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're looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping, perhaps join Spain's oldest bull run near Segovia.
Tomatina Tomato Fight (Buñol, Valencia)
Buñol in the region of 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. Today, about 50,000 people from all over Spain and the world 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.
The festival is held the on last Wednesday in August. If you plan on coming, wear old clothes and leave your phone and camera at home or your hotel (unless you have protective, waterproof cases for them).
2019 date: Wednesday, August 28
Semana Grande (Basque Country)
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 contest.
The festival also 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.
2019 dates: August 17–25
Feria de Málaga (Malaga)
The Feria de Málaga, or Malaga Fair, is one of the biggest summer parties in southern Spain. The fair lasts for a week and includes flamenco dancing, bullfighting, fireworks, and partying in the street. Check out the street processions, marvel at the majestic Andalusian horses (they're one of the most powerful breeds 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 reconquest of their city by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1487.
2019 dates: August 15–24
Gracia Festival (Barcelona)
If you plan to visit Barcelona in mid-August, you can't miss the noisy, colorful Festa Major de Gràcia—literally, "Big Party of Gracia," a storied neighborhood in the Catalan capital. 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 weeklong festival attracts about 1.5 million visitors each year and coincides with the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, one of Spain's major national holidays. The busiest days of the festival are the first two, so if you're looking to avoid the crowds, catch the latter half.
2019 dates: August 15–21
San Lorenzo Festival (Madrid)
The San Lorenzo Festival is also called the Fiesta de Lavapiés in Spanish. Lavapiés is a neighborhood in Madrid, and its signature party features processions, music, fireworks, and more in honor of St. Lorenzo. Keep an eye out for shooting stars during the festival, which coincides with the peak of the Perseid meteor showers—legend says that they represent the saint's tears falling from heaven.
2019 dates: August 9–11
Catoira Viking Festival (Galicia)
On the first Sunday in August, the residents of Catoira in the Galicia region of Spain dress up as Vikings and reenact 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.
2019 date: Sunday, August 4
New Year's Eve in August (Bérchules, Granada)
In 1994, the tiny village of Bérchules (population 719) suffered a power loss on New Year's Eve. Today, the town in the Alpujarras mountain range outside Granada in Andalusia, Spain, continues to celebrate New Year's Eve, or Nochevieja, on the first Saturday in August.
Why August? Consider the fact that in winter, mountain weather is especially temperamental, and the goal is to ensure no party is 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.
2019 date: Saturday, August 3
Noche de Vino (Competa, Malaga)
Cómpeta, near Malaga, is a picturesque Spanish town that throws the Noche de Vino ("night of wine") party on the Feast of the Assumption to herald the start of the grape harvest.
Every year since 1974, thousands of people have descended on the village to witness the ritual stomping of the grapes and share in the fun and festivities. There's even a free lunch of migas (fried breadcrumbs), salad and—most importantly—a glass of local moscatel wine.
2019 date: Thursday, August 15
Cuéllar Bull Run (Segovia)
Considered one of the oldest bull runs in Spain, the running of the bulls in the town of Cuéllar, 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 day. In addition to the running, there are other festive events such as concerts, children’s parades, local confections, and traditional dances.
2019 date: August 25–29
International Festival (Santander)
At the Palacio de Festivales in Santander in Cantabria on Spain's north coast, you can enjoy the Festival Internacional de Santander complete with theatrical, dance, and musical performances on a global scale throughout August. It's also one of Spain's oldest musical festivals, where you can experience classical music, the Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition, and the Orquestra de Castilla y León, among others.
2019 dates: August 3–31
Fiesta de la Virgen de la Paloma (Madrid)
Joining the collection of August fiestas is that held in honor of Our Lady of the Paloma, centered around the La Latina neighborhood in Madrid. The neighborhood, which is also known for being the center of the city's tapas culture, marks the occasion with street parties stemming from the central Calle de Toledo.
2019 dates: August 12–15
Somontano Wine Festival (Barbastro, Aragon)
The annual Somontano Wine Festival in Barbastro, a town in the region of Aragon, is held for several days in late July or early August and 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, and try up to 100 different tapas. Every night during the festival, international artists perform theatrical productions, comedy shows, or magic stunts.
2019 dates: August 1–4
Cante de las Minas (Murcia)
The Cante de las Minas Festival, considered one of the world's foremost flamenco festivals since its conception in 1961, is held in La Unión, Murcia. Song, dance, and flamenco guitar take center stage at La Unión 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 also boasts a rich history in the region that spans more than 150 years.
2019 dates: August 1–10
Traída del Agua (Canary Islands)
The Traída del Agua in Telde, Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands is one big water fight. The origins of the festival, which means "water carrying," date back to the 1960s in remembrance of a time when people needed 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 a popular dance known as La Seca, which means "the drying."
Mobile phones, cameras, and other personal electronics should be left at home or the hotel. You might also want to bring a spare set of clothes in a plastic, sealed bag.
2019 date: Sunday, August 11
Vuelta a España (northern Spain)
One of Europe's bicycling Grand Tours, the Vuelta a España, 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 half of Spain, including Galicia, Navarra, the Basque Country, and Catalonia.
2019 dates: August 24–September 15