Colorful Spanish fiestas and festivals are as unique and diverse as the nation and her peoples. While most of the Spanish fiestas and festivals are celebrated nationally, there are many that are observed regionally, a direct result of the varied regional histories of this historic country. It seems that if there is one thing that the people of Spain all know how to do it's party. In fact, no matter what time of year a tourist chooses to visit, there is some important celebration happening somewhere in Spain and you are always welcome to join in.
Most of the population of Spain is Roman Catholic. bviously the major Christian holidays and observances play an important part in the life of the average Spaniard, with both Christmas and Easter playing major roles. Christmas is so important that its observations last from December 8 until January 6. There are, however several Spanish fiestas and festivals associated with these holidays that are unique to the citizens of Spain and many festivals and fiestas that are wholly Spanish traditions and not known elsewhere.
Every single city, town and village in the country celebrates its own unique fiesta and it's the smaller, local festivals that can prove just as rewarding to the visitor. In Miraflores de la Sierra in the Guadarrama mountains of Madrid we used to always go to the annual village festival of San Blas in February. The whole village heads out to a local hillside where a shrine to the village's patron saint stands. Everyone is equipped with chairs, tables, food and wine and huge pots are put on open fires where 'bacalao con patatas' (cod and potatoes) is prepared for the whole village. By late afternoon all the villagers have returned to the bars which remain packed throughout the night. At the end of the Carnival celebrations the villagers bury a sardine in a nearby field (El Entierro de la Sardina) and it's time to start looking forward to the next fiesta.
The procession of the Three Magi is celebrated on January 5th. It is Associated with Christmas and the Three Magi are in many ways a Spanish version of Santa Claus, the belief being that they bring presents to the lttle ones.
The Spanish Carnival may well be the largest nationwide Spanish fiesta and festival celebration in all of Spain. Taking place in mid February or early March, the festivities are marked by singing in the streets and general revelry all over the land.
There are many festivals of international interest which celebrate music and the arts notably the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance which takes place in the grounds of the Alhambra Palace. San Sebastian in the Basque Country is packed to the seams during its annual jazz and film festivals and the Benicassim Festival has become an important European music festival in a small town north of Valencia.
One of the more interesting fiestas is the August celebration of La Tomatina, the Tomato Festival. Taking place in Bunyol, near Valencia, the celebration of La Tomatina begins the last week of August with the main event, a massive "tomato battle" happening on that Wednesday. The tomato battle is exactly what its name implies, a fight in which the participants (typically everyone in town, locals and visiting tourists alike) throw tomatoes, shirts and other objects at one another.