Spain's Events and Festivals in September

Vineyard leading up to a village in La Rioja, Spain

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Bullfighting is deeply rooted in 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.

Because the weather is starting to cool down and there are slightly fewer tourists than in the summer, September is a particularly good month to visit Spain. Not to mention, there are a number of festivals and events to check out throughout the country in September, particularly in Catalonian cities like Barcelona and Tarragona, where religious festivals are the highlight of the month and in northern Spain where you can see grape-stomping in the Basque Country or check out the film festival in San Sebastian.

In 2020, many of these events and festivals may be canceled, postponed, or altered in some way. Be sure to check the website of the official organizers for the latest updates.

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The San Sebastian Film Festival

66th San Sebastian Film Festival

Juan Naharro Gimenez / Contributor / Getty Images

As of July, the festival is still on for 2020 and will take place from September 18 to 26 with a reduction in the number of screenings and organized activities.

Many actors owe their success in film to this annual event, which was established in 1953. The San Sebastian Film Festival is one of the most important cinematic celebrations in the world, often drawing iconic household names like Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Brad Pitt.

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La Rioja Grape Harvest Festival in Logroño

La Rioja Wine Country Vineyards and church

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Logroño is the capital of the world-renowned wine region of La Rioja in northern Spain. Each year, during the first harvest of the grapes, the city hosts a celebration known as the Feast of San Mateo.

Paseo del Espolón, Logroño's most emblematic plaza, is at the heart of the city. It's here where you can enjoy the main festivities and the ceremony where grapes are carried from the local vineyards by children and poured into large wine barrels. The grapes are then pressed by men dressed in traditional clothing in a large wooden tub. You can join the rest of the town in the festivities like plays, concerts, and more.

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Festa de la Mercè in Barcelona

Human Tower of Castellers in Sant Cugat del Valles, Barcelona, Spain
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The La Merce festival, so named in honor of the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, is the biggest festival in Barcelona. This festival is Barcelona’s way of ushering in autumn with more than 500 fun activities which include music, arts, acrobatic shows, and street processions like the giant's parade featuring larger-than-life effigies of kings, queens, and nobles that are marched through the streets. It includes numerous live concerts, parades, fireworks, and the famous Catalan human towers known as Castellers.

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Santa Tecla Festival in Tarragona

The traditional human towers known as castellers in Catalonia, Spain.

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The best way to learn about Spain’s past is to indulge in Tarragona’s Santa Tecla Festival. The celebrations tell the stories of Spanish history and also feature rock and jazz music, drama plays, movies, sports, and parties. The main features of the festivities are the regional dances, which are full of flourish and excitement, as well as the gravity-defying human towers known as Castellers, which is a specifically Catalonian tradition.

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Euskal Jaiak in the Basque Country

Giant people floats at Bermeoko jaiak

 Marta Sadowska / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 

The Basque Country is unlike any other place in Spain. The region celebrates its unique culture every year in September with the Euskal Jaiak celebration, which literally translates to "Basque festivities." Taking place over the course of a week, the festival is complete with traditional music and dancing, sporting competitions, and more, the event provides a fascinating look at this proud community's one-of-a-kind heritage. Don't miss Cider Day, when hundreds of bottles of cider will be brought into San Sebastian for revelers to enjoy. You can also check out some of the official sports of the Basque Country like woodchopping and stone-lifting.

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Catalan National Day in Catalonia

Diada de Catalunya

 JordiDelgado / Getty Images 

Since 1886, Catalan National Day has been celebrated on September 11 throughout the region. It's a day-long festival where Catalonians display pride in their region. Celebrations take place throughout Catalonia, but the biggest events can be found in its capital, Barcelona. As you walk through the streets amidst thousands of people, you'll learn more about the independence movement and get a first-hand perspective on the local opinion. It's one of the only events that gives visitors an up-close look at what it’s really like to be Catalan.

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La Vuelta a España Bicycle Race

La Vuelta is Spain's answer to the Tour de France

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Though not as well-known as the Tour de France, La Vuelta is one of the biggest cycling events of the year in Europe. The route usually starts in Malaga, continues up along the Valencian coast, cuts through the Pyrenees, and ends in Madrid. The race takes place over the course of three weeks, so you should have plenty of opportunities to see the cyclists ride by if you're visiting any of these regions.

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Taunting of the Bulls in Segorbe

Street in Segorbe, Spain

Josfor / Getty Images 

The Entrada de Toros y Caballos is a race that honors the longtime celebration of bulls and horses, which are valued for farming and help with daily life chores in the town of Segorbe. This annual festival starts every second Saturday of the month of September and runs throughout the whole week. There are no barriers in the streets, so the crowd of spectators often approach the bulls and can get very close.

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Mutiny Festival in Aranjuez

Palace of Aranjuez, Spain

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The Fiestas del Motín in Aranjuez is a yearly outdoor festival that is a dramatized reenactment of the 18th-century rebellion of local peasants from the region. It features the witch hunts depicted in Francisco de Goya's paintings, Goyaesque bullfights, and sports activities for the family.

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Festival of the Moors and Christians in Valencia and Alicante

Moros y Cristianos, traditional festival

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Although the Fiestas de Moros y Cristianos is celebrated in most parts of Spain, the reenactment of battles between the Moors and Christians during the 13th century is given more importance in Valencia and Alicante on Spain's eastern coast. Other parts of the country celebrate this event in different months, but in this region, it starts around August and ends in September. The festival dates back to the 16th century and every year, the streets are decked out to recreate medieval life with processions and mock battles.

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Feria de la Virgen de la Peña in Mijas

Whitewashed street with flowers in Mijas, Spain

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With a large number of Roman Catholics in Spain, the number of patron saint festivals in the country shouldn't be surprising. The town of Mijas near Malaga is no different, celebrating its patron, the Virgen de la Peña during the first week of September. This is a great opportunity to see locals celebrating Andalusian culture with flamenco performances and sporting events.

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Hay Festival, Segovia

The massive Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

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In Segovia, the Hay Festival is an international literary event that is annually hosted in multiple locations throughout the world. In Spain, it's the most respected literary event that takes place every September. Bringing together novelists, scientists, politicians, historians, and musicians, you may even expect to find some Nobel Prize-winners among this prestigious crowd. During the festival, you can attend readings, talks, and performances and can engage with like-minded attendees in a dynamic exchange of ideas that is both entertaining and informative. The festival is still on from September 17 to 20, 2020, but the venues will only be filled to a third of the possible capacity to adhere to social distancing rules.

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