7 Quirky Spanish Festivals You Most Likely Didn’t Know About

With the start of the new year, we took the opportunity to make a list of all the Spanish events you might have not heard of.

Many know about the crazy battles with tomatoes, wine and flour to dancing skeletons and human towers taking place in Spain annually. However, there are a few lesser known celebrations that are worth noting in your travel calendar.

1. Celebrating the triumph of good over evil, La Vijanera

In the small village of Silio in Cantabria, the locals celebrate the first Sunday of the year – called La Vijanera. Taking place each February, this fascinating festival is certainly worth marking in the calendar for its historical and cultural significance.

The origins of the festival are ancient, related to pagan rituals practiced by the Cantabrian tribes that inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the Romans and prior to the arrival of Christianity. The carnival is almost reminiscent of some of the Venetian costumes, however with a strong tribal influence.

The Silio dwellers dress up in unique and colorful costumes and play out different scenes. Costumes include various characters such as jumping harlequin types, animals, cow bell covered warriors, mythological natural creatures and others. Each character symbolises something unique such as good or evil, the passage of time.

2. Festival of Near Death Experiences

The Festival of Santa Marta de Ribarteme is a particularly peculiar festival where living survivors of near-death experiences are carried through the streets in open coffins. The relatives of the survivors carry the coffins to the church to show gratitude to the Virgin Mary for protecting their loved ones throughout these scary ordeals.

Although it might appear a little creepy, this is a gratitude and celebration of life fiesta. This Festival originates from Christianity and paganism, and since many Spanish people are both religious and superstitious they have kept the tradition alive. Many Spanish people believe that it is important to thank the Saint for saving their lives.

It is not all that dark and although not the most typical of Spanish festivals, the after-party lightens the mood with fireworks, live music of various orchestras and good food. It brightens up in a traditionally colourful Spanish way!

This Festival usually takes place in the small village of As Nieves in the municipal of Pontevedra in Galicia, and is held every year on July 29. This area is bordering Portugal to the south, so you might want to expand on your travel plans and spend a day or two here jumping over to Portugal for a few picturesque experiences.

3. The Chase is on: The Cascamorras Festival

If you think the traditional Spanish Tomato Festival or Wine Fight are messy, wait till you visit this exciting country during the Cascamorras Festival.

This is undoubtedly one of the funniest and dirtiest parties in Spain. The Cascamorras is a clown-like character from the village of Guadix (about 4 hour car drive away from Valencia) who wears brightly coloured clothes and attempts to steal the valued statue of the Virgen de la Piedad from the neighbouring village of Baza on the 6th September. The locals try to prevent the Cascamorras’ attempt by throwing thick black paint on him and chasing him all over the village. The rules of the game say that if the Cascamorras is able to steal the statue without getting his clothes dirty, he could take it to Guadix.

If you have ever done a mud race you might enjoy this – this fiesta is a fun day out for all ages. However, if you are not up to getting covered in black paint, you are welcome to watch it from a distance. Either way, this is a great day out in Spain!

4. The Rafters of Nargó

However, gliding down the river in a wooden raft is something different. This is a part of the remembrance of the rafters who endangered their lives by guiding their rafts down the River Segre. These rafters or ‘raiers’ used to transport the wood from the Pyrenees, down the rivers and to the coast. Now, the third Saturday of every August we can actually see how it happened. This is fascinating! It is also one of the least known traditions in Spain – you’ll have to visit Lleida (only an hour away from Barcelona) to discover more.

5. Christmas in July and New Year in August? Yes, please!

If you’ve failed your few first New Year resolutions, you can start it all over again, sort of getting a second chance, in August in Spain.

Due to a blackout in 1994, the inhabitants of Berchules (four hours away by car from Seville) couldn’t carry out their new year traditions of good-luck grapes celebrating the new year, so they decided to catch up on the tradition in August instead. The new festival became popular and was repeated the next year, now attracting Spanish and overseas travellers alike to join in.

Spaniards are famous for their good sense of partying and having fun so if a party needs to be repeated, it must be repeated!

Once you are done with Christmas in July in Australia, it’s time to start packing for a >New Year in August in Berchules.

6. Night of Burning in Alicante and world

The Hogueras de San Juan Festival is the beach city Alicante’s most important celebration.

Only 2 hours of coastal drive from Valencia, Alicante goes up in smoke on the 24th June during the spectacular Night of Burning or Noche de la Cremà. Not in any bad way, of course, as firefighters put out the blazes, known as Banyà or soaking.

All very quirky, The Bonfires of Saint John (the English translation of the festival’s name) is a traditional and popular festival celebrated around the world during Midsummer. It is most magnificent in Spain, of course!

This fiery tradition has roots in ancient celebrations related to the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the Sun was turning southward again.

The fiesta’s concept is based on three basic ideas: the importance of medicinal plants, especially in relation to health, youth and beauty; the protective character of fire to ward off evil spirits and witches and, finally, the purifying, miraculous effects of water.

7. The Snail Festival… Buen Apetito

As much as Spaniards love to spray chalk, tomatoes, wine, paint and who knows what else all over themselves and others, they also enjoy chasing animals, jumping over babies and building human towers. At the end of such physically demanding holidays, anyone would work up an appetite.

How about some snails?

Sounds French yet a very Spanish Aplec del Caragol, or The Snail Festival, usually takes place in Lleida, the westernmost province capital of Catalonia, home of Snail cuisine and the main city of this farming region.

Yes, this food festival is dedicated to cooking and eating snails for 3 days.

The Snail Festival consists of plenty of social clubs, concerts, competitions and eating, of course – a perfect backdrop for meeting new people and experiencing authentic Spanish way of things.

Hungry anyone?

If you want help picking your best Spainish Festivals, just give our team a call on 1800 242 353.