Heritage Edition – Spain’s Festivals


Image via Valencia Bonita

Belen Garcia, Writer

Spain is well known for its good weather, beaches, and gastronomy. Something that also stands out a lot is the atmosphere of its cities every time there is a holiday, no matter if it is national, regional, or local. Today I am going to talk about the three Spanish festivals that you can’t miss if you ever visit Spain. 


Starting in chronological order, at the beginning of the year, we have the Fallas of Valencia, a regional holiday that was included 4 years ago by UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Fallas is a holiday that lasts for 5 days, even though the preparation starts two weeks earlier. Las Fallas is a party with many different attractions for the public. It receives an average of 1 million foreign tourists. Its best attraction gives the party its name, the Fallas. Fallas artists spend the whole year designing and building the Fallas to be admired for five days, and then burn them in “La Crema,” on March 19th. Fallas was born as a way to destroy old furniture, and over time it evolved to become true works of art. The week from the 14th to the 19th is celebrated in honor of the father of Christ, who was a carpenter, a profession that in some cases for certain people evolves into Fallas artists. Another great attraction of these parties is the Mascletà, a sound show that I would not recommend for people with sensitive hearing or animals. There is also the decoration of the streets, especially the Swedish street, a show of lights and music. Another of its greatest attractions that you cannot miss is the castle of lights, an incredible fireworks display. The Fallas also have their own elaborate typical costume and the offering where all the falleros parade with flowers through the city of Valencia until they reach the plaza de la Virgen Maria, where they deposit the flowers until they build a virgin mary of flowers worth seeing.


The April Fair, a regional holiday in Seville, Andalucia begins, on the night of the Alumbrao, the inaugural moment when all the fairground lights are lit. This is also the night the traditional pescaíto Frito (fried fish) is tasted in the stands. After a week of constant celebration, the Fair concludes with a great fireworks display over the Guadalquivir River. Flamenco music and dance cover the entire city of Seville, with its typical costumes and live music on every corner  


The Carnival of Tenerife in the Canary Islands is full of rhythm, color, flamboyance, luxury, and of course, the most brilliant spectacle. The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the most Brazilian of all the Spanish carnivals, and it is famous all over the world for its popular flavor. For fifteen days, the streets of the city come alive with joie de vivre, freedom, and extravagance. Those who participate in Tenerife’s Carnival take it very seriously; some businesses cut back hours or even close while the festival is going on. The dazzling costumes and endless dancing are part of the spectacle, and you should definitely consider going in costume because you might feel a bit out of place in normal clothing. As much fun as the parades and street entertainments are to watch, it’s much more fun to join in. Go in drag or as your favorite cartoon character. 


The first real spectacle of the week is the Gala Reina, the selection of the Carnival Queens. While the girls are lovely, the main emphasis is on the costume … it’s easy to miss the contestant under the feathers, beads, and satin! If you can’t get tickets to any of the competitions head to one of the Mogollones. These open-air Carnival parties feature live entertainment and Latin and Salsa music. With tens of thousands of attendees, this will be one of the wildest parties you’ve ever attended. Then go and watch the ‘Cabalgata’, the Grand Parade, from the terraces. The winners of the competitions mount floats that are every bit as extravagant as their costumes and they’re joined by dance troupes that have rehearsed for months. 


There are way more national Spanish traditional parties but these three are the most popular and representative in my opinion. The carnival is a cheerful high party environment perfect to go with friends, while the Fair of April is definitely the best representation party of Spanish cultures but my favorite, and maybe I’m a little bit biased because I grow up in this city are the Fallas of Valencia, which I would say is a perfect party to go with your family. However the environment at night is also perfect to go with friends, is not crazy cheerful like the carnival of Tenerife but is a party like the Fair of April, and Valencia itself is a beautiful city to go visit and as someone who has grown up in the city the environment during the Fallas week is simple something incredibly.