Tag Archives: festivals

SPAIN IN 2014 (OCTOBER-DECEMBER)

Hola to all our readers! Can you believe it´s already fall? Even though a few summer days always manage to sneak in during October… Winter is Coming! And there’s much to look forward to… The final months of the year are host to some of the most exciting concerts, festivals and traditions in Spain.

Two events will be taking place for most of the remainder of the year that are sure to excite lovers of art and culture. In Toledo, a special exhibition called El Greco: Art and Skill will be taking place until December 9th, giving visitors the opportunity to see over 75 works by the celebrated Spanish artist. And farther south in Jerez, be sure to check out the exciting events planned from October 9-January 6th related to wine, flamenco and Andalusian horses in honor of Jerez´s selection as the European Wine City of 2014.

October 2014

Although October marks the end of the season for most local festivals around Spain. in the northeastern corner of Spain, you´ll find the region of Aragón celebrating the Fiestas de Pilar from October 4th-13th. The streets of Zaragoza fill with maños (locals from Zaragoza) donned in traditional Aragonese attire and the red and black handkerchiefs that have come to symbolize the festival. The week of celebration culminates in a huge floral offering on the 12th in the Plaza del Pilar in the city center. Thousands of people dress in traditional costumes and come to the plaza to leave flowers before the Virgin. On the 13th, the festival closes with an offering of fruit in the morning and a parade that runs through the streets of Zaragoza at dusk.

Fiestas del Pilar. Source: Redaragon.com
Fiestas del Pilar. Source: Redaragon.com

In Jaén, fiestas in honor of the patron saint, San Lucas, take place from October 11th-19th. The program is full of exciting events including bullfights, dancing, and the National Autumn Show Jumping Competition, held at the Alameda Horse Riding Club.

Those interested in Spain´s “toro bravo” culture also should check out the Autumn Fair in Madrid at Las Ventas from October 3rd-12th. Madrid has a great bullfighting tradition and the Autumn Fair stands out among the world’s most important bullfighting festivals.

Also taking place at the same time is International Madrid Architecture Week. A wide array of activities related to architecture has been planned, including building visits, guided tours, exhibitions, courses and lectures. There are also children’s workshops for younger visitors to learn more about the world of architecture in an entertaining way.

Jazz music takes over the capital of Catalunya again this fall when the Barcelona International Jazz Festival kicks off on October 10th. Artists including John Legend, Wayne Shorter, and Chucho Valdes headline this year´s festival, with concerts planned at sites like the Palau de la Música Auditorium and the Espai de Danza y Música de la Generalitat de Cataluña until November 30th.

The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias complex in Valencia will host the Valencia 500 Tennis Tournament from October 18th-26th this year. This annual tournament attracts numerous elite players from around the world who come to compete for the top spot. Valencia has made a name for itself as a top venue for major sporting events such as sailing, motorcycling, Formula 1 racing, equestrian competitions, and now tennis.

Valencia Tennis Open. Source: Industriadeltenis.com
Valencia Tennis Open. Source: Industriadeltenis.com

November 2014

Contemporary film takes the cake again this year at the 13th annual Seville Film Festival from November  7th-15th. Events are held at a variety of venues such as the Nervión Plaza Cinema and the Lope de Vega Theatre. It aims to concentrate on the promotion of European cinematographic culture while also paying the way for new media for cinematographic expression.

Top riders and horses from the international equestrian circuit will gather in Madrid at the Parque Ferial Juan Carlos I from November 27th- 30th for Madrid Horse Week.  Equestrian arts The international show-jumping competition is the main event, with over 100 of the world’s top riders participating this year. There will also be dressage and vaulting displays and exhibitions and demonstrations for audiences of all ages. The show will be accompanied by an recreation area featuring street entertainment, concerts, and a children´s area.

Looking to try some of Spain´s top tapas in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain? Then look no further and head to Santiago de Compostela  (Galicia) from November 7th-24th for the citywide tapas competition, Santiago (É) Tapas. The competition is a great opportunity to get to know the city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and its´ gastronomic culture. Over 40 bars, restaurants and taverns will be taking part to create delicious and original tapas which are then judged by the customers.

