Bullfighting is deeply rooted within global historic traditions. But today, local public opinion leans against the tradition. Though the site includes information for tourists interested in attending the events, TripSavvy trusts its readers to make their own decisions on the ethics of bullfighting as an attraction.
There is so much to do in Spain in August, but the thing that sometimes holds people back is the heat. Don't let the rising mercury hold you back from enjoying the festivals—in fact, you can cool down by taking part in the water and tomato fights. Or if you are looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping, perhaps join Spain's oldest running of the bulls event near Segovia.
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Bunol in Valencia is home to La Tomatina, the famous battle of the tomatoes, which historically was for warring towns and villages in the region to work out their woes. Now, about 50,000 people from all over Spain visit for fun to throw about 100 tons of ripe tomatoes at each other for an hour. Afterward, everyone is hosed down in the streets. Usually, the festival is held the last week in August. If you plan on coming, wear old clothes and leave your mobile phone and camera at home or your hotel (unless you have protective, waterproof cases for them).
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In Bilbao and San Sebastian, both major cities in the Basque region of Spain, you can enjoy the Semana Grande, meaning "big week" in Spanish. Also, you may hear it being called Aste Nagusia, which is the Basque translation.
The largest festival in the region, the nine-day event features traditional dancing, fireworks, concerts, theatrical performances, and bullfights. You can watch a hilarious “ugly competition” where participants are asked to make the ugliest face possible, or pick your favorites in the Bilbao Strong Man competition.
This festival includes concerts, fairs, theater performances, and plenty of other entertainment taking place all over the city. A major highlight is the fireworks competitions that illuminate the sky every night.
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The Feria de Malaga, or the Malaga Fair, is one of the biggest parties in Andalusia, Spain, in mid-August. The fair lasts for a week and includes flamenco dancing, bullfighting, fireworks, and partying in the street. You can take part in the processions through the street, you can behold the majestic Andalusian horses, one of the most powerful breeds of horses in the world, or just take in the sights, sounds, and flavors in the decorated streets of the old quarter. The festival was developed by the people of Malaga to commemorate the re-conquest of this city by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1487.
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If you plan to visit Barcelona, Spain, in mid-August then you will not be able to miss the noisy, colorful Festa Major de Gracia, which means the "Big Feast of Gracia," a neighborhood in Catalan's capital city. The festival is famous for its classical Spanish, jazz, and rock music shows, artist workshops and exhibitions, street markets, sporting activities, parades, fireworks, theatrical performances, and kid-friendly events.
The week-long festival attracts about 1.5 million visitors each year. It starts on August 15, which coincides with one of Spain's national holidays. The busiest days of the festival are the first two days, so if you are looking to skip the crowds, catch the latter half of the festival.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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San Lorenzo Festival (Madrid)
The San Lorenzo Festival is also called the Fiesta de Lavapies in Spanish, which means "party in Lavapies." Lavapies is a neighborhood in Madrid, Spain. The party features processions, music, fireworks, and competitions, and is held in honor of St. Lorenzo. Legend has it that if you a see a shooting star in the sky during that time, which coincides with the peak of the Perseid meteor showers, the stars represent the saint's tears falling from heaven.
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On the first Sunday in August, the residents of Catoira in the Galicia region of Spain dress up as Vikings and re-enact the time when the Vikings attacked Pontevedra to try and take control of the western towers of the city. This fortified structure from the 11th century is one of the most important archaeological and historical buildings in Galicia.
During the festival, the fort acts as a medieval market and, at lunchtime, there is a seafood feast and red wine for people taking part in the procession. After you watch the battle being fought and won by the Galicians, you can enjoy food, music, and other theatrical performances late into the night.
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New Year's Eve in August (Granada)
Dating back to 1994 when a little village, Berchules, set high in the Alpujarras mountains suffered a power loss on New Year's Eve, the village of 800 in the Granada region of Andalusia, Spain, continues to celebrate New Year's Eve, or Nochevieja, on the first Saturday in August.
In winter, the mountain weather is temperamental. To ensure no party was ever interrupted again, thousands of merrymakers come to eat grapes, drink Cava at midnight, sing seasonal songs, watch the Three Kings parade through the streets, and even roll around in the (fake) snow.
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Competa, near Malaga, Spain, is a picturesque Spanish town that throws the Noche de Vino party, or "night of wine," on August 15 (also a Spanish national holiday, Nuestra Senora de Asunción) to herald the start of the grape harvest.
Every year, since 1974, thousands of people descend on the village to witness the ritual treading of the grapes and share in the fun and festivities. There is a free lunch of migas (fried breadcrumbs), salad and, most importantly, a glass of the locally-produced muscatel wine for everyone.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Presumed one of the oldest running of the bulls in Spain, the bull run in the town of Cuellar, near Segovia, is considered a national treasure by the Spanish government. The event begins on the last Sunday in August and lasts five days with bull runs each of the days. In addition to the bull-running, there are other festive events such as concerts, children’s parades, local confections, and traditional dances.
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At the Palacio de Festivales in Santander in the Cantabrian region of Spain's north coast, you can enjoy the international festival, or the Festival Internacional de Santander with theatrical, dance, and musical performances on a global scale throughout August. One of Spain's oldest musical festivals, you can expect to find classical music, the Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition, and the Orquestra de Castilla y Leon.
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Many towns and cities have fiestas, or "parties," throughout August, one being the celebration of Our Lady of the Paloma, on August 15, centered around the La Latina neighborhood in Madrid, Spain, renowned for being the center of the city's tapas culture. The day is celebrated with street parties stemming from the central Calle de Toledo.
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The annual Somontano wine festival in the Barbastro region of Aragon, Spain, is usually held for three days in late July and early August. The festival attracts more than 100,000 wine lovers from around the world. You can taste all the prize-winning wines produced in Somontano, go on winery tours, as well as try 100 different tapas. Every night during the festival, international artists perform theatrical productions, comedy shows, or magic stunts.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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One of the world's foremost flamenco festivals since 1961 is held in La Union, in the Murcia region of Spain: The Cante de las Minas Festival. Song, dance, and flamenco guitar take center stage at La Union Public Market. The festival includes competitions, gala performances by major stars in the genre, exhibitions, wine tastings, literary presentations, poetry recitals, courses, and talks. Admission is free for most events, although availability is limited. Gala performances and final stages of competition require the purchase of tickets. Cante de las Minas means "songs of the miners," which is a is a nod to the region's mining heritage. Flamenco's history in the region spans more than 150 years.
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The Traida del Agua in Telde on Grand Canary in the Canary Islands, Spain, is one big water fight. The origins of the festival, which means "water carrying," dates back to the 1960s in remembrance of a time when people would need to go to irrigation ditches and carry water in vessels to irrigate the land. On festival day, thousands of people carry water in a procession through the town before using it for a huge water fight. After the water fight, enjoy La Seca, which means "the dry," a popular dance.
Mobile phones, cameras, and other personal electronics should be left at home or the hotel. Also, you might want to bring a spare set of clothes in a plastic, sealed bag.
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Vuelta a España
One of Europe's bicycling Grand Tours, the Vuelta a Espana, is Spain's version of the Tour de France. The annual 23-day race usually starts in August and ends in September. The race got its start in 1935, growing over time, to become a multiple-stage race that takes place in the northern region of Spain, including Galicia, Navarra, Basque Country, and Catalonia.