If you’re wondering what the best time to go to Spain is, consider lining up your travel plans with an epic Spanish festival! Because where else can you hurl tomatoes at people and get away with it like you can at La Tomatina? Discover Spain's many exciting cultural festivals - all worth designing your vacation plans around!
1. La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain
When to go: August
On a certain summery evening, shopkeepers around Plaza del Pueblo town square hang up sheets of plastic over their storefronts as they close for the day. The next morning, a few athletic hopefuls shimmy their way up a greased pole, at the top of which is a tasty looking piece of jamón. Twenty thousand people hold their breath in anticipation. Suddenly, water cannons boom and pandemonium ensues!
In moments, the entire town square is filled with thousands of locals and travellers covered in slippery tomato juice, pelting each other with tomatoes in the name of good fun (though officially, it’s in the name of the town’s two patron saints).
Nobody knows precisely how La Tomatina started, but the Spanish festival has been a hilarious tradition since the mid-1940s. Today, only 20,000 lucky folks can get tickets to this legendary food fight. Stay in nearby Valencia, where you can opt to join in the pre-fight fun or official after party, or just slip away to get a head start on the rest of your relaxing Spain holiday.
2. Las Fallas de Valencia in Valencia, Spain
When to go: March
For some, the coming of spring is recognized with planting gardens and cleaning out the garage. But in Valencia, it’s not really spring until you’ve seen massive papier-mache caricatures of the year’s most noteworthy socio-political figures go up in flames.
Las Fallas de Valencia is a week-long celebration of spring, marked by parades, fireworks, flower offerings, and of course, La Crema, or the burning of intricately designed fallas (a display of multiple papier-mache ninot figures).
But if you miss the fiery fun, you can always head to the Museo Fallero (Fallas Museum) in Plaza Manteolivete, Valencia. The exhibition features every ninot inultat (pardoned ninot) that has been voted as best in show and saved from the flames since the 1930s.
3. Feria de Abril in Seville, Spain
When to go: April
Seville comes to life for Feria de Abril! Walk down Calle del Infierno (Hell’s Street) for family-friendly carnival rides and lively parades, and appreciate the traditional outfits worn with pride by Sevillanos dancing and circling the grounds by horse and carriage. Feria de Abril is the perfect time to soak up every bit of Sevillano culture.
But the best part is that the streets are lined with a thousand casetas, which host mini parties within the party. Most are by invite only, but anyone can join the revelry in the 6 large public casetas, 1 for each of Seville’s regions. Inside, enjoy flamenco and Sevillana dancing, spirits, tapas, and all-around fun until the wee hours of the morning.
4. Patio Festival (Courtyard Festival) in Cordoba, Spain
When to go: May
While most Spanish festivals involve throngs of people and plenty of noise, there are certainly celebrations for travellers with calmer inclinations. Perhaps the most beautiful is the Patio Festival in Cordoba, a part of the religious May Crosses Festival.
Since 1918, Cordoba neighbours fill their courtyards with hanging florals and potted plants, and invite visitors to admire the colourful arrangements. Some families perform traditional singing and flamenco guitar tunes while visitors enjoy the view.
Of course, there’s a splash of friendly competition, with the best-liked patio display receiving an award every year. The Patio Festival has been a recognized UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2012, and remains one of the best ways to spend a day touring the region by foot, with a camera in hand.
5. Festa de la Filoxera in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain
When to go: September
Children dressed up as bugs are parading the streets, people in masks are waltzing in circles - what’s happening here? If you’re in cava wine country in September, you’ve probably stumbled upon one of Spain’s quirkiest festivals: Festa de la Filoxera in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.
The festival celebrates the downfall of the phylloxera, a pest which had been the bane of cava vineyard owners until a clever solution for the plague was found in 1926. Kid-friendly fun and games, parades, and re-enactments of the victory against the insects are all part of the celebrations, but they wouldn’t be complete without some cork-popping, papier-mache-burning excitement at night.
Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is less than an hour’s drive from Barcelona, and it makes for a wonderful day-trip to sample the best of cava country’s sparkling wines, even if you miss the festival.
Our Expert Travellers can create the perfect itinerary for your Spanish getaway, from festivals to food tours to fabulous hotels. Start planning your perfect Better Beach holiday today.