Santiago (e) Tapas. Source: Paxinasgalegas.es
Santiago (e) Tapas. Source: Paxinasgalegas.es

December 2014

More than 600 yachtsmen from around the world will compete for the Ciutat de Palma Trophy Cup in the waters off Palma (Mallorca). From December 5th-8th, the Royal Nautical Club of Palma will host this year’s championship, considered to be one of the most prestigious in dinghy sailing. The most stunning race is almost always the Optimist regatta, with more than 400 boats taking part.

In Spain, Noche Vieja (New Year´s Eve) is a very special celebration, where the fun and partying go on well into the early hours. If you want to get the year off to a good start, you musn´t forget to eat your 12 grapes at midnight for good luck!  If you can´t make it to the Puerta del Sol in Madrid for the famous official countdown, don´t worry! There will be celebrations in every city and town. Many hotels and restaurants organize special parties called cotillones that including dinner, dancing, and entertainment that will set the bar high for New Year´s celebrations for years to come.

New Year's Eve in Madrid. Source: Abc.es
New Year’s Eve in Madrid. Source: Abc.es

If you feel like taking a more adventurous approach to the New Year, Barcelona is the place to be!  The 3rd Barcelona World Race begins on December 31st in the Port of Barcelona. The race is one of the world’s most important yachting competitions and the only two-handed, non-stop round-the-world race. The finishes are forecasted for the end of March 2015. This incredibly demanding sporting event lasts for three months and covers a distance of 25,000 nautical miles across areas with the most extreme climates and the most inhospitable seas on the planet.

Stay tuned for more interesting articles on Spain. In the next weeks, we’ll post a fascinating interview to an extraordinarily unique character and collaborator of Madrid & Beyond… Don’t miss it out!

SPAIN IN 2014 (JULY-SEPTEMBER)

Welcome back to all our readers! Summer in Spain… lovely weather (most of the time), beaches, great food and music, cultural events, festivals, sports… what else can you ask for??!!  This is the perfect season to visit our country, as you can see by looking at the various events, festivals and fiestas coming up in the next three months. Take a look at our summary of the upcoming events taking place in Spain from July to September…

July 2014

July is the perfect month for those interested in music… especially if you’re travelling to the Basque Country. The two most popular annual Jazz festivals in Spain take place during this month in this region. The Vitoria Jazz Festival, which is part of the International Jazz Festival Organization will be held from July 14th to July 19th and for its 38th edition it’ll count with great artists such as the Buena Vista Social Club Orchestra, Paul Anka or Noa. Less than a week later (July 23rd to July 27th), we’ll have the 49th edition of the San Sebastian International Jazz Festival withover 60 performances in different venues, such as the Kursaal Center and its terraces, the Trinidad Square and the Zurriola Beach.

But music is not just Jazz… For the lovers of the independent pop/rock scene there’s another festival which is becoming very popular in the last few years: The BBK Live Festival in Bilbao, which will take place from July 10th to July 12th and will count with international artists, such as Franz Ferdinand, The Black Keys, The Prodigy or MGMT. Apart from the Basque Country, and continuing with the “indie” music, the internationally famous FIB (Benicassim International Festival) will be held in this town of the Comunidad Valenciana from July 17th to July 20th. This music festivals, which has been held from 1995 and has become one of the World references for the international independent scene, will have this year a spectacular line-up (as usually) with artists such as Kasabian, The Libertines, Lily Allen, Manic Street Preachers, Paul Weller or Travis.

San Sebastian Jazz Festival. Source: Heinekenjazzaldia.com
San Sebastian Jazz Festival. Source: Heinekenjazzaldia.com

Early July also hosts one of the most popular festivities in Spain: San Fermin. This festival, taking place in Pamplona from July 6th to July 14th, has become one of the stereotypes of the image of Spain abroad and is now internationally known because of the popular “encierros” (running of the bulls). Even if, traditionally, this festival started as a religious celebration in honor of the saint patron of Navarra, now the religious ceremonies have been left out in the background and people come to the city for the abovementioned “encierros”, the street partying and the bullfights. Here at Madrid & Beyond, we’ve been offering to our clients for years some insiders access activities during this festival, such as watching the running of the bulls from a private balcony or enjoying breakfast and taking part in the traditional dance at one of Pamplona’s most exclusive venues.

