What’s on in Spain: October 2016

Autumn has arrived and with it a whole host of interesting events across Spain.

What's on in Spain: October 2016
Parade of gigantes and cabezudos in Elche. Photo: Gaudencio Garcinuño / Flickr

Food & Drink

Seafood Festival, O Grove, Galicia (October 6th – 1th)

Seafood Festival in O Grove. Photo: Laura Suarez / Flickr Creative Commons.

Seafood lovers rejoice: it's time once again to chow down on all the mussels, octopus and spider crabs that your heart desires in this lovely Galician coastal town. And while you slurp down yet another oyster, you'll be entertained by traditional folk dance, rowing boat races and bagpipe music. Get ready to dig in.

Cavatast, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Catalonia (October 7th – 9th)

Wash down all the seafood with a little bit of the Spanish bubbly, cava, at the annual Cavatast festival. Here you can sample various types of the sparkling wine and learn about the best ways to pair the beverage with Catalonian cheeses, fruits and oysters. There's even a workshop for children.


Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza (October 8th-16th)

Parade of gigantes and cabezudos (giants and big-headed people). Photo: Gaudencio Garcinuño / Flickr Creative Commons.

This may be a religious festival in honour of the city's patron saint, but this holy fiesta involves a bit more than just offering prayers and flowers to the Virgen del Pilar. There's a parade of “big-headed” and “gigantic” people (cabezudos and gigantes), a beer fest and multiple concerts, and a perfomance of hit Abba musical Mamma Mia. The big day is October 12th with the offering of flowers where people dress up in traditional attire to honour the Virgen.

Medieval Festival, Elche, Alicante (October 20th – November 1st)

Photo: J.A. Paredes / Flickr Creative Commons.

Each October for the last 25 years, the city of Elche does a time warp back to medieval times, complete with markets, music from the era, and games from the Middle Ages. The fest is sure to entertain both young and old.


Night Marathon, Bilbao (October 22nd)

There's an added excitement to running late at night, and the Bilbao Night Marathon adds even more with music and fireworks for the annual event. More serious runners can opt for the full or half marathon version of the run, while anyone aged 16 and up can choose the seven kilometre “pirate race”.


Sitges Fantasy Film Festival, Sitges, Catalonia (October 7th to 16th)

The Sitges Zombie Walk during a previous film festival. Photo: Josep Lago / AFP.

Sitges is considered the world's top fantasy and horror film fest. This year will include an appearance by Christopher Walken who will be awarded the Grand Honorary Prize. The festival will screen 170 films and will pay tribute to the Star Trek saga.

Francis Bacon: From Picasso to Velázquez,  Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (September 30th to January 1st)

The new exhibition at Bilbao's iconic museum highlights the influence of Spanish and French culture on the work of Francis Bacon, offering a new perspective on the Irish-born British artist’s fascinating oeuvre.

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The 11 hippest new hotels in Spain this summer

The end of July marks the halfway point of the summer period - also known as the time to book a quick second round of beach holidays for August and September.

The 11 hippest new hotels in Spain this summer
The Finca Serena has just opened in Mallorca. All photos: Hotels own publicity.

And with the rate of hotel openings in Spain showing no signs of slowing down, it’s hard not to justify a weekend away, just to check some of them out. Here are some of the hippest newest hotels in Spain’s beach destinations to stay at this summer.

Finca Serena – Mallorca 

Provenance, authenticity, nature and calm are what define this new hotel located at the centre of the island. Its whitewashed stone buildings are surrounded by lavender gardens, olive groves and a 24-acre vineyard. The original structures of the site date back to the 13th century, which local architect Sergi Bastidas was tasked with remodelling. The interiors, which include 25 rooms, are decorated with natural fabrics, stones and woods, under the Japanese wabi sabi ethos of beauty in imperfection. 


Can Bordoy – Mallorca

Once home to the aristocratic Bordoy Blanes family in the 1500s, and one of the most historic and emblematic sites of Mallorca, Ohlab Studio was tasked with restoring the building to its original splendour, in an arduous 18 month restoration. The interiors have a watery colour palate, echoing the Balearic sea that surrounds the island. Avant-garde furniture pieces and artworks sit alongside locally crafted fabrics and materials. The hotel houses the largest private garden in the city of Mallorca, occupying 750 sq m, with a pool, a solarium, a pergola and a terrace to wine and dine on. The greenery of the garden also infiltrates the lush, fertile aesthetic of the hotel's interior design. 

INNSiDE Calviá Beach – Mallorca

The Meliá hotel group is looking to give Magaluf a makeover, investing almost €250 million over recent years in repositioning the area on the holiday map, and hoping to enhance the profitability and sustainability of Magaluf’s tourism industry. With 270 guest rooms, the new INNSiDE Calviá Beach hotel – located 10 mins drive from Palma – offers a spectacular rooftop area with restaurants, bars, and the largest transparent floating pools in Europe, with views overlooking the beachfront. The resort also includes 5000 sq m of retail space. 

