Discover the 100 Best Basque festivals in my 2021-2022 calendar

Basque horseman during a Basque carnival

Welcome to my annual calendar of the most traditional Basque festivals!

You will find in my Basque festivals calendar 2021-2022 some of the most traditional Basque festivitals in each of the 7 Basque provinces and neighbouring Bearn, classified per month.

As this information is difficult to find, I have created this list of the most traditional and culturally interesting Basque festivals over the years.

You will be able to organize your stay taking into account these important periods.

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You’ll find:

  • Frequently asked questions about Basque festivals.
  • What are the top Basque festivals.
  • A map to locate each of the 7 Basque provinces.
  • A description of the main festivities classified by month, with information to help you organise your stay.
  • At the end of a few chapters, you will find the links to some of the Basque festivals highlighted on this blog.

Please note that I am neither an organizer of these feasts nor a member of a tourist office. This calendar is the result of a long and tedious work of collection that must be regularly updated with the information I can get… or not! Always check with the organizer that the date is correct. This is even more true in this period of pandemic, where some festivals can be cancelled at the last moment… or take place without much prior publicity. Ethno Travels cannot be held responsible for any changes and the dates are given as an indication only. You should always check with the organizer, tourist office or the city concerned.

You can help me in my task by alerting me to possible mistakes, by telling me about other festivals not mentioned here and by using the booking links in this article or by using my guiding services or rental services.

For the summer period, a complete guide to the activities is available in the tourist offices.

In the article, you will find the exact or to be confirmed dates for 2021.

The Best Basque festivals

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Summary of the article – Basque festivals Calendar.

Frequently asked questions on Basque festivals.

Where do the most interesting Basque festivals take place?

Each of the 7 Basque provinces has its own traditional festivals.
My favourites are the carnivals of Navarre, the Fête Dieu in Labourd and Basse-Navarre, the traditional Basque dance festival of the 7 provinces in Saint Jean-de-Luz, the Via Crucis Viviente in Balmaseda and the pilgrimages of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Vizcaya, the alarde d’Irun and Hondarribia in Guipuscoa, Biarritz in Christmas lights, the souletine pastorale. And I forget some!

How to make the most of Basque festivals?

Nothing beats the accompaniment of a local! It will be easier for you to decipher the codes, feel more comfortable and have the right information. As the road signs of towns and villages in the Southern Basque Country are in Basque, it can also be difficult to find your way around.
I can accompany you during your trip and help you prepare your itinerary. See some tour ideas here

Are you a travel agency and want to include one or more Basque festivals in your tour?

Contact me! In addition to guiding your clients, I can help you prepare the itinerary and put you in touch with my local contacts.

And where exactly is the Basque Country?

The Basque Country is located in the South West of France. It is a part of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. There are 3 Basque provinces on the French side.
It is also located in the north of Spain, with 4 Basque provinces.

Are there any ferias in the Basque Country?

No, we don’t use the term feria in the Basque Country! We talk about Basque festivals, village festivals, traditional festivals, carnivals, masquerades, pastoral, alarde, Fête Dieu, etc. depending on the type of festival. The ferias are organised around the bull, which is never the case in the Basque Country, even for the famous festivals of Pamplona.

Top Basque festivals.

  • TAMBORRADA – SAN SEBASTIAN. GIPUZKOA. January 20, 2022.
  • NAVARRE CARNIVALS – NAVARRE PROVINCE. January 24 to March 1, 2022.
  • SEMANA SANTA – SPAIN (Via Crucis Balmaseda – Volatin Tudela…). April 10 to 17, 2022.
  • HAM FAIR – BAYONNE. April 2 to 3, 2022.
  • SAN PRUDENCIO – VITORIA. ALAVA. April 27 and 28, 2022.
  • CORPUS CHRISTI – BASSE NAVARRE, LABOURD, GUIPUSCOA, SOULE. June 19 and 26, 2022.
  • ALARDE – IRUN AND HONDARRIBIA. GIPUZKOA. June 30, 2022. September 8, 2022.
  • SAN FERMIN – PAMPLONA. NAVARRA. July 2022.
  • BAYONNE FESTIVAL – BAYONNE. LABOURD. July 27 to 31, 2022.
  • VIRGEN BLANCA – VITORIA. ALAVA. August 4 to 9, 2022.
  • ASTE NAGUSIA – SAN SEBASTIAN. GIPUZKOA. August 2022.
  • ASTE NAGUSIA – BILBAO. BIZKAIA. August 20 to 28, 2022.

Map of the 7 Basque provinces.