San Fermín running of the bulls

For shoppers out there, the start of summer in Spain means the by the sales season (Rebajas) which will be running in most of the shops and shopping malls until the end of August or the end of September (depending on the regions).

 August 2014

If you are planning to enjoy the beaches of Cadiz, south west Spain in early August, then don’t miss the chance to watch the amazing horse races on the beach in San Lucar de Barrameda  from August 7th to 9th. Enjoy the races and the beautiful sunsets in one of Europe’s oldest horse contests (dating back to 1845).

Source: Spain.info
Source: Spain.info

Continuing with more sports, there are 2 other events that will take place in our country during this month. The first is the Spanish Supercup (soccer/football) where the League champion (Atletico de Madrid) will face the King’s Cup champion (Real Madrid) in a rematch of the most important event of last season… the final of the UEFA Champions League. The first match will be held at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on August 20th and the second at the Vicente Calderon Stadium on August 27th. The second big event of the month is the Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain), one of the 3 big cycling competitions of the calendar. This year it will run from August 23rd to September 14th and it will start in Jerez de la Frontera, then continue across Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha, Aragon and finally the North of Spain, until the final arrival in Santiago the Compostela. A great opportunity to watch the best cyclists of the World competing for the last important cycling prize of the year…

Source: Cyclingweekly.co.uk
Source: Cyclingweekly.co.uk

Apart from sports, August is traditionally an important month for festivities in Spain. Although there will be festivals in many villages, towns and cities along our country, we would like to highlight the following: The San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and La Paloma festivals in Madrid. These are three festivals in honor of 3 different saint patrons of the city that take place in some of the most central and traditional neighborhoods in Madrid (Lavapies, La Latina, Cascorro, Las Vistillas). The festivals start at the beginning of the month and finish on August 17th. There will be open-air festivities and street fairs, street decoration contests, shows and concerts and some religious ceremonies. In the North, there are two festivities worth mentioning, the Semana Grande (Grand Week) of San Sebastian (August 9th to 16th) and the Semana Grande of Bilbao (August 16th to 24th). Both of them include cultural and sporting events, bullfights, concerts and performances, popular dances, etc. Last but not least, in Andalusia, we have the Feria de Malaga (August 16th to 23rd) also including many open-air activities in the city and the Malagueta beach, concerts, competitions, bullfights, etc. One of the most popular fairs in Andalusia, after the April Fair of Sevilla.

Feria de Malaga at night. Source: Andalucia-turismo.org
Feria de Malaga at night. Source: Andalucia-turismo.org

Finally, another of the festivals that has become popular worldwide also takes place in August: La Tomatina (Tomato fight). Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, neighbors and tourists gather in the village of Buñol (next to Valencia) and take a free breakfast provided by the town hall before one of the biggest food fights in the World. What started as a tomato fight amongst some local youngsters in 1945 has now become a massive “battle”, very popular outside our borders and attracting a huge number of visitors each year and with more than 100 tons of tomatoes being used as weapons… Crazy!

Source: Spain.info
Source: Spain.info

September 2014

From August 30th until September 14th Spain will host the Basketball World Cup which will take place in different locations, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla, Granada and Gran Canaria. The main teams in Europe (including Spain, of course) plus Argentina and Brazil will try to overthrow the all-powerful United States this time… will any team be able to get this heroic deed?

