Spain’s Craziest Festivals

By Katie Arango

You know the old saying, another summer weekend, another crazy Spanish festival!  Our beloved Spain is, hands down, the country with the most bizarre, unique and downright strange festivals. From the internationally known street parties to the extremely local commemorations, there are a wide range of bizarre festivals that must be seen to be believed!

La Tomatina – Tomato Throwing Festival

Each year in August, over 40,000 people descend on the Spanish town of Buñol in Valencia for the tomato throwing festival, where they throw over 115,000 kilograms of crushed tomatoes at each other and wade through rivers of tomato sauce.

In stark contrast to Spain’s many medieval festivals, this one started in the mid 1940s and doesn’t have any cultural or historical significance. No one is really sure where it comes from, but those conscious travelers who might worry about wasting food can relax, these are not-so-delicious tomatoes, grown specifically for this festival.


Casket Festival

Meanwhile over in Galicia near the Portugal border, we have a somewhat macabre pilgrimage. In a very literal display, anyone who has had a near death experience in the last year climbs into a coffin and gets paraded to the church of Santa Marta de Ribarteme, the patron saint of resurrection as they chant “Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death.” Like any self-respecting festival, there is also a decent amount of music, food and fireworks. Cheers to making it through another year!

San Vino – Haro Wine Festival

The words la Rioja are pretty much synonymos with wine – bottles of wine, drinking wine, being soaked head to toe in wine while in the mist of an epic wine battle!

Former Intern Hannah Buck gave a great first-hand account of the event, and offers future attendees this advice: “it’s best to close your eyes, dive in, throw as much vino tinto as is humanly possible and embrace the chanting, no matter how maddening it is that they never progress onto the next part of the song”.  Wise words.

So it’s best to close your eyes, dive in, throw as much vino tinto as is humanly possible and embrace the chanting, no matter how maddening it is that they never progress onto the next part of the song. – See more at:

San Fermín – Running of the Bulls

Pamplona’s annual Running of the Bulls festival on 7/7 for the San Fermin holiday is controversial. It’s either an invigorating rush paying homage to centuries of tradition, or a dangerous act of archaic animal cruelty. There’s not much more to say about this infamous festival that you don’t already know, so we’ll just leave you with a couple of photos and let you make up your mind.

San Fermin

San Fermin 2

El Colacho – Baby Jumping festival

Really, you’ve never heard of a baby jumping festival? You should probably get out more… Baby-jumping in Castrillo de Murcia (population 500) has been going on since 1620 where the feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated with a person dressed up a the Devil jumping over a bunch of several-month-old babies, innocently sitting on a mattress. But if you’re worried for the babies, fear not – as the “Devil” jumps over them, he takes away all their “evil” and they are free of their original sin (pheww!)

Antzar Egun – The Day of the Geese

Just one in the long line of unfriendly animal practices, Antzar Egun is a Basque competition held in Lekeitio where people endeavor to decapitate a goose.  Yes, you read that right. The goose in question is nowadays, mercifully dead before the event begins, covered in greese, and hung from a rope over the town harbor.  Participants attempt to catch the goose as they pass by in boats and whoever wins gets to keep the greasy dead goose.  Apparently this tradition is in homage to the participants’ forefathers who actually did have to compete to take home animals they caught while fishing.

What’s your favorite Spanish festival, crazy or otherwise?  Let us know!

Tomatina photo creditSan Fermin photo credit – San Fermin 2 photo credit

Katie Arango

Program Director, Argentina:Katie, a US native, had traveled to Buenos Aires on several extended trips before the city’s lure became too strong and she decided to call it home. Long fascinated by the global scene, Katie earned a degree in International Studies from Miami University and spent time studying and living in Madrid, Spain. She then worked in marketing for an international board game company followed by a brief foray as an online community editor for several websites before joining the Connect-123 team. Still a tourist at heart herself, Katie loves watching newcomers discover the charm of Buenos Aires and takes great pleasure in helping them make the most out of their work and volunteer opportunities while experiencing everything this dynamic city has to offer.
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