For each Basque festival, you will find the province where it takes place in its description. As each province has its own culture, dances and costumes, this information gives you additional indications. You will also find the Basque name of the towns and villages, in addition to the French and Spanish names, for the Southern Basque Country, their signs being in Basque.

You will also find Booking links allowing you to have direct access to the hotels in the area. I only added the best ones for each city/area.

The map of the 7 Basque provinces
Map of the 7 Basque provinces

Basque festivals in January.

The month of January is marked in particular by the beginning of the Souletine masquerades in Soule, which last until April, and by the Tamborrada of San Sebastian.

January is also the month of the very first Navarre carnival, a very traditional one occuring in Ituren and Zubieta.

Also noteworthy are the celebrations of the Bixintxo, the patron saint of the city of Ciboure, from 17 to 26 January 2020. It is also celebrated in Hendaye.

Passion Play of the Three Kings in Sanguesa.

Although it is not a typical Basque festival but takes place throughout Spain, January 6, the day of the Magi (Reyes Magos) or the Spanish Epiphany, is particularly important in Sanguesa.

This festival, declared a Festival of Tourist Interest in Navarre, is a living religious drama, also known as the Auto de los Reyes Magos.

Since 1967, at precisely 11:30 am, the inhabitants of Sanguesa have been replaying the journey of the Three Kings of the East to Bethlehem. The play is performed in open air, in front of the most beautiful monuments of the city.

It is followed by a Mass of the Kings in the church of Santiago, under the chairmanship of the actors.

Place: Sanguesa, Navarre province.

Date: January 6, 2022 at 11:30 am.

Type: Christmas ceremony, liturgical drama, outdoor theatre.

For your stay, I strongly recommend you to stay in the hilltop village of Gallipienzo, at Heredad Beragu Hotel, 7kms from Sanguesa.

Click here to see some pics, reviews and the availability of this beautiful stone house hotel

The Souletine masquerade.

The Souletine masquerade takes place every year in a different village of Soule.

A performance takes place every Sunday from January to April.

In 2020, it was the young people of Aussurucq who played it at home and in the surrounding villages.

The Souletine masquerade is an extremely important moment in Souletine culture.

It combines carnival, dance, music, songs and burlesque theatre.

Through the masquerade, the young people of the village tell the story of the past year in a humorous and teasing way.

In the morning there are what are called barricades. In the afternoon the performance takes place.

The Souletin dances are among the most beautiful and impressive in the Basque Country.

Be careful, however, if you do not speak Basque because the show is not translated.

Place: Soule’s villages.

Date: From the end of Januaryto the end of April. We still don’t know if it will be played in 2022.

Type: a key moment of Souletine culture, a theatre performed/danced/chanted in the open air.

The dates and places in 2020:

  • Aussurucq, 9 February.
  • Trois-Villes , 16 February.
  • Larrau, 23 February.
  • Idaux-Mendy , 7 March.
  • Mauleon , 14 March.
  • Sainte-Engrâce , 21 March.
  • Alos et Tardets , 28 March.
  • Espès, 5 April.
  • Musculdy, 19 April.
  • GaraÏbie , 26 April.

For your stay, I recommend you the beautiful Domaine Agerria.

Check the pic, price and availability for your stay here

The tamborrada of San sebastian-Donostia.

The tamborrada (Spanish) or Danborrada (Basque) of San Sebastian (San Sebastian in Spanish, Donostia in Basque) is celebrated every year on January 20, San Sebastian’s Day.

This festival dates back to the 19th century and commemorates the Napoleonic occupation during the War of Independence (1808-1812).

Two groups march: the first with Napoleonic drums and costumes, the second with barrels and costumes of cooks and water vendors.

The tamborrada officially begins on January 19 at midnight, with the raising of the city’s flag and the “Marcha de San Sebastian” played in the Constitution Square. But the children begin around 8pm with their own opening.

Then the companies composed of 20 to 50 drums and 50 to 100 barrels parade in the neighbourhoods, always accompanied by a banda.

On January 20 at noon, the children’s tamborrada takes place, starting from the town hall square, along the Concha, the main beach of San Sebastian.

It ends after 24 hours, at midnight on January 20, again on Constitution Square, with the tamborrada of the oldest society in the city, the March of San Sebastian and other compositions.

Place: San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa.

Date: January 20, 2022.

Type: “military” parade, the feast of the city’s patron saint.

Drummers of the annual festival called tamborrada

Don’t forget to try the best culinary experience in the world according to Lonely Planet: pintxos, Basque tapas, in the bars of the old town.

