Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, Flamenco is undoubtedly one of Spain´s greatest cultural assets. It is an ancient art that has received influences from the different settlers that inhabited the South of Spain, especially Andalusia. Thus, Flamenco is considered a fusion art form which main aspects are singing (known as cante) and dancing.
We can take you to the best Flamenco shows in Spain where you will be able to see Spain’s greatest Flamenco dancers perform. Or you can also try one of our exclusive flamenco lessons or even have a private flamenco fiesta just for you to enjoy.
Can you imagine feeling all the excitement of the world of bullfighting? Would you like to see how these animals are reared, and spend an enjoyable day at a bull farm? Then come to Spain with us, because as well as attending spectacular bullfights and take part in enjoyable traditional fiestas, you´ll have the chance to visit the most exclusive Spanish “bravo” bull farms and watch these magnificent animal at its natural habitat and learn everything about this symbol of Spanish culture. An unforgettable experience.
Bullfighting in Spain traces its origins to 711 A.D., with the first official bullfight, or “corrida de toros,” being held in honor of the coronation of King Alfonso VIII. Once part of the Roman Empire, Spain owes its bullfighting tradition in part to gladiator games. At first, bullfighting was done on horseback and was reserved for Spanish aristocracy, but King Felipe V ended this trend because he believed it was in poor taste for nobles to practice such a bloody sport. Commoners continued to develop bullfighting on foot with smaller weapons. The art of dodging and stabbing the bull grew into its present form around 1724, and matadors today still cling to a traditionally strict code of conduct.
The oldest bullring in Spain is located in the southern town of Ronda, but cities like Madrid (Las Ventas), Seville (La Maestranza) and Pamplona also have a rich bullfighting legacy and some of the largest rings in the world.
Bullfighting season in Spain lasts from spring through autumn, with Sundays typically the biggest day. Ask us for tickets if you are interested and we will get you the most exclusive ones.
The festival of San Fermin or the Pamplona bull running, as it’s more commonly known outside Spain, officially begins at midday on 6th July with the ‘chupinazo’, which takes place on the balcony of the Casa Consistorial in Pamplona. Thousands of people congregate in the square awaiting the mayor’s official announcement that the fiestas have begun, a rocket is launched and the partying begins.
The history of bullrunning in Pamplona is not clear. There is evidence of the festival from as far back as the 13th century when it seems the events took place in October as this matched with the festival of San Fermin on October 10th. The Pamplona Council proposed that the whole event be moved to July 7th when the weather is far more conducive to such a celebration. To this day San Fermin remains a fixed date every year with the first bullrun at 8 AM on July 7th and the last at the same time on July 14th.
It was thanks to the writing of the American writer Ernest Hemingway that San Fermin developed the fame it has today. The publication of his novel “The Sun Also Rises” in 1926 told the world about the Pamplona bull running festival which attracted people from all over the world to this annual festival. Such is the popularity of the event that overcrowding is a serious problem and if you’re planning on staying there, then you should book accommodation many months in advance.
The Pamplona bullrun takes place at 8 AM every morning from 7th to 14th July. Runners must be in the running area by 7.30 AM. The actual run stretches from the corral at Santo Domingo where the bulls are kept, to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. The length of the run is 825 metres and the average time of the run from start to finish is about three minutes. The streets through the old town which make up the bullrun are walled off so the bulls can’t escape. Each day six fighting bulls run the route as well as two herds of bullocks. The tension builds as the release of the bulls approaches and at 8 AM on the dot, a rocket is fired to confirm that the gate has been opened at the Santo Domingo corral. Runners dressed in white with a red handkerchief around their necks pray to San Fermin then a second rocket announces that the bulls have left. The bulls and the runners then proceed along the route.
Watching the Bull Run
You can stand behind the fences that mark the route of the bullrun but you need to arrive by around 6.30 AM to get the best spots on the top of the fence directly overlooking the run. Another good spot is in front of the museum on c/ Santo Domingo where there isn’t a fence but the best spots here are usually taken before 6 AM leaving you with a cold two hour wait before the run starts.
A great alternative is to get yourself into one of our exclusive private balconies overlooking the bullrun. Feel free to ask us.
