If you're visiting Spain in October, you're probably not headed to the beach—the weather throughout much of the country in October probably won't be conducive to getting a suntan. But if you love sunny and warm (but not hot) days, October might be the best time for you to visit.
Many towns, especially on the Costa del Sol, have their annual feria (Spanish for festival), so expect street stalls selling food and drink as the locals party all day and night. This is also the season for film festivals in Spain—after all, there's nothing like cozying up to a good movie on a chilly autumn evening.
Celebrate Jazz, Wine & More in Catalonia
In Barcelona, you can hear world-class jazz at the famous Barcelona Jazz Festival late the month (October 19–31, 2019). 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.
There's a lot going on throughout the rest of Catalonia, too. Check out the Cavatast Cava (sparkling wine) Festival (October 4–6, 2019) in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, and local celebrations in Girona for Fires de Sant Narcis (October 29–November 3, 2019).
Party Like a Local in Marbella
To take advantage of the last few days of really warm weather, many towns on the Costa del Sol hold their local feria, or fair, in October. You'll find festivals in Nerja, Fuengirola, Cádiar (including a wine fountain providing free wine), and San Pedro de Alcántara near Puerto Banus.
The San Pedro feria offers something for everyone. As the location is directly adjacent to one of Marbella's hottest family destinations, 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. At this event, you'll be able to listen to world-class guitarists and an even experience an exciting flamenco guitar competition. (That's right—flamenco is much more than just dancing.)
2019 dates: September 27–October 5
Stomp Grapes in the Vineyards
Grape stomping, formerly an integral part of traditional 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 tour in any one of Spain's myriad magnificent wine regions.
For example, you can take a day trip from Barcelona that combines the traditional wine tour and tastings plus the incredible opportunity to stomp the grapes with your feet. Afterward, have a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard or lunch at a traditional Catalan restaurant.
Celebrate Architecture in Madrid
You can visit dozens of architecturally and historically significant buildings. Fun and educational children's activities are also part of the week.
2019 dates: September 30–October 7
Experience Local Traditions in Spain
Spain follows age-old Catholic traditions honoring each town's patron saints. 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 statues are carried through the streets. Look for a feria in a small city or town, like one of these, to experience traditional Spain.
Fiestas del Pilar (October 5–13, 2019): The city of Zaragoza in Aragón honors the city's patron saint, Our Lady 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 (October 6–12, 2019): Also called Feria del Rosario, this celebration in Fuengirola is held in honor of Spain's national holiday (October 12) at the fairground. Locals bring their 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 (October 9–13, 2019): Nerja hosts this weeklong celebration honoring its patron saints, the Virgin of Anguish and St. Michael the Archangel. 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 (October 12–20, 2019): In Jaén, known as the world's olive oil capital, the city honors St. Luke, its patron saint, every October. For more than a week, fairgoers can experience concerts, dancing, local foods, and cultural and sporting events.
Romería de Valme (October 20, 2019): In Dos Hermanas, near Seville, locals celebrate the Romería de Valme religious pilgrimage on the third Sunday of October every year. The colorful processions honor Our Lady of Valme, and statues of her are paraded through the streets.
Run Through Bilbao
The Bilbao Night Marathon takes place in October each year. Choose from a 10K, half-marathon, or full marathon to run alongside more than 12,000 athletes.
The run will take you through the magical streets of Bilbao at night. If you're more of a casual runner, there's also a non-competitive charity 5K. The fun continues into the night with fireworks, music, and performances.
2019 date: Saturday, October 19
Dance the Sardana in Girona
The Fires de Sant Narcis in Girona, Catalonia takes place in the beautiful La Devesa park. You'll find hundreds of locals doing the sardana (a traditional Catalan dance) as well as enjoying live music and giant papier mâché figures and heads.
As if that weren't enough, you'll also find arts and crafts vendors, film, theater, sports competitions, roast chestnut feasts, and children's shows.
2019 dates: October 29–November 3
Get Scared in San Sebastian
While the city's most iconic film festival takes place in September, San Sebastian keeps the cinematic fun going all autumn long. The Horror and Fantasy Film Festival is an intriguing combination of horror and sci-fi. Established in 1990, this annual film festival 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.
2019 dates: October 26–November 1
Enjoy an LGBT Film Festival in Madrid
The International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival also comes to Spain in October. The LesGaiCineMad is the most significant LGBT film festival in the Spanish-speaking world, with 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 portal for LGBT Spanish film distribution.