When people think of festivals in Spain, the first thought that springs to mind is the running of the bulls during the Festival of San Fermin in Pampelona, where participants run from bulls down narrow streets.
However, what many people don’t realize is that the running of the bulls is far from the wackiest festival that takes place in Spain.
Here are five other wacky festivals in Spain that you won’t believe exist.
The Tomato Fight
Every year nearly 30,000 people flock to the town of Bunol which lies in Spain’s Valencia region in order to throw over 240,000 pounds of tomatoes at each other. Billed as the world’s biggest food fight, this wacky festival takes place on the last Wednesday of August and is known as “The Tomatinia.” The festival starts with a contest where competitors race to be the first up a pole to grab a smoked leg of ham. Once the ham is cut down, everyone dons eye protection while dump trucks release their cargo of tomatoes. Then all hell breaks loose until every tomato has been used up in what is, essentially, a town wide tomato fight.
This tradition began in 1945 when a couple of guys having an argument in the market started throwing tomatoes at each other. The next year, some 1940s hipsters showed up in the town square only this time bringing their own tomatoes. By 1947 engaging in public food fights was banned by the authorities, but because it had become so popular, it was made into an official festival in 1959 as long as the start and stop of the food fight was respected (it is announced with a banger).
Walking Over Hot Coals
San Pedro Manrique hosts a festival on June 23rd every year where a dozen young men are chosen to walk across hot coals. It begins at 9:00 at night when a bonfire made of 2000 kilos of oak wood is lit. Oak is important because it burns easily and does not form any lumps. Once it has burned down, around 11:30, the hot coals are smoothed out and it is ready to begin the walk. The men who walk across the coals typically carry someone on their back since the extra weight avoids combustion. The coals also contain no ashes or hard objects, so the fire-walkers never get burned.
Las Fallas, “The Fires” in Valencian, is one of the craziest festivals in a country where crazy festivals are the norm. It focuses on building and then destroying huge cardboard and wood dolls. There are a lot of bonfires and fireworks, and many people say that Las Fallas is the best fireworks show in the world. It lasts from March 15th to the 19th.
In the southern part of Catalonia, near Tarragona, people build human towers. Typically wearing white trousers and a black sash, the climbers climb to their designated places, and then one person climbs to the top and extends their hand in a gesture meant to symbolise the Catalan flag. They then climb down to safety.
Rapa Das Bestas
The festival of Rapa Das Bestas in the small town of Pontevedra is basically horse wrestling. Wild horses that live in the surrounding mountains are made to come into the town, and once they are in place, participants take them into “El Curro” where the locals will then cut their hair and clean bugs and parasites from them, occasionally marking and registering some of the horses before setting them free into the mountains again to wait for next year.
About the Guest Blogger – If you are thinking about visiting Spain’s La Manga Club this year try and plan your visit to coincide with one of the wacky festivals above. You are sure to have a great time!