Out and about

A month by month guide of all the key festivals, parties & events all over mainland Spain and the Spanish Islands. All providing an insight as to what Spain has to offer.

 

SEMANA SANTA

Semana Santa (or Holy Week) is the Spanish name for Easter. It dates back to the 16th century when the Church decided to present the story of the Passion of Christ in a way that the layperson could understand. It was decided that the best way to do this would be a series of processions through the streets, depicting scenes from the story of the fall and rise again of Jesus Christ.

Though the style and mood of Semana Santa in Spain varies from city to city, the basic components remain the same.
Each day there is a number of processions, one from each brotherhood in the city, made up of floats which are carried from their church to the cathedral and back again. Most brotherhoods carry two floats, one with Christ and one with his mourning mother, Mary the Virgin.

Each procession is different and each one has its own particular followers, either due to the location of the church or the exact nature of the procession (the presence of or type of music, the time of day, etc).

The floats are heavy, especially so in Andalusia, which is the most extravagant region for Semana Santa. Strong men carry the floats, but with the procession lasting many hours, even they will feel the pain. The suffering experienced is likened to that experienced by Christ and the men (known as costaleros) consider it a great honor to carry the float, despite (and indeed, because of) the pain involved.

In Andalusia Semana starts on the Sunday before Easter and lasts until Easter Sunday itself, while in Castilla-Leon events run from the Friday before, making ten days of events. In Toledo, Semana Santa celebrations are even longer, starting on the Thursday two weeks before Semana Santa itself.

During the period of Easter in Spain, torrijas are eaten. These are thick slices of bread, soaked in milk and beaten egg, fried in olive oil and served with sugar or honey.

Another Easter food is un pestiño. This is a plain and simple little fritter. A flour mixture is fried in olive oil and then sprinkled with honey or sugar. Sesame is often added to the flour mixture.

Viernes de Dolores March 22
Sábado de Pasión March 23
Domingo de Ramos March 24
Lunes Santo March 25
Martes Santo March 26
Miércoles Santo March 27
Jueves Santo March 28
Viernes Santo March 29

OUT AND ABOUT IN MARCH

March 1, 2013
Event: De Cajon Flamenco Festival
Where? Barcelona.
What? Concert by Tocaora, as part of the De Cajon flamenco festival.

March 2 to 10, 2013
Event: Fiesta de la Magdalena
Where? Castellon de la Plana, near Valencia
What? Traditional festival to celebrate the historic victory of the Christians over the Moors.

March 3, 2013
Event: Sant Medir Festival
Where? Barcelona.
What? Costumed processions in the Gracia area of Barcelona.

March 3, 2013
Event: La Passio
Where? Esparraguera, Catalonia.
What? Famous performance of the Passion of Christ.

March 5-17, 2013
Event: International Festival of Art for Children
Where? Madrid
What? Art festival for children. The theatre will be in Spanish, but there is dance and circuses too than non-Spanish speakers will understand. :

March 8-10, 2013
Event: Barcelona Beer Festival
Where? Barcelona.
What? Second beer festival of Barcelona, with over 300 limited-availability beers.

March 10, 2013
Event: La Passio
Where? Esparraguera, Catalonia.
What? Famous performance of the Passion of Christ.

March 13-16, 2013
Event: Motortec 2013
Where? Ifema exhibition hall in Madrid.
What? Motoring trade show.

March 14-16, 2013
Event: Classic Car Rally of Mallorca
Where? Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands.
What? Classic car rally.

March 17, 2013
Event: La Passio
Where? Esparraguera, Catalonia.
What? Famous performance of the Passion of Christ.

March 22 - 31, 2013
Event: Semana Santa
Where? All over Spain.
What? Semana Santa completely dominates Spain in March, so no matter where you are, there'll be something to commemorate the Resurrection.