From September 19th to 27th the most important annual film festival in Spain takes place in San Sebastian. The San Sebastian International Film Festival, which started on 1953 has become one of the most important and prestigious festivals in the World, together with those in Berlin and Cannes. During these days, actors, directors and other celebrities assisting this glamorous event have the chance to enjoy the charm and atmosphere of this lovely city. Also at the end of the month, the city of Barcelona celebrates its most important festivities: La Mercé Festivals. This festival, which started on 1871, takes place on the week of September 24th and includes street shows and concerts, traditional dances, parades, fireworks, human towers, etc. During this week the streets of the city become even more lively and animated than normal, and that’s quite a statement when speaking about Barcelona!

Human Tower during La Mercé Festival. Source: deviajeporespana.com
Human Tower during La Mercé Festival. Source: deviajeporespana.com

For those interested in Spanish arts and cultural traditions there are two other festivals worth mentioning. The first would be the Flamenco Biennial Festival in Sevilla (September 12th to October 5th). This festival is held every second year since 1980 and combines a competition amongst the best flamenco artists with parallel events such as performances, courses, seminars… which make everything to be centered around flamenco on these days in the Andalusian capital. The second is the Human Towers Competition in Tarragona (September 28th to October 5th). This competition is also held every second year and it’s the biggest competition of its type, gathering all the clubs in Catalonia. Apart from the competition there will be other traditional Catalonian activities set in a festive atmosphere.

Flamenco Biennial Festival in Sevilla. Source: Spain.info
Flamenco Biennial Festival in Sevilla. Source: Spain.info

Well, as you can see, the long summer is season offers all sorts of events and attractions. Apart from those mentioned above, there are many other cultural activities to bear in mind such as: The Veranos de la Villa in Madrid (performing arts activities in open-air venues), Shows and concerts at the Generalife Gardens in Granada, Open-air cinema projections on the Medieval Walls in Avila, Cultural activities at the Alcazar Gardens in Sevilla… and much more! Stay tuned for more interesting posts about Spain!!!

 

 

 

SPAIN IN 2014 (APRIL-JUNE)

Welcome back to all our readers! Spain is famed worldwide for its festivals and fiestas and looking at the various events coming up in the next three months it’s easy to see why. Below you can find a brief summary of our pick of the best festivals, sport events and religious celebrations, etc. taking place in our country from April to June!

April 2014

As you would expect from a deeply Catholic country, Easter or “Semana Santa” is an extremely important event in Spain. From the smallest village to the largest city, Easter celebrations take over the whole of the country for a week, starting with Palm Sunday on the 13th April until Easter Sunday on the 20th, with thousands of events taking place all across the country. These festivities have centuries of history and tradition and are quite possibly the most important of the year, in all corners of Spain the streets and squares will be filled with people displaying their religious fervour and piety.

Easter Procession in Sevilla. Source: Visitasevilla
Easter Procession in Sevilla. Source: Visitasevilla

For an insder’s glimpse into the preparations that go in to the spectacular Easter Week festivities in Seville, watch the video below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0P662dIpdA

Later in April, another important festival takes place, especially in Catalonia… Sant Jordi (St. Georges day), also known in Catalonia as the Day of the Book & the Rose takes place on the 23rd of April in the Catalonia region of Spain. Often compared to St. Valentine ’s Day, Sant Jordi day celebrates Barcelona’s patron saint in a very unique manner. According to traditions dating back to the 15th century, on the 23rd of April, couples exchange gifts: a book for the men and a rose for the women.

Ramblas during Sant Jordi. Source: Hotel Omm
Ramblas during Sant Jordi. Source: Hotel Omm

Book and flower stalls are hastily set up along the streets of Barcelona for the tens of thousands who will take to the streets seeking a gift for their beloved. Throughout the day the streets and squares will also be filled with musicians, authors signing their works, literary events and an endless number of street performers and events.

May 2014

Just as things are beginning to wind down in Seville after the completion of the momentous Easter Week festivities, the Andalusian capital comes alive once again with an equally spectacular albeit very different festival: the “April Fair” (Feria de Abril). Despite its name, this year it will take place from May 6 to 11.

The April fair is held every year around 2 weeks after the completion of Easter week and in stark contrast to the sombre religious rituals and traditions of the “Semana Santa”, the April fair revolves entirely around good music, delicious food, dancing and great atmosphere. In short, it’s all about the fun.

