Spain is known for its quirky and historical architecture, thriving nightlife, and incredible cuisine. From the otherworldly creations of Gaudi in Barcelona to the stunning natural landscapes and old quarters of Granada and the South, Spain attracts thousands of visitors each year. With such colourful nightlife, architecture, and cuisine, it is no wonder the country is home to some of the most colourful, quirky, and vibrant festivals in the world. From running with bulls in the old quarter to throwing tomatoes and wine at complete strangers, Spain has some of the most unique and exciting summer festivals in the world.
1. La Tomatina
Where: Bunol, Valencia
When: August 30
La Tomatina has to be one of the messiest, yet most fun, festivals in the world. During late August, thousands of revellers gather in the small town of Bunol in Valencia to throw tomatoes at one another. While many festivals often have a long history behind them, no one is really certain how the tradition of La Tomatina started, however locals have been partaking in the event since the mid 1940’s. During particular years, up to 50,000 revellers attended the festival in Bunol, however over the past few years, only 20,000 lucky tomato throwers get to attend the event. The festival begins with the firing of water cannons which then proceeds with over 100,000 tons of tomatoes being thrown during La Tomatina, ensuring you leave covered in the red, sweet smelling fruit. La Tomato festival has a few rules that must be adhered to in order to ensure no one gets hurt. For instance, you must crush the tomatoes before you throw them as well as stop throwing them once you hear the cannon after the hour long fight ends. Afterwards, join the locals and tourists in the Bunol River to wash off. Keep in mind that Bunol is a small town, so you should try to find accommodations in Valencia, which is less than 40km away.
2. Batalla del Vino
Where: Haro, La Rioja
When: June 29
Known in English as the Wine Battle of Haro, the Batalla del Vino festival will turn your skin and clothes purple. The town of Haro produces some of the most delicious and sweet wines in the whole of Spain. Wine lovers gather in the small town of Haro in the region of La Rioja in the month of June to partake in one of the world’s most extraordinary wine competitions. The Batalla del Vino festival begins bright and early at 9am where revellers gather for a procession and a mass before the party ensues. The procession leads revellers through the tiny town of Haro until they reach the cliffs of Bilibio. Shortly after mass, the wine battle ensues, with wine drinking competitions, contests, and an epic wine fight. The celebration takes place on June 29th to honour the day of the patron saint San Pedro. Although patron saint San Pedro is not necessarily associated with wine, many pilgrims would travel the lands to reach the cliffs of Bilibio, where they would hold a mass and drink earthy wines. One year many decades ago, some friends decided to throw wine at each other using their boots. Since 1949, the Batalla del Vino has taken place, where over 10,000 people attend the festival each year, ensuring over 130,000 litres of wine is either consumed or used in the epic battle. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind throwing out- the chances that you get the wine out are incredibly low!
3. San Fermines: The running of the bulls
When: July 6 – 14
The Running of the Bulls, known as the Encierro in Spanish, is one of the most famous festivals worldwide. Taking place in the stunning city of Pamplona, the bull run takes place during the 8 day festival of San Fermines, which honours the patron Saint Fermin on the 7th July. The Running of the Bulls has a deep rooted history where locals would transport bulls from the fields outside of the city into the bullring, where they would be sacrificed and eaten. Each year, the Running of the Bulls takes place from July 6th to the 14th in the old quarter of the city, ensuring you have fantastic views of both the historical city and the live action running. The run begins at 8am in the morning, where six bulls are released in the streets and charge behind the runners for 825 metres. Although the run only lasts three to four minutes, the festival itself lats 8 days, ensuring there are always parties, events, and contests. Whether you partake in the run or not is up to you, however it is equally rewarding watching from the safety of the sidelines!
If you are planning a trip to Spain this summer, be sure to attend at least one of these vibrant and crazy festivals. After all, it’s not everyday you get to throw tomatoes at strangers, pour wine on your new friends heads, or marvel at the speed of a bull charging at locals!