It’s really hard to short down Spain’s festival list.
Saint Sebastian’s Day Festival in Piornal
During this street event, festivalgoers take to the street to battle with weapons with slightly more damage potential than the body-friendly ripe tomatoes of the Tomatina. The Jarramplas (essentially a man dressed as a devil) runs through the streets being pelted by the locals with hard, uncooked turnips, an act designed to ward off negativity. According to reports, the Jarramplas usually survives the festival in one piece, and then the locals go back to their daily routine as normal.
Festival of Farrapada
In Galicia, the Festival of Farrapada involves the local townspeople showering each other with ash, flour, rags and teeny, tiny, angry ants. These biting little critters are doused with vinegar before the event to ensure that they are extra hostile. This event comes near the end of weeks of pre-lent celebrations, which involve feasts, fire-wielding locals running through the streets, and a man dressed as a cow lifting up the skirts of local women. Weird.
This fire based festival takes place in Valencia between 15th and 19th March, and is a riotous, noisy festival of music and street-based fireworks displays. Each day begins with a bright and early wake up at 8am by a brass band, and culminates in a fireworks show. On 19th, papier-mâché figures creates by the locals are burned in a giant, glorious showdown. Note: don’t wear flammable clothing! (See pictures here)
Meringue Pie Festival
This one is just for the kids, but is still fun to watch. In Vilanovai La Geltrú inBarcelona, local bakeries hand out meringue pies to the children for them to throw at one another. The lucky kids are later doused in sweets which are thrown up in to the sky and then rain down for them to scrabble furiously at.
Festival of the Three Kings
In Spanish tradition, Christmas doesn’t finish on 25th, but continues on until 6th January, which marks the Feast of the Epiphany when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. The 5th of Januarysees towns throughout Spain play host to giant parades where the three kings ride through the town on carts or on horseback, bestowing sweets on the local children. This festival can be appreciated anywhere in Spain or on its islands, but in the south of Tenerife they arrive in particularly dramatic style (via helicopter and boat into the harbour). This festival is slightly shorter than the others, so make sure you plan other things to do in the area during your stay.
This festival, which happens each year in La Palma, celebrates the return of Spanish emigrants to their shores after the mass departure of citizens to Cuba, where they sought their fortunes. The townsfolk dress head to toe in white to symbolize the nouveau riche, and they then douse one another in flour or talcum powder. Don’t dress in your finest gear if you head to this one!
The list of strange Spanish festivals is exhaustive. Have you been to one you particularly loved? Let us know!