Top events in Spain for the week and month ahead from Madrid to Barcelona via Valencia and Pamplona
Valencia International Youth Film Festival (28 June – 30 June). Featuring those bold few filmmakers under age 35, go see the next generation of cinema with fresh pieces from all over the world. From Turkey to Thailand and the Netherlands to Nigeria, these young filmmakers, like their films, are ones to watch.
Barcelona Guitar BCN Music Festival (ends June 29). In the last two weeks of Guitar BCN, first-rate artists like Andres Suarez, India Martinez and Steve Hackett will grace the stages.
Haro Wine Fight and Fiesta (June 29). Haro, a small town in the Rioja region, is a celebrated centre of production of Spanish wine but its biggest celebration, the Haro Wine Festival sees as much Rioja dumped as consumed. Locals and tourists will continue a centuries old tradition of wine warfare, armed with cups, bottles, jugs, boots and water guns. This ultimate fiesta is messy and it is a must-do. Note: a children’s version of the Batalla del Vino takes place on June 27, with grape juice.
Aranda de Duero Lechazo Asado Gastronomic festival (ends June 30). Taste milk-fed roast lamb fresh out of wood burning ovens at this regional feast of local delicacies, which also include Torta de Aranda (a round bread made in the traditional way) and local wine. Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin wine cellar tours add to the attraction.
Zafra ‘De la Luna al Fuego’ (‘from the Moon to Fire’) festival (ends July 2). Recreating the atmosphere of the street markets in the 16th-18th centuries, the city-wide festival coincides with celebrations of both Corpus Christi and San Juan. The beautiful city of Zafra in Badajoz evokes the spirit of the Spanish Golden Age with the traditional flavours of Sephardic cooking available to sample, demonstrations of gypsy purification rituals, and carpets of flowers.
Barcelona: Picasso’s Will – The Ceramics that Inspired the Artist (June 21 – September 17). In an untold story of Picasso, the Barcelona Design Museum will showcase a collection of ceramics which inspired the artist. Jacqueline Picasso donated the 16 pieces in honour of Picasso’s wish that the ceramics be displayed in a major museum. This is an unprecedented opportunity to see Picasso’s own vision of his work as a continuation of the Spanish ceramic tradition.
Madrid: Horse racing by night at the Hipódromo racecourse (June 22 – 10 August, Thursday and Saturday evenings). In the unbeatable atmosphere of the Hipódromo racecourse, this exciting event is a Madrid must-see. Spectators watch thoroughbreds race through the night. The event also offers a variety of gastronomic wonders from Michelin star Mediterranean to Japanese cuisines, as well as quicker food-truck options.
Gran Canaria PWA Windsurfing Grand Slam World Championships (July 1-9) After a two year pause in the long history of Gran Canaria as host of the windsurfing world championship, the most radical event of the sport returns to Pozo Izquierdo beach. The best windsurfers in the world will perform daring manoeuvres in the sport’s beloved home, the beach known by locals as ‘El Arenal.’
Hita Medieval Festival (July 1). Set in a small town outside Madrid, this Festival of National Interest is magical and mysterious, bringing mediaeval literary works to life with theatre, demonstrations of knights, falconry, traditional dance and music. As festival founder Manuel Criado de Val puts it, ‘everything around us has to be transformed into a theatre: the streets of the town, the castle, the bodegas, the lambs roasting in the open air . . . From the moment we arrive until when we leave Hita, we must feel immersed in the middle of the theatre and in the middle of mediaeval magic.’
Getxo International Jazz Festival (June 28-July 2). Held on different stages in the coastal Basque town of Getxo, the jazz festival is one of the first of the season, but it is not one to miss. With fusions and fresh takes of jazz and blues, the almost 50-year-old festival remains dedicated to pushing sound forward, highlighting young European bands.
Segovia Festival of Folk (June 28-July 2). The home of folk music is as nomadic as the sound, but for a few days, Segovia’s courtyards, squares and intimate theatres will ground folk rhythms and traditions. The festival involves prestigious Spanish folk groups (like María del Mar Bonet, La Vieja Trova Santiaguera, Diego El Cigala, Maurizio Martinotti, who have performed in the past) exhibitions and a record fair.
Madrid: LGBTQ+ Pride Festival and Demonstration (until July 2). Orgullo Gay de Madrid is the annual LGBTQ+ Pride festival hosted in the Chueca neighbourhood in the centre of Madrid. The largest Pride celebration in Europe once again fills the streets with colour. On the first Saturday of July, a march runs through one of the main roads of the city, from Atocha to Colón, to urge tolerance and equality.
Madrid: Nights at the Botanical Gardens (Fridays and Saturdays, until July 30). Is there any better combination than music and nature? Strolling through the picturesque Royal Botanical Gardens located in the city centre, people of all ages will be able to listen to music by timeless composers, from Dvo?ák to Beethoven, played live by the first-rate musicians of the Reina Sofía School of Music. The ethereal stroll takes place during times when the garden is usually closed to the public and makes three stops in the Rose Garden, the Plane Tree Square and the Chestnut Tree Square.
Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival (July 3-9). You will hear jazzy riffs from across Europe and the USA in the streets of Basque capital Vitoria Gasteiz an hour south of Bilbao. As part of the International Jazz Festival Organisation, big name artists will play alongside enthusiastic young talent at this multi-day festival. Popular artists hailing from New Orleans will march through the streets, and late night jam sessions are held in the town’s clubs. A Jazz Seminary course is to be held in conjunction with the Juilliard School (New York), an educational project open to music students and professionals.
Tarragona International Firework Show and Competition (July 5). The city of Tarragona will set off fireworks from companies around the world on its Playa del Miracle beach, making for an awe-striking evening. The international competition will bring in more than 60,000 spectators craning their necks to stare at the spectacle. The winning performance will be awarded the commission for the firework castle in the Santa Tecla fiesta on 23 September.
Madrid Mad Cool music festival (July 6-8). Enjoy a line up of international stars, from Lil Nas X to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The festival encourages film, photography, fashion and food, embracing a holistic cultural experience staged around music.
Pamplona bull-running festival (Fiesta de San Fermín) (July 6-15). The running of the bulls (enserro) takes place early each morning of the ‘festival’. Six bulls stampede through the streets, and people run in front of the bulls. The whole thing lasts about three minutes and ends at the Pamplona Arena.
Bilbao BBK Music Festival (July 6-8). Bilbao BBK Live is set on the slopes of Mount Cobetas, where modern and alternative musicians will bring their best to a stage built specifically for the event. As one of the most popular music festivals in the country, the Basque country will welcome thousands of people to rock out to first-rate artists, from 070 Shake to the Arctic Monkeys.
Brihuega Lavender Festival (July 14 & 15). The fact you can opt for the tickets, champagne and ice bucket option at this event 90 km from Madrid in the province of Guadalajara says it all. Taburete and Victor Manuel perform on consecutive nights. But who cares what the music is – you get lie in a lavender field on a summer’s evening drinking champagne for goodness sakes!
Cartagena: La Mar de Músicas 2023 (July 14-22) Winner of the Ondas Prize for best festival in Spain in 2019, the Murcia festival summons artists from as far as Brazil and Japan for a celebration of world music – although there’s a special nod this year to Canada.