Festivals Beyond Andalucia
Spain is known world-wide as a country of many fiestas - festivals of religious fervour like Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week) and festivals of a more secular nature like winter carnivals. You can find celebrations for just about every taste if you travel far and wide enough in this country - whether you are looking to don costumes, drink a special type of wine, enjoy traditional dances or simply meet a wide array of interesting people.
Foreigners are usually welcomed with open arms to fiestas and festivals across Spain. Even at such events as Seville's spring fair, which has a private element to it with the exclusive "casetas" (stands) open only to members, there is always a place for visitors and outsiders as the city hall will sponsor public areas and streets will often overflow with entertainment.
There are a few events in other parts of Spain that attract Andalusians away from their corner of the country on occassion. Two examples are the Feria of San Fermín (the "Running of the Bulls") in Pamplona and the Tomatina in Valencia.
The Tomatina is possibly the world's largest food-fight. Every year, locals and thousands tourists alike meet in the Valencian city of Buñol. For over 60 years the town has been the site of a massive tomato fight in which over 100 tons of very ripe tomatoes are thrown during hours of mayhem in the streets of the small town. continue >>
Few events held in Spain hold international attention like the encierro or "The Running of the Bulls" during the Fiesta of San Fermín. Although it occurs a good distance away from Andalucia, many Andalucians make the yearly pilgrimage to the festivities as do Spaniards from other communidades as well. Many of the bulls used in the encierro and the subsequent bullfights are bred in Andalucia as well. San Fermín has become a national (if not international) celebration.
The Running of the Bulls was first made famous by the American writer Ernest Hemingway when he wrote about it in his novel The Sun Also Rises in 1926. However, the encierro is only one part of a yearly ritual that dominates the Basque town of Pamplona every July from the 6th to the 14th inclusively. San Fermín turns Pamplona upside-down for a week of drunken revelry.
The Fiesta of San Fermín actually stems from a religious basis although this might be difficult to believe if you choose to experience the all-night parties that characterise the happening. San Fermín is the patron saint of Navarra, the province to which Pamplona belongs. It is now fair to say that as many foreigners make the once-a-year pilgrimage as do Spaniards. The spectacle of the encierro is televised live every morning during the Fiesta and it is often the topic of conversation over a morning coffee. continue >>