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FESTIVALS

What’s on in Spain: October 2014

Short days and cooler temperatures getting you down? Don't worry: there is still plenty going on across Spain as autumn sets in. Here The Local has rounded up some of the most exciting events across the country to keep you busy during October.

What's on in Spain: October 2014
Seafood festivals, human towers and night marathons, just some of the October events in Spain we have lined up for you. Photo: Ricardo Bernardo/ Jaume Escofet/Bilbao Night Marathon

Seafood Festival in O Grove (Galicia), 2nd-12th October: Ahoy seafood lovers! Ready to slurp up oysters and chew on octopus until your belly screams “enough, I can’t take any more deliciousness”? This “Fiesta in Honour of Seafood” couldn’t be held in a more appropriate setting – Galicia – with its quaint port towns and generous helpings.

Human Castle Competition in Tarragona (Catalonia), 28th September – 5th October: Prepare to be gobsmacked by the 'castells', an incredible feat which sees men, women and children (in that order) climb up on each other’s shoulders to form human towers six to ten tiers high. A UNESCO Cultural Heritage event since 2010, this Catalan tradition is usually accompanied by lively festivals and partying. 

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

International Video Gaming Fair in Madrid, 17th-19th October: Ready to play the coolest new games out on the market? Maybe you’re on the lookout for state-of-the-art gadgets and home entertainment systems not even in shops yet? Held in Madrid’s IFEMA Exhibition Centre for only three days, this fair is a must for videogame lovers.

Real Madrid – FC Barcelona, 25th October: The Clásico, the nail-biting football match everyone in Spain watches. This season’s first derby has the added advantage of being Luis Suárez’s first official match with Barça after his long ban for biting (things could get brutal). Try booking tickets now if you really want to watch it live at Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium. Otherwise, rest assured that pretty much every bar in Spain (and many thousands more around the world) will be showing it.

International Organ Festival in León, 19th-25th October: This atmospheric music festival has been held in Leon’s beautiful Cathedral for more than 30 years. Throughout that time it has gained international prestige and features some of the world’s best organ players, symphonic orchestras and solo singers.

Catalonia International Film Festival in Sitges, 3rd-12th October: If you missed out on San Sebastián’s Film Festival, here’s a chance to watch the best horror and fantasy films soon to premiere in Spain and abroad. There’s even a Sitges Zombie Walk, an undead-style carnival parade where anyone with a thirst for blood and guts can take part.

Night Marathon in Bilbao, 18th October: If you want to do a run with a difference make sure you book a place in this race, the only one in Spain that takes place at night.  It starts and ends at Bilbao’s emblematic Guggenheim museum, going along the Nervión river and through the city’s old quarter. There’s also a half marathon and an even shorter race.

Bilbao Night Marathon 2013 from Streetmarketing Event Company on Vimeo.

Virgen del Pilar Festival in Zaragoza, 4th to 13th of October: In honour of the city’s patron saint, Maños (as people from Spain's Aragón region are called) take to the streets to eat, drink and celebrate with their friends and families, year in year out.  The 12th is usually the biggest day of festivities but there are plenty more events held on the other days, including beer festivals, bullfights and carnival-like parades.

Medieval Festival in Elche (Alicante), October 23rd-2nd: For 10 days, this small Valencian city is transformed into a medieval settlement with tents, jesters and jousting. So if fancy taking a trip back through time or want to join your kids with all the fun and games, make sure you check it out!

Biennial Flamenco Festival in Sevilla, September 12th-October 5th: First held in 1980, this prestigious flamenco festival is celebrated every two years in the Andalusian city of Seville. The three-week long competition features the greatest dancers, vocalists and guitarists in the flamenco world, as well as as well as up-and-coming artists . Performances take place in different host venues throughout the city, mainly theatres but also in hotels or on the street. There are also courses, conferences and seminars. 

Coming up in November…

All Saints Day (Fiesta de Tosantos), Cadiz, November 1st
 
Football: Real Madrid v. Liverpool, Madrid, November 4th
 
Seville European Film Festival, Seville, November 7th-November 15th
 
International Kite Festival, Fuerteventura, November 6th – November 9th

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FESTIVALS

In Pictures: Spain’s Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause

Valencia's Fallas festival wrapped up with fireworks and the burning of colourful sculptures on Sunday after returning to the eastern Spanish city following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

In Pictures: Spain's Fallas festival returns after pandemic pause
Ninots (cardboard effigies) burn as one installation of the Fallas Festival is set alight in Valencia on September 5, 2021. Photos: José Jordan/AFP

The five-day festival is traditionally held in March but was cancelled last year as the Covid-19 pandemic swept Spain. This year, officials postponed the start of the UNESCO-recognised event until September 1st.

It was the first time that the festival was suspended since the end of Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War.

Each year, residents make hundreds of colourful puppet-like sculptures — some as big as a four-storey building — out of wood, plaster and papier-mache for the festival.

Called “ninots”, the sculptures depict fairytale characters and cartoonish effigies of politicians and celebrities.

One ensemble from this year’s event was inspired by the hit Spanish Netflix series “Money Heist”. It depicted several people wearing red overalls and Salvador Dali face masks like the main characters in the show.

The ninots are displayed in the streets of the Mediterranean city and then burned on the last day of the festival — in a bonfire called the “Cremà” — in a centuries-old tradition honouring St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

Fireworks lit up the night sky as this year’s bonfire, which features about 750 sculptures, was held without the thousands of spectators that the event usually draws.

The bonfire was brought forward by two hours to allow festivities to end before a nightly virus curfew came into effect at 1:00 am (2300 GMT).

After much debate a customary flower offering to the Virgin Mary was allowed to proceed — but without people lining the route, as is tradition.

“These are not Fallas as such, more like Fallas-related events that comply with health regulations,” said Valencia mayor Joan Ribo.

The Fallas festival is believed to have originated from pagan rituals marking the end of winter.

The pandemic has forced the cancellation of many of Spain’s most famous fiestas, including Pamplona’s bull-running festival and Seville’s Holy Week processions.

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