Experience them in the Basque style: enter a bar, choose one or two tapas and enjoy them with a glass of txakoli, the slightly sparkling local white wine and then start again in a 2nd bar until you are full. Don’t worry, the waiters have excellent memory. Just enjoy the moment!

In terms of accommodation, Maria Cristina is the most famous 5-star hotel in the city. Ideally located close to the waterfront, in front of the theatre and 400 metres from the historic district, this magnificent building has welcomed many celebrities such as Woody Allen and Liz Taylor. The famous French chef Hélène Darroze welcomes guests to the ephemeral restaurant from June to October.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, prices and availability for your dates

The famous Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, also on La Concha, often offers very attractive promotions.

It is also the favorite hotel of tourists for its view of the famous Concha, the main beach of San Sebastian. Try to book on the 7th floor for the most beautiful view.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, prices and availability for your dates

If you are travelling with a family or small group (up to 8), I recommend Amara Astoria-luxury Apartments, in the Amara district. This 3-bedroom apartment, with a surface area of 105m², is the best plan for families and groups.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, prices and availability for your dates

If you wish to stay outside the centre of San Sebastian and prefer a more rural atmosphere while retaining the charm of the old, I recommend the Heredad de Unanue.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, prices and availability for your dates

The carnivals of the kaskarots from Labourd.

The Labourd carnivals, the earliest in the French Basque Country, start at the end of January or beginning of February.

In each village, a group of kaskarots, the main characters of the Labourdin carnivals, do the collection from house to house, while performing the traditional Labourd dances.

Place: Labourd villages.

Date: January to March 2022.

Type: carnival, traditional dances.

For your accommodation, you can book the independent apartment for 5 people in my house, by contacting me via the contact section.

The carnival of the Joaldunak

The carnival of Ituren and Zubieta opens the season of the famous carnivals of Navarre, the most interesting and richest carnivals in the Basque Country.

It takes place on the Monday and Tuesday of the last week of January, in the villages where the Joaldunaks or Zanpantzar come from.

On Monday, the parade takes place in the village of Ituren. Tuesday in Zubieta.

For having been to each of the two villages, I preferred Monday morning in Ituren: preparation of the clothes, parade in the typical village. However, I did not see a parade from one village to another. The tourist office was laconic about the actual program and I couldn’t figure out if the Joaldunaks really walk from one village to another or only walk a little bit as I saw.

On Tuesday afternoon, I started in Ituren where all the Joaldunaks were gathered. They paraded a little bit then I followed them when they started their march towards Zubieta…. except that they quickly climbed into vehicles!!! As a result, they arrived long before me and I couldn’t film the arrival on the old stone bridge of Zubieta. There were also chariots and it was rather gore, as the tradition wants that young people dress up as characters representing chaos, that the Joaldunaks, hunters of evil spirits, go hunting with their bells (“Joaldunaks” actually means “bells”). It became even worse in Zubieta’s square, and not very reassuring, between the young people covered with blood or brandishing dead organs or dead animals and those who were scaring people with their chainsaws…

Place: Ituren and Zubieta, Navarre.

Date: Monday and Tuesday of the last week of January. 24 and 25 January 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, I recommend you Tresanea Apartamentos, in the beautiful rural village of Ituren.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, availability and prices for your trip

Basque Holidays in February.

February is one of the most interesting months for lovers of traditional festivals as it is often the month of the carnivals of Navarre.

I’m not going to detail them all, there are too many of them. However, I will tell you about the ones I was able to cover and that I liked the most and you will find a list of those that may be interesting afterward. You will find the full 2020 schedule tab here. It was published in January 2020 only.

Caldereros de la Hungria.

Before the beginning of the carnival, the Hungarian boilermakers are celebrated. The inhabitants of the city disguise themselves as boilermakers to commemorate their arrival in San Sebastian in the 19th century, and announce the carnival.

The first procession by the original troop took place in 1884.

Location: San Sebastian, Guipuscoa.

Date: Depending on the year, the last Saturday in January or the first Saturday in February.

Type: parade, singing, dancing, traditional music, outdoor.

Look above (January) for reviews of San Sebastian accommodations. Click below to book.

Nurses and shepherds in San sebastian-donostia.

The day after the Caldereros de la Hungria, it is Inudeak eta Artzaiak or nurses and shepherds.

This festival commemorates the courting of nannies by shepherds and the vaccination of children.

Not to be confused with the variant of the same name, in Bera de Bidasoa, which I love so much!

Place: San Sebastian.

Date: January 30, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: parade, carnival, outdoor, traditional music.

Check above for accommodation ideas.

Santa Agueda in Alsasua.

Santa Agueda is celebrated throughout the Spanish Basque Country.