Amàre – Ibiza

The adults-only resort is the latest arrival on the luxury party capital of the Mediterranean, housing 366 rooms, the majority of which look directly out over the sea. Following a recent trend for art hotels in the Balearics, Amare is aiming to expose the Ibiza’s clubbing and yachting clientele to contemporary art, displaying works by artists like Miguel Vallinas, Flóra Borsi, Leo Caillard, Kiko Miyares, Andoni Beristain and Maria Svarbova. The hotel will also run a rotating programme of temporary exhibitions, the first of which is being hosted in collaboration with Ibiza’s P|art Gallery. 

BLESS – Ibiza

BLESS opened its first establishment in Madrid this January – and now, make way for BLESS Ibiza, the second in this new brand of contemporary luxury hotels. The property is located in a picturesque cove to the north of the island, around the Santa Eulalia area. The designers cite Coco Chanel among the inspirations behind the hotel’s aesthetics. Dine in the restaurant catered by 10 Michelin starred Basque chef Martin Berasategui and take a dip in the infinity pool. Otherwise, if you find yourself in the capital this summer instead, and need some relief from the oven-like heat, pop up to BLESS Madrid’s rooftop pool, which has opened just in time for the summer. 

Five Flowers – Formentera 

This is Formentera’s first five star hotel, holding 79 rooms and suite, a spa and fitness club and a pool, located just a 250m walk away from the beach. Inspired by the boho chic vibe of this Balearic island, the decor is light, airy, warm and bright. Despite being a five star hotel, the space feels friendly, accessible and natural. The restaurant Kokoy is catered by Hideki Matsuhisa, Spain’s only Japanese chef with a Michelin star. There’s also a sky bar, complete with a piscina-jacuzzi and a 360º view of the island. Formentera is usually a day trip from Ibiza – but new hotels like this mean there’s more and more reason to settle into this island for a couple of nights of escape. 


Punta Cumplida, Canary Islands 

This 152-year-old lighthouse in La Palma was converted into an intimate guesthouse earlier this year. Its 34m-high watch-out terrace offers spectacular views across the Canary Islands, with the waves of the Atlantic crashing against the rocks that lie beneath. This intimate guest-house has just three suites, so this feels like is an exclusive, personalised and secluded experience. Each bed has a view of the ocean and there’s also an infinity pool. The project, now 3 years in the making, is led by Floatel, who have built hotels in a number of other lighthouses around the world – but this is their highest, oldest and largest site yet. 


Palladium Hotel Costa del Sol, Malaga 

This new four-star property in Benalmadena just opened in July. A 30 minute drive from Malaga airport, the hotel features 336 rooms, all with views over the Mediterranean. You can choose from three restaurants – one serving south-east Asian cuisine, another highlighting the best of Andalusian gastronomy, and the third opening out its seating onto the beach. There are also several bar areas, including the Nix Sky Lounge up on the rooftop. Try the hydromassage baths while you’re up there – or go and have a dip in the hotel’s outdoor pool that looks out to sea.


Room Mate Gorka, San Sebastian 

If you’re heading north this summer, it may well be to the Basque culinary capital. Those in search for a hotel with a fun, friendly, yet luxurious atmosphere could check out Room Mate’s first Basque outpost, which opened last year. The Spanish chain, now with 24 properties around the world, has made a reputation for hotels that burst with personality. Located in the emblematic Plaza de Gipuzkoa, the original historic facade of the building has been maintained. Inside, the design studio Cuarto Interior took care of the look and feel, which is homely yet sophisticated, combining contemporary decoration with neoclassic touches. Room Mate also has plans to open a new hotel in Mallorca in April 2020.  

Edition, Barcelona

This is perhaps one of Barcelona’s sexiest openings of recent years. Located in the creative historical district of El Born, Edition’s aesthetics were masterminded by designers Ian Schrager and Lázaro Rosa-Violán. Check out the building’s geometric glass facade, the sweeping marble and wood spiral staircases and the views over the Santa Caterina Market. Complete with a saltwater infinity pool on its 10th floor rooftop bar, this is the place to be for Instagrammers and the glitterati of Barcelona’s party scene. 

Nobu, Barcelona

This one isn’t open quite yet – but it’s definitely one to look out for. Expected to start welcoming guests from September, this will be Nobu’s third Spanish property, housing 259 rooms in the elegant neighbourhood of Eixample. Its restaurant on the 23rd floor offers panoramic views over the city. The design and architecture practice Rockwell Group is in charge of designing the spaces. The Japanese art form of kintsugi is said to lie at the heart of the aesthetic vision – natural, organic materials are used throughout, with traditional Japanese broken pottery applied as decoration to the walls and ceiling.


For more of Agnish Ray's writing, visit his website or follow him on Twitter