Festivals

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Festivals

There's a full calendar of special events in Galicia, from international festivals, major national celebrations, and saints' days to unique local events, some in towns that don't otherwise have much to offer the average traveler.

Carnival. In February and March, on this first major fiesta of the year after Three Kings' Day (January 6), cities, towns, and villages across the region erupt with festive fun, including parades, parties, and wild costumes.

Corpus Christi. During this feast day in June, the town of Ponteareas celebrates flowers and the harvest by carpeting the streets throughout the night with an intricate weave of fresh flowers and leaves, over which a somber parade progresses the following day.

El Día de Santiago. Since it's named for the saint, Santiago is a good place to be on his feast day, June 25, celebrated here with processions, street parties, and spectacular fireworks. It is also one of the few days of the year that the enormous botafumeiro (incense burner) is released and swung across the naves of Santiago's Cathedral.

Festa da Arribada. Celebrating the arrival on March 1, 1493, of the news that the New World had been discovered, the town of Baiona stages a spectacular reenactment on the beach, while the streets go medieval with a costumed procession and artisan market. There's plenty of food and entertainment, and the bars are open all day. It's held on the first weekend in March. www.baiona.org.

Festa do Chourizo en Sant Anton de Abedes. The town of Verin honors its patron saint every January 17 with a parade and other events dedicated to its chourizo (sausage).

Festa do Marisco. Galicia's famous culinary event, held in O Grove in October, draws crowds to feast on a stunning number of seafood delicacies. www.turismogrove.es.

Festa do Queixo. Food, folklore, and music are the attractions of this cheese festival, held in the first week of March in Arzüa, near A Coruña. 981/500000 or 981/815001. www.festadoqueixo.org.

Festa do Viño Albariño. On the first Sunday of August, the town of Cambados, capital of the Albariño region, draws thousands to witness its processions, concerts, cultural events, fireworks, and other revelry honoring local vineyards and wineries—including wine tastings from around 40 different Rias Baixas wineries. The festival goes back to the early 1950s. www.cambados.es.

Festival Internacional Santander. The city of Santander's big event fills up almost all of August with world-class opera, ballet, classical concerts, and recitals, and attracts top international musicians and dancers. 942/210508 or 942/314853. www.festivalsantander.com.

Hogueras de San Juan. On the night of June 23, the skies of A Coruña are alight with hundreds of bonfires, notably along the beach, following a day of parades, colorful costumes, and traditional music and dance. www.hoguerassanjuan.com.

La Reconquista. Marking the anniversary of the expulsion of Napoléon's army on March 28, 1809, Vigo re-creates the events and the atmosphere of that day (which earned it the title "faithful, loyal, and courageous") with battle reenactments, townsfolk in costumes, a 19th-century market, street parties, and lots of food and wine. www.reconquistadevigo.com/en.

Nuestra Señora del Rosario. On August 15, sailors and fishermen in Luarca celebrate the Lady of the Rosary by parading their boats and an image of the Virgin through the harbor, in memory of fishermen who died at sea.

Ortigueira Festival. This major Celtic music festival, which takes place in early or mid-July over four days in the coastal city of Ortigueira, attracts folk musicians from around the world. 981/422089 tourist office. www.festivaldeortigueira.com.

Procesión de las Mortajas. This late-September event in A Pobra do Caramiñal (A Coruña) dates back to the 15th century. Thousands of people take to the streets, and survivors of illness, bad luck, or bad love parade around town in gratitude for their salvation, preceded by open coffins carried by their families and friends.

Procesión dos Fachós. Every January 19, the village of Castro Caldelas, in the Ourense province, commemorates its survival of a 1753 cholera outbreak with a torchlight procession. www.turismourense.com.

Rapa das Bestas. The beasts that are tamed during this celebration, held in various locations around Galicia over the first weekend in July, are wild horses, which are grappled and subdued by local experts. www.rapadasbestas.es.

Semana Santa. Easter and the rest of Holy Week are observed throughout the region with religious services and colorful processions. Viveiro has a barefoot parade of flagellants illuminated by hundreds of candles. semanasanta.galiciadigital.com.

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