The festivities in Alsasua, Navarre, are however known to be the most typical. It honours the “quintos”, the young people who celebrate their 18th birthday.

On the eve of Santa Agueda, the girls go out into the streets singing.

On the day of Santa Agueda in the morning, Quintos and Quintas make the quest for the feast. In the evening around 8pm, they dance in the square.

Place: Alsasua, Navarre.

Date: February 4 and 5, 2022.

Type: traditional dance, parade, outdoor activities.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the quiet Hotel Rural Latxanea, in a comfortable Basque house.

Check the pics, reviews, availability and prices here

Saint Agatha at the Sanctuary of Santa Agueda.

These are the processions of Saint Agatha at the Sanctuary of Santa Agueda in Kastrexana, on the outskirts of Bilbao, in Barakaldo.

There are three processions: the 5th of February, the previous Sunday and the following Sunday. It is best to attend the one on the Sunday following Saint Agatha’s Day, which is the most important and brings together thousands of people.

Place: Sanctuary of Santa Agueda in Kastrexana in the outskirts of Bilbao, in Barakaldo. Province of Biscay.

Date: February 6, 2022.

Type: procession, religious festival.

Saint Agatha of Catania, a Christian martyr born in Sicily around 231, is invoked against fires and earthquakes.

For your accommodation, I recommend these three places:

  • the Hotel Carlton, for lovers of luxury, beautiful old building with modern comforts, right in the center and 10 mns walk from the Guggenheim Museum. The hotel has a restaurant offering Basque and international specialties. Pets are allowed on request and without extra charge.

Click here to check availability and prices for your dates

Much more modern than the Carlton Hotel, people choose the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao in particular for its roof terrace with a magnificent view of the Guggenheim Museum. Breakfast is served here. Although it offers many services – some of which are extra – I can only regret the fact that pets are not accepted!

Click here to see the price and availability

If you prefer more independence and the ability to cook, I recommend Inside Bilbao Apartments, in the heart of Bilbao and 1.7kms from the historic district.

See availability and prices here

Sorgin Gaua in Ciboure (witches night).

The Friday after the bear Day in Saint Jean de Luz, it’s Sorgin Gaua, the night of the witches.

The evening begins with a torchlight parade at 8pm and continues with traditional dances.

Place: Ciboure, Labourd.

Date: 2nd or 3rd Friday of February 2022.

Type: Labourd carnival, traditional dances, outdoor activity.

For this festival, you can book the independent apartment for 5 people in my house via the contact section.

Bear Day or Hartzaren Eguna in Saint Jean de Luz.

The awakening of the bear normally evokes the spring awakening. In Saint Jean de Luz, it rather evokes the arrival of the many festivities in February, the month of the carnivals.

In particular, it is an opportunity to discover the dance of the Hiruburus, three-headed characters representing the past, present and future.

The carnival will occur on the next Saturday.

Place: Saint Jean de Luz, Labourd.

Date: First or 2nd Saturday of February, rather in the morning (10:30 am) to see the Hiruburus dance at the market and in the streets.

Type: carnival, traditional dances, outdoor.

For this festival, you can book my holiday rental through the contact section.

Bayonne carnival.

Bayonne’s carnival has been celebrated since 1480, despite the church’s ban at the time, which considered it a pagan rite.

After having disappeared for a long time like many traditional festivals in the French Basque Country, it has been celebrated again for about 40 years.

It traditionally starts on the Thursday before the beginning of February school holidays.

The most interesting day is obviously Saturday, San Panzar day.

Traditional dance groups start performing at “Carreau des Halles” at 11am.

San Panzar, accompanied by the bear and wild men, arrives at 3pm for the cavalcade (parade).

At 4:30 pm, when the cavalcade returns, it’s the reading of his trial.

At 5pm, the sentence is carried out: bonfire and dancing of the bear and wild men.

At 6pm there is a big closing show with all the groups.

From 7pm, it’s the peñas’ cavalcade.

Joalduns, bells carrier, from the Basque Country
Joaldunak and Stephanie Langlet during Bayonne carnival

Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: from 17 to 19 February 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: carnival, outdoor.

For Bayonne carnival, you can stay in my holiday rental for 5 people.

Carnival of Goizueta.

The particularity of Goizueta carnival is the zahagi-dantza dance, performed by the charcoal maker, which you will see in the video.

The dance is performed by adults on Tuesday, by children on Sunday.

Place: Goizueta, Navarre.

Date: February 27 to March 1, 2022.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

You can stay at the welcoming Hostal Ezkurra, 9kms away.

Click here to see the availability for your dates

Carnival of Estella.

Place: Estella, Navarre.

