Autumn is a fantastic time to visit Spain. The weather remains gorgeously warm and sunny but without the sometimes overbearing heat of high summer. If you’d like to do more with your time in Spain than flop out on the beach or by the pool, autumn is the ideal time to explore the many other wonderful attractions the country has to offer. Autumn, and October in particular, is also the time of year when many communities hold their traditional fiesta – carnivals of music, food, wine, plus some more local activities and attractions.
There’s nothing quite like a Spanish fiesta or fiera (fair), and it is now more common than ever for large numbers of tourists to mingle with the crowds of locals to soak up the unique atmosphere and experience. Below are some of Spain’s best autumn fiestas that you need to weave into your next Spanish travel itinerary.
La Mercè, Barcelona
Kicking off the autumn festival season is the largest of Barcelona’s many community fiestas, La Mercè, which usually takes place over the last weekend of September. An enormous street party that takes over large chunks of the city, La Mercè is best known for two of Spain’s most bizarre and spectacular fiesta traditions – the Correfoc and the Castellers.
The Correfoc is a truly anarchic ‘fire run’ which sees hordes of dressed-up devils and model dragons run amok as night falls, letting off fireworks and causing mayhem – stand in their way at your own risk! Then the Castellers is an astonishing event where teams compete to build the tallest human tower – yes, men, women, and children climbing and standing on top of each other to see who can get the highest! And people think extreme sports are a modern invention!
Grape Harvest Festivals, Northern Spain
The green hills of Spain’s north are the country’s wine-growing region, most famously La Rioja, which lends its name to Spain’s most famous wine export. Autumn is grape harvesting season and is marked by festivities throughout the wine-making provinces. The town of Logrono hosts La Rioja Wine Harvest Festival every September, which involves lots of people climbing into vast vats of grapes to crush them with their feet, food, music and dancing.
Then in nearby Cantabria, the picturesque town of Potes hosts the Fiesta del Orujo in November – a boozy affair where freshly fermented wine is distilled, quite literally on the streets, into a potent spirit called aguardiente. As well as competitions to see who can make the best brew (with free shots to all comers), there are lots of traditional costumes, food and music.
Feria del Rosario, Fuengirola
With temperatures still averaging in the mid-20s well into October, the Costa del Sol remains a perfect destination for a traditional beach holiday as autumn progresses. This is also the time of year where many of the Costa’s most famous tourist destinations – including the likes of Benidorm and Torremolinos – host their local fiestas. One of the biggest and best is the Feria del Rosario in Fuengirola, a week-long extravaganza that these days boasts a huge fairground, firework displays, horse parades, a bull run, BBQs, bars and food stalls open 24/7, plus much, much more.
Fiesta del Pilar, Zaragoza
Finally, if colourful parades and street parties are your thing, the Fiesta del Pilar is one traditional Spanish celebration you should really check out. Held in the week before October 12th every year, this fiesta is dedicated to the city of Zaragoza’s patron saint, the Virgen del Pilar. The centrepiece of the fiesta is a massive flower parade that sees up to half a million people leave a bouquet or two in dedication to the Virgen, many of the participants dressed in traditional costume. To accompany that spectacular event, you can expect the usual mix of food, music, dancing and all-night parties.
Whatever you plan to do on your autumn trip to Spain, don’t forget to protect yourself against COVID cancellations with comprehensive travel insurance – click here to find out more. Although Spain is to move to the UK’s green list from October 4th, if you are not fully vaccinated, you still have to take a PCR test and provide proof of a negative result to be allowed into Spain.
Brian is a travel writer, photographer, blogger, travel addict and adventure-junkie. Being outdoors, getting off the beaten track and outside his comfort zone is what makes him tick. Brian’s the dreamer in the relationship; when he’s not travelling, he’s dreaming about it! Keeping fit, cooking, music and red wine take up the rest of his time.
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