La Tamborrada festival is a traditional drum playing festival celebrated in San Sebastian, Spain and throughout other regions in Spain.

During the Tamborrada Festival the city of San Sebastian becomes a defeaning place as it comes alive with hundreds of thousands of beating drums that play throughout the streets the 24 hours that the 20th of January lasts.

The hand crafted drums are made of many different sizes and are normally classified as barrel or military style drums. These drum celebrations that take place throughout Spain usually originate from military, religious or festive ceremonies. The San Sebastian Tamborrada has a military origin.

The San Sebastian Tamborrada is held on the 20th of January to celebrate the town’s patron, Saint Sebastian. The events actually begin at zero (00:00) hours on 20th with the raising of the city’s flag in the Plaza of the Constitution. Several different group representatives begin to play the San Sebastain March, written by Raimundo Sarriegui, as well as other popular compositions.

Hundreds of drum group companies take part in the event, each made up of 20 to 50 military drums and 50 to 100 barrel drums as they parade through the city streets pounding out their songs accompanied by music on the 20th of January.

The drummers of the Tamborrada festival in San Sebastian dress up as either military drummers from the Napoleonic period or cooks.

The loud Tamborrada festival continues for 24 hours until midnight on the eve of the 21st. There are special events for children in the morning and throughout the 24 hour celebration many important prizes are given out, including the “Tambor de Oro” prize.

The San Sebastian Tamborrada tradition is said to have originated in 1720 when a baker began singing while filling barrels at a fountain near the San Vicente church. Some young girls passed by and joined in on the fun by banging on some barrels. Soon, a crowd had formed and an impromptu jam session began which, over time, evolved into the San Sebastian Tamborrada festival as we know it today.

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