San Isidro Festival, Spain

San Isidro Festival, SpainSan Isidro was a poor peasant who, nonetheless, was the benefactor of the poor and the needy. He, along with his wife, helped the poor by giving them food. Some miracles are also associated with him. To honor this Patron Saint of Madrid, a festival featuring fairs, music, dancing and bullfights is held. The festival commences from the 8th of May and continues till the 15th of May.

Open air concerts, rock concerts, and gigs make up the music scene. Dancing and merriment fill the streets of Madrid. San Isidro is also the biggest international bullfighting event. All the noted bullfighters, as well as the aspiring ones participate in this festival. Romeria, a pilgrimage to the 18th century chapel Ermita de San Isidro, is a way to show reverence to the Patron Saint.

San Isidro Festival, SpainOn the last day of the festival, the people of Madrid dress up in their traditional costumes and perform a traditional dance called “choti.” During the festival you can sample some Spanish delicacies such as barquillos, pan de angel, and chorus.

The festival ends with a mass scale cooking of Cocido Madrileno, the famous dish of Madrid. Although basically a religious festival, San Isidro has turned into one big entertainment.

La Fallas: The Fiery Festival of Spain

La Fallas The Fiery Festival of SpainLa Fallas is celebrated in Valencia Spain from March 13-17 to honor the Patron Saint of carpenters, Saint Joseph’s. Having pagan roots, the festival originated in the 18th century and has now evolved into one of the biggest festivals of Spain.

La Fallas is all about dance, music, costumes and fireworks. La Fallas is the Spanish for “the fires”. The main feature of the festival is the making and burning of “nintos” (puppets). The nintos can be papier Mâché or wooden or plaster statues. The theme is mostly satirical and mostly based on current happenings. Most nintos are elaborate works of art which take a whole year in making and cost a fortune.

La Fallas The Fiery Festival of SpainFrom the first day of the festival, a daily ritual of releasing Mascleta (smoke bombs) in the air takes place at 2: pm sharp in the town’s main square. The sounds of the exploding smoke bombs is deafening and causes the whole place to vibrate besides enveloping it in grey smoke. Street parties are also a daily affair and the air rings with music.

As the festival reaches its climax, the festivities gain pace; people dress up in their traditional costumes. The women especially look stunning in their brightly colored gowns and elaborate hair accessories. On March 17 and 18 the people march towards the Plaza de la Virgen carrying flowers to honor the Patron Virgin. These flowers are then used to build a giant size image of the virgin.

La Fallas The Fiery Festival of SpainOn the final day of the festival, all the nintos are stuffed with fireworks. Then exactly at midnight they are set on fire; however the nintos voted the best is spared and is placed in the museum with the other winners.
La Fallas is a gala of parades, music and fireworks. It is celebrated with joy, pride and passion.

Ottery St. Mary’s Carnival

Ottery St. Mary's CarnivalOttery St. Mary is a unique carnival in which barrels coated with coal tar are burned and carried up and down the streets. What started this tradition and why; nobody knows for sure. All that is known is that the centuries old tradition either started as a way of warning the approach of Spanish Ships, or to kill the rats when the black death plague had enveloped the country, or maybe to fumigate the cottages. Another popular reason could be that the burning of tar barrels warded off the evil spirits.

Whatever the reason be, it is a very interesting and somewhat risky festival. Originally the torched barrels were rolled down but to add excitement to the event, they are now carried on the backs. Not every one is allowed to carry a barrel; in fact some families are Barrel Rollers for generations. The barrels are lit outside a public house. It takes place on the 5th of November which incidentally is also the Guy Fawkes Day.

Ottery St. Mary's CarnivalA total of 17 burning barrels are carried throughout the day. The sizes of the barrels vary from small for boys to medium for women and youth and the big boys get to carry the big barrels which can be as heavy as 30 kg. The first barrel is lit at 4 o clock outside a public house and then carried through the streets. The process continues amidst cheering and applauding of the people until the last barrel is lit as the clock strikes midnight.

The event ends with a spectacular bonfire. The bonfire is an important part of the festival. Three weeks prior to the festival material is collected from the community. Just a week preceding the festival the bonfire is completed with a height of 35 feet and width of 50 feet. On the festival the Guy is placed at the top of the bonfire. In the evening the base of the bonfire is set ablaze and a manifestation of flame is viewed and enjoyed by all.

Festivals in the Month of August

August FestivalsFestivals in the Month of August

Depending on the country, festivals that are celebrated in the month of August can be placed in a number of categories. In Spain, the Aste Nagusia Bilbao is a traditional Latin dance party celebrated for 10 days. This festival is filled with people of all ages that enjoy the mixture of traditional Basque music, sports, and dance. In Laos, a more cultural and religious type of festival is celebrated, known as Boun Khao Padabdin. During this festival, Laotians give honor and offerings to their ancestors at the temple.
The Art of Burning Man in USA is a bizarre type of festival that lasts for 7 days every year. Its celebration is centered at the Black Rock City in Nevada that has a world-class view of extraordinary wilderness. In Australia, the Charleville Camel, Donkey, & Yabbie Race Festival is celebrated with wacky parties. Scotland takes pride during its Edinburgh Festival Fringe where immense gatherings of actors, dancers, musicians, and artists from 40 different countries take place for performances.
The Eisa Festival in Japan is celebrated in the late part of August. It marks the end of the summer season. It celebrates the time of saying goodbye to the spirits of ancestors that came back for Obon. The Khan Tengri Mountain Festival in Kazakhstan has an extreme festival celebration for sports. In this festival, extreme sport competitions are held for visitors to enjoy.


The Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, Spain

by on March 19, 2009
in Spanish Festivals

The Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, SpainThe Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, Spain

For lovers of the Carnival spirit, the Las Fallas Festival offers a heady mix of sights, sound and gastronomical pleasure aplenty. Valencia is one of Spain’s autonomous political regions. It isvery proud of its cultural heritage. The Festival spans twenty days in March not counting the preliminary festivities in February. The main attraction of the Festival is the total abandon with which the people of the Fallas (communities) celebrate the event. Alcoholic drinks are enjoyed liberally. Traditional food items are prepared on the streets and served fresh. Bunyoles, a kind of donuts,  baked fresh in abundance and eaten with hot chocolate.
Women and children dress up elaborately for the festive month and give a fairyland look to the city. Each Falla elects its Lady Mayor and Girl Mayor. They assemble and then vote to elect the Queen and Princess for the Festival. There is a grand event of decorating the Virgin with Flowers. A beautiful statue of the Virgin is erected at the “Square of the Virgin (Plaza de Virgin)” and entire communities converge at the Plaza to deck the Virgin with the choicest of flowers. The city is bathed in the heady smell of all the fragrances. Fire works of a wide variety are set off liberally. It is a real mystery to some why the Valencians have such a deep attachment to the deafening noises, despite many citizens losing their hearing faculty! It is my guess that the rich harvests that follow the Festival must have convinced the inhabitants that there is some real link.(The big bangs split atmospheric air and release Nitrogen which later fertilizes the soil.)