What's on in Spain: 13 brilliant things to do this August

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What's on in Spain: 13 brilliant things to do this August
Barcelona's streets are decorated during the August fiesta. Photo: AFP

August is a month packed full of summer fun across the nation from music concerts to street festivals, and the world's biggest food fight!



Semana Grande, San Sebastian (August 12th - 19th) 

Photo: Donostiako Festak / Flickr

San Sebastián’s “big week” offers a wide range of activities for children and adults. Besides bullfighting and live music (rock, pop, jazz, classical), the event is largely known for its international firework contest - the main attraction of the week.

Fiesta mayor de Gràcia, Barcelona, (August 14th - 21st) 

Photo: AFP

Barcelona’s biggest neighbourhood festival takes place every summer in the streets of Gràcia, with local residents competing for the best decorated street. Live music stages are set up and at night, the whole barrio welcomes a mix crowd of families, students, artists and intellectuals for some lively summer nights.

Moors and Christians festival, Ontinyent, Valencia (Aug 24th - Aug 28th)

Photo: Esther Sánchez/ Flickr

The town of Ontinyent in Valencia has celebrated the Christian conquest of the town from Muslim troops since 1860. The entire town gets involved in a vivid and colourful dramatization of the conquest of the town by Jaime I in the 13th century. 

Aste Nagusia (Big Week in Basque), Bilbao, (August 18th–26th)

Photo: Bilbao Jaiak

Bilbao’s nine-day festival offers dancing, fireworks, concerts and bullfights. It also holds a hilarious “ugly competition” where participants are asked to pull the ugliest face possible. 

La Tomatina Tomato Fight, Buñol, Valencia, (August 30th)

The small town of Buñol, 40km from Valencia, probably offers one of Spain’s funniest festivals. Each summer, 40,000 people take part in the world’s biggest food fight, throwing tomatoes at each other. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the fiesta and promises to be even bigger than ever, with 150 tonnes of tomatoes brought in by six trucks.

Participants are told to squish the tomatoes beforehand to reduce the impact, take a look at the (messy) result:

Individual tickets are sold out but you can still buy tickets including camping packs and concerts or get some tickets through tour operators.


Fiesta de la Virgin de la Paloma, Madrid (August 11th-15th) 

Street decoration in Madrid. Photo:

Many towns and cities have fiestas throughout August, one being the celebration of Our Lady of the Paloma, centred around the La Latina neighbourhood in Madrid, renowned for being the centre of the city’s tapas culture. The day is celebrated with street parties stemming off the central Calle de Toledo. 

Cuéllar bull run, Cuéllar (August 26th - 30th)

Photo: fgp / Flickr

Considered the oldest running of the bulls in Spain, the bull run in the town of Cuéllar, near Segovia, has been declared of special national tourist interest by the Spanish government. 


Festival Internacional de Santander (All August)

Every summer, the elegant city of Santander on Spain's north coast welcomes one of Spain’s oldest music festivals, including opera, ballet and theatre companies. Churches and parks in Santander will host dance, music or theatre performances until the end of August.

Starlite Festival Marbella - (Until August 26th)

A series of concerts held throughout August include a night celebrating La Movida to concerts by James Blunt and Texas.

Festival Castell Peralada


This intimate music and dance festival set in the grounds of a castle in a sleepy town in northern Catalonia puts on an eclectic series of musical events throughout August, from renowned opera - this year it's Mozart's The Magic Flute - to acts including Kool and the Gang, and Santana. 


King's Cup Regatta, Palma de Mallorca (July 29th - August 4th) 

Photo: AFP

Held in Palma de Mallorca bay on the Balearic island of Mallorca, this popular sailing competition is now a fixture on the international circuit. Look out for King Felipe VI himself, who can be spotted helming the Alfos sailboat during the competition (see photo above)


PhotoEspaña Madrid, (until August 26th)

A still life from Pedro Almodóvar's exhibition. Credit: Marlborough Gallery.

IN PICS: The 10 best exhibitions at PHotoEspaña 2018

For those interested in visual arts, PhotoEspaña is an incredible opportunity to see internationally renowned photographers display their latest projects, videos, and developments in photography.

Gala Salvador Dalí: A room of one’s own in Púbol, Barcelona (until October 14th)

Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops in Equilibrium upon Her Shoulder (c1934), a painting by Salvador Dalí Photo: FOTOGASULL SL

This new exhibition exploring the role of the muse and wife of surrealist Salvador Dali through 60 paintings and drawings, is a must-see if you are visiting Barcelona this August. Find it at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.


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