March 24, 2013
Event: Bullfighting season begins.
Where? Madrid. Other cities will have their first bullfight of the season around this date.
What? The beginning of the year's bullfights. Fights run every Sunday until October, with extra events throughout the year.

March 24, 2013
Event: Palm Sunday
Where? All over Spain, but the most famous celebrations are in Elche, near Valencia.
What? Processions to mark the Palm Sunday celebration.

March 30 - April 7, 2013
Event: Spring festival
Where? Murcia, south-east Spain.
What? Street festival because the Murcians refuse to let Easter die..
.
March 31, 2013
Event: Gaucin bull-run.
Where? Gaucin, near Malaga.
What? A mini bull-run, much like those at Pamplona.

March 31 - April 1, 2013
Event: Pastry festival in Aviles
Where? Aviles, Asturias.
What? A celebr

FEBRUAY CARNIVAL TIME

The week before Lent is carnival time in Spain. There is no one way that carnival is celebrated in Spain - each one of the below cities has a slightly different style. You will find some sort of celebration in most cities in Spain, but the following three are the best places to be.


1. Carnival in Tenerife, Spain
Each year a different theme is chosen and the carnival kicks off with the presentation of the Carnival Queen Contestants. Days of band and murga (comedic folk singers) contests and concerts follow and culminate in the Grand Parade. Though the Grand Parade is really the highlight of the Carnival season, more events follow. Festivities focus on Santa Cruz to begin with but gradually spread out to other areas as each town and village celebrates its own fiesta.

Apart from the singing, dancing, parading and joking by organised groups there are also live bands and dancing in the open air for everyone most nights from around 2300 until daylight. There are official stalls all around the streets selling drinks and ‘tapas’ to the thirsty, hungry revellers, these stalls and their positions are bid for by tender each year and sell for amazing amounts of money to help offset the huge costs of carnival. All manner of other events are grouped under the banner of carnaval from football to anta Cruz to begin with but gradually spread out to other areas as each town and village celebrates its own fiesta.

Apart from the singing, dancing, parading and joking by organised groups there are also live bands and dancing in the open air for everyone most nights from around 2300 until daylight. There are official stalls all around the streets selling drinks and ‘tapas’ to the thirsty, hungry revellers, these stalls and their positions are bid for by tender each year and sell for amazing amounts of money to help offset the huge costs of carnival. All manner of other events are grouped under the banner of carnaval from football to clay pigeon shooting to vintage car rallies, there is literally something for everyone.

Tenerife carnival is finished with the burial of the sardine; a huge papier-mache sardine is paraded through the city followed by hundreds of weeping ‘widows’ this gives the Tenerife male population one last chance to dress as widowed ladies, all in black, the only thing is that their idea of ‘widows weeds’ is mini dress and fishnet tights! Woe betide any good looking young tourist innocently watching proceedings, he’s likely to be showered with kisses from the widows. The sardine is then burnt accompanied by the inevitable massive firework display.


2. Carnival in Cadiz, Spain
The carnival in Cadiz has a healthy dose of music and comedy added to the mix. As one of Spain's major ports during the 16th century, Cadiz copied the carnival of Venice, a city with which it had much trade, and since then it has become the liveliest and most dazzling carnival town in mainland Spain, famous for its amusing and creative characters and satirical song groups.

Cádiz is home to mainland Spain's premier carnival. In fact, numerous groups and associations throughout the city - along with the city hall, of course - spend the entire year preparing for the next carnival. Such dedication does, therefore, deserve more than just a weekend of festivities, which is why this most ancient of European cities keeps the celebration going for at least a good 10 days.

Newcomers to the Cádiz carnival will probably first notice the elaborate costumes which are on par with those of any great festival of this nature. However, music is possibly the most outstanding feature at this particular marathon event with locals working hard throughout the year to develop their acts and perfect their performances.

