

In Spain, Fiestas del Pilar (The Pilar Festival) attracts a huge number of people, not only from different parts of Spain but across the globe. To get a taste of Spain’s festive flavor, take part in the Pilar Festival, which is celebrated on the 12th of October, every year. The streets of Zaragoza enlivens with loud throbbing music, crackling fireworks, flower trails, parades of hundreds and thousands of people and outstanding theater performances in the honor of the patron saint of the city, the Virgen del Pilar. The deity is paid respect with plenty of flower showers, while the history of Spain is relived and celebrated across the roads. Trails of orchids, roses and lilies find their way up to the Plaza de Pilar to be offered to the female patron saint of Spain.

The exact roots of this world famous festival date back to 40AD when St James, one of the apostles landed to this city to introduce and spread Christianity among the Pagan population. During his journey, on the eve of January 2nd, it is believed that Virgin Mary descended on a marble pillar to ask him to build a church on the very ground upon which he was standing at that time. Immediately a church was ordered to be built, though initially it was very small but later on magnificent bigger churches were built over the centuries. Today, marvelous Basilica del Pilar, designed and built in 1681, dominates the landscape of that serene place.

If you’re interested in visiting Spain and being a part of this outstanding spectacle then be ready to hit the streets wearing the most colorful outfit you have. The streets will help you witness bull fighting, traditional flamenco dance and folk music like never before. Also, powerful plays and theaters dominate this Spanish celebration by inviting popular actors and actresses to entertain the crowds.

When and where to go

The El Pilar festival starts from 12th October and lasts for around 9 days during which the city gets decked up with thousands of revelers, sparkling fireworks and heavenly music. Zaragoza is the place where the event takes and it is the fifth largest city of Spain. Loaded with stunning Roman artifacts, enclosed towering castles and multi-domed Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar by the Río Ebro river, this age-old Europe city offers enough reasons to pay a visit.

How to reach

Zaragoza airport is situated 10km west of the city with regular flights to/from flights from London, Milan, Lanzarote, Brussels, Paris and Seville. Train and bus routes are also available.

Fiesta de San Miguel, Lleida

September is the month of Fiestas and patrias in San Miguel. In this ‘autumn’s best of cheer’ month, the fun-loving people steep up for the party-hearties. The amazing and subtle weather enables the worldwide travellers to participate in Fiesta de San Miguel Lleida that is held between 25th to 29th September. Its celebration time coincides with the Autumn festival of Lleida, which makes the festival even more happening. However, it is held annually mainly to make merry for bidding adieu to the harvest season.

History

Fiestas de San Miguel is one of the oldest agricultural festivals that started off mainly to show honour to the unofficial second patron saint of the city. The programme includes extravagant procession that starts on 25th of September and continues up to 1st October.

Dance and Fireworks during the Event

The procession consists of displays and gives ample opportunities to all those who want to go crazy with dancing. People can be a part of the festival by joining the easy to learn ‘sardana’ dance. The ‘fire’ or the Flamenco dance, which is another important part of the procession, imitates the flow and the flames’ flair. The rhythm of madness has no full stop and one can experience it when he will visit San Miguel during this festive mood. Accompanied with the sound of guitar and claps, the dance becomes a fusion of romance and entertainment.

Do you want to dance with the sticks? Then, Ball Dels Bastons should be your preference. It’s a Catalan folk weapon dance where the dancers wore ornaments and red ribbons. The tunes of the tabor pipes make the dancers move in accordance with the rhythm. During this time, the Lleida city becomes packed with people taking part in both small and big events where culture remains the centre.

With the enrapturing sight of the fireworks, San Miguel has got it all. A look at the night sky when the fireworks are displayed can take one to a fairy world. The visitors gather at ‘Fire on Blondel Avenue’ and ‘Big night of Beasts’ with their caps and scarves to witness it while protecting their heads from this amazing event at the same time.

Numerous theatrical dramas are also arranged to entertain the audiences. One of such famous drama is ‘Lo Marco’ where the protagonist is the local dragon. Parading through the main routes of Lleida, the people in the attire of evils in the procession attract the attention of the passersby.

In short, Fiesta de San Miguel is an expression of the tradition of Spain celebrated in Lleida that ultimately ends with the setting up of the new cultural manifestations.

How to Reach the Destination

Those who are comfortable in trains can take the train to Lleida from Reus railway station. As Lleida is situated on the AVE train route, the people living in both Madrid and Barcelona can easily reach the destination. From Madrid, you can take train and land on Lleida within 3 hours, whereas from Barcelona, Lleida can be reached through the direct train trip and that too within 1 hour.