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CULTURE

What events are happening across Spain in October 2021?

Restrictions are being lifted all over Spain and many festivals and events which have been cancelled over the past year and a half are back on. Find out what's going on across Spain this October, from concerts to cultural events and film festivals.

Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza
The Fiestas del Pilar in Zaragoza. Photo: Photo: Jesus Martinez / Wikipedia Commons

Octubre Romano, Carmona: October 2nd-31st

This October, the town of Carmona near Seville will be celebrating its Roman heritage with Octubre Romano, featuring guided visits, exhibitions, and cultural activities. 

The Roman Neocropolis of Carmona

The Roman festival takes place in Carmona. Photo: Paul VanDerWerf / Flickr

Festa do Marisco, O Grove: October 3rd-12th

The famous O Grove Seafood Festival in Galicia is back this year and lasts for a whole 10 days. Seafood fans will love the range of events from cooking demonstrations and competitions to plenty of stalls where you can stock up on fresh products. 

Fiesta de Marisco, O Grove, Galicia. Photo: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay
Sitges Film Festival: October 7th-17th
The Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia is one of the top fantasy film festivals in the world and has attracted some of the film industry’s best actors and directors. This year’s event features both films and documentaries shown live and online. Tickets can be booked for each show via the website. 
Nightclubs to reopen in Ibiza: October 8th
The government of the Balearics has announced that Ibiza’s famed nightclubs are finally allowed to reopen on October 8th after being closed for much of the pandemic. They will be able to open to a 75 percent capacity and must close by 5am. Masks must be worn on the dance floor and social distancing rules will still be in place. 

Clubs in Ibiza to reopen. Photo: Malagalabombonera / WikiCommons
Warm Up Festival WARM, Murcia: October 8th-11th
Murcia’s Warm Up music festival is also back this year with plenty of safety measures in place. To access the festival, guests must have a ticket, a Digital Covid Certificate, and a negative antigen test. This year’s lineup includes Los Zigarros, La Casa Azul and Varry Brava. 

Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza: October 9th-17th

Zaragoza’s main event of the year, the Fiestas del Pilar will be taking place in October, albeit with some changes. As usual, there will be lots of acts, concerts, and food, but many events will be ticketed and have limited capacity. Some traditional parts of the festival have been cancelled, while others such as the ofrenda de flores (offering of the flowers) have been adapted so that they’re Covid safe. 

Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza. Photo: Jesus Martinez / Wikipedia Commons

Feria y Fiestas de San Lucas de Jaén 2021: October 9th-19th

Jaén’s main festival of San Lucas will take place from October 9th-19th this year, although places will be limited. Casetas can be accessed with a QR code and for those who can’t attend, many of the events will be broadcast online.   

Feria de San Lucas, Jaén. Photo: Rlinx / Wikimedia Commons

Fiesta Nacional de España:
Spain’s National Day will take place on October 12th as always. The main military displays and air shows are held in Madrid and will start at 11am. The celebrations will all be broadcast on TV.

Fiesta Nacional de España. Photo: Cristina Cifuentes / Flickr
International Book Fair Madrid: October 13th-15th
Spain’s International Book Fair which alternates between Madrid and Barcelona will take place at Madrid’s IFEMA this year. The festival celebrates Spanish literature and brings together world-famous publishers, authors, and editors from around Spain, Latin America and the United States. 

International Book Fair Madrid. Photo Ahmad Ardity / Pixabay
Festival Benalfest 2021, Benalmádena: October 15th & 16th
Benalmádena’s music festival Benalfest is also back this October. This year’s lineup includes Amaral, Scandinavia and Arde Bogotá. Tickets are available for each of the days and Covid safety measures will be in place. 

Amaral is to perform at this year’s Benalfest. Photo: Alterna2 / Flickr
1001 Wedding Fair Madrid: October 15th-17th
If you’re planning on getting married later this year or next, then Madrid’s 1001 Wedding Fair could be just the event you’ve been looking for. As well as dress exhibits there will be stalls selling invitations, centerpieces for tables, catering companies, photographers and many other enterprises you may want help from for your big day.  

Wedding Fair Madrid. Photo: Ulrike Mai / Pixabay

Patios de Otoño de Córdoba 2021: October 16th-17th & 23rd-24th

Córdoba’s Autumn Patios Festival will finally be held over two weekends in October (the main event is held in May each year). These weekends will coincide with the Festival Flora and the Día de San Rafael. Once again residents will decorate and open up their gardens and patios so that visitors can admire the city’s hidden beauty. 

Patios de Cordoba de Otoño. Photo: xavier.estruch / WikiCommons

Barcelona Jazz Festival: October 20th 2021 – March 3rd 2022

Barcelona’s Jazz Festival starts this October and has concerts on all the way up until March 2022. Tickets for each concert is sold separately and will be showing at different venues around the city. Some of the acts taking place in October include Maria del Mar Bonet & Big Band Begues, Melissa Aldana Quartet, and the Chris Potter Trio. 

Barcelona Jazz Festival. Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr

SanSan Festival 2021, Benicàssim: October 29th-31st

The SanSan Festival in Benicàssim is back again with a great lineup of artists this October from Dorian and Love of Lesbian to La M.O.D.A. Tickets are available for each of the days. 

Izal at the SanSan Festival in Benicàssim. Photo: Miguel Angel Villar / WikiCommons

Moros y Cristianos, Valencia and Alicante provinces: October various

The Valencia region’s famous Moros and Cristianos parades will take place in various towns throughout October. The festivals commemorate the battles between the Moors and the Christians during the Reconquista period from the 8th to the 15th century. Click here to find out which towns will be holding their festivals and when. 

