FESTIVALS AND FIESTAS DECLARED OF TOURIST INTEREST IN GALICIA
Festivals and fiestas in Galicia in North Spain: Village festivals that have received the distinction of being of Tourist Interest are events that are known for their display of cultural values and paying attention to popular Spanish traditions, with a special regard for ethnological features and therefore they are highly valued as tourist attractions. Among the factors considered to distinguish the festivals as "Of Tourist Interest in Spain" are the number of years the fiesta has been celebrated, its tradition and continuity over time, and the originality and diversity of its programme and activities.
Festivals and Fiestas of tourist interest in Galicia in northern Spain
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS OF INTERNATIONAL TOURIST INTEREST IN GALICIA
The Fiestas for the Apostle in SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (A Coruña), a festival held on the 25th of July, Galicia Day. During the week previous to the 25th, games and cultural activities are held in the city. On the night of the 24th, the Fuegos del Apóstol take place (fireworks display in Plaza del Obradoiro).
Viking Festival, CATOIRA (Pontevedra), 1st Sunday in August. This festival evokes the presence of the Normans in the Galician rías during the middle ages with a spectacular re-enactment of the landing of the Vikings from a replica of an old Viking drakar ship. One of the high points of the festival is the gastronomic feast which draws enormous crowds.
The International Festival of the Celtic World, ORTIGUEIRA (A Coruña). Held during the first fortnight in July with performances by major soloists and groups from the Celtic folk music scene of Europe
A Rapa das Bestas, SAN LOURENZO DE SABUCEDO-A ESTRADA (Pontevedra), 1st weekend in July. During this festival, wild horses come down from the hills (baixa das bestas) to the roundup, where they will be branded and their manes clipped. It is a combination rodeo and religious event, since it marks the yearly renovation of an old pact made between the villagers and their patron saint, San Lourenzo, who is credited with having taken care of the animals after they had been struck by a devastating plague. This event dates back in time to more than two centuries.
FESTIVALS OF NATIONAL TOURIST INTEREST IN GALICIA
Entroido of XINZO DE LIMIA (Ourense). The date of this festival varies (February or March). This Carnival festival is held on the Saturday and Tuesday before ash Wednesday and the previous Sunday and following Thursday. The streets are filled with multicoloured masked revellers, known as pantallas, who go around hitting passers-by with animals tripes blown up like balloons, creating a fun-filled and festive atmosphere throughout the village.
Easter - Holy Week, VIVEIRO (Lugo). (March or April). This religious celebration is renowned for its images (articulated, life-size figures) and processions, particularly the Via Crucis, the Descent and the Encounter.
Easter - Holy Week, FERROL (A Coruña). Processions parade through the streets of this city with their “floats” (considered to be the best in the north of Spain) with which bearers from the different brotherhoods carrying the images on their shoulders. There are enormous crowds of people participating in the event.
Easter - The Feast of Santo Cristo of FISTERRA (A Coruña), in April. This festival coincides with Easter Sunday of the Holy Week. The Cristo da Barba Dourada, widely venerated all over the Costa da Morte, is the focal point of this festivity. There is a performance of several scenes from the Resurrection of Christ followed by the Danza de As Areas, a combination religious and folkloric spectacle performed in front of the church of Santa María de Fisterra, also known as the church of As Areas.
Fair and Exhibition Promoting the Wine from the Area of O Ribeiro, RIBADAVIA (Ourense). This festival has been held for a quarter of a century. There is an exhibit and a tribute to the famous wines with the appellation d’origine of O Ribeiro. The fair and exhibition includes a number of folkloric and cultural activities. Thousands of people attend this event.
Corpus Christi, PONTEAREAS (PONTEVEDRA), held during the first fortnight in June. The Corpus festival of Ponteareas is widely known for the floral display covering the streets where the procession of the Holy Sacrament will be paraded. The flowers covering the streets as floral carpets are veritable works of art.
A Rapa das Bestas of Candaoso in San Andrés de Boimente, VIVEIRO (Lugo), 1st Sunday in July. Similar to the previous festival. Both of these events feature the additional show of the fight between the garañóns (the studhorses established as the leaders of their packs), and the demonstration of the skills and strength of the breeders who round up the animals into groups to be branded and clipped.
Fiesta of San Bieito de Lérez, PONTEVEDRA, July 11th. San Bieito (Saint Benedict) is credited with having the power to cure skin problems and goitre. So, every July 11th, it is possible to see believers going up and down the atrium of the church, an old Benedictine monastery, on their knees, or at the altar touching the image of the saint with pieces of cloth to be used later on all manner of skin growths, such as pimples and warts.