During the celebration, over a thousand “casetas” or tents are installed in the fairground that then become the hub of all activity in the city, packed to the brim with Sevillians and guests dressed in traditional Andalusian attire: the men with the typical outfit of a farmworker (traje corto) and women with traditional flamenco dresses (faralaes) .

FERIA DE ABRIL SEVILLA SOURCE UNKNOWN

These casetas are mostly owned by groups of friends and local associations and so are private for members and their guests; however there are plenty of public tents which are open to all. Sevillians have always been well known for their friendliness and being inside a caseta really feels like you have stepped in to a family gathering. With plenty of conversation, music, food, wine and local flamenco dancing (“sevillanas”)throughout the night you are sure to have a good time!

A short video clip to give you an idea of the superb atmosphere you’ll find.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNDZ0DPegD0

In Madrid, from the second week of May you can enjoy the festivities in honour of its patron saint, San Isidro, who himself was a resident of Madrid in the 11th century. Whilst the festivities will take place all over the city, they will mostly be concentrated in the barrio of San Isidro in the southern district of Carabanchel.  This lively festival celebrates all things Madrilenian, from the wearing of the typical chulapo and goyesco outfits to the cooking of giant Cocido Madrileños, Madrid’s most traditional dish.

San Isidro. Source: Inspirado en España
San Isidro. Source: Inspirado en España

The main celebration takes place on the Pradera de San Isidro on the banks of the Manzanares River on the 15th of May as thousands will gather to take part in a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Isidro at the Hermitage of San Isidro and drink water from its spring. Later in the day, hundreds of Madrileños outfitted with traditional clothing will head to Plaza Mayor for the dancing of the typical regional dance known as the chotis as well as to enjoy various open air concerts. Whilst the main festival lasts only from the 9th until the following Sunday, San Isidro also marks the start of Madrid’s San Isidro bullfighting festival season, quite possibly the most important bullfighting festival in the world  and as such it also attracts both the best bullfighters and the best bulls from all across the world.

Also in May, one of Spain’s most visually stunning festivals, the Courtyard or “Patios” Festival takes place in Cordoba  in the midst of Spring between the 5th and the 18th of May and celebrates the hundreds of beautiful courtyards that the city boasts.

A beautiful courtyard in Cordoba. Source: Cordoba Flamenca

During the two weeks, Cordoba’s inhabitants welcome the general public in to their stunning courtyards carefully decorated with pots of beautiful flowers hanging against the whitewashed walls for all to see and appreciate, with the most beautiful courtyard being crowned the winner at the end of the festival. There will also be various events, concerts and live music happening throughout the weeks so there is plenty to enjoy besides the flowers and of course you will have to take some time to sample Cordoba’s delightful tapas and the delicious local wines!

Other interesting events taking place in May would be the Horse Fair in Jerez, The Moors & Christiana Festival in Alcoy and for those “speed-lovers” the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix near Barcelona and the Jerez Motorcycle GP.

June 2014

For those interested in Culture, The Madrid Book Fair returns to the Retiro Park again this year from the 30th of May until the 15th of June.

Established in 1933, the book fair attempts to promote Spanish & International literature as well as the authors, editors and institutions engaged in the publishing and distribution of books.

Madrid Book Fair. Souce: elmundo.com
Madrid Book Fair. Souce: elmundo.com

During each day of the fair, publishing companies and bookshops organize book signing sessions as well as talks with some of the world’s most popular authors and with over 200 stalls set up for the occasion, there is bound to be a book for every taste!

On the evening of the 23rd of June, cities, towns and villages all across Catalonia will be lit up with traditional bonfires and countless fireworks for the celebration of the Nit de Sant Joan (St. Johns Eve).

The Nit de Sant Joan, also commonly known as the Night of Fire or the Night of the Witches in Catalan,is celebrated in honour of St. John & the arrival of the Summer Solstice.

Catalonians celebrate the shortest night of the year with feats, firecrackers, street dancing, bonfires and fireworks throughout the night. The electric atmosphere that is felt throughout the region will no doubt keep you going until the early hours!

