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Spain's most eclectic festivals

Published June 11th, 2015

When it comes to whacky festivals, Spain really takes the cake. Any excuse for throwing local gastronomic delights such as tomatoes and wine, or setting off fireworks and chasing bulls through the streets, and they’ll snap it up. You’ve probably seen pictures of some of Spain’s biggest crazy festivals and celebrations, but there are also so many smaller equally quirky and wonderful fiestas taking place all round the country all year long, and if you get there to visit them you won’t believe your eyes.

Image: Sitges Carnival

Sitges Carnival

If you’re up for some seriously flamboyant fun, Spain’s biggest gay and lesbian fiesta is a wild ride. Based in Sitges, just outside of Barcelona, the celebration coincides with Mardi Gras, and the revelry kicks off on Jueves Lardero ‘Fatty Thursday’ in February each year, with the arrival often eccentric King Carnestoltes (the Carnival King). Despite the cold temperatures, the two legendary parades (named Debauchery and Extermination) feature scores of scantily clad carnival-goers cheered on by the roaring crowds of gay and straight partiers from all over Europe.

 

Arizkun Festival

Hold on to your hats, this one is a real eye opener! The annual Arizkun Carnival in Navarra takes place in February, and has its roots in pagan times. Locals dress up in pagan-esque fur costumes (think wooly mammoth), and then proceed to jump over a series of some 20 bonfires through the streets. As with all Spain’s crazy festivals there is a method behind the madness, or rather a reason for it, and in the case of the Arizkun Festival the tradition is said to increase fertility and ward off bad spirits. 

#morosycristianos #elda #2015 #esenzia #desfile #flores #pandereta #zíngaras A photo posted by Carmen de las Heras (@carmentxuty) on

La Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos

Step back in time with this fabulous fiesta. The carnival celebrates the Christian victory over the Moors in the 13th century, with re-enactments of the battle being carried out in the streets of Spain (the biggest can be seen at Alicante, Alcoy, and Villajoyosa). The dramatic costumes look like they come straight out of Game of Thrones, and the street parades and parties are a lot of fun. The Festival of the Moors and the Christians takes place in spring and summer at different times and places all over Spain.

 

In #Spain there's a #festival where a man in yellow leaps over a bed of babies. He's called #ElColacho.

A photo posted by Fest300 (@fest300) on

El Colacho

This one is almost too surreal to be believed; in fact you’ll probably want to Google it straight away because it is so bizarre! The El Colacho Festival is a ‘Baby Jumping Festival’ fills the streets of Castrillo de Murcia. Here you’ll witness local men dress up in (creepy) brightly coloured costumes and jump over a series of mattresses lined with babies born in the last 12 months. The tradition is said to cleanse the babies of sin and ensure them a healthy path through life. Dating back to 1620, the festival has its roots in Catholicism, although the Catholic Church tries to distance itself from the whacky event these days.  

Aglutinadores de retratistas. A photo posted by Santi (@ribeiroforever) on

Near Death Festival

Another of Spain’s bizarre festivals is the Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, which celebrates the avoidance of death on July 29 each year. Natives of Neves in Galicia who have had a brush with death in the past year are paraded through the streets in coffins carried by family and friends. Despite the sombre nature of the event, it’s actually a fun-filled event with revelry, parties and fireworks celebrating life.

Amy Dalgleish

Wanderlust pommie, currently living the dream in sunny Byron Bay.