Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

IN PICS: Bizarre Basque 'bellringing' festival

Share this article

IN PICS: Bizarre Basque 'bellringing' festival
All photos: Ander Gillenea / AFP
12:00 CET+01:00
The mountain villages of Ituren and Zubieta in Navarra celebrate an ancient Basque tradition with a carnival that involves locals dressing up as fantastical wild beasts and marching through the streets.

They are escorted by ‘Joaldunak', a group of hefty bellrings clothed in sheepskins worn over lace petticoats and tall pointy hats bedecked with colourful ribbons who stomp through the town swinging horsetails and with giant cowbells strapped to their backs.

READ MORE: 12 epic festivals in Spain to celebrate in 2017

The ritual, held for three days at the end of January each year, has something do with old agricultural traditions of shepherding and is designed to ward off evil spirits and keep the stock safe for the year ahead.

The pagan festival, which dates back hundreds of years was banned during the Franco dictatorship but has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, though no one now can remember how or why it began.

A participant dressed as an Hartza (bear) parades with bellringers, known as "Joaldunak" (in Basque language) with big cowbells hanging on their back during the ancient carnival of Ituren, in the northern Spanish Navarra province on January 30, 2017. 

The "Joaldunak" dance around the town square in pointy hats and lacy petticoats.

Villagers dress up to join in the pilgrimmage between villages. 

Even 'Trump' made an appearance, accompanied by an ass labelled Rajoy. 


We have no idea what's going on here either, but it looks like fun!

A masked woman stilles past a man in a costume of corn husks.

Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

From our sponsors

QUIZ: Which influential Icelander are you?

Iceland may have a population of just over 330,000 people (all with equally unpronounceable names) but that doesn't stop it churning out a stream of globally-renowned people. Take our quiz to discover your Icelandic spirit animal.