Fiesta del Queso
Fallas de San Jose
The terms can be confusing. Las Fallas are the floats or giant figures. Fallas are the social clubs or committees that raise the money to build the floats. The young woman who represents the city during the festival is the Fallera Mayor. Everyone is invited to participate in the festival and the young men (Falleros) and young women( Falleras) dress in traditional suits and ornate gowns. The giant figures and scenes usually satirize culture, politics or the economy.
The festivities include a nighttime parade, a procession of the old towns of Valencia, the offerings of flowers made by the "falleras" to Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), patroness of the city, and above all, the famous "Nit del Foc" (Night of the Fire), on which all the "fallas" (grotesque and humorous scenes made up of carboard figures) are burned. The statues are filled with small explosives that are ignited into fireworks which catch fire and burn the artistic masterpieces in minutes. Teams of firemen guard the flames
At 2pm each day you should head for the city's main Plaza (Plaza Ayuntimiento), where the various districts of Valencia provide firework displays and compete to provide not only the best display but also the nosiest.
Semana Santa/ Holy Week
Las Fallas: Click on images to enlarge
Photos courtesy of valenciavalencia.com
April Seville Fair
The party begins each year with the magical switching on of the lights It is time to enjoy dry sherry with friends, family and strangers, and to simply enjoy life. The highlights come at midday, during the long cavalcade of riders, and late at night when the spirit takes over the thousand throats of the "cantaores" (flamenco singers) and the legs and arms of the "bailaoras" (dancers) with their four sevillanas. The Real de la Feria blazes with multicolored tents, and wreaths and paper lanterns are outlined against the sky. Handsome couples ride beautiful horses, dressed in the Andalusian ruffles, country finery and broad-brimmed hats. The brilliantly decorated coaches with bells on their reins leave their marks in the white dusty paths.
Now it's May and time for the nearby Corduba festival.
Dia de la Cruz/Holy Cross Day
Romeria de El Rocío,
Every spring around one million people converge on the shrine of El Rocio, at the edge of the Doñana national park, in the biggest romeria, or pilgrimage, in Spain. For an emotion-packed three days, the devotees of the Virgen del Rocio - Our Lady of the Dew - take part in a celebration which combines religious fervor and festive color. The Wednesday before the Sunday of Pentecost, endless processions of swaying floats decorated with flowers come together in the small town of Rocío, 50km away from Seville.
Many of the pilgrims make their way to the shrine on horseback or in brightly decorated carriages, multi-coloured caravans that wind across the Andalucian countryside. The pilgrimage attracts not only gypsies from the area but also caravans from all over Spain, as well as northern and central Europe. For the gypsies this long journey is a return to their nomadic roots. The Rocío also attracts fraternities from towns close to Cádiz, Huelva and Seville.
Festival de los Patios Cordobeses/The Cordoba Patio Festival.
May. Cordoba, Andalucia.
This centuries-old festival includes the pilgrimage of the conquering Virgin of the Linares Sanctuary across the countryside with horsemen and richly decorated coaches, a competition of May Crosses and a Patio, Iron Grille and Balcony Contest in which the patios, small side street and plazas so typical of the city are filled with flowers.
In the first days of the month, the May Crosses are put in place and adorned with flowers, flowerpots and embroidered silk shawls. On each is installed a counter offering food and drink to the visitors, who can also watch flamenco shows.
San Isidro of Madrid
San Isidro is the patron saint of the peasants and laborers, and is also the patron saint of Madrid. Tradition has it that on May 15th the people of Madrid are to make a Romería (pilgrimage) to San Isidro's meadow to celebrate his day and to drink from the miraculous water at the fountain of the hermitage. Legend has it that San Isidro was a poor peasant farmer, and he and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza were very popular due to their generosity and always donating food to the poor. So, although the tradition and background of San Isidro is religious and rather mellow, as per usual, it did not take much arm-twisting for the Spaniards to turn it into a veritable bash.
Many revelers still dress up in the traditional garb of the period, called "Chulapo or Chulapa," which is Madrid's national dress. Besides the Castizo dress on display you will find typical barquillos (rolled wafers), buñuelos (fritters) and rosquillas (doughnuts) are for sale. This time of year also ushers in the famous Feria Taurina, or bullfighting fair, which also carries the name of the patron saint of Madrid and lasts from the middle of May to the middle of June at the Plaza Monumental Las Ventas bullring. Concerts, open-air dances and outdoor celebrations are also held during this period.
If you're not a bullfight fan, the heart of the festival is music, which is performed in locations throughout the city. San Isidro is without a doubt Madrid's most melodious fiesta. The main stage is always in the Plaza Mayor, and during every day and night of the 9-day festival, one can enjoy various concerts and traditional dancing. Most opening acts kick off with a "Hevia", a rather popular bagpipe and wind instrument player from Asturias. An even bigger venue is the Casa de Campo, which features rock concerts in the vast open parkland to the west of the city. Jazz lovers go to performances at the Colegio San Juan Evangelista, while children are also treated to an extensive program of events.
San Isidro has been an official festival in Madrid since 1947, and while technically the festivities run from May 8th to the 15th, like good Spaniards they stretch the fun and always start earlier and end later. The festival actually begins with the Mayor's speach on the Friday afternoon prior to the 15th and ends with the ever popular Cocido Madrileño or public Cookout. A full program detailing the festivities is available from Spanish tourist board offices in the city four or five days before the festival begins
The nun Juliana of Liege used to have a strange vision every time she began to pray, in which a full moon appeared with its center darkened by shadow. Finally, Jesus himself told her of the significance of the vision: the bright circle signified all liturgical celebrations and these were only darkened by the absence of a feast day dedicated to the exaltation of the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which was debated at the time). Official recognition of the feast day was given in 1246. The new feast day arrived in Spain sometime during the 14th century.
The Festival of the Tied Bull
The tradition is more than 300 years old, has been declared of national touristic interest in, and is one of the great attractions of the village of Benavente.
The festival lasts a week. On the main day, which is on Wednesday, the young men of the village run the bull around the whole town. It is a physical race between the men and the bull, which has a rope tied to its horns so that it does not escape from the course.
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