Spain is a festive country and Spring hosts some of the most popular and most famous events! Spring Festivals in Spain include Carnaval in Cadiz, Semana Santa, La Feria de abril in Sevilla and Las Fallas in Valencia. Read on to learn more!
Carnaval de Cadiz
This Spring festival in Spain is one of the most popular and most fun! This Carnaval is marked by humor, sarcasm and satire as a way to release the tension that the problems of the world can cause. This 2 week-long event usually takes place at the end of February through the beginning of March. However, the pandemic has caused the carnival to be postposed to June this year.
One of the things that makes it so fun is that people dress up in costumes of all sorts, from simple to elaborate. People will paint their faces or wear masks. There are bands, music, street food and people come from all over!
Another fun characteristic is the singing groups called “chirigotas”. They create their own songs to satirize the different problems in Spain or in the world- from political to environmental and everything in between. They participate in fierce competitions, and the audience loves them! This is a Spring Festival in Spain that is not to be missed!
Semana Santa means Holy Week, and it is a Spring Festival that takes place all over Spain. Sevilla has the most famous Holy Week celebrations. This religious event takes place the week before Easter. As Spain is a country with about 70% of it’s population being Catholic, Semana Santa is probably the most important religious holiday.
Procesiones, or religious parades, are common and draw large crowds. The parades leading up to Easter Sunday are solemn events. Depending on your location in Spain, some will have music and others will be mainly silent. “Los penitentes” are robed and hooded figures who walk in the parade. Their dress is often quite striking to Americans because their hoods remind us of what the members of the Klu Klux Klan wears. Fortunately, the Penitentes and their dress are not at all related to the KKK!
Another thing people will see in the procesiones is people carrying big floats called “tronos” with religious figures covered in flowers. The biggest of these floats can weigh up to 11,000 lbs and take as many as 250 people to carry them!! Semana Santa ends with a joyous parade and an important mass at the local church on Easter Sunday, marking the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
Las Fallas de Valencia
Las Fallas in the city of Valencia is another unique and interesting festival! The people of Valencia build wooden representations of people, called “ninots”, and after all of their hard work and artistry- they burn them down!
The tradition started years ago by carpenters who were excited for the arrival of spring. They would burn the wooden stands they used to prop up their lights, which they needed to continue their work in the wintertime with shortened periods of daylight. This tradition has evolved over the years into something quite spectacular!
This event runs from March 2-March 19. A daily event is the masceta, which is a sound show of special fireworks designed to make different kinds of noises. In the town square at 2 pm every day, people gather to hear the show!
March 15th and 16th are busy days! All of the structures must be finished by the morning of the 16th because that is when they are judged and prizes are awarded. That means on the night of the 15th, giant ninots are being moved into position from wherever they were being built! There are often more than 750 monuments and a variety of different categories for people to enter their creations! Only 1 will be saved from burning!
Towards the end of this Spring Festival- the last 4 days or so, fireworks are set off each night. People look forward to this nightly event, and on the 18th, the biggest and best show takes place! On the 18th, people gather in the town square to build an enormous monument covered in flowers as an offering to the Patron Saint of Valencia, La Virgen de Desamporados.
The feria ends on March 19th, when all but the best of the best fallas must be burned. It’s a little sad to see people’s amazing artistic creations go up in flames. But spectators often say that the burning of the monuments is its own form of beauty, and not to be missed!
Curiously, March 19th is also Father’s Day in Spain!
La Feria de abril
La Feria de Abril also takes place in Sevilla, and is considered the most important event of the year for that city. It takes place for an entire week, 2 weeks after Easter. Therefore, sometimes the April fair is actually celebrated in May!
The Feria is characterized by the construction of a huge arced entrance that is illuminated on the first night of the fair. Everyone comes to see the lighting! This night, it is traditional to eat the famous fried fish.
The streets of the fairground are covered with yellow sand. More than 1,000 “casetas” are set up. Casetas are like big tents, and people serve food, drink and play music. **Be aware of this important note! Usually, only locals can get into the casetas to eat and drink. They are privately owned, and you must be invited to enter. Many tourists find this very off-putting, but visiting La feria de abril may be worth it anyway to experience all the sights and sounds.
Other hallmarks of this Spring Festival in Spain include women dressed in traditional flamenco dresses, men in their “trajes cortos”, traditional flamenco attire for men, flamenco music and dancing in the streets, and bull fighting and fireworks at night.
Resources You May Like
Try incorporating some of the culture students learn about Springtime in Spain by using one of these resources! Or check out the blog post about Christmas below!