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famous Spanish festivals

Spanish festivals are one of the most insane traditions you can experience in your life. Whether it’s about tomatoes, bulls, patios, or Easter, they all share the same: craziness and a lot of fun. I had the chance to be part of these festivals. My favorite was La Tomatina and Festival de Patios in Cordoba. But all of them have something special.

So below, I’m giving you insights into the top 6 famous Spanish festivals that I believe you should also experience once in your lifetime. Ready to plan your next vacation in Spain to be part of one of these Spanish traditions?

Let’s get into it.

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List Of The 6 Best Famous Spanish Festivals

1. LA TOMATINA
2. LAS FALLAS
3. SAN FERMIN
4. LA SEMANA SANTA
5. FERIA DE ABRIL
6. FESTIVAL DE PATIOS

Calendar For The Famous Spanish Festivals In 2024

Here is an overview of the best Spanish celebrations in 2024. So you can plan your visit accordingly:

MONTHSPANISH FESTIVALDATES IN 2024VENUE
MarchLas Fallas15th – 19th March 2024Valencia – Spain
MarchSemana Santa24th – 31st March 2024Sevilla – Spain
AprilFeria de Abril14th – 20th April 2024Sevilla – Spain
MayFestival de Patios6th – 19th May 2024Córdoba – Spain
JulySan Fermin6th – 14th July 2024Pamplona – Spain
AugustLa Tomatina28th of August 2024Buñol – Spain

1. La Tomatina

If you are in Valencia in August, consider visiting a small village, Buñol. That’s where the craziest festival, La Tomatina, takes place on the last Wednesday of August every year.

As the title suggests, it’s all about tomatoes. Yes, you heard it right. The participants are throwing tomatoes at each other.

It’s like a tomato battle in the center of the town. If you desire to spoil your crazy soul, come and swim in the tomato sauce on the streets of Buñol.

How Is La Tomatina Celebrated?

The battle of La Tomatina starts at noon and takes an hour. During that time, trucks full of tomatoes are driving through the streets of Buñol. Locals on the truck start throwing tomatoes at you and all participants on the street.

You can throw tomatoes at other participants, but consider smashing the tomato in your hand before. It might hurt someone when you throw a hard tomato at him/her. Watch all directions, if you still can, because inhabitants will be throwing tomatoes from their balconies onto you, too.

I said, if you still can, watch. Well, you’ll be fully covered by tomatoes. It’s actually a good idea to bring swimming glasses. That way, your eyes won’t hurt, and you’ll see better what’s going on. I can’t stress enough how insane this Spanish festival is. You need to experience yourself.

Why Is La Tomatina Celebrated?

The origin of La Tomatina dates back to 1945 when some young people came to the square to see the parade of Giants.

As the young people were so energetic and wanted to stand out of the crowd, they pushed one participant, who fell on the ground. The guy got super angry.

A vegetable stall was nearby, so he grabbed some tomatoes and started throwing them at the crazy young people. Other people decided to contribute and started throwing tomatoes at others, too.

That’s how La Tomatina started, and the town, Buñol, has kept its tradition until today.

most famous Spanish festivals La Tomatina
My friends and I at La Tomatina

FAQs: La Tomatina

To help you fully prepare for the La Tomatina festival, I’ve answered some of the most popular questions for you:

When & Where Is La Tomatina Celebrated?

La Tomatina is celebrated on the last Wednesday in August every year. The festival takes place in a small town called Buñol, which is near Valencia in Spain (35 minutes by car/an hour by train)

This year, La Tomatina will be held on the 28th of August, 2024.

What Time Does La Tomatina Start?

La Tomatina starts at 12:00 p.m. It’s celebrated every last Wednesday in August. Next year, on the 28th of August 2024.

How Long Does La Tomatina Last?

La Tomatina lasts for an hour. Afterward, all participants walk outside the center covered in tomatoes. Locals sell beer and cook huge paella on the outskirts of the town so that you can enjoy delicious Spanish cuisine.

What To Bring For La Tomatina?

I recommend you bring clothes that can get very dirty. Don’t forget swimming glasses to protect your eyes against tomatoes.

Only bring a few things as there is no place to put your stuff unless you go by car or with an organized tour.

