For many visitors, taking part in a colourful festivals is one of the the top reasons for visiting Spain. Festivals take place in every village, town and city throughout Spain each and every month
Some of the best festivals in Spain have deep religious and historical meaning whilst others are simply meant for partying and having fun.
Our festival guide offers you information on the most popular and colourful festivals Spain has to offer including the famous La Tomatina, the Three Kings and the holy week processions.
A Spanish holiday should always include taking part in at least one top festival, fiesta or carnival.
So when planning your next holiday to Spain, check out our ultimate festival guide to help you find the best, colourful and bizarre festivals Spain has to offer.
La Tomatina – Tomato Festival
The Tomatina festival ranks as one of the best festivals in Spain and one of the most unique, held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the small town of Bunol in the region of Valencia.
La Tomatina has to be the biggest food fight you will ever take part in, This is where hundreds of tons of overripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets by thousands of festival-goers. It is typically a tomato war using ripe squashed tomatoes hurled between participants leaving everyone dripping with bright red sweet-smelling tomato juice.
There are no winners just people having fun and enjoying being part of this unusual Spanish festival. Your task is to grab ripe tomatoes and throw them at other revellers.
There are a few rules though, the main one being that you have to squash the tomatoes in your hands before you can throw them at someone.
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
One of the most famous colourful festivals in Spain is the carnivals of Santa Cruz de Tenerife held during the month of February of each year.
The carnival resembles those held in Brazil and features parades with floats and bands, the carnival costumes are stunning and a delight to see.
The parades move through the streets alongside energetic musical groups and well-dressed performers and the superbly dressed ladies who show off their rhythmic dance moves.
Some of the colourful costumes can weigh well over 100 kilos. They take months to prepare as well as the many hours of practice required to be able to move freely in such a huge costume.
San Fermin Fiestas Pamplona
The festival starts by setting off a big bang firework known as the Chupinazo from the mayor’s balcony.
The bull run starts from the Plaza Santo Domingo and winds through the ancient streets of Pamplona ending at the bullring.
This is one of the most popular, if not risky, festivals held in Spain and the most represented by global visitors seeking the undeniable rush you get from being chased by an angry bull.
Semana Santa – Easter Holy Week
The Semana Santa holy week is among the most important religious festivals in Spain, where Catholics mourn the final days of Christ on earth and the grief of the Virgin Mary.
It is held on the week leading to Easter Sunday, throughout the entire week, processions parade along prepared routes in most towns, cities and villages in Spain.
The climax of the celebrations is the Good Friday processions where the floats leave the churches and are carried throughout the night to their final destination.
The Fallas of Valencia
The Fallas of Valencia is visually one of the most spectacular Fiestas you will come across in Spain. In mid-March, Valencia lights up its streets for an entire week of celebration and parties.
Locals create giant paper mache figures representing notable people as well as traditional figures, these are then displayed in the city during the entire week.
The celebrations come to an enigmatic end when all the figures are burned down in one of the most amazing bonfires you will ever see.
The Great Wine Fight – La Batalla de Vino de Haro
This mighty wine fighting festival takes place each year in the picturesque village of Haro usually during the last week of June each year.
The location is the beautiful Rioja wine-growing region of northern Spain, for wine and party lovers this is must-visit festival in Spain.
It is held on St Peters day to honour the local wine production, and where locals and visitors climb a mountain and throw wine over each other, what could be more fun!
The region of Haro is one of Rioja’s top wine-producing municipalities with over 40% of the area’s vineyards located here, the producing of superior quality wine is the mainstay of the local economy and celebrated in style each year.
La Noche de San Juan – The Night of Saint John
If you’re into an all-night beach party and fun then the annual SanJuan festival is for you.
It is held around the 23rd of June each year, most notably in Andalucia where the warm temperatures make for a perfect all-night party.
This ancient pagan festival is now legendary for its night-long party atmosphere which includes music, dance and tremendous fun.
The night is all about fire and water and where young and old congregate to build small fires and enjoy the shortest night of the year.
According to tradition, to be cleansed and purified you must jump over a fire three times.
La Merce Festival Barcelona
This is Barcelona’s way of ushering in autumn and includes music, arts, acrobatic shows, and street processions among 500 fun activities.
The highlights of this important festival include the amazing Castellers – human towers – which takes place at the Placa de Jaume.
Try to get there early as many thousands of people pack out the town square to watch the building of the human towers culminating in youngsters climbing to the top.
This unique festival will surely remain in your memory long after you leave Barcelona.
Three Kings Day – January 6th
This festival is held between the evening of January 5th and the main event on the 6th which is a national holiday.
It is probably the most eagerly awaited festival by every child in the land.
Whole communities come out and participate in street processions where children are gifted with candy thrown from the floats.
The real fun comes in the form of colourful processions which take place in the early evening of the 6th January. Streets fill up with decorated floats meandering slowly through the towns throwing sweets into the crowds. A mad dash ensues by young ( and old ! ) to pick up the caramelos ( sweets ).
The main float carries the three kings bearing even more gifts which are duly thrown out at the children lining the streets.
San Isidro Madrid
May is a fun time to be in Madrid as the San Isidro festivals take over the city for the whole month.
During the day, the locals are treated to live music concerts in city squares, which later culminate in all-night parties.
The fiestas de San Isidro are one of the largest festivals in Spain so it’s well worth spending a few days in the capital to enjoy the huge variety of attractions and activities on offer.
The festival commemorates the patron saint of Madrid, San Isidro, and are eagerly awaited as they herald in springtime.
Lasting five days, visitors can enjoy over 50 concerts of varying musical styles plus theatre, street dance performers, children’s activities, street processions and lots more!
Seville April Fair
Probably one of the biggest and most important of the April festivals in Spain is the Seville April Fair ( La Feria de Abril ) held each year in Seville, the capital city of Andalucia. As the festival is held during Easter week the actual festival dates can vary each year so it is always best to check before booking your holiday.
The fair usually starts at Midnight on the Monday two weeks after the holy week ( Semana Santa ) and is the beginning of one of Spain’s, biggest parties lasting a whole week, ending the following Sunday with a spectacular fireworks display.
The city of Seville comes alive with the sight of thousands of local girls wearing colourful and stunning Flamenco dresses. In fact, people come from all over Andalucia, Spain and further afield each year to witness and be part of this unforgettable Spanish tradition.
The Easter holy festivals are celebrated all over Andalucia and are a highlight of the year for many town and villages with large numbers of the local population involved in the preparation of the large religious floats.
Cordoba Courtyard Festival – Fiesta de Los Patios
The courtyards festival is held during the first to weeks of May in Cordoba, this is where locals open up their colourful courtyards and patios to visitors to the city.
These are no ordinary courtyards though as these are full of late spring flowers offering an explosion of colours and smells.
The patios and courtyards can be found all around the city although the main areas to visit include the Alcázar Viejo district, between the Alcázar and the parish of San Basilio. They can also be seen close to the Church of San Lorenzo. La Magdalena, the Mosque-Cathedral and the old Jewish quarter.
The town hall organises competitions for the best courtyards dating back to 1921.
San Bernabe Festival Marbella
San Bernard is the patron saint of Marbella in Andalucia which celebrates in fine style the first week of June each year.
This week-long fair includes many traditional elements such as food, entertainment and gastronomy.
There are lots of familiar Casetas that are set up for the fair and where the parties go on all night long!
The actual Saint day of San Bernabe falls on the 1st June which is when the local festival takes place.
Visitors are treated to a spectacular firework display held near the beach area close to the El Fuerte Hotel at the eastern end of Marbella.