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August’s most unique fiestas in Spain
12 August 2019 @ 10:08

WHEREVER you are in Spain this August, it’s almost certain you’ll stumble across the odd fiesta in a town within striking distance of where you’re staying. Trying to decide where to go to make sure you get to witness the most spectacular and memorable of these is never straightforward – and just to make the choice even harder for you, here are some of the most splendid, silly, fascinating, unusual and exciting left on the festival calendar this month.

Semana Renacentista (‘Renaissance Week’), Medina del Campo

This may be the first you’ve heard of it, but Medina del Campo in the province of Valladolid, in the centre-northern regional of Castilla y León, was one of the most powerful and wealthy in Europe in the 15th and 16thcenturies. Its weekly market was among the continent’s biggest trading hubs. Unsurprisingly, then, when King Carlos I arrived in Spain and wanted the people of Medina del Campo to contribute money towards his being made Emperor, the commoners opted to revolt.

A completely unique historical pageant, the Semana Renacentista re-enacts the battle between the commoners and the imperials, and also recreates the weekly market in the form of a Renaissance fair. Starts this Wednesday, August 14 and continues until the following Wednesday, August 21.


El Cipotegato, Tarazona

It’s uncertain whether being picked to flesh out the character of the Cipotegato, or jester, is a great honour or your worst nightmare come true: you’re the star of the show on the first day of the fiesta, but you also get pelted with thousands of ripe tomatoes.

Dressed as a harlequin, he runs through the town of Tarazona (Zaragoza province in the north-eastern region of Aragón) being bombarded with tonnes of salad fruit, along a route that is never disclosed to anyone but the human target himself but which always begins and ends in the Plaza de España, where he has a statue in tribute to him.

Behind him, the crowds carry on the tomato fight, but these do not start until he has run past them.

At the end of his ‘mystery’ circuit, the jester is bodily lifted onto his statue, which he ties a scarf around, and which marks the start of the patron saint festival in honour of San Atilano – six days of parades, live music, folk dancing shows, foam parties and all the usual high jinks that come with any Spanish town’s main summer fiesta.

The Cipotegato’s tomato-drenching is always on August 27, and the fiesta continues until September 1 inclusive.

Aste Nagusia, Bilbao

Basque Country tradition is brought alive during the fiesta whose name means ‘Big Week’ in the regional language, euskera – stone-carrying and log-chopping competitions, a giants’ procession, the scary-looking Gargantua who eats kids (they climb up into his mouth, but then are released intact down a slide inside him and pop out from his backside), and folk music and dancing mean the streets of this international port city on the north coast are bursting with colour and craziness practically round the clock. Fireworks are let off every night, live bands and discos play on into the early hours, and food and drink stalls spill out onto every pavement.

The main fiesta character is, unusually, female, but not actually human; she’s Marijaia, a papier mâché figure who looks like a colourful farmer’s wife with rosy cheeks and a big smile. The Aste Nagusia...






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