My Experience From La Tomatina Festival

This tradition is too crazy. The streets are crowded with participants. Everybody on the street is pushed toward the walls when the truck drives through. So imagine the crowd smashing you; I honestly couldn’t breathe occasionally.

Besides, there are inhabitants throwing tomatoes at you from their balconies, which makes it extra harder to focus.

If you aren’t as crazy, skip this festival or watch it from behind. But if you want to experience it, it’s just an hour, and being part of it’s a very unique experience.

It’s not suitable for families with children.

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Spain Itinerary: 14 Days In Spain

2. Las Fallas

Every year (mid March), Valencia’s streets are converted into a jungle of giant niñots (puppets/dolls). These niñots are generally named ‘fallas.’ Artists work hard throughout the day and night on the 15th of March to exhibit them on Valencia’s streets.

The next day, judges decide which niñot will win the award of being the best one. This niñot obtains the ‘niñot induldant’ status and will be the only one to be saved. Are you asking saved from what?

Well, the rest of the fallas are burned in a fire on th last night. Imagine more than 800 figures are built throughout Valencia, and only one is saved from burning.

Welcome to Las Fallas Spanish celebrations.

most famous Spanish festivals Las Fallas Valencia
Las Fallas in Valencia

What Happens At Las Fallas?

On the 16th of March, people whose ‘falla’ belong to the most impressive (according to the judges) walk towards the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square in Valencia) to pick up their prices.

They are dressed up in authentic dresses and walk in commissions led by musicians playing music and singing. Besides, they are carrying flowers.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento is the home of the giant niñotVirgen de los Desamparados, the patron of Valencia. The structure is 15 meters high, and the commissions bring flowers to build up this giant falla. This celebration is called ‘Flower Ofrenda‘, and it takes place on the 17th and 18th of March.

La Crema Celebration

Finally, on the 19th of March, the expected Crema is happening. That’s the night when all fallas are burnt in the fire. First, small fallas are burnt around 10:00 p.m, and after, they start burning the bigger ones.

La Crema De La Virgen

The final celebration is held at the Plaza de Ayuntamiento, where you’ll watch the giant Virgen de los Desamparados being set on fire at 12:30 a.m.

If nothing else, this famous Spanish festival reflects how much Valencians love fire. Maybe you have never seen so much fire in your life.

Why Do Locals Celebrate Las Fallas?

Valencian carpenters traditionally burned things they no longer needed after winter. They were mainly burning wood, which they used as a light during winter. This way, they prepared themselves for spring, a new period of life, and greeted nice weather.

As they threw more and more things into the fire, it started to look like a giant human being. So that’s how Valencians made a tradition out of it. Since then, they’ve created these vast niñots, which they eventually burn.

Las Fallas Valencia
Las Fallas – Valencia
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FAQs: Las Fallas

To help you prepare for Las Fallas, I’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions. So check them out and get the most out of this celebration.

When and Where Is Las Fallas Celebrated?

Las Vallas is celebrated in the third week of March every year. The festival takes place in Valencia, Spain.

Next year, Las Fallas will be celebrated between the 15th and 19th of March 2024.

How Long Does Las Fallas Last?

Las Fallas lasts for 6 days. The first three days, locals bring their niñots to the streets of Valencia, and everyone can admire them. Then, in the last 3 days, the main celebration starts.

Here is an outline of the program for the Las Fallas festival:

1.DAY: Artists are putting las Fallas into the streets.
2.DAY: Judges decide which falla is the best and obtain the ‘falla induldant‘ status.
3. + 4.DAY: Commissions in traditional dresses walk through the streets of Valencia, playing music and singing + Ofrenda takes place at Plaza de Ayuntamiento (bringing flowers to La Virgen).
5.DAY: Locals burn all Fallas in the evening, except the ‘falla induldant’.
6.DAY: At 12:30 a.m. – La Virgen is set on fire.

Is It Worth To Go To Las Fallas?

Las Fallas are well worth visiting. It’s my favorite Spanish festival. You can perfectly experience Spanish traditions and how locals celebrate life on the streets of Valencia.

What Are The Best Days Of Las Fallas?