Here's a look at the main types of performances

Chirigotas - These are humorous groups that perform satirical pieces about everything from politics to current events.
Choirs - These groups of singers may be funny at times, serious at others. They tend to be out and about, entertaining people in the streets accompanied by stringed instruments.
Comparsas - These are the most serious singers at the festival. They are known for their more classic musical talents and the more serious content of their songs.
Quartets - They don't have to stick to the traditional four - but then, this is the carnival, after all. Time to break the rules! And they are most often accompanied by none other than a kazoo and the beating of sticks.
Romanceros - These are the solo acts at that roam the streets to entertain visitors and locals alike.

3. Carnival in Sitges, Spain
The large gay community in Sitges has made the their carnival one of the wildest affairs in Spain.

The carnival in Sitges starts with the Dijous Gras, which means Fat Thursday. Resembling the famous Mardi Gras, on this day the king of the carnival, the Carnestoltes, arrives and starts the festivities. Of course queens are also elected during the carnival in Sitges, the so-called reinas, wearing amazing costumes and masks and following the king’s parade which is called Gran Rua.

People dance on the street, fully celebrating the spirit of carnival and enjoying traditional local dishes during this festival. One of these dishes is the Xató, a salad with cold Cod and a catalan sauce, which has different recipes in many towns of the area, which is called Ruta del Xató.

Traditions:
The ending of the festival period is marked by the Entierro de Sardina, where the Sardine, a giant statue is burned at the beach and buried there. As a symbol of the end of the good times, during the 40 days of Lent no fish or sweets are consumed. This custom is well-known in different countries as well, but Sitges adds its own style and version to this carnival tradition; attracting many visitors each year who admire and gaze upon the traditional dances, the amazing costumes and masks and the local cuisine in Sitges during this festival.

Gay Carnival in Sitges
Sitges also helds a second carnival, parallel to the Carnival de Sitges; the gay carnival of Sitges. Shows and events such as the Glamour Night, Carnival Bingo or Tourist Night are organized and promise fun and excitement during the festival time.

Visiting the Carnival in Sitges means experiencing a unique festival in a town situated directly next to the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by the Natural Park of Garraf. And although the carnival was prohibited during the Franco regime in Spain, the tradition survived and today displays itself with all pride.

THE FESTIVAL OF JEREZ

Andalusia is the birthplace of Flamenco, making Jerez a fitting host for the world's leading Flamenco festival. Thousands of dance students gather each year for workshops and master classes on the full range of flamenco styles and skills such as flamenco compás and clapping and learning how to handle the bata de cola and other elements such as the shawl and the fan. It is a once in a lifetime chance to learn from the masters, which helps explain the fierce competition from around the world to claim one of the 1,000 student spots. For those who are not lucky enough to get one of the coveted student invitation, it is still worth making the journey to Jerez to witness the most famous bailaores of our time performing throughout the festival at the Teatro Villamarta.

In just two weeks, a total of 624 students coming from 30 countries have formally registered for the baile courses of Festival de Jerez 2013, which is to be held from February 22nd to March 9th. Registration for the 44 courses in the event’s training section - which also includes compás and clapping workshops - opened on September 6th. In this short period of time, the level of occupation has already reached 57.5% for an offer which rises to 1,085 places. There are currently 8 courses which have filled up and, just like in past editions, predictions point to a figure of nearly one hundred percent occupation being reached.

Of the 30 countries represented, belonging to every continent, this first statistical survey is highlighted by the traditional dominion of the students coming from Japan and the strong establishment of this training section in European countries like Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium and the Czech Republic, among others. However, the ‘global village’ dimension which the courses acquire every year is reflected in the notable presence of students coming from places as distant as the United States, Canada and Brazil, as well as Hungary, Romania and Argentina, to name a few.

The training section of Festival de Jerez is one of the most unique proposals in this event which moreover includes an extensive program of shows and concerts together with other activities. All of them have flamenco dancing and Spanish dance as their common thread. The interest in the festival’s courses and workshops responds to the existence of a varied offer – of styles and academic level - and the presence of the greatest maestros, many of whom are active artists. There are four learning levels. This diversification covers everything from beginners’ level to advanced.