SANT JOAN BARCELONA BEACH  s

Other events on this month would be the Catalonia Motorcycle GP and the Haro Wine Festival, in La Rioja, with the popular “Battle of the Wine”. Also, even if the Soccer World Cup will be held in Brazil (from June 12th to July 13th) you shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the Spain’s national team games, etc. at the bars, terraces or giant screens surrounded by hundreds (or thousands!) of lively fans supporting the title holder. Don’t forget your red shirt!

Stay tuned for more interesting posts about Spain and, please, remember to share!!!

 

 

Spain in 2014 (January-March)

Happy New Year to all our readers!!! From the Insider’s Spain Blog we hope that you will have many blessings in this 2014 and, why not, this might be the year you decide to visit our beloved Spain. If so, just continue reading and find out about some of the celebrations, cultural and sport events, festivals, etc. taking place in our country during the first three months of the year!

January 2014

It’s the end of the Christmas and New Year Holidays, and Spain goes back to “real life”… Just after these dates, from the second week of January, it’s the beginning of the sales season (Rebajas) which will be running in most of the shops and shopping malls until the end of February. During this time, retailers encourage us to keep spending (in case we didn’t do it enough during the holidays) by putting the prices of their products down (up to a 70% in some places!).

In Madrid, there’s a travel fair which has become more and more popular in the last decades: FITUR, which celebrates its 34th anniversary and will take place from January 22-26. The International Tourism Trade Fair of Madrid, with more than 200,000 visitors per year, is an important date for many in the travel business. Apart from FITUR, the city will also host the Gastrofestival, from January 24 to February 9, in which there will be many gastronomic routes, events, exhibitions, special menus, etc. along the city. The festival showcases one of Spain’s strongest identities in a fun, encompassing manner, bringing on board great national and international chefs but also combining with the worlds of fashion and art.

Source: Gastrofestival
Source: Gastrofestival

February 2014

The main festival taking place in Spain during this month is the Carnival. This year, the Carnival will take place from February 27 to March 9. Although there will be celebrations in most of the regions in Spain, the most popular places to enjoy the Carnival are Cadiz (Andalusia) and Tenerife (Canary Islands).

The Carnival of Cadizis one of the most popular in the World (it’s been awarded as a Festival of International Tourist Interest) and it receives every year more than 100,000 visitors. Apart from the costumes, etc. the highlight of this festival are the “chirigotas”, satirical groups of performers and their songs full of sarcasm and parody.

The Carnival of Tenerife has also been awarded as a Festival of International Tourist Interest. It does also attract people from around the World and it is considered the second most popular and internationally-known carnival, after the one held in Rio de Janeiro. Compare to Cadiz, this Carnival is more spectacular (in terms of costumes, parades, etc.) and mores similar to the idea of the Brazilian Carnival, which is famous Worldwide.

Carnival
Source: carnavaltenerife.es

March 2014

The Fallas in Valencia are the most important event in March. The days before Saint Joseph’s Day (March 19) the streets of Valencia are full of decorations (including the spectacular wooden constructions – ninots) and people celebrating (open air bars, music bands, etc.). Everyday tons of firecrackers and fireworks are thrown so, if you’re noise sensitive this might not be the perfect festival for you. On the last day of the celebrations (March 19) all the ninots (wooden constructions), except from the contest winner (which is spared) are burnt as huge bonfires, which is the culmination of this festival.

Apart from this festival, for those sport lovers, on the weekend of March 22-23 the “Clasico” soccer game Real Madrid vs F.C. Barcelona will take place at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (in Madrid). This is probably the most important soccer game in the World (at a clubs level) and it’s followed with interest by fans all around the globe. Do contact us if you are interested in securing tickets.

Source: resultados-futbol.com
Source: resultados-futbol.com

In the next few months we will publish another post with the upcoming events, festivals, etc. taking place in Spain during the second trimester of 2014, starting with the Holy Week Parades in Sevilla…

Stay tuned!