Date: Saturday, February 27, 2022 (rural carnival).

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the beautiful and comfortable Apartamento Belmecher, a 130m² flat in the centre of Estella.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, availability and prices

Vera carnival.

My favorite Basque carnival for the self-derision of its participants and the good-natured atmosphere!

This is a variant of Inudeak eta Artzaiak or San Sebastian nurses and shepherds, in which the roles are reversed: boys are nannies, girls are shepherds.

The evening before, the Caldereros are celebrated as in San Sebastian.

Place: Bera, also called Vera de Bidasoa ou Vera. Navarre.

Date: on the Sunday before mardi gras. February 27, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: carnival of Navarre.

In terms of accommodation, I recommend you to stay in the beautiful nearby San Sebastian. You can read the review of the mentioned accommodations a little bit earlier in this article, in January. Click on the links below to see the availability.

Lantz carnival.

Lantz Carnival is one of the most famous in Navarre.

Yet it takes place in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

Only happiness!!!

The central character is the villain Miel Otxin, representing evil spirits.

He is captured on Monday and executed on Tuesday.

The other characters:

  • Ziripot: dressed in bags full of straw, this obese character walks the streets while the Zaldikos demolish him on the ground.
  • Zaldiko: joyful and jumping, dressed in his most beautiful clothes (a horse on his belt) demolish Ziripot on the ground.
  • Ferralariak: it is the blacksmiths who put horseshoes on the Zaldiko.
  • Txatxo: they represent the population of Lantz, are dressed in old rags, wear straw brooms and have their faces covered.

Place: Lantz, Navarre.

Date: February 27 and March 1, 2022.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

If the accommodations in Lantz are free, don’t hesitate to reserve!

The Hotel The Originals Hotel Rural Iribarnia is a 17th-century farmhouse beautifully restored.

Click here to check the pics, reviews, availability for your dates

Carnival of Lesaka.

Lesaka celebrations are concentrated on the Sunday of Carnival.

When the sun rises, the streets of the village are filled with zaku zaharrak (literally old bags), thirty characters dressed in canvas bags filled with dry grass, two between the legs and one on the torso. Their faces are covered with a handkerchief, a straw hat and a pizontzia (“chamber pot” in Basque). These characters march in single file following the music of the village banda accompanied by the “Mairus” (women in broad hats and covered with abundant multicoloured bands) and the “Goitarrak” (mountain farmers).

Place: Lesaka, Navarre.

Date: Sunday before mardi gras. February 27, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the flat Gure Idorpea, a beautiful flat for 4 people, in the village.

Click here to check availability and prices

carnival of Tolosa.

The most famous and popular carnival in the Basque Country is celebrated in Tolosa, Guipuscoa, for 6 days.

The celebration officially begins with the “Ostegun Gizena” (Carnival Thursday).

At noon, the speech is read and the carnival is opened.

The next day’s programme (“Ostiral Mehea” or Friday carnival) offers us the “Festival del Viernes Flaco” (Friday Carnival Festival) at the Leidor Theatre, which consists of a very original show organised by the village inhabitants, the protagonists of the event.

On Saturday (“Zaldunita bezpera”) there are the “Tamborradas” (adults and children), drum parades, in the streets of Tolosa.

On Sunday, the city streets fill with pyjamas and slippers, as participants leave home with a neglected look, just getting up from the bed.

On that day and also on the following Monday (“Astelenita”) and Tuesday (“Asteartita”), the chariots and groups march, with surprising costumes, music and dances.

The celebration ends on Tuesday at midnight with the funeral of the sardine.

Place: Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: from Thursday to Mardi Gras. February 24th to March 1st, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: carnival of Guipuscoa.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the very central Hotel Bide Bide Tolosa, ideally situated on the main place of Tolosa.

Click here to check the availability and prices

For the best pintxos, the Basque tapas voted best culinary experience in the world by Lonely Planet, go to the bar known to be the best pintxos bar in the city, Orbela Taberna, Errementari Kalea. When a Tolosarrak friend took us there, we were surprised by the incredible quality and very soft prices.

Tolosa is also the ideal place to test chuleta, the prime rib of beef. The city is renowned for producing the best in the Basque Country and even organises a txuleta festival at the end of the year.

Carnival of Alsasua.

In my opinion, the most terrifying carnival in Navarre.

I have never been there before and I let you discover its process in the video below.

If you live in Alsasua or know the carnival, I am ready to try the experience with you!

Place: Alsasua village, Navarre.

Date: February 27, 2022.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the quiet Hotel Rural Latxanea, in a comfortable Basque house.

Check the pics, reviews, availability and prices here

Carnival of Unanua.