Moros y Cristanos festival in Spain. Photo: Juan Estevan Sáez / WikiCommons

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PROPERTY

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Despite being known for its year-long sunny weather, Spain is the EU country with the fewest homes with natural light, often intentionally. Why is it that when it comes to spending time at home, Spaniards seem to love being in the dark?

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Spain – the land of sunshine. The country gets between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of sun per year on average, almost double the 1,600 hours the UK gets, for example.

You’d probably assume that finding a bright apartment in such a sunny country would be a piece of cake, but unless you’re renting or buying a modern home, it might be trickier than you realise.

More than one in ten Spaniards live in dwellings they feel are “too dark” – the highest percentage among all EU countries, according to figures from Eurostat.

As far as dark homes go, Spain is head and shoulders above the EU average of 5.9 percent, and higher than other nations with a high rate of gloomy homes such as France (9.5 percent), Malta (9.4 percent) and Hungary (7.7 percent).

At the other end of the brightly lit spectrum, it’s no surprise to see that countries with cloudier skies and darker winters such as Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands have homes that let in plenty of natural light, and yet Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean neighbours Italy and Cyprus do make the most of the readily available light.

Dark homes are almost twice as common in Spain as the EU average. Graph: Eurostat.

So why are Spanish homes so dark?

Is it a case of hiding away from the sun, and keeping cool during the summer months? Or is it something else? 

Apartment blocks

The vast majority of Spaniards live in apartments as opposed to houses, often in tightly-packed cities with narrow streets.

In fact, in Spain 64.6 percent of the population lives in flats or apartments, second in the EU after Latvia (65.9 percent.)

By contrast the EU wide average is 46.1 percent.

By nature of apartment living, Spanish homes tend to get less sunlight.

Depending on whether they have an exterior or interior flat, they might not actually have a single window in the flat that faces the street.

If the apartment is on a lower floor, the chances of it receiving natural light are even lower. Internal patios can help to solve this to some extent, but only during the mid day and early afternoon hours. 

why are spanish homes so dark

A dark, narrow street in the centre of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: seth0s/Pixabay

Hot summers

During Spain’s scorching summer months, there’s no greater relief than stepping into a darkened apartment building lobby and feeling the temperature drop. 

In southern Spain, and in coastal regions, Spanish buildings were traditionally built to protect against the heat and hide away from the long sunny hours. White walled exteriors and dark interiors help to keep homes cool.

It’s often the case that bedrooms are put in the darkest, coolest part of the apartment, sometimes with just a box-window to allow for a breeze but no sunlight.

Spaniards’ obsession with blinds and shutters

Spain is pretty much the only country in Europe whose inhabitants still use blinds (persianas), even during the colder winter months.

In this case, rather than it just being down to keeping homes cool during the sweltering summer months, their usage is intrinsic to Spain’s Moorish past and the fact that they provide a degree of privacy from nosy neighbours. By contrast, northern Europeans with Calvinist roots such as the Dutch keep the curtains open to let in natural light and because historically speaking, keeping the inside of homes visible from the street represents not having anything to hide. But in Spain, the intimacy of one’s home is sacrosanct, especially when the neighbour in the apartment building opposite is less then ten metres away.

Keeping the blinds or shutters down also has the advantage of making it easier to have an afternoon nap (the siesta, of course) or to sleep in late after a long night out on the town. 

In any case, it seems hard to believe for some foreigners that many Spaniards are happy to live in the dark whilst spending time at home, regardless of whether they’re sleeping or not. 

A byproduct of this? Dark, gloomy homes.

why are spanish homes so dark

Spaniards aren’t fans of airing their dirty laundry, at least metaphorically speaking. Blinds have historically provided the privacy they’ve wanted from their homes. Photo: Quino Al/Unsplash

The long, dark corridors

Spanish apartments have plenty of quirks that seem odd to outsiders, from the light switches being outside of the room, the aforementioned shutters, the bottles of butane and last but not least, the never-ending corridors. 

Most Spanish homes built in the 19th and 20th century include these long pasillos running from the entrance to the end of the flat. They were meant to provide a separation between the main living spaces and the service rooms (kitchen, bathroom etc), easy access to all and better airing and light capabilities. But when the doors to the rooms are closed as often happens, these corridors become the opposite of what was intended: dark and airless.

Navigating these windowless corridors at night is akin to waking around blindfolded.

dark corridor spain

Light at the end of the tunnel? Dark corridors are a common feature of Spanish homes. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Are Spaniards rethinking their dark homes?

Times are changing, and modern designs are experimenting with more spacious, light-filled, open-plan apartments, especially as the Covid-19 lockdown forced many Spaniards to reconsider their abodes. 

It’s also increasingly common to see property adds stressing that the property is diáfano, which means that natural light enters the home from all sides.

However, the vast majority of Spanish homes are still gloomy for the most part, often intentionally.

A combination of traditional building styles, the crowded nature of apartment block living, the use of shutters, the desire to keep homes private, and the long windowless corridors mean Spanish flats can seem dark if you’re new to the country, and with good reason.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that Spanish society is one that largely lives its life outdoors. Living in smaller apartments, Spaniards generally spend less time at home and more time out and about in the street.

Native to a hot and sunny country as they are, Spaniards’ homes are a place of rest, relaxation and, crucially, sleep.

Spanish people have enough sunlight and heat in their lives; they like to live, therefore, in homes designed to keep cool and dark.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?

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