Numerous festivals on the Camino de Santiago are attended by both locals and pilgrims. In fact, those festivals are the best places to meet people and experience the culture! Here is our list of top festivals on the Camino de Santiago that you can visit while walking the Camino. We’ve divided them by seasons so you can find the ones that will be on while you are walking the Camino.
Semana Santa (Easter)
This is the biggest festival of the year that takes place on the Camino. It starts on the holy week of Easter, which is usually around March/April. Semana Santa is one of the most impressive, traditional, colourful religious parades and the parade marches in Spain are nothing like the ones you may be used to. If you want to see the celebration in its full glory, Seville and Malaga are the best places to go. Starting from their very religious parade and food, it is worth booking your holiday just for this festival.
Freedom Day, across Portugal
On the 25th of April is the national holiday in Portugal. It is the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution which marked the end of the dictatorship and the start of democracy. Unlike many countries, they were able to shift their system without much bloodshed. Freedom Day is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and different entertainments across the country.
Sao Jao in Porto
During the month of June and until the San Juan day on the 24th of June, the arrival of Summer is celebrated. Those fests are called “ Popular Saint’s fests” and it’s celebrating by knocking your neighbours on the head (gently) with mallets! It’s also the best moment to eat sardines, basil, and to attend to plenty of concerts!
The fire of San Juan in A Coruna
During the night between the 23rd of June and the 24th of June, people gather together to celebrate the most popular fest in Spain. All the city is lit by fires on the streets and beaches. You will see people singing and eating together, it’s a wonderful spirit and a wonderful occasion to meet people.
San Fermin in Pamplona
Every year between the 6th to the 14th of July in Pamplona, there is a festival in honor of San Fermin. Before the 6th of July, the city is calm, too calm and then when at midnight a rocket explodes, the city belongs to the people and to the music! During one week dressed in red and white, the citizen will try to make as much noise as possible. A lot of concerts from different types of music, balls, theaters and so on will be settled in the city. A lot of wine will be drunk during this week! The best is seeing people in their crazy dress!
St James Festival in Santiago de Compostela
St James is the patron of Santiago de Compostela and also Galicia. This festival in his honor takes place during the last two weeks of July. It is full of concerts, galleries, and street entertainment across the city, including the fireworks on the 24th of July. On the 25th of July is the Feast of St James, the national feast in Santiago. It is celebrated in style. One of the events you might be interested in is the official mass where Spanish royalty and the Galician government attend. People watch the big incense swing from the roof with a rope. The Camino routes or St James Way are very busy coming up to the 25th of July; especially closer to Santiago.
Semana Grande in Bilbao
Semana Grande is the largest Festival in Northern Spain. The festival starts on a Saturday after 15th August. It usually lasts up to nine days. The festival’s mascot is called Marijaia and the whole celebration starts with her making a grand entrance onto the balcony. This festival is dedicated to the Virgin of Begona or Mother to the Basques and is one of Europe’s most exhilarating street parties. This is the place you should go if you want to experience the Basque culture to its fullest.
Fiestas de la Encina in Ponferrada
On the 8th of September is the Virgin of La Encina, saint patron of El Bierzo. The festival starts on the 1st of September in Ponferrada and it usually lasts for 10 days. La Encina is full of concerts, activities, street entertainment, and fireworks, etc.
Fiestas de la Virgo in Bilbao
On the 11th of October, the city celebrates the Patron Saint of Biscaye: the Virgo Begona. The day is full of games, traditional rosquillas, shows of traditional products, wine. You will have the chance to test all those products during the day. A lovely day full of traditional spirit!
San Mateo in La Rioja
Wine lovers this is your festival! The harvests of Logrono are a tribute to San Mateo. People dressed with the traditional costume tread on the grapes, and then they offer the first juice to the Virgo de Valvanera. Then a lot of bulls run, floats, a meal with the people, and of course wine tasting are running along with the harvests.
HOsted in Lugo, this is Galicia’s most popular festival. The UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the 10 days festival in October from the 4th to the 12th. The town is the Galicia’s epicenter during the two weekends of the festival. The octopus stalls at the fairground are the most popular attraction. During the evening, several concerts of the best Spanish music performers are running. The second Sunday of the festival known as the O Domingo das mozas. During this day will have the chance to watch the procession of the traditional costumes!
Carnaval de Laza
The older carnival in Europe takes place near to Ourense, in Galicia. People wear wood masks hand-painted and sculpted. We called them “Los Peliqueiros”, they run in all the city making noise on the streets with bells. Flour battles and distribution of the traditional pastry, the Labica is the custom of this carnival. This carnival is celebrated all along the Via de la Plata, but it’s in Laza where it’s the most stunning.
Choose one of the festivals on the Camino and we can help you with picking the best time and the best Camino for you!
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Originally published on 18th May 2020