The holy week in Seville is one of the most important events that take place each year at this city. It is celebrated in the week of the first full moon of spring, few weeks before of another big famous event; “The April fair of Seville”. The Holy week of this city also makes a great international impact on the Catholic World.
The Holy Week covers from “Palm Sunday” to the next Sunday, which is called “The resurrection Sunday”. During this week, 59 brotherhoods have a procession with images showing “The Passion of Christ”.
There are a lot of Sevillians that follow the procession, wearing the classic “Nazareno habit” and also crosses and wax candles. Others make a “penance stage”, this means, to carry on their shoulders the religion throne, walking around the city with this and showing the throne to all Seville.
Why not experience this festivity with us?
Spring brings an explosion of light and brilliance in festivities like the classically Andalusian Feria de Abril.
Like in most of the other ferias in Spain at different times of the year, la Feria is a week given over to the local color of the city’s folklore and to unrestrained expression of joy and happiness.
Fiesta all day and night, with the colorfulness of the typical Andalusian dresses, the horses with their best garlands, the shows, the circus, tombolas, music, singing, flamenco, sevillanas, tapas, drinking and eating, bullfighting, people all around “el recinto ferial” (place where la Feria takes place) There’s a great atmosphere everywhere. Ask us and for an authentic insider access during this festivity.
Lights, gunpowder, monuments, flowers, traditional costumes, music, satire, emotions and a great deal of fun are the ingredients of a unique cocktail known as the Fallas.
In the middle of the Mediterranean coast, Valencia, celebrates each year the final days of winter and the arrival of spring with spectacular fires and pyrotechnics. From March 15th to 19th (the feast of Saint Joseph, day of the father in the whole country), Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiesta, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire.
Displayed on every corner all over the city are colourful Ninots, giant papier-mâché figures often 20 feet tall or even more that have been paraded through the streets and then placed in fantasy groups to tower over excited spectators. Each one in some way satirises a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination. Some of them are grotesque – others playful and charming – all are larger than life and up for public scrutiny.
Every day at 2 PM firecrackers rip through the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in a noisy event called la Mascleta. This concert of gunpowder is very popular and involves different neighborhood groups competing for the most impressive volley, ending with the terremoto, (literally means “earthquake”) as hundreds of masclets exploting simultaneously. While this may not be for the frail or faint-fainthearted, you understand how hearted, the Valencians got their valiant name.
Another important event is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, a beautiful ceremony every March 17th and 18th that honors Valencia’s patron Virgin. Thousands of Falleras and Falleros arrive to the city from every corner of the Comunitat (Valencia State) and take the streets wearing traditional costumes and dancing to their neighborhood or village bands as they wend their way to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer bouquets to the giant image of the Virgin.
Historians say that the origins of the festival go back to the time when carpenters cleared out their workshops and talleres at the end of winter, throwing out odds and ends of wood and old candles and lighting them on the street the day of Saint Joseph.
Nowadays, celebrations draw to an end with a fabulous firework display in the Paseo de la Alameda, called the Nit del Foc (literally “The Night of Fire”), on March 18th. All Fallas burn all over the city on the Crema night (except the winner of the competition) in a tremendous spectacle of fire and joy. Valencia is at that moment like Nero’s Rome, a city in flames. That’s why Valencians call this the best firework fiesta in the world! Don´t miss it!
Spain is the nation of “Fiesta”. There are Spanish festivals all over the country in every city, town and village. Below we’ve listed some of the most famous ones by month. Specific dates of festivals may vary.
The Festividad de San Sebastian is the celebration of Lord Wellington’s capture of the city of San Sebastian from French troops in 1812.
The Seville Tapas Fair is a chance to savour a feast of Spanish snacks in the world capital of tapas. In Cadiz, Tenerife, Barcelona and Sitges it’s Carnaval with huge celebrations involving fancy dress costumes and dance.
The Festival de Jerez is a flamenco festival with some of Spain’s top performers. In Valencia it’s the Fallas de San José where there are huge street parties with incredible fireworks every night and the burning of the fallas (papier-mache effigies of famous people) on the last day.
Some of Spain’s biggest festivals take place during April and May starting with Holy Week (Semana Santa) which is important nationwide but is especially recommended in Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga. The celebration of Holy Week is the highlight of the year in Andalucia with teams of parish members carrying enormous religious floats.
