Though I’d much rather prefer a long list.
For lots of reasons, I love Spain. One of the things they do well is events. Whether grand or a little local fiesta.
I’ve been to quite a few. Semana Santa twice (once in Seville and its environs, once in Segovia and Madrid). And fallas twice (once in the heart of Valencia, once also in towns to the south). They’re big set pieces which you can’t help being aware of if you’ve got any interest in Spain and its culture.
But if you observe carefully (and as a photographer I try to) you should start to understand that the grand spectacles are actually constructed from lots of smaller parts. The churches and parishes for Semana Santa, the localities for fallas.
And often those individual elements are more interesting than the whole that’s marketed to tourists. One of my fondest memories of fallas was one of the societies that had cooked a giant paella and was selling racions to passers-by for 5 euro to raise funds. Add another euro for a beer and it was a bargain on-the-hoof lunch. Spanish food cooked the authentic way.
Last year I came across a mention of L’Aplec del Caragol, a weekend when Lleida celebrates snails. It’s a city that’s quick to get to by train from Barcelona, and the event coincided with a bank holiday in England, so it was too tempting to resist. Especially as flights to Spain can, with a little planning, often be bought for less than train tickets to somewhere else in England.
It was a fun few days. Which started me wondering how many similar events there might be. For once, GInYF (Google Is not Your Friend) here. That’s not hugely surprising because these events are very localised. I don’t suppose, for example, that huge numbers of people outside of Lincolnshire have heard of the World Egg Throwing Championships.
So I’ve started a little list to try to capture Spanish events that might be worth a look. Think of it as a bucket list for me and anyone else interested in trying to get a better feel for Spain.
Semana Santa, Fallas, and the running of the bulls in Pamplona aren’t on the list because they are too “obvious”.
Seville’s April fair is on the list because I haven’t done that yet, even though it should fall into the obvious category.
The Three Kings, which I’ve seen a few times, is only on the list because I wonder whether there are less obvious places to spend the night of Jan 5.
The best I’ve found so far (after a very brief wander around the internet in my lunch break) that represent what I’m looking for are possibly Carnival in Cadiz or Las Hogueras de San Juan in Alicante. I’m aware of Tomatina, assorted Moors and Christians events (Alcoy is supposed to be the best?), and a baby-jumping festival so they will probably get added soon.
Other suggestions are very very welcome. Not only for my benefit, but also for anyone else with more than a passing interest in Spain. Add them to the comments and let’s see how big a list we can compile for everyone’s benefit.