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Noisy local fiestas: What to do when your Spanish town hall is responsible

The Local Spain
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Noisy local fiestas: What to do when your Spanish town hall is responsible
Noisy local fiestas: What to do when your Spanish town hall is responsible?Photo: Jonathan Borba / Pexels

Town and city fiestas are commonplace in Spain and they’re part of what made many of us fall in love with the country in the first place, but sometimes the town hall can overstep and the noise pollution just gets too much to bear for neighbours.


It's bad enough in Spain when you have to deal with noisy neighbours or loud bars and clubs, but what about when the culprit is your ayuntamiento (town hall) or city council?

If you want to know what your rights are on noise from construction, find out here, what to do about noisy neighbours here and about bars and clubs here

During these local fiestas (every city, town and village has at least one a year), councils set up concert and performance venues form of open-air stages or tents called casetas or carpas.

In these cases, there’s often no sound insulation and the noise carries much further as everything happens outside.

Even though these festivals may only go one for a week or two, they can often disturb residents who aren’t in attendance and are trying to sleep.

You could be someone who needs extra sleep like a doctor, nurse or firefighter, you may be ill or have small children, there are many reasons why you might not be able or want to join in. Even if you are in the minority, your rights should still be respected.

In fact, in places such as Barcelona, when the local Gràcia festival takes place, there’s so much noise created by neighbourhood organisers that some people even decide to leave their apartments for the week as they know they won’t be able to sleep.

This option is of course not open to everyone, and in truth, you shouldn’t have to leave your home temporarily because of a celebration that is supposed to bring joy to the local population.


So, what can you legally do and what are your rights?

Even city and town councils must continue to comply with municipal by-laws during local fiestas. The Spanish Civil Code guarantees that you should have respect in your own home.

Law 40/2015, of October 1st, on the Legal Regime of the Public Sector, which came into force in October 2016, establishes that “Public Administrations objectively serve the general interests and act in accordance with the principles of effectiveness, hierarchy, decentralisation and coordination, with full submission to the Constitution and the Law”. 

This means that even the authorities must uphold the law and serve their people. They have a public responsibility to manage and to do it to the best of their abilities.


The first thing to keep in mind is that you stand a much better chance of getting your council to listen if you find other people who are affected too, so it’s not just you complaining on your own.

Make sure to talk to your neighbours or others living on the same street to find out if they’re also affected by the noise and form a group of people who share your grievances.

In theory, councils and ayuntamientos are in charge of enforcing celebration schedules, making sure the volume of music isn’t too loud, controlling the capacity at venues and enforcing alcohol laws so that people are not drinking on the street (if it’s not allowed in that region).

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According to Law 7/2002 on protection against noise pollution, these are the maximum sound levels allowed for leisure venues:

Nightclubs: 104 decibels

Venues with musical entertainment: 90 decibels

Game rooms: 85 decibels

Bars and restaurants: 80 decibels

Find out if the festival events and activities infringe on any of these rules and regulations above and if they do then you have a case to take to your town hall.

Technically, the festivals should take place at a local fairground or somewhere away from the main residential area, but we know that this is not always the case. The concerts and events often happen in the very streets and squares where people live.

Firstly, you need to contact your ayuntamiento or local council or explain the problem. It’s best if you put it in writing so there’s a record of what you’ve said.

Try to include as much evidence as possible as to how the festivals are breaking the rules and include testimonials from as many neighbours as you can.

Organisers may not listen to you the first time, but if you keep contacting them, they will be forced to listen and have to respond.

If the situation is the same every year and they still don’t change anything, then you and your neighbours should contact a lawyer to represent you and take the matter to court.


This has actually been done several times by different communities throughout the country and in many instances, the law has sided with the people instead of the authorities.

In 2017, the Superior Court of Justice of Navarra, sided with a community of owners in Mutilva Baja when they complained about noise coming from an outdoor tent which had been erected for the festivities of the local patron saint. They claimed it was noise pollution above the legal levels and said the council had done nothing to try and reduce it.  

In another case in Getafe, thanks to a neighbourhood protest led by a lawyer specialising in noise pollution called Ricardo Ayala, the carnival celebrations were moved to the fairgrounds on the outskirts of the city.

Again in 2022, in Castilla-La Mancha, the Supreme Justice Tribunal imposed a sentence on the the Puerto Lápice City Council due to damages derived from noise pollution from musical events held in the town square.

The celebrations were not forced to be stopped completely but the council did have to agree with a limitation on hours and noise levels specifically for the concerts held in tents outside. It did not affect any other part of the festival.

Therefore, it is possible to take legal action against your ayuntamiento if they are breaking the law, but there's no guarantee it will be a straightforward process.



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