Eccentric local events

Peculiar local traditions

Akin to most countries, Spain has preserved many peculiar local traditions over the centuries, some fairly controversial and others merely surprising or amusing; either way, definitely memorable, particularly for a foreign visitor.

Royal Palace of Madrid at sunny day at Madrid, Spain

An event with a fair amount of popularity outside Spain’s borders, La Tomatina, takes place every year in the Valencian town of Bunol, on the last Wednesday of August.

A religious significance is attributed to this festival, first held over 7 decades ago, as it’s apparently connected to the Virgin Mary as well as St. Lois Bertrand; the celebration itself is unconventional however as it involves participants (some of them half nude) splashing each other with tomatoes, a total of no less than 100 tons being used for each festival. The majority of participants are actually foreign, hence it is very lucrative in terms of drawing tourists.

Another festival in Galicia, in the village of Pontevedra, takes place yearly on the 29th of July and is known as Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, held in honour of the patron saint of resurrection.

Besides cheerfulness and fireworks, people who have suffered near-death experiences and survived are peculiarly carried around in coffins.

And if you want to see impressive bonfires, the place to go is Valencia, where for five days, culminating with St. Joseph’s day on the 19th of March, a bonfire festival known as Las Fallas is held. Immense puppets are purposely built by locals in the period leading up to it, to be lit up during the final phase of the festival. The views are known to be breath-taking.

And, if you want to witness something you will surely never see in another European capital, there is an annual farmers’ protest against expansive urbanisation in Madrid, perceived by many as jovial, entailing a procession of hundreds of sheep making their way through the city centre.

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