The best days of Las Fallas are the last 3 days of the festival. That’s when you can see locals marching through the streets with musicians, bringing flowers to the La Virgen, and eventually burning all fallas.

Las Fallas festival usually lasts 6 days. So, in the first 3 days, you’ll have a chance to admire all the niñots and experience the atmosphere of this festival. But the highlight and main program starts on the 4th day of Las Fallas. So it’s best to be there for the last 3 or 2 days.

How To Dress For Las Fallas?

There isn’t a specific dress code for Las Fallas. You can dress however you want. Locals participating in the march wear Valencian dresses. But you, as a participant, can dress regularly.

My Experience From Las Fallas Festival

Unlike La Tomatina, the Las Fallas festival is relatively peaceful (except for the fire), and I highly recommend visiting it. You don’t have to be afraid of anything.

The commissions walk through the streets and sing, and people accompany them, which makes it extra special. It’s a cheerful celebration worth being part of. The festival is also suitable for families with kids.

3. San Fermin

San Fermin is a week-long traditional Spanish festival in Pamplona (northern Spain). It’s a celebration full of dancing, parades, music, and traditional festival figures. But the core of this festival is Running of the Bulls.

This famous Spanish festival is held annually and starts on the 6th of July.

What Happens At The San Fermin

Spanish people from many corners of Spain and visitors from other countries are excited to kick the fiesta off.

They head to the main square and raise their red scarves for the fiesta to start officially. The streets of Pamplona turn into a real mass full of celebrations for this week.

Each night, the day’s celebration ends with fireworks at 11 p.m. However, nobody wants the fiesta to be over, so many people continue having fun until the early morning.

Encierro – Running Of The Bulls

The most important part of the whole festival is the Encierro, as they call it, or the bulls’ running. The Encierro starts at 8:00 a.m. every day with a bell sound when they let the bulls run through Pamplona’s streets, and many participants run with them.

The streets are encircled with wooden racks so that the bulls run straight away to the bull ring. The running route is 800 meters long, and if you want to see the bulls running, you need to come and secure your spot along the way very early in the morning.

If you come too late, there are crowds of people, which will barely let you go closer to the wooden racks to see the bulls.

Encierro takes only a few minutes. Bulls are running fast, so you’ll have a few seconds to spot them on the way. They’ll run directly to the bullring, where it ends.

Encierro Bullrunning Pamplona
Encierro – Bullrunning Pamplona

Watch Bullfights In The Bullring In Pamplona

In the afternoon, people go to the bullring to watch the bullfights, another major part of the fiesta.

The festival ends at the end of the week in the same square where it started. Participants resemble, raise their red scarfs again, and shout:

‘Pobre de mi, pobre de mi que se han acabado las fiestas de San Fermin.’
In English, it means: ‘Poor me, poor me that the San Fermin celebrations are over.’

Origin Of San Fermin Festival

This celebration is organized in honor of San Fermin, the first bishop of Pamplona, in the 12th century. That time, it commemorated the martyrdom of San Fermin, and the fiestas were entirely religious with vespers and masses. Poor people were given lunch at the square.

In the 14th century, the fiesta was enriched by cattle fairs and bullfights. Many people came for the fiesta and celebrated San Fermin, watching Jesuits performing a play called ‘Comedy and Tragedy of the blessed San Fermin.’

Since then, locals have enhanced this festival every year with many activities like dancing, singing, and fireworks, making it look like it does nowadays.

famous Spanish festivals San Fermin
San Fermin in Pamplona

FAQs: San Fermin

As I want to help you plan your visit to San Fermin, here you have the most frequently asked questions and answers from my experience visiting San Fermin.

How Long Does San Fermin Last?

San Fermin lasts for 10 days. This year, it’ll be organized from the 6th of July until the 15th of July, 2023.

How To Dress For San Fermin Festival?

If you are visiting, dress in white pants, a white T-shirt, and a red scarf. This is the traditional outfit. You might feel pretty weird if you come in other colorful clothes. You’ll probably be the only one among the white and red people around.

If you don’t have clear white, bring something as white as possible.

