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10 of Spain’s best “little-known” local festivities
By thinkSPAIN Team Sat, Oct 5, 2019
For the second consecutive year the portal for rural houses clubrural.com has carried out the #MiFiestaEsLaMejor campaign in order to find the best 'fiesta' in the country. Its objective is to popularise those fiestas that have not received, until now, the recognition they deserve, to promote inland tourism and thus fight against the depopulation that strongly plagues rural areas. Here are some of the best:
1.Renaissance Fiesta, Tortosa, Tarragona
Every year in July, Tortosa really comes to life and steps back in time 500 years to its golden years to celebrate the Renaissance Festival. Local bars and restaurants and buildings are decorated in renaissance style as well as tapestries being draped from balconies throughout the city. The local town folk offer a medieval gastronomic event sharing century old recipes and sweets such as ‘Llepolies de la Festa’. A programme full of shows and workshops is run for all visitors to enjoy. Throughout the old quarter you will be able to witness wonderfully colourful processions depicting characters from the era such as local delegates, guildsman, merchants and soldiers. This Festival was awarded first prize in the #MiFiestaEsLaMejor ( My fiesta is the best) competition run by Club Rural.
2. The Chúndara, Peñafiel, Valladolid
Second place in the competition #MiFiestaEsLaMejor (My fiesta is the best) run by Club Rural was won by El Chúndara. Celebrated in August since 1950, it runs for three days - this year from August 15-17. These three days are dedicated to the celebration of Our Lady and Saint Roque of Peñafiel, the town in Valladolid where it is held. August is an apt month too as it is very hot and water plays a major part in this fiesta. Everyday at 17:00 a procession marches through the town starting at the Plaza de España and continuing on to the Plaza del Coso to the sound of the band playing the pasodoble “La Entrada” - from where the name itself derives from - meanwhile onlookers throw buckets of water at them as they procede.
3. Virgin of Peace Festival, Citruénigo, Navarre
Celebrated from the 7th to 13th of September every year in the region of Tudela is the fiesta for “The Virgin of Peace”. It starts with herding livestock along the banks of the River Alhama to the town, a re-enactment of the traditional ‘bringing of the cows’ - La traida de las Vacas. Another tradition is the Gigantón, a troupe of giants and ‘big heads’ who make their way in the form of a procession from the old town to the Plaza de los Fueros square. However, it is not all processions, Virgin’s Braids - a traditional pink and white sweet - are eaten non-stop!
4. Vendimia Fiesta, Jumilla, Murcia
This is one of the best wine festivals in Spain. Held since 1972 when a group of winemakers encouraged farming and agricultural associations to celebrate the wine culture in the region. Wine-making history goes back as far as the Romans and has been booming ever since. Today’s festival, which offers 30 events, has been declared a regional tourist attraction. This year it ran from August 9 to August 18. A characteristic event is the inauguration of the ‘Wine-fountain’, the most photographed event of the fiesta and every year goes viral on social media. Children, however, have their own processions with grape juice rather than wine!
5. Cipotegato, Tarazona, Zaragoza
The fiestas for the patron saint of Tarazona, Saint Atiliano, are held from August 27 to September 1. They are inaugurated by celebrating the day of Cipotegato. At 12:00 midday, the bell rings in Tarazona and the character of Cipotegato enters the town sqaure dressed as a harlequin only to be met by hundreds of people hurling rotten tomatoes as he climbs to the top of the statue erected in his name.
6. Normanda Festival, Foz, Lugo
The Norman Festival of Foz recalls the Viking invasions of Galicia, in which a fleet of ships tried to attack the people of Foz. The inhabitants, terrified, went up to the Alto de la Grela mountain where they asked Bishop Gonzalo for help. The bishop, to help the townspeople, resorted to miracles. Gonzalo knelt down, the sky began to cloud and the bishop raised his staff. Every time he knelt and his staff touched the ground, one of the ships sank. The bishop did this until all the ships sank, except one, which he let go to tell what happened and did not attack the people again. After this action the bishop was beatified and became San Gonzalo and the Alto de la Grela was renamed O Bispo Santo, where there is a chapel in honor of the bishop. The celebration of the miracle takes place on the last or penultimate weekend of August. On the first day in the morning, the medieval market opens and at night, at eight o'clock, the opening announcement of the festival is celebrated. At the end of the opening of the party, a play is performed that dramatizes the landing and sinking of the ships. Throughout the Fiesta activities, games and theater are held for the little ones. At night, after enjoying the medieval market and the various stalls, a Viking funeral is held accompanied by drums and torchlight. The town is adorned and the people dress with medieval atire.
7. Dance of the Devil, Tijarafe, La Palma
For more than a hundred years the Devil has come to Tijarafe every morning on September 7 to perform his shameless and irreverent dance before thousands of people. This unique show is brought to life with music and pyrotechnics, it is the most emblematic act of the municipality's festivities. The satanic figure constructed from 100kg of fibreglass takes a surprise entry into the town square each year and the crowds never know from which direction it will arrive, adding to the emotion of the moment as the revelers await the stare and dance of Lucifer.
8. Tura Festival, Olot, Girona
The most representative moment of Olot's main festivity is the Dance of Giants, Dwarfs and Little Knights that takes place every year in its town square - Plaza Mayor. Running from September 6 to 10, the Tura fiestas have been declared a cultural asset of Catalonia. On September 8, the big day, the procession of the giants and dwarfs hits the streets. After sunset, the street lighting is turned off and lanterns are lit around the town to mark the way for the procession through the town accompanied by music, water and giant balloons. The fiesta also celebrates the Battle of Flowers and many other spectacular outdoor events.
9. Troglodyte Fiesta, Piñar, Granada
The Granada town of Píñar celebrates its troglodyte party on the first Friday of August. The celebration takes place on the occasion of the Day of Prehistory and, after a decade, it has established itself as one of the most popular festivities of the month of August in the province. Organised by the City Council of Píñar with the collaboration of the Diputación de Granada, the inhabitants of the town dress in a troglodyte style, using prehistoric beads and clothes made from skins. In addition, very diverse activities are carried out throughout the day that return the people to their ancestral roots.
The celebration owes its existence, fundamentally, to the fact that in the town there is the prehistoric Cave of the Windows, open to the public for years. The enclave, which is accessed in a mini-train from the town square.
10. Els Enfarinats, Ibi, Alicante
The annual festival of Els Enfarinats is celebrated with the mother of all food fights; flour, eggs and rotten fruit. Els Enfarinats takes place in the town of Ibi in Alicante on December 28 as part of celebrations related to the Day of the Innocents. Inspired by the ancient Roman Saturnalia festival, in honor of Saturn, when, curiously, the Romans reversed roles with their slaves to be ordered about for the day.
During the day long festival, participants dressed in mock military dress stage a mock coup pretending to take over the town. Dressed in a slovenly manner, they enter banks and shops stirring up trouble in a good-humoured way, imposing fines on shopkeepers and bankers, mocking local dignitaries and reading humorous speeches. Those who oppose are assaulted with flour cakes and eggs.
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