NOVELTIES
Highlighting the novelties of the upcoming edition is the workshop-seminar which Eva Yerbabuena will teach about a show’s creative process, which is complemented with practical classes on knowledge of the body through technique. Moreover, a related program includes the collaboration of two private companies specializing in cultural management. On the one hand, Monto Cultura will set up a course on flamenco photography taught by Gilles Larrain, a prestigious artist whose works have been seen in New York, Paris and Hamburg, among other cities. On the other, the International Flamenco Institute of Jerez will carry out courses in cante, guitar, soniquete and introduction to flamenco, in such a way that the training offer extends to other artistic disciplines besides baile.

OUT AND ABOUT IN FEBUARY

January 19 - February 3, 2013
Event Gastrofestival
Where? Madrid
What? Special meal deals in restaurants, exhibitions on gastronomy in culture and more.

January 28 to February 11, 2013
Event Rubrifolkum Folk Music Festival
Where? Sant Boi de Llobregat
What? Local folk festival.

February 1, 2013
Event: De Cajon Flamenco Festival
Where? Barcelona.
What? Concert by Llorona y Cantares, as part of the De Cajon flamenco festival.

February 3 (first Sunday of the month), 2013
Event San Cecilio festival
Where? Granada
What? A gypsy festival in the Sacromonte area of Granada. The whole city converges on the Sacromonte monastery where there is lots of partying and some flamenco performances.

February 1-3, 2013
Event La Endiablada
Where? festival in Almonacid, near Cuenca,
What? where everyone dresses up as devils.

February 2 to 5, 2013
Event Moros y Cristianos . (the dates in the link are wrong)
Where? in Bocairente/Bocairent, near Valencia
What? mock battle

February 2 to 5, 2013
Event Flamenco Fashion Show
Where? Seville.
What? See the latest designs in flamenco dresses.

February 2-3, 2013
Event La Candaleria
Where? Nationwide but especially popular in Madrid.
What? A celebration of when Mary and Joseph took Baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, forty days after his birth.

February 6, 2013
Event: 24 Guitar Festival BCN
Where? Barcelona, Catalonia.
What? A concert by Vinicio Capossella, forming part of Barcelona's guitar festival.

February 9-12, 2013
Event Peropalo
Where? Villanueva de la Vera in Extremadura.
What? Villanueva de la Vera's take on carnival time includes a giant puppet, called the Peropalo. Lots of drinking in the streets, and a donkey is paraded around the town, for some reason!

February 8 -22( approx dates, 2013
Event: De Cajon Flamenco Festival
Where? Barcelona.
What? Various Concerts

Around February 12, 2013 (Week before Lent)
Event Carnival
Where? All over Spain.
What? It's Carnival time! Spain's two main gay communities, Chueca in Madrid and Sitges near Barcelona , are the stars of the shows here. Cadiz and Tenerife also host famous processions.

February 14, 2013
Event: Valentine's Day
Where? All over the world!
What? Lovers go out for dinner and buy chocolates.

February 17, 2013
Event Barcelona Half-Marathon
Where? Barcelona.
What? It's a half marathon!

February 13-17, 2013
Event International Contemporary Art Fair
Where? Madrid
What? Often referred to as ARCOmadrid.

February 20, 2013
Event: 24 Guitar Festival BCN
Where? Barcelona, Catalonia.
What? A concert by Antonio Font, forming part of Barcelona's guitar festival.

February 22 to March 9, 2013
Event Festival De Jerez
Where? Jerez, in Andalusia
What? Flamenco festival.

February 24, 2013
Event Seville Marathon
Where? Seville
What? It's a marathon, through the gorgeous streets of Seville.

February 28 to March 3, 2013
Event Amimac Mostra Internacional de Cinema d'Animació
Where? Lleida, Catalonia.

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