How Many People Have Died In San Fermin

Thousands of participants run together with the bulls. This event has already caused many injuries, but luckily, not serious ones. Since 1910, the festival has recorded 15 fatalities. The crucial thing for the runner is not to fall.

My Experience From San Fermin Festival

I visited the San Fermin festival on my own in Pamplona. The San Fermin festival gets messy. The crowds make an abnormal mess on the streets.

Everybody is shouting, and people get very drunk. The Encierro is tricky to spot unless you stand next to the wooden racks from the early morning. So well, I was excited to experience this festival, but I was also slightly disappointed.

Mainly because of the drunk people and mess on the streets, which can really deteriorate the entire atmosphere. It’s still nice to experience, and I don’t regret being part of it. But that was the atmosphere.

I don’t recommend you come here if you have a family with kids.

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Barcelona Itinerary 3 Days

4. La Semana Santa

Semana Santa (Easter Week) is one of the few religious Spanish festivals celebrated in many Spanish cities, but mainly in southern Spain, where it originated.

It’s a week-long celebration of Easter, remembering the stories of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. Except, the Spanish add a little bit of flavor to it. They celebrate it in a big style.

What Happens During Semana Santa?

Each day, processions perform a particular story from the Bible. Or an event that was happening in the past during Easter. The main characters depicting the story are so-called ‘costaleros,’ who walk through the streets towards a church in the city.

They are accompanied by ‘nazarenos,’ who carry candles or wooden crosses. These are dressed in traditional robes covering their whole body, giving the entire event a mysterious atmosphere. In the past, people who were confessing their sins wore these costumes.

Many people celebrate Easter, watching these processions and celebrations and commemorating the crucified and resurrected Jesus this way. It gives you the feeling of being back when it was all happening.

So whether you are religious or not, this Spanish festival will, for sure, fascinate you.

Semana Santa Sevilla
Semana Santa in Sevilla

FAQs: Semana Santa

To help you have the best experience when visiting Semana Santa, I’ve answered the most frequently asked questions for you.

When Does Semana Santa Begin In Spain This Year?

Semana Santa will start on the 24th of March and end on the 30th of March 2024.

Where Is The Best Place In Spain For Semana Santa?

The best place/city to experience Semana Santa is Sevilla. It has the most beautiful celebrations, unique costumes, and a fantastic atmosphere.

But you can find a smaller version all over Spain, in Madrid, Barcelona, Córdoba or Salamanca.

How Long Is Semana Santa?

Semana Santa lasts for a week. Every year, it’s celebrated on different dates, depending on Easter. It officially starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

What Are The 3 Most Notable Days Of Semana Santa?

The 3 most notable days of Semana Santa (and those worth visiting) are Palm Sunday, Great Friday, and Easter Saturday. These days, the celebrations and festivities last the longest, showcase core stories from the Bible, and the cities are the most vibrant.

Is Semana Santa The Same As Easter?

Yes, Semana Santa is the same as Easter. In fact, in English, the Spanish word ‘Semana Santa’ means ‘Easter’. Therefore, the festival of Semana Santa is the specific way that Spaniards celebrate Easter in Spain.

My Recommendations For Semana Santa

Semana Santa is a culturally enriching experience, and I highly recommend seeing it. You can specifically plan your Spain holidays for the dates when Semana Santa is held in one of the cities. Sevilla has the most popular and enriching one.

If you have a family with kids, they’ll like it for sure.

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Southern Spain Itinerary 10 Days

5. Feria De Abril In Sevilla

The Feria de Abril takes place in Sevilla two weeks after the Semana Santa festival. It’s full of parades, people dressed in traditional costumes, dancing on the streets, singing, riding horses, and a lot of food.

There are several activities throughout the week. One of the most famous is ‘sevillanas’, flamenco dancers. Watch the men dressed in traditional costumes and women in gypsy dresses passionately dancing on the streets of Sevilla.

Besides, don’t forget to drink the local sherry liquor and dance with them. It’s all about celebrating life, beautiful Spanish traditions, and drinking and eating delicious tapas.

Origin Of Feria De Abril

In 1848, a businessman and his wife organized an annual fair in Sevilla in April. The authorities of the city permitted him to do so. Since then, Sevilla has kept hosting this fair every year.

