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Fiestas in Spain

Many aspects of the Spanish lifestyle are extremely easy to get used to: the sunshine, the wine and the sangria, the paella, the tortilla and the tapas, and the uplifting rhythms of the bossa nova and the flamenco as the sun goes down and nightlife begins.

Local Fiestas

Some fiestas are location-specific, based on a local legend or a real historical event. A good example of this is San Sebastian, in the Basque country, which holds a festival each January to celebrate their liberation from French rule by Lord Wellington in 1812. If you decide to make Spain your home, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore the regions, find out more about their local traditions customs and history and also discover the landscape and even language which make them unique

Frivolous Fiestas

Some famous Spanish frivolities border on the surreal. There's a tomato fight, La Tomatina, in Buņol (Valencia) every August, where crowds 10,000 strong gather with the sole purpose of throwing tomatoes at each other. On Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, several places including Madrid stage a colourful fancy-dress event whose centrepiece is a sardine's funeral.

Summer Celebrations

Spectacular fireworks are a popular feature at fiestas, and probably the most spectacular of all are the ones that light up the skies at the Summer Solstice, when bonfires are lit to celebrate the longest day. This tradition is especially strong in the south of Spain.

Food and Drink Festivals

Seville, the tapas capital of the world, holds its annual tapas festival in February. September is the time when the wine-growing regions celebrate their local specialities. In Catalunya there is Cava week, where you can try Catalan's answer to Champagne. The Fiestas de Otoņo at Jerez de la Frontera, celebrating sherry, horses and flamenco, carry on for three weeks. And in La Rioja, the heartland of Spanish wine, Logroņo hosts the Fiesta de San Mateo.

Music Festivals

Among the biggest and best known are Cordoba Guitar Festival, the San Sebastian Jazz Festival, the International Festival of Music and Dance at Granada and the Jerez Flamenco Festival.

Religious Festivals

Many of today's colourful fiestas have their origins in religion. In a lot of towns, the first festival of the year is on January 5th when the theme of the celebrations is the arrival of the Three Kings; this is a family event with street processions and gifts for the children. Then in April, a traditional way for towns to celebrate Holy Week is with a parade of floats, each depicting a story from the Bible. Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga are particularly noted for their Holy Week celebrations. Alicante stages a representation of the struggles between the Moors and the Christians (Moros y Cristianos).