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7 Spanish Summer Festivals that Will Surprise You

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Yes, folks, it’s festival season in Spain, where every town and village comes alive with fiestas that are nothing short of legendary. Spanish summer festivals are sensory overload of colour, sound and joy. So, grab your sunglasses, put on some sunscreen, and get ready to dive into the wild, wonderful world of the Spanish summer!

#1. Batalla del Vino de Haro – La Rioja

La Batalla del Vino de Haro (Haro’s Wine Festival) is a 300-year-old wine fight and, possibly, the most epic Spanish summer festival! It takes place on the 29th June.

The tradition likely originated from a dispute with the nearby town of Miranda del Ebro over the ownership of the rural area called Riscos de Bilibio, where the festive battle occurs. Following a mass, this friendly battle begins, with participants continuously throwing liters of wine at each other.

The rules of this batte are simple: Stain your friend or neighbour with wine until they look more purple than the Haro’s flag. To achieve this colourful effect, one can:

  1. Wear white, with the typical red festival scarf.
  2. Try to stain your neighbour with wine as quickly and thoroughly as you can.
  3. Use approved weapons such as wineskins, bottles (non-glass), sprayers, buckets, water pistols, and any other container that can hold liquids.
  4. Keep laughing and singing throughout the battle!
  5. If you see someone with any part of their clothing still white, they should be your primary target.

#2. Danza de los zancos – La Rioja

And, without leaving La Rioja, we delve into another summer festival: This ancient rite takes place in the village of Anguiano during the patron saint’s festivities from 21st-25th July in honor of their patron saint, Mary Magdalene.

The origin of this tradition is unclear, but there are various theories: The dance of the stilts is thought to reference both pagan and religious rites aimed at ensuring good harvests or as an expression of ancient northern Iberian folklore. It is also associated with a dance ritual intended to strengthen the sun on its journey across the sky during the summer solstice.

Danza de los zancos (2013)

#3. Descenso del Sella – Asturias

El Descenso del Sella, also called Fiesta de las Piraguas, is one of the most exciting and famous events in Spain. It happens on the first Saturday in August every year. People from all over the world come to the region of Asturias to participate in this exciting canoe race.

Here’s how it works: Hundreds of participants in canoes start at a town called Arriondas and paddle down the Sella River for about 20 kilometers until they reach another town called Ribadesella. The race is a big competition, but it’s also about having a great time!

Before the race, there’s a big opening ceremony with music, dancing, food, and lots of celebrations. So, even if you’re not in the race, it’s still a blast! Spectators line the riverbanks to watch and support the competition. The whole event is like one big, fun party that everyone enjoys.

#4. Cascamorras – Granada

Every 6th September, there is a very peculiar festival that takes places in Guadix and Baza, in the province of Granada (Andalusia). We are talking about Cascamorras, a festival that dates back to the Middle Ages.

The festival’s beginnings trace back to a worker named Cascamorras in Guadix, who unearthed the Virgen de la Piedad during church construction on an ancient site. Baza and Guadix argued over ownership, agreeing to share custody but with ongoing distrust. Cascamorras tried unsuccessfully to return the statue to Guadix amidst resistance from Baza. Baza then decided that, if a Guadix representative could approach the statue on a saint’s day without getting dirty, it would go back to Guadix. So, each year, Cascamorras attempts this challenge but is hindered by people throwing eggs, paint, flour, and olive oil. After 525 years, the festival attracts over 20,000 participants and is renowned in Andalucía for its cultural significance beyond being just a party, showcasing longstanding traditions and community rivalry.

#5. Romería Vikinga – Pontevedra

If you happen to be in Galicia in the summer, you can’t miss this Spanish summer festival! Every first Sunday of August, the residents of Catoira stage a unique spectacle commemorating Viking invasions from a thousand years ago.

Thousands of people gather annually in this town in Galicia to witness this lively popular festival. Since 1960, residents of Catoira, dressed as Viking warriors, reenact pirate attacks on the village.

The festivities begin in the morning with folk groups performing in the streets of Catoira. This fortified complex from the 9th century includes remains of two towers and a chapel dedicated to Saint James. A medieval market is set up here, and at midday, pilgrims are treated to mussels and local wine.

Later, the highlight of the celebrations arrives: the landing. On board a replica 11th-century Viking ship, invaders from the north arrive on the coast aiming to take the Torres del Oeste. The town residents attempt to resist, leading to a fictional battle where participants end up soaked in wine! After this, everyone enjoys a countryside feast together, accompanied by the sounds of traditional bagpipes and local delicacies like octopus, grilled sardines, and empanadas. The fun continues into the night with a popular dance party, complemented by a theatrical performance. This is a Spanish summer festival you can’t miss!

#6. Moros y Cristianos – Alicante

Not only can we see the Moorish influence in our language, but also in the festivals that commemorate the presence of this people in Spain.

The Moors and Christians festival in Villajoyosa is its most important event, celebrating over 250 years in honor of Santa Marta. It commemorates a 1538 pirate attack led by Zalé-Arraez, thwarted by Santa Marta’s legendary intervention with a flood. Festivities start with grand processions on 25th and 26th July. The highlight is the dawn re-enactment on the 28th, where Christians defend against Moorish boats landing on the beach. Afternoon sees Christians retake the castle from Moors in a symbolic battle. Villajoyosa buzzes with joy, offering cooking contests, fireworks, and concerts.

While Moors and Christians festivals are common across Spain, each, like Villajoyosa’s, celebrates local history uniquely. What sets Villajoyosa apart is its dramatic re-enactment of the Moorish landing.

#7. Batalla de Flores – Cantabria

In the town of Laredo, Cantabria, the streets come alive with vibrant flowers each year on the last Friday of August for a popular festival. The highlight begins around 5:30 in the afternoon with a lively parade of floats decorated with fresh flowers winding through Laredo. The preparations start the night before, with locals busy adorning the carts, creating a festive buzz throughout the town. Alongside the parade, visitors can enjoy street markets, musical performances, and the excitement builds until the jury selects the best float of the year. The festivities culminate at nightfall with a breathtaking fireworks show.

Thanks for reading! And, remember, if you happen to be around this season, you can’t miss these Spanish summer festivals! Fun is guaranteed!

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