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IN PICS: The bizarre Spanish 'bellringing' festival you need to see

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IN PICS: The bizarre Spanish 'bellringing' festival you need to see
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.

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.

READ MORE: Twelve epic festivals in Spain to attend in 2019

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. 

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

Villagers dress up to join in the pilgrimmage between villages. 

 

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.

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