The interest of this carnival, which has been taking place since the Middle Ages, is the very old bronze masks worn by the Mozos.

Their origin is unknown and they are carefully preserved at the town hall.

Place: Unanua, Navarre.

Date: Mardi gras. February 27, 2022.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

You can find a cosy place to stay at Alsasua (12kms).

Check the pics, reviews, availability and prices here

carnival and caldereros of Pamplona.

The celebration begins with the caldereros, the Saturday before mardi gras and the carnival.

Place: Pamplona / Iruña, Navarre.

Date: February 26th to 29th, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, don’t miss the magnificent and central Gran Hotel La Perla, one of the 5 stars of Pamplona, which has hosted many celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway or the Aga Khan.

Click here to check availability and prices for your dates

If you are travelling with your family or a small group (max. 5), the Apartamento Singular Deluxe, located 350 metres from the old town, is a pleasant alternative.

Click here to check availability and prices for your dates

Tudela carnival.

Dancing and singing are the main activities of Tudela carnival.

The main characters are called Zipoteros.

Place: Tudela, South of Navarre.

Date: February 26 and 27, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

Friday of carnival: dia del Zipotero. Zipoteros procession at 8:30pm.

Take benefit of your stay in Tudela and discover the nearby Bardenas desert, where a lot of films have been shot.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the Atico el Muro, a beautiful 72m² flat in the centre of Tudela, with a fabulous terrace and view.

Check the availability and prices here

Aoiz carnival.

On the Saturday evening before mardi gras, all the carnival characters leave Calle Maldita, which is only open for the carnival period.

Place: Aoiz, Navarre.

Date: Saturday night before carnival. February 26th and March 1st, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the guesthouse Hostal Beti-jai, where the food is also good.

Click here to check availability and prices

Basque festivals in March.

Don’t forget the springtime of the restaurants.

Depending of the year, Basque carnivals can be in February or March.

The Javierada.

The Javierada, or more precisely the Javieradas, is a pilgrimage in honour of Saint Francis Xavier.

It occurs each year in March and May in Javier, in Northern Spain, in Navarre.

The pilgrims do the Way of the Cross leading to the castle to assist to a Mass in honor of the saint.

Javierada pilgrimage in Javier castle Navarre Spain
Javier castle

The main Javieradas, departing from Sanguesa, occur at the beginning of March.

Place: Javier, Navarre.

Date: March 6 and 12, 2022.

Type: pilgrimage, religious festival, Stations of the Cross.

Ethno Travels was there in April 2019.

Which hotel to stay in Javier?

If you come on Friday for the first Javierada as I advise you, I recommend Hotel Xabier, just opposite the castle.

The balconies overlook the castle.

Click here to check availability and prices for your dates

March festivals featured on the blog.

The castle of Javier and the Mass area for Javierada

Javierada

Basque festivals in April.

In April, the most important festival in Alava takes place.

It is also Holy Week, Semana Santa, a major event in Spain.

Bayonne ham fair.

Bayonne ham has been celebrated since 1462!

In 2020, the fair will take place from Thursday, April 9 to Sunday, April 12.

Among the most important events, we can note the Brotherhood Mass on Sunday and the election of the best ham.

The atmosphere is obviously festive with choirs, dances and bandas. And we eat… ham!

Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: April 2nd and 3rd 2022 – Pending confirmation.

Type: Local festival, gourmet event, outdoor activities.

Contact me to book my apartment 16kms from the center of Bayonne.

Bayonne quays with the colouful houses reflected in the river
Bayonne

Via Crucis Balmaseda.

Via Crucis Balmaseda is a fascinating living Stations of the Cross, played every year on Good Thursday and Good Friday by the city’s inhabitants.

Place: Balmaseda, Biscaye.

Date: April 13 and 14, 2022. Good Thursday and Good Friday.

Type: religious festival, living Stations of the Cross.

I stayed in Valle de Villaverde, in Posada Calera. The environment is superb, the food is very good and copious, my room overlooked a terrace, there are stones and exposed beams. The staff was adorable and even agreed to let me come with my little Westie dog (normally, it is forbidden but I had asked beforehand). Unfortunately, I was quite disturbed by the shameless attitude of some Spaniards slamming doors and speaking loudly in the middle of the night. Don’t forget the earplugs.

Check the availability and latest prices here

The option I would choose as I now know the city is the marvelous Convento San Roque. Not only the ancient building is amazingly beautiful but it’s also very comfortable, clean, pet-friendly and the guest reviews are very good. And the best thing is: it’s in the centre, close to the places where the show is!