In Alcoy, Alicante it’s the festival of the Moros y Cristianos where you’ll see mock battles between Moors and Christians. Back in Seville, two weeks after Easter it’s Spain’s biggest annual party at the Seville April Fair (La Feria de Abril). It’s also the Romería de Andújar in Andalucia, a mass pilgrimage to a shrine of the Virgin.
In Granada and Cordoba it’s the festival of the Cruces de Mayo where large crosses adorn parishes and the locals party in the streets. Cordoba continues its parties with the Fiesta de los Patios, a competition to find the city’s most beautiful flower covered patio. Then shortly afterwards it’s the Feria de Cordoba, a fiesta of flamenco and all things Spanish that now rivals Seville’s April Fair in size. The famous Feria del Caballo, Jerez’s Horse Fair is also this month.
Up in Madrid it’s the world’s largest bullfight festival plus plenty cultural events and parties as Madrileños celebrate San Isidro, the Patron Saint of the capital.
An enormous yet little known festival outside Spain is La Romería del Rocio which is a pilgrimage of upto a million people who travel on foot or by horse and carriage to the shrine of the Virgin at El Rocio in Huelva. Corpus Christi is celebrated to varying degrees all over the country most notably in Toledo and Seville. In Granada it’s the International Festival of Music and Dance whilst the Hogueras de San Juan (midsummer bonfires and fireworks) are celebrated in the south especially Alicante. At the end of the month the annual Sonar Festival takes place in Barcelona attracting huge crowds to this premier electronic music and digital arts event.
The Festival de Cordoba is an International guitar festival that takes place in the gardens of the Alcazar. In Pamplona it’s San Fermin, the famous running of the bulls which always begins on July 7th for a week. San Sebastian attracts some of the top jazz performers to its annual San Sebastian Jazz Festival.
If you’re on the south coast on 16th you’ll come across a range of different celebrations of the Día de la Virgen de Carmen. Most commonly you’ll see a statue of the Virgin carried in from the sea by a flotilla of fishing boats often with some impressive firework displays.
On the 25th it’s the Día de Santiago in with the celebration of the Feast of St James when thousands of pilgrims who have walked the Camino de Santiago congregate in Santiago de Compostela where the Saint’s tomb lies in the Cathedral.
One of Spain’s maddest festivals is La Tomatina Tomato Festival in Bunyol near Valencia which is the world’s biggest tomato fight. Comparable with the Seville April Fair is Malaga’s Feria de Malaga which is an enormous 10 day part down on the south coast. Cambados in Galicia hosts the Albariño wine fair where you can sample some of Galicia’s finest white wines. The Elx Mystery Play dates back to the 13th century and is one of Spain’s oldest cultural events.
Jerez de la Frontera celebrates its wine harvest with the Jerez sherry festival which begins on the first Saturday of September every year. Known locally as the Fiestas de Otoño, this is a three week party involving sherry, horses and flamenco.
Also during the first week of September is the Feria Goyesca de Pedro Romero in Ronda where all the townsfolk and the matadors at the weekend bullfight are dressed in typical 18th century costumes.
Catalunya celebrates Cava week, a festival dedicated to the fine Catalan version of champagne whilst Barcelona city celebrates the Festes de la Merce, a huge fiesta with processions, fireworks and dance performances.
In Sueca, Valencia there is a Fiesta del Arroz which is basically a paella festival whilst in Logroño, the centre of the Rioja wine region, it’s the Fiesta de San Mateo which is yet another grape harvest festival.
After all the activities of the summer months things tend to calm down this month. The biggest event this month is in Zaragoza when the Pilar Festival celebrates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to St James. The event coincides with Hispanidad, a nationwide fiesta commemorating Columbus’s landing in the Americas.
The month begins with the sombre occasion of All Saints Day (Todos Los Santos) when Spanish people from all over the country return to their birthplaces to remember their deceased relatives. There are various film festivals during the month and an alcohol fuelled Fiesta del Orujo in Cantabria which is a great place party with the locals.
Christmas in Spain is a family affair with Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) a very quiet night when all families get together for dinner. After midnight on Noche Vieja (New Years Eve) is as raucous in Madrid’s cities as elsewhere in Europe.