Spain has an outstanding multicultural heritage, and this can be seen in all areas of its social life. There is a wide variety of different festive celebrations to be found all over the country. Spanish popular festivities and traditions often have a clearly religious origin. This can be seen in throughout all the expressions of Spain's folklore, which combine religious fervour with a variety of pagan and festive commemorations. The country's cultural diversity means the festive manifestations of each region vary widely from north to south, and yet at the same time these local customs exist alongside festivities which are celebrated all over the national territory.

Fallas de San José (St Joseph’s Day festivities).Valencia. 15th – 19th March

This is Valencia's big feast, prepared over the previous year with hard work and dedication. The city is transformed for the celebration of the Fallas.  For a few days, the streets are filled with gigantic figures, true works of art, which compete in ingenuity and creativity, and for which an epic end awaits: fire. In summary, fun, imagination and spectacle in an impressive exhibition of art and colour which will leave you speechless.

Easter Week. 24th – 31st March

With the arrival of spring comes Easter week. It has centuries of history behind it and is one of Spain's most authentic and emotive celebrations. The streets of the vast majority of Spain's cities, towns and villages become the stage for religious fervour and devotion, combining grief and meditation in memory of Christ's death. Music, art and colour come together in magical processions - solemn parades in which crowds of people accompany religious images on their route through the towns. Discover the silence and austerity of Easter week in Castile-León, in the processions of León, Zamora, Salamanca and Valladolid. Their sober atmosphere is only broken by the sound of the trumpets and drums that accompany the religious figures as they pass. The pinnacle of the Easter week in Hellín (Albacete province) is the Tamborada (drum-playing), when up to 20,000 drums start playing. Experience intense moments like those in Cartagena, with thousands of people singing at the end of each procession in honour of the Virgin Mary. Easter week in Lorca is especially original - the processions include figures and scenes from the bible and from ancient civilisations. Feel the echo of the bugles that accompany the processions through the streets of Cuenca; enjoy the colour and cheer of thousands of waving palm leaves in the Elche procession; take part in the huge Andalusian processions, especially those of Granada, Málaga and, above all, Seville, a city that lives these days of religious fervour with all its spirit.

April Fair – Feria de Abril (Seville). 14th – 21st April

For one week life in Seville revolves around this fiesta. The music, food, dancing and general joy create a very special atmosphere. The April Fair is one of the most international and popular of Seville’s fiestas. It was created in 1847 as a cattle fair, and over time the festive atmosphere that had grown up around the occasion took over the business aspect, and it became a permanent fixture in Seville’s social calendar. For a week more than a thousand “casetas” or tents installed in the fairground area become the second home of the city’s inhabitants, a place where people come together to have fun and share experiences until the early hours of the morning. The fiesta officially begins at midnight on Monday with the “lighting test”, the illumination of the thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high and has a different motif every year. The lively and festive atmosphere spills over into the area outside the tents: people usually dance in the street, and the friendly personality of the Sevillian people will entice passers-by into the celebration. You should bear in mind that most of the stalls are privately owned and can be entered only by invitation from the members or their friends. There are however public tents which are open to all. The information office at the entrance to the fair will tell you which they are.

El Rocío Pilgrimage (Almonte, Huelva). 19th – 20th May

The celebration combines religion and fiesta, and is held 50 days after Easter. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over Spain, and even abroad, to make this annual pilgrimage to the Blanca Paloma Shrine in the village of El Rocío, 17 kilometres from the town of Almonte (Huelva province). Over the week before, the different Rocío brotherhoods set out from their bases in Huelva, Seville, and Cadiz, amongst other provinces, in order to get to the village of El Rocío by the Saturday, and to enjoy the events which run through to the Monday. The most traditional way to do the pilgrimage is on horseback, by carriage or on foot, dressed in flamenco clothing. By day, the brotherhoods advance in festive spirits, singing flamenco, while by night they camp out and organise parties around the bonfire with singing, dancing, food and drink into the early hours. There are four main routes: the Sanlúcar route, which runs through the Doñana National Park and is used by those coming from the province of Cadiz; the Los Llanos route, which runs from Almonte - this is the oldest one; the Moguer route, used by those coming from Huelva province; the Seville route - this is the most popular route with other brotherhoods from Spain and abroad. As they arrive in the village of El Rocío, pilgrims pitch their camps and await the arrival of the remaining brotherhoods. On the Saturday there is a parade where they present themselves with the simpecado (the association's standard) before the statue of the Virgin Mary, while the church bells ring. On the Sunday there are various religious acts and that night nobody sleeps, in anticipation of the weekend's most exciting moment: the “jumping the fence”, when the people of Almonte jump over the fence to bring the statue of the Virgin out of the shrine and parade it around the village on Monday morning. Once the procession is over, the brotherhoods start the return journey with their minds already on next year's pilgrimage.

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