Click here to check the availability and price for your dates

Holy Week Pasaia Donibane.

Good Friday is celebrated in a very special way in Pasaia Donibane.

The celebrations start at 7pm in the main church of the village. The lithurgy of the Passion is celebrated and then the death of Christ.

At 8 pm, it is the procession of the Holy Burial, from the church to the main square and back. The procession is particularly beautiful because it takes place in a very special setting. Pasaia Donibane is indeed a village with only one pedestrian street, crossed by 5 tunnels, at the edge of the ocean. One of the angels has folding wings to cross these tunnels. The inhabitants also have candles on their balconies and windows, which adds to the special atmosphere.

Victor Hugo even lived in Pasaia Donibane and the tourist office is located in his former residence, which has been transformed into a museum.

The music accompanying the procession is also special because it is local or Basque music.

To organize yourself, I advise you to park across the canal, in Pasaia San Pedro, where you will find more parking spaces, and then to take the river shuttle to Donibane, which stops at midnight on Fridays (0.70€ the crossing).

For your accommodation, San Sebastian is very close. Click on the links below to see the availability of the different hotels.

Place: Pasaia Donibane, Guipuscoa.

Date: April 14, 2022 from 7 pm.

Type: religious festival, procession.

Holy Week Fontarabia.

Holy Week in Fontarrabia Hondarribia is a particularly interesting and emotional event thanks to the preservation of ancient rituals.

The two main moments are Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

On Friday – April 14, 2022 – at 5:00 pm, everyone gathers in the parish church to attend the mass and especially the descent of the crucified Christ. The statue, hidden behind a black curtain, is mounted on a 5 meter high crucifix.

The twelve apostles, each bearing the symbol that characterizes him, are present throughout the mass.

At the end, the doors of the church open, letting in 25 Romans, who stand around Christ.

Two people climb on the cross to detach the statue of Christ, which is placed in a crystal box.

Then begins the impressive procession of silence, during which the procession slowly moves through the streets of the city.

Some music adds to the solemn, almost heavy atmosphere…

On Easter Sunday, April 16, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., there is the procession of the meeting or ttopara.

Everyone gathers in the church decorated with many flowers.

The apostles are present again and the Romans guarding the tomb make their entrance.

The priest announces the resurrection of Christ and the Romans fall to the ground as the bells ring out. The centurion tries to revive his companions but faints again. The crowd then sings the resurrection of Christ.

The Romans get up and go to meet the Holy Sepulchre, before leaving the church with helmet and lance upside down, still stunned by the announcement of the resurrection.

Place: Fontarrabia-Hondarribia, Guipuscoa.

Date: April 14 and 16, 2022.

Type: Religious event, procession.

For your accommodation, I recommend the Hotel Obispo, on the square of the same name, close to the Plaza de Armas but more quiet. Nestled in the greenery, in stone, this pretty establishment has a crazy charm. The food is also very good. The terrace is particularly pleasant on summer evenings. One of my favorites in the Basque Country.

Click here to check availability

Volatin of Tudela.

Tudela, in Navarre, lives the last days of Holy Week with its celebrations of the Volatín and El Ángel, a custom that dates back to the Middle Ages.

At 10:00 a.m. on Holy Saturday, the cremation and public hooting of the Volatín, a wooden and rag character with a firecracker cigar in his mouth, begins. Once on fire, the character struggles with force, only to collapse, totally destroyed. A simple ceremony, reminiscent of Judas’ suicide, the apostle who denounced Jesus to the Romans.

At 9:00 am on Sunday, the Bajada del Ángel, which brings together thousands of people in the Plaza de los Fueros, is held. On this occasion, a child dressed as an angel rushes into the air towards the image of a Virgin, whose head is covered with a black scarf, as a sign of mourning for Jesus’ death. The angel takes off this veil, to symbolize the joy of Christ’s resurrection.

Place: Tudela, Navarre.

Date: April 15 and 16, 2022.

Type: Religious festival, outdoor.

Take benefit of your stay in Tudela and discover the nearby Bardenas desert, where a lot of films have been shot.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the Atico el Muro, a beautiful 72m² flat in the centre of Tudela, with a fabulous terrace and view.

Click here to see pics and prices

Bolantes of Luzaide-Valcarlos.

This is one of the most amazing and ancestral dances in Navarre, which welcomes pilgrims on the Way of Compostela in the locality of Luzaide-Valcarlos every Sunday of Carnival and Easter Sunday.

This celebration takes place to the rhythm of the dancers’ bells dressed in multicoloured costumes: red beret, spartan espadrilles, white shirt and cotton pants decorated with golden trimmings, jewellery and red and yellow ribbons.