Feria de Abril in Sevilla
Feria de Abril in Sevilla

When Is The Feria De Abril In Sevilla?

Feria de Abril will take place next year from the 14th of April until the 20th of Saturday, 2024.

My Recommendations For Feria De Abril

Feria de Abril is a fantastic festival. It perfectly reflects the Andalusian culture and spirit. Be part of it. It’s also nice for kids.

Streets are super lively, and everybody just celebrates life. So maybe you can come for the Semana Santa, stay two weeks in Spain, explore the highlights, and then come back at the end of your itinerary to Sevilla to experience the Feria de Abril.

👉 READ ALSO: 8 Best Road Trips From Barcelona: Best Of Catalonia

6. Festival De Patios Córdoba

Since Córdoba’s temperatures can get more than 40°C/104°F in summer, the locals have found a way to handle this. They have built patios (courtyards) in the middle parts of their houses. You usually walk through them when entering the house in Andalusia.

Andalusians decorate their patios with flowers and put a fountain in the middle. It feels like being in a garden. The plants in their patios give locals the feeling of freshness and help them handle the hot temperature.

How Is Festival De Patios Celebrated?

The Town Hall of Córdoba has been organizing the patios festival since 1921. It takes place in the first weeks of May. Locals decorate their patios and paint their houses to show their art off and compete against each other for the best-looking patio in Córdoba.

The winners are awarded prizes at the end of the week. So come and see these beautiful patios, watch dancers dancing on Córdoba’s streets, drink local wine, and eat tapas.

famous Spanish festivals Festival de Patios Cordobas
Festival de Patios in Cordobas

FAQs: Festival De Patios

Festival de Patios is one of my favorite Spanish traditions, together with Las Fallas. I want you to have a great experience, so here you have some common questions answered to better plan your trip.

When Will The Festival De Patios in Cordoba Be Celebrated?

The Festival de Patios will be celebrated next year from the 6th of July until the 19th of July, 2024.

Where In Cordoba Is The Patio Festival

The Patio Festival is celebrated in the center of the city. They are mainly in the Alcazar Viejo district, around the San Lorenzo church and la Magdalena, and in the Jewish quarter. These patios have also become a crucial part of another Spanish celebration.

You can walk through and visit houses that will have their patios open. Just walk in and admire how locals beautifully decorated their patios.

My Recommendations For Festival De Patios

This festival is charming and calm. It perfectly reflects the local Andalusian culture. I highly recommend you see it. It’s also suitable for families with children.

Córdoba is also one of my favorite cities in Spain, with many beautiful sights and great culture. I’m sure you’ll have a great experience.

👉 READ ALSO: Christmas In Spain: Complete Guide With Traditions & Best Places

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FAQs

I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about Spanish festivals, so check them out below:

What Is The Most Famous Spanish Festival?

The most famous Spanish festival is La Tomatina. It’s celebrated on the last Wednesday in August every year in a small village called Buñol, close to Valencia. Participants throw tomatoes at each other, so it’s like an hour of tomato battle on the streets of this Spanish town.

What Are The Three Main Festivals?

The three main festivals in Spain are La Tomatina, San Fermin, and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, and Semana Santa, Easter celebrations that are most famous for Andalusia, southern Spain.

What Is Spain National Festival?

The National Day Of Spain is celebrated every year on the 12th of October. It commemorates the Spanish nation and legacy, especially in the Latin American countries where Spanish is spoken.

Is Fiesta A Spanish Celebration?

Fiesta is a Spanish word that translates to English as ‘celebration‘. So it’s the word’s translation; it’s not a particular Spanish celebration. All Spanish celebrations are locally called ‘fiesta’.

Wrap-Up: Famous Festivals In Spanish

These are the best Spanish celebrations you should add to your travel bucket list. Some tend to convert the city into a real mess (La Tomatina and San Fermin). But, on the contrary, some enhance their calm and relaxed atmosphere (Feria de Abril, Semana Santa & Festival de Patios).

I love all of them, as they’ll make you experience real Spanish culture, fiesta, dancing, and singing on the streets until the early morning.

If you have any further questions, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you or design a customized itinerary for your trip.

Happy Travels!

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About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

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