The Spanish tomato tussle in the streets (the tomatina), or the mad running with the bulls in Pamplona have been well-documented in travel journals. But many of Spain’s weird and highly unusual festivals pass by year on year unnoticed. It’s difficult for traveller’s to catch some of these popular festivals because of their small-town location or simply because they’re just not talked about, but we’re here to let you in on a few…
Take, for example, the occasion happens in Castrillo de Murcia, Sasamon, Burgos every year, where there is an event known as the ‘baby jumping’ festival. The Colacho – a man pretending to be the devil – leaps over new born babies who are laid out on mattresses by their mothers, who stand on the side line encouraging the Colacho to rid their children of evil spirits. To finish, unwed women from the area rush to pass the babies back to their mothers, believing this will put them in good stead to get married.
Slightly messier is the meringue batter battle that takes place in Vilanova i La Geltrú. On the last Thursday before Lent in Barcelona, children are handed out free meringue pies by local bakeries to take to the streets and torment each other with. The festival ends by a ceremonial burying of the sardine, and lent begins.
It would be a travesty to all budding alcoholics not to mention that Spain is home to one particularly spectacular wine festival. On June 19th each year, local people gather together and douse each other with buckets full of wine. This event takes place in La Rioja, where trucks filled with wine are on hand to fill up empty water pistols and other wine-attack weapons of choice.
One of the more culturally explainable is the festival of the Three Kings. This celebration, where three kings ride through towns bearing sweets for the children, takes place in almost every town across Spain. Two particularly special locations, however, are Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje in Tenerife, where the kings arrive in particularly flash style. In Los Cristianos, it’s on horseback, via boat, arriving into the town’s harbour like A-list celebs. In Costa Adeje, the kings are whizzed down in a whirlwind of propeller wings, via helicopter. If you decide to make a visit to the south of the island to watch the parades, check out the other events and things to do close by; trips such as whale watching and Harley tours will definitely make the travel time worthwhile.
In Piornal on Saint Sebastian’s Day, festival-goers take to the street and battle with slightly less safety-friendly weapons and ammunition. The Jarramplas (a devil-like creature) is forced to run through the streets as turnip-wielding festival attendants pelt him or her with the hard, uncooked vegetables. As far as reports go, the Jarramplas usually survives this festival, and the turnips are a necessary means to ward off negativity. Presumably the throwing also goes a little way to winding down some of the testosterone levels in the village, too.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of a small town festival in Spain that people deserve to know about, let us know!
I’m a travel blogger currently trying to evade death by crushing each morning on London’s monstrous tube system.