Albariño Wine Festival, CAMBADOS (PONTEVEDRA), 1st Sunday in August. One of the most widely attended gastronomic festivals in Galicia, with as many as 40,000 visitors. The highly esteemed Albariño wines of this region may be tasted and purchased.
Fiesta de la Santa Cruz, RIBADEO (Lugo), 1st Sunday in August. In a setting of incomparable beauty, the Monte de Santa Cruz (which offers panoramic views of the ría del Eo and the neighbouring region of Asturias), the festival known as the Xira de Santa Cruz and the Día da Gaita Galega (Galician Bagpipe Day) is held.
Festa do Polbo, O CARBALLIÑO (Ourense), 2nd Sunday in August. Octopus served at the local fairs is one of the most popular dishes in Galicia. O Carballiño is the home of the most famous pulpeiras (places that serve octopus)and on this day in August, the town prepares thousands of octopus platters for the throngs of visitors who come to this gastronomic festival.
Fiestas in honour of the Patron Saint, San Lourenzo, FOZ (Lugo), August 10th (the most important day). Foz is one of the municipalities that attract the largest number of tourists of the coast of Lugo (A Mariña). The fiestas in honour of the patron saint last nearly a week, during which time the streets of this sea-faring town are filled many activities, from fairs to fulfilled cultural events.
Fiestas in honour of the patron saint, San Roque, BETANZOS (A Coruña), roughly from August 14th to 25th. The most noteworthy event is the famous Xira dos caneiros, where a swarm of boats, decked out for the occasion, convene to navigate up the Mandeo river.
Fiestas in honour of the patron saint, San Roque, SADA (A Coruña), August 16th. There are festivities in honour of the saint as well as a sardine roasting festival on the beach that attracts throngs of people. Sada is one of the major tourist centres of the Rías Altas.
Romería of O Naseiro, VIVEIRO (Lugo), late August. Also known as the Romería do bo xantar (“The festival of Good Eating”). This event is held on the banks of the Landro river. A gastronomic and music festival where thousands of visitors convene (over 30,000 attended in 1997). The festival is in honour of Nosa Señora dos Remedios. In the late afternoon, boats gather to sail down the Landro River.
Festa da Istoria in RIBADAVIA (Ourense), the last Saturday in August. On this day the medieval history of this town is re-enacted, with the recreation of life as it was over five centuries ago, with period costumes and a variety of performances. In the old Jewish quarter the activities include a ball, a medieval market, a dinner and theatre from this time period.
Romería de Nosa Señora da Barca, MUXÍA (A Coruña), On the first Sunday after September 8th. According to popular tradition, this festival commemorates the apparition of the Virgin Mary to St. James, the Apostle while he was preaching in Galicia. The Baroque sanctuary is located in a magnificent setting looking out on to the sea. It is surrounded by a number of stones which are full of legends and are said to have mysterious healing powers, arousing the interest of thousands of pilgrims who travel to the spot.
Shellfish Festival, O GROVE (Pontevedra), the 2nd Sunday in October and following days. This gastronomic festival has been held for over 30 years. An opportunity to taste the wide variety of shellfish from the Rías Baixas.
Fair of As San Lucas, MONDOÑEDO (Lugo), October 19th and following days. This fair has its roots in an old tradition dating back to the XIIIth century. Visitors hail from the north of Galicia and Asturias.
Saint John Fires, A CORUÑA. June 23rd night and June 24th early morning. The Herculean city bursts with popular imagination to celebrate the beginning of the summer on Saint John night. Purifying fires and grilled sardines on A Coruña beaches and quarters.
San Froilán, LUGO. A fiesta with deep popular roots lasting about a week, roughly around October 5th. This is the festival of the patron saint of Lugo.
Saint Roque Festivity, VILAGARCÍA DE AROUSA (Pontevedra). August 16th, and previous and following days. Festivities in Arousa capital town with numerous participants, where visitors and local area residents crowd the town streets.
VILLAGE FESTIVALS IN GALICIA OF TOURIST INTEREST
The autonomous goverment Xunta de Galicia has declared the following Galician festivals to be of special interest to tourists:
The Cheese Festival of Arzúa, ARZÚA (A Coruña). An event that pays tribute to the typical cheeses of the region. Cheese tasting. First Sunday in March.
