Festivals are a rich vibrant and deeply ingrained part of Spanish culture. To experience a taste of that sexy Latin music, colorful Flamenco dancing, delicious tapas, and the contagious passion and energy that courses through the veins of every Spaniard, we’ve curated the best fiestas in Spain worth traveling for. Not that you ever really need a reason to be seduced by beautiful, historic, pulsating Espana.
Las Fiestas de San Isidro, Madrid
Diary Date: Las Fiestas de San Isidro in San Isidro Park, runs May 6 – 15 annually.
The festival honors the life of San Isidro Labrador, the patron Saint of Madrid who according to legend performed over one hundred miracles. Today this legacy is celebrated with a week-long fiesta spread throughout the city that combines that contagious Latin energy with a touch of spirituality. Think traditional flamenco dancing, open air concerts at Plaza Mayor and Oeste Park rose garden, fireworks over Retiro Park and street stalls selling tapas and churros (those addictive Spanish donuts).
Hotels + Resorts: Stay at The Principal Madrid Hotel for its central location and striking Spanish Renaissance style.
Eat + Drink: Whet your appetite with a traditional limonada – a classic Spanish refresher of wine, lemon, sugar and chopped fruit. And make sure you try rosquillas, Spanish style doughnuts that come glazed (listas), covered in meringue (de Santa Clara) or almonds francesas). For dinner make a reservation at Cinco Jotas to enjoy some of the world’s most exclusive Iberian ham.
Festival de San Fermin, Pamplona
Diary Date: Festival de San Fermin runs July 6 – 14 annually.
The San Fermin Festival (aka the famed running with the bulls), takes place every July in Pamplona, a city that links the mountainous north Spain with the Ebro valley. The race starts at 8am from the slope of Santo Domingo Street – though spectators line the cobble-stoned streets from 3am for their chance to run alongside the bulls as they race toward the legendary Plaza de Toros for the traditional Spanish bullfight which is followed by an evening of Spanish style festivities and parties.
Hotels + Resorts: The Gran Hotel La Perla has 40 balcony rooms overlooking Calle Estafeta, the festival’s longest street, so expect to have one of the best seats in the house.
Eat + Drink: Book a table at Rodero, a family run business, helmed by a Michelin star chef right by the stadium. Order the pink tomato with melon and cardamom.
La Tomatina, Buñol
Diary Date: La Tomatina has been celebrated in Buñol on the last Wednesday of every August since 1945.
As its name suggests, La Tomatina in Buñol – a town known for its caves, rivers and natural swimming pools – is a good old fashioned tomato fight. A truck full of tomatoes arrives in the town center and the fight begins when a participant climbs to the top of a two-storey greased wooden pole to reach the prized ham. It’s believed this local tradition started to pay homage to legendary food fights that happened in the forties.
Hotels + Resorts: Stay at Caro Hotel, a boutique hotel that fuses modern design with centuries-old architectural elements.
Eat + Drink: If you’ve had enough tomatoes book a reservation at Las Bairetas to indulge in a Spanish rice dish cooked over a pine wood fire, we love paella Valenciana.
Fallas of Valéncia, Valéncia
Diary Date: Fallas of Valéncia runs March 1 – 19 annually.
Fallas is an age-old tradition founded by the old carpenters of Valéncia, a port city along Spain’s southeastern coast. The festival begins on 1 March with a grand display of firecrackers known as mascletà and culminates with the burning of hand carved wooden sculptures and monuments to celebrate the arrival of spring around March 19 (the winning monument is saved from the fire).
Hotels + Resorts: The luxury boutique hotel, Hospes Palau de la Mar housed in a refurbished 19th century palace sits on one of the most picturesque streets in Valéncia.
Eat + Drink: Book a table at Sucede, a Michelin star restaurant that celebrates the history of the city through food. Try the tasting menu where chef’s literally walk you through the cuisine and time.
Feria de Sevilla, Seville
Diary Date: Runs every April after Holy Week.
This week-long festival known as Semana Santa in Seville, Spain’s largest city, originated in the mid-1800s as a livestock market. Today the fiesta is devoted to celebrating Seville’s tradition and history, so expect to see locals traditional costume horse and carriage rides, flamenco dancing and a delectable assortment of Spanish food, drinks and music. Ole!
Hotels + Resorts: Sat at the historic Hotel Alfonso XIII, an opulent, palatial style hotel that you have to see to believe.
Eat + Drink: Head to the trendy Mamarracha for an elevated tapas fix, we love the focaccia with marinated pork, but it’s all good.