If you're visiting Spain in the fall, you're probably not headed to one of the country's beaches because the weather in October is a little too chilly for sunbathing. However, if you love days that are sunny and warm but not too hot and nights that are cool enough for a sweater, October might be the best time of year for you to visit because there's plenty to do both indoors and outdoors this month.
Many towns, especially on the Costa del Sol, have their annual feria (Spanish for "festival") in October, so you can expect to see street stalls selling local food and drink as the residents party all day and night no matter where you go. This is also the season for film festivals in Spain, and the Madrid bullfighting season starts at the end of the month.
Whether you're in search of a traditional festival or you want to experience the culture of a large city at a special event, there are places you can go in Spain that offer unique ways to immerse yourself in Spanish customs and traditions.
Run Through Bilbao
The Bilbao Night Marathon takes place in October each year, and in 2018, you can take part in the event on October 20. At the Bilbao Night Marathon, you can choose from a 10-k, half-marathon, or full marathon to run with more than 12,000 athletes, and there's also a non-competitive 5-k for charity. Although the run will take you through the streets of Bilbao at night already, the party is just getting started when the race ends. The celebration continues into the night with fireworks, music, and performances.
Celebrate in Catalonia
In Barcelona, you can hear world-class jazz at the big Barcelona Jazz Festival toward the end of the month. At more than a dozen venues around the city, jazz lovers can enjoy concerts featuring big-name jazz musicians as well and up-and-coming artists. Around Catalonia, there's a human castle-building competition in Tarragona, the Cavatast Cava (sparkling wine) festival in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, and local celebrations in Girona for Fires de Sant Narcis.
Party Like a Local in Marbella
Grabbing the last few days of really warm weather, many towns on the Costa del Sol in the Marbella region of Spain hold their local feria in October. You'll find festivals in Nerja (October 7 to 12, 2018), Fuengirola (October 6 to 12), San Pedro de Alcantara near Puerto Banus (October 16 to 21), and Cádiar. Notably, the San Pedro Feria offers something for everyone since it's located directly adjacent to one of Marbella's hottest family destinations. Here, you can stroll along and also enjoy great restaurants, cafes, and a carnival for the kids.
Follow the Music in Seville
The Seville Guitar Festival is the main attraction in Seville in October, though it starts on September 28 and ends on October 6 in 2018. At this annual event, you can listen to world-class guitarists and see an exciting Flamenco guitar competition. The ninth edition of this event is titled "España: Sueño y Verdad" ("Spain: Dream and Truth") and also features master classes and speaker conferences alongside the many concerts and performances scheduled for this year's festivities.
Stomp Grapes in the Vineyards
Grape stomping, formerly an integral part of wine production, still takes place in some parts of Spain. Organizing your own grape-stomping experience can be difficult, but you can start by booking a wine tour that stops at a vineyard offering this age-old activity. Some tour companies offer a day trip from Barcelona that combines the traditional wine tour and tastings with the incredible opportunity to press the grapes with your feet. Afterward, you can have a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard or lunch at a traditional Catalan restaurant.
Appreciate Architecture in Madrid
The Semana de la Arquitectura (The Week of Architecture) combines a trade fair, exhibits, children's workshops, and public events in Madrid's most famous buildings. You can also visit dozens of architecturally and historically significant buildings throughout the city on a guided tour, and children's activities are also scheduled throughout the week. Architecture Week takes place from September 28 to October 7, 2018, and features family itineraries on the weekends this year.
Dance Sardana Style in Girona
The Fires de Sant Narcis in Girona, Catalonia, takes place in the beautiful La Devesa Park from October 26 to November 4, 2018. The event features Sardana dancing, live music, and giant paper mâché figures and heads. You'll also find arts and crafts vendors, film, theater, sports competitions, roast chestnut feasts, and children's shows.
Get Scared in San Sebastian
The Horror and Fantasy Film Festival is an intriguing combination of horror and sci-fi that takes place from October 27 to November 2, 2018. Started in 1990, this annual film festival in San Sebastian features full-length films and shorts from around the world. Genres include horror, fantasy, sci-fi, animation, and classics. The festival also has street shows, music, exhibitions, and comedy performances throughout the week.
Enjoy a Gay Film Festival in Madrid
The International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will return to Spain from October 25 to November 11, 2018. The LesGaiCineMad is the most significant LGBT film festival in all of the Spanish-speaking countries that has a collection of more than 3,000 international films. The festival shows feature-length films, shorts, video art, and documentaries. The festival is known internationally for its work in the discovery, subtitling, and release of Spanish-American productions making LesGaiCineMad a window for GLBT Spanish film distribution.
Ferias Across Spain: Local Traditions in Smaller Towns
Spain follows age-old Catholic traditions honoring the towns' patron saints, and the majority of these special Saints' Days feature offerings and shows of respect to the images of the saints as well as parades and processions where the statues are carried through the streets. Look for a Feria in a small town to experience traditional Spain.
- Fiestas del Pilar: The city of Zaragoza in Aragon honors the city's patron saint, Virgin Mary of the Pillar, at this annual festival. The weeklong event features shows, contests, and parades; highlights include the offering of flowers and fruits to the Virgin Mary and the glass rosary parade featuring floats made entirely of glass.
- Feria de Fuengirola: Also called Feria del Rosario, this celebration in Fuengirola is held every October 6 through 12 at the fairground. Locals bring their carriage horses and carriages and wear their finest traditional garb—flamenco dresses for women and suits for men. The fair includes rides, live music, flamenco dancing, and fair foods.
- Feria de Nerja: Nerja hosts this weeklong celebration honoring its patron saints of the Virgin of Anguish and Archangel Saint Michael. Festivities take over much of the town but focus mainly on the east and west sides of the town center. This family-friendly festival features music, horses, parades, concerts, fair rides, dancing, and children's activities.
- Fiestas de San Lucas: In Jaen, known as the world's olive oil capital, the city honors its patron saint, St. Luke. For more than a week, fair-goers can experience concerts, bullfights, dancing, local foods, and cultural and sporting events.
- Romería de Valmen: In Dos Hermanas, near Seville, there is the Romería de Valme religious pilgrimage on the third Sunday of October every year. The colorful processions honor the Virgen de Valme and statues of her are paraded through the streets.