As I approach my late thirties, I’m finding more than ever that I crave peace and quiet.
Maybe it’s because life, whether it be because of work, family, or just the day to day hustle and bustle, seems to get more hectic by the year.
And my increased longing for calm surroundings means that the hedonistic holidays of my twenties have been substituted by tranquil locations like isolated beaches, lakes and countryside.
But there’s one thing that still gets my party engine revving, and that’s a good summer festival!
I was brought up in a bilingual English/Spanish speaking family, so Spain is my destination of choice when it comes to the summer festival season. And one of the great things about Spain is that there’s more than just the mainland. There are a variety of gorgeous Spanish islands, like Gran Canaria, which you can check out here.
So these are my 3 favourite Spanish summer festivals and the ones I most recommend for a visit this year.
The Fiesta Mayor de Gracia, Barcelona
Barcelona is no stranger to summer parties. Every neighbourhood in the Catalan capital has its own street party during the summer months. But none compare with the Fiesta Mayor de Gracia, celebrated in August in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Gracia (‘grace’ in English).
The festival is best known for a huge 7-day long street party that fills the streets and squares of Gracia and attracts thousands of locals and visitors alike. Each street and square compete for the much sought after “best decorated” prize. Your jaw will almost certainly drop at the beauty and splendour of the immaculate decorations. At least, mine did!
It’s a great idea to check out the fantastic live music and food stalls, as well as the open-air cinema. The festival is also very child-friendly, with games, foam parties and other activities constantly on the go. Be sure to eat some of the local sausages known as “Butifarrada” and whatever you do, don’t miss the awesome firework displays known as “Correfocs”.
The Semana Grande, Bilbao
Bilbao is the 2018 European City of the Year and the middle of August is the city’s most important week of the year. The “Aste Nagusis” as it’s known in the Basque language, or the “Semana Grande” (Big Week) in Spanish, lasts for 9 days.
Concerts, fairs, theatre performances, comedy shows take place all over Bilbao and every night there are spectacular firework competitions that fill the sky. On the last day of the festival, a closing ceremony is held and the mascot of the Semana Grande, known as “La Marijaia”, floats downriver on a boat and is set in fire, not to be seen again until the following year’s festival.
The August Fair, Malaga
This is my favourite festival as my other half is from Gibraltar, which is very close to Malaga, up the road on the Costa Del Sol. I absolutely adore Andalucia and the city of Malaga itself is a beautiful and deeply historic place that I can’t get enough of visiting. If what you’re looking for is a combination of great beaches, stunning architecture, wonderful food, music and fascinating historical sites, then you can’t go wrong with Malaga.
In the middle of August, the city hosts the “Feria de Dia” (Day Fair), with music, traditional dances and street markets. Every night, the “Feria de Noche” (Night Fair) takes place just outside the city centre, with dance shows, food stalls and other activities on offer. If you like Flamenco, then Malaga’s August Fair is a must-do.
The one thing to always look out for with summer festivals in Spain is the heat. My advice is to roughly decide the night before what you’re going to do tomorrow and plan your breaks. Keep well hydrated and enjoy yourself without tiring yourself out on your first day. Trust me, you’re not going to be disappointed!