Where are the Best Spanish Fiestas?
Spain has festivals going on almost every day of the year. Some have a religious focus, some are for special interests, but the majority are just great big parties. Even some of the festivals that originated as a religious event have descended into large amounts of drinking eating and dancing in the streets. But it's important to know which ones -- turn up at 3 pm in Toledo during Semana Santa with a large Spanish gin and tonic in your hands and you'll be frowned at.
These parties are the biggest and best fiestas you'll find in Spain -- they're great for a bachelor or bachelorette celebration, guys' or gals' weekend away or a birthday party. Jump to the Spain party of your choice below or click 'Next' further down the page.
If you're traveling alone, don't fret -- there are tours available for many of these parties, to give you some ready-made friends for the event.
Las Fallas is a giant fire-and-noise party that takes over all of Valencia for nearly a week, usually from March 15 to 19.
Festivals in Spain often close down an entire city but rarely does this happen in a city as big as Valencia (Spain's third biggest city). The main attraction of Las Fallas is the giant sculptures (or fallas) -- a bit like a nativity scene but ten times bigger and usually poking fun at celebrities and politicians.
Then there are the daily firework displays and mascletas, basically synchronized audio fireworks. All of this takes place among street stalls selling food and alcohol. At the end of the festival, all the fallas are set on fire in a night of pyromania, music, drink, and dancing in the streets. But that's not all -- check out this list of things to do at Las Fallas.
Las Fallas Tour
With so much going on at Las Fallas, having someone to help you get around the mammoth festival would help hugely. Busabout has a five-day Fallas tour which includes four nights of camping, trips to the 'audio fireworks', a welcome party and visits to the burnings on the final night.
What Else to Do in Valencia
Valencia is Spain's third biggest city, with plenty of museums and sights to keep you occupied, the most famous being the City of Art and Science, which combines art, a science museum, a dolphin show and a lot more on one site. Valencia also has a beach and is the birthplace of paella. You won't get bored.
How to Get to Valencia
Pamplona Running of the Bulls
The Pamplona Running of the Bulls is the focal point of the San Fermin festival (or San Fermines). From July 6 to 14 each year, the brave, the drunk and/or the stupid from around the world converge on San Fermin for daily runs with a pack of angry bulls. The night before, everyone parties in the street.
On July 6, the day before the first run is the opening ceremony which is almost as chaotic (and a lot safer) than the actual bull runs. The Pamplona Running of the Bulls appeals to all ages and walks of life and there are tours that cater for all of them. Whether you want to party all night, are a little older and calmer, or prefer to travel in a little more luxury there's a tour to suit your needs and preferences.
What Else to Do in Pamplona
Pamplona is a vibrant city, but nothing much happens during the festival apart from partying, running with the bulls and recovering the following day. To get the most out of your time in this part of Spain, travel to (or base yourself in) San Sebastian or Bilbao.
Best Accommodations for Pamplona
Accommodations in Pamplona during the festival is really expensive. If you have access to a car, consider staying in San Sebastian and driving in. If you're on a budget, camping is a good option, in which case consider one of the tours above. If you're early enough, you may be able to book a youth hostel.
Tomatina Tomato Fight
On the last Wednesday of August, tons and tons of tomatoes are driven into Buñol (near Valencia) for an hour's vegetable pelting -- Tomatina, the world's most famous food fight! If you come down the night before, there's a party which lasts until morning. A note to travelers: it is necessary to get a ticket for the event.
Tomatina Tomato Fight Tours
Busabout offers a 4-day La Tomatina tour and with a choice of hostel, hotel, camping or no accommodation.
Remember that Tomatina is in a small village outside Valencia, and you have to get there early. A tour, whether via Busabout or another company, is a great way to make the logistics of getting there a lot easier. Also, with the ticket requirement, taking a tour makes more sense than ever.
La Batalla del Vino
Held yearly on June 29 in Haro (in the La Rioja region), the Batalla del Vino translates as the 'Wine Battle'. Imagine a water fight, but with red wine instead! This is wine country, so there's plenty of red wine to go around and bad wine to waste. So fill up your water pistol with the bad stuff and drink the good stuff after the party is over.
Batalla del Vino Tour
There is a good tour for La Batalla del Vino from Busabout. The 3-day program includes your accommodation (2 nights), breakfast and a great guide crew to make sure you get to the wine battle on time!
What Else to Do in Haro
Haro is not a big place, so there's not a lot to do apart from sampling the wine (the stuff they use in the battle is the cheap, poor quality stuff -- though the vino in the bars is also cheap -- but good!).
How to Get to Haro
There are buses throughout the day from Bilbao, but nothing direct from Madrid, Barcelona or San Sebastian. The town does have a train station, on the line which connects Bilbao to Barcelona, but the trains are infrequent. The bus is your best bet.
Accommodation options in Haro are limited, and it's a small town that pushes its prices up for the festival. The guided tour via Busabout is your best bet for cheap lodging.
Summer in Ibiza
Ibiza is Spain's premier party island, located off the coast of Spain. There are superclubs that run seven days a week, throughout the long, hot summer. This festival spans the month of June and runs until early October.
Ibiza Party Tours
Ibiza's party cities are best enjoyed in a large group. If you don't have a big group of buddies to book with, check out a party tour, namely Busabout's 4-day Ibiza Blast Tour. To make the most of your trip, start or end in Valencia immediately before or after the Tomatina Tomato Fight.
How to Get to Ibiza
There are flights directly to Ibiza. You also take a ferry from various islands or from the mainland (the tours above include a ferry from or to Valencia).
Best Accommodation in Ibiza
If all you want to do is party, party, party, then San Antonio is the best place to stay. Accommodation in the town center is more expensive, so why not stay across the bay, where there is a cheap ferry that can take you into town for your nights out? Check out these options:
Carnival in Spain in most cities is a lot like the famous Rio carnival or Mardi Gras (though admittedly less grand in most cases), but in other cities, you'll experience some unusual events. Carnival varies from year to year, as it is the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter. You can find revelers all over Spain, but particularly in the Chueca area of Madrid and Sitges, near Barcelona.
Sitges near Barcelona is a 'traditional' event with processions, people dressed in costume and lots of drinking in the street. If you decide to go to Sitges to party all night, you don't need to actually be staying in Sitges; a lot of people prefer to stay in Barcelona. It means that you won't be able to get the train back to your hostel until around 5:30 am, but if you plan on partying with the Spanish, this is when you should be doing it!
What Else to Do in Barcelona
It's virtually impossible to run out of things to do in Barcelona. If you're not sure where to begin or what to do next, see this list of 100 things to do in Barcelona.
The best accommodation in Barcelona for Carnival is in Sitges. With direct trains from Passeig de Gracia to Sitges, this central location is probably your best place to stay for Carnival. Equity Point Centric Hostel on Hostelworld Barcelona's biggest party hostel is a good and economical choice and is located right next to Passeig de Gracia station.
Primavera Sound Alternative Music Festival
Primavera Sound is one of Europe's biggest and best alternative music festivals, taking place the last week of May. By 'alternative', we're talking the kind of music that Pitchfork writes about. Primavera Sound takes place at the Parc Forum in Barcelona and in Porto in Portugal.
With major prior headlining acts such as Blur, The Postal Service, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and My Bloody Valentine. Primavera Sound is the music event for any alternative music lover.