Exhibition of Camariñas Lace, CAMARIÑAS (A Coruña). Easter week, from Wednesday to Sunday, this town offers an exhibit of the lacework fashioned by the palilleiras of the area.
The Trout Festival, A PONTENOVA (Lugo). The 1st of May, an opportunity to try the trout from the Eo river and its tributaries.
The Tuna Festival, BURELA (Lugo). A celebration of the tuna caught using the traditional gears of the fleet from Burela. Held on the first Saturday in August.
Amandi Wine Festival, SOBER (Lugo). Wine tasting and sale of the famous wines from the Ribeira Sacra area. The Saturday before Palm Sunday and Palm Sunday.
Androlla and Entroido Festival, VIANA DO BOLO (Ourense). A gastronomic festival that falls on Mardi gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, offering the popular sausage dish made of seasoned pork ribs. Also, the Entroido, (Carnival festival) of Viana do Bolo is one of the most interesting in Galicia from an ethnographic and folkloric point of view.
Empanada Festival, BANDEIRA-SILLEDA (Pontevedra). Third Saturday in August. Sampling of the popular Galician meat and fish pie.
Cocido Festival, LALÍN (Pontevedra). Held on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Sampling of the typical boiled dinner of the Deza region.
Romería de la Virgen de A Franqueira, A CAÑIZA (Pontevedra). This is one of the popular village festivals having the longest tradition in Galicia. September 8th is the date that a multitude of faithful followers make the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of A Franqueira. There is a procession and the dance of the “Moors and the Christian”. Festival Commemorating the Arrival of the Caravel “Pinta”, BAIONA (Pontevedra). This festival commemorates the arrival of the Caravel Pinta to Spain, bringing news of the discovery of America. The vessel landed on the coast of Baiona. Held on March 1st.
Carnaval de Cobres, VILABOA (Pontevedra). An interesting Carnival festival of great cultural interest.
Buño Pottery Fair, BUÑO-MALPICA DE BERGANTIÑOS (A Coruña). Second fortnight of August. Local traditional pottery show, internationally renowned by the quality of its raw materials.
Jesus Nazarene-Shroud Festivity, A POBRA DO CARAMIÑAL (A Coruña). On the third Sunday of September, there is an original procession that coincides with the holiday of Jesus Nazarene, in which participants carry coffins as a sign of gratitude for the favours received. Kingdom of Galicia offering to the Blessed Sacrament, LUGO. The Sunday after Corpus Christi. Representatives from the seven provinces of the Old Kingdom of Galicia make an offering to the Blessed Sacrament in Lugo Cathedral.
Virgin of Guadalupe, RIANXO (A Coruña). September 8th. Religious festivity with popular “romerías” (gatherings at a local shrine), typical of Galician coastal towns.
Verín Carnival, VERÍN (Ourense). Carnival, variable festivity. In the month of February or March. It is one of the main traditional carnivals in Galicia. It begins on the Thursday before Carnival Saturday, which is called kinswomen´s Thursday, and goes on until Tuesday. Its typical characters are the “cigarróns”, who wear masks and cowbells, and take the town streets at that time of the year.
Laza Carnival, LAZA (Ourense). This town is near Verín, and is host to one of the best Carnivals in Galicia. This Carnival’s typical characters are the “peliqueiros”, who wear colourful craft masks, cowbells, and carry a long whip. They march in a characteristic way in “la Picota”, a square in the Ourense town. Another one of Laza Carnival’s characters is “la morena”, who chases people participating in the Carnival. Other rites of this festivity are the donkey testament, “farrapas” throwing, and ant releasing.
A Sainza “Romería”, RAIRIZ DE VEIGA (Ourense). Popular festivity that takes place in the month of September, and represents the meeting of Moors and Christians.
Festa da faba (Bean Festival), VILANOVA DE LOURENZÁ (Lugo). First Sunday in October. Exhibtion and sale of the famous Vilanova de Lourenzá beans. This fiesta is based on the fairs that were traditionally held for centuries in the town. Farmers and businessmen from around the district take part, together with the participation of large crowds from Galicia and Asturias.
Popular Queimada in Cervo, CERVO (Lugo). This festival has been held for 22 years on the Saturday following the 16th of August, coinciding with the Patron Saint's festival in this Lugo district. This fiesta enacts a town taken over by meigas (witches), while the inhabitants try to free themselves with invocations and spells, in which the queimada, liquor that is set alight in a clay or metal recipient, accompanied with sugar and drunk once the flame has burnt out - is always present.