Traditionally, dancers walk the streets of the city all day long.

Place: Luzaide-Valcarlos, Navarre.

Date: April 16, 2022.

Type: Traditional dance, outdoor.

Click here to reserve the best accommodation in Valcarlos

San Prudencio Vitoria.

San Prudencio is the most important festival in Alava.

The festivities begin the day before in Vitoria Gasteiz, with a giant tamborrada and the parade of the gastronomic societies.

The next day, April 28, thousands of people go on pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Armentia, south of the city, to venerate the relics of the Patron Saint of Alava.

Place: Vitoria Gasteiz, Alava.

Date: April 27 and 28, 2022.

Type: pilgrimage, religious feast, key event.

For your stay, I recommend you the flat Casa El Ensanche, ideally located at 600 metres of the centre.

Check the availability and prices here

Dia de la Almadia – wooden raft Day in Burgui.

One of the most popular traditional festivals in Navarre.

It is held every year in Burgui, in the Roncal Valley.

Wood rafts were old boats that, until the middle of the 20th century, carried wood on the rivers of the Navarre valleys. The memory of this profession, which has now disappeared, is preserved thanks to these festivities.

During this day, several wooden rafts are rafted down the Esca River. The journey lasts five kilometres and ends at the medieval bridge of Burgui.

The programme of festivities also includes many other activities: exhibitions, crafts fair, traditional dance and music, workshops, theatre, rural sports, photo competitions and audiovisual screenings, as well as a popular lunch.

Place: Burgui, Navarre.

Date: April 30, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: historical commemoration, outdoor.

Check the pics and price of the beautiful hotel Almadiero in Burgui

April festivals featured on the blog.

Pasos of Via Crucis Viviente of Balmaseda

Via Crucis Balmaseda

Basque festivities in May.

In addition to the traditional festivals listed below, you can also program:

  • the European Museum Night.
  • the French patrol in Saint Jean-de-Luz.
  • the Socoa feasts.
  • the axoa festival in Espelette.
  • Herri Urrats in Saint Pée sur Nivelle.
  • Dantzari Ttiki.
  • Euskaralai.
  • Salbatorez: Peña Idiak festival in Hasparren.
  • the Andalusian festival of Saint Jean de Luz.

Txindoki – ascent to the summer pastures.

Ethno Travels covered this festival in 2019.

The opening of Aralar meadows.

Every year, on May 1st, the cattle herds are gathered in Larraitz, before being taken to the high meadows until October.

The meeting takes place in a festive environment, with a large audience, traditional music (trikitixa) and stands featuring rural products, such as cider and cheese, as well as handicrafts.

In 2008, 18,000 sheep, 650 mares and 700 cows participated in the summer pastures. May 1st at noon is the official opening of the Aralar meadows and farmers take their animals up any next day. There is no – more? – of big gatherings.

The big question: is it worth going to this festival?

My very personal answer is yes!

  • For the exceptional mountainous setting: Txindoki, Autza in particular.
  • For the demonstrations of traditional art: making ropes, soles, basketry, taloa.
  • For the local product stands: cheese, honey, cakes, etc.
  • To see some pretty pottocks, sheep, cows, sheep dogs, etc…
  • For the festive ambiance.

Practical information in brief.

Place: Txindoki, Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: May 1, 2022.

Type: rural festival, shepherds’ feast, outdoor, transhumance.

Getting organized/some useful tips.

  • Stands and entertainment start at 10am. Arriving around 10am, you will not be able to reach Larraitz by car but you should still find space to park in the village of Abaltzisketa. All you have to do is follow the people and take the small path that leads up to Larraitz. There are many panels explaining the fauna and flora and the setting is magnificent.
  • Once you reach the Larraitz sign, you will find a bar that also has a restaurant on your left and a tourist office on the right – difficult to communicate other than in Basque or Spanish.
  • If you want to taste the pintxos that look delicious, do it when you arrive. It’s very quickly out of stock. Same thing for taloas to avoid the 13h queue.
  • For your meal, I advise you to plan your picnic. You will find many tables. Either to go down directly to Tolosa once the herds have passed and the dance is over. I give you below the name of the best pintxos Bar in the city.
  • Couple your morning to the pastures with a visit to the pretty town of Tolosa – old town, main square of the European Puppet Centre, covered market, churches, old buildings.
  • You can also try to follow the herds on the slopes of the Txindoki. But I can’t tell you that they go very far. Feel free to share your experience with us!

Where to stay in Tolosa?

For your accommodation, I recommend you the very central Hotel Bide Bide Tolosa, ideally situated on the main place of