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What’s on in Spain: December 2014

As the countdown to the new year in Spain begins, The Local rounds up the best sports, arts and cultural activities in the country to keep you entertained during the short days of December.

What's on in Spain: December 2014
Bonfires will blaze all over Spain to light up the longest night of the year on December 21st. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Arts

Cartagena International Film Festival, December 7th – 13th. Held every year since 1972 in Murcia's Cartagena, the festival focuses on up-and-coming film makers from Spain.

Almería En Corto: International Festival Of Film Shorts, December 2nd – 6th. A range of parallel festival activities for fans complements the on-screen action as film-makers compete for prizes in different categories.

Exhibition: Young Velázquez, Seville, October 15th 2014 – January 15th 2015. Your chance to check out the first public exhibition of a newly discovered 1616-1617 work by the Seville-born artist Diego Velásquez. "The Education of the Virgin" was found in Yale University and restored in 2010.

Gospel Greats, Barcelona, December 5th – 20th.  Some of the world's greatest gospel choirs and solo singers will provide inspiration and entertainment at this festival, with events taking place at different venues around Catalonia.

Exhibition: Sorolla, The Colour Of The Sea, Majorca, October 9th 2014 – February 8th 2015. CaixaForum Palma presents an exhibition of works by Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla. The works chosen all showcase Sorolla's mastery of painting the sea.

Joaquin Sorolla's paiting Children on the Beach. Photo: AFP

Culture

University "New Year's Eve" party, Salamanca, December 11th. OK, so it's not on New Year's Eve but this massive party on December 11th could still leave you with a hangover on January 1st. Join an international crowd of over 45,000 people to usher the Christmas season in with style.

Winter Solstice, all over Spain, December 21st. Bonfires will blaze all over Spain to light up the year's shortest day but those in Robledo de Chavela (near Madrid), Olombrada (near Segovia), Castrillo de Don Juan (near Palencia) and Viniegra de Abajo (near La Rioja) are all particularly noteworthy.

Madrid Christmas Market, Plaza Mayor, November 28th to December 31st. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit in the Spanish capital, this is the place to come for trinkets, gifts and nativity scenes.  

Sport

Canary Islands Olympic Sailing Week, December 4th – 8th. A week of exciting regattas, featuring Olympic sailors of over 10 different nationalities.

Champions League: FC Barcelona – PSG, Barcelona, December 10th. The two favourites from group F go head-to-head in the iconic Camp Nou stadium, featuring some of the biggest names in world football including Messi, Suárez, Ibrahimovic and Neymar.

Buff Epic Run, Barcelona, December 21st. A crazy combination of an eight kilometre (five-mile) fun run, obstacle course and fancy dress event, the Buff Epic Run at Montjuic castle sees participants scramble through mud pits and over tyres while dressed in themed costumes. Places are limited but if you miss out you can just go and watch.

Polar Bear Swim, Gibraltar, December 26th. Join the brave souls wading into the cold water at Catalan Bay on Boxing Day. Those who indulge in the shiver-inducing dip will be treated to hot brandy, mince pies and a Polar Bear Certificate.

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WHATS ON

What’s on in Spain: Seven reasons to love September

From Roman battle re-enactments to literary festivals, there are lots of great events happening in Spain this September.

What's on in Spain: Seven reasons to love September
Photo: Mimsueca.com

Fiestas

Carthaginians and Romans Festival, Cartagena, Murcia (September 20th – 29st) 


Photo: Spain.info

Originally from Lebanon, the Cathaginians fled to the Mediterranean after they were invaded and became seafaring traders.  It was too bad that the Romans also fancied a bit of maritime trade – as well as conquering more and more land – and this fiesta in Cartagena involves re-enactments of the warfare, eventually to be won by the Romans.

Fiestas de la Mare de Deu de la Salut Algemesí, Valencia (September 7th -8th)


Photo: Juanjo Ripollés / Flickr

This festival dates back to the Middle Ages and has now been recognised by UNESCO has an Intangible Cultural Heritage event. More than 1400 people participate in the main event – a parade of giants, featuring King James I of Aragon, his wife and many figures from the bible.  as with any Valencia festivals, paella is a main component and be sure to try some of the local seafood varieties.

Fiesta De La Mercé, Barcelona (September 20th – 24th)


Photo: Miquel González / Flickr

Free music concerts are held for this festival which is held in honour of the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy.  Expect the usual Catalan partying – sardana-dancing, fireworks and human towers galore. 

Culture

San Sebastián International Film Festival, Basque Country (September 20th – 28th)

In late September San Sebastian proudly host their world famous film festival and this year, Hollywood legend Donald Sutherland will be receiving a lifetime achievement award.
 
 
Literature
 
Hay Festival Segovia, Segovia (September 19th -22nd)
 

The city of Segovia hosts this prestigious international literary event which was created in 1998 and brings together approximately fifty acclaimed authors and artists from different countries.

For four days, readings, talks and discussions on books and literature fill different venues and halls around the city. And this year the Hay Festival has extended its programme to include exhibitions, concerts, film sessions and a whole series of cultural activities, thus turning the event into a genuine celebration of the arts.

 
Theatre

International Mime Festival, Sueca in Valencia. (September 18th – 22nd)


Photo: Mimsueca.com

The only festival in Spain dedicated exclusively to gestural theatre, it is considered one of the three most important in Europe.  With events for wannabe clowns to performances in mime, pantomime, clowning and circus techniques, there is lots of fun for all the family.

Sport

La Vuelta, cycling race across Spain (Ends in Madrid September 15th) 


Photo: AFP

Participants in Spain's most important cycling race cover more than 3,200 kms in 21 stages across the plains, mountains and lowlands of Spain. Spectators turn out in crowds to cheer the cyclists on as they pass through towns along the route ending in Madrid with a big celebration.

READ ALSO: Quiz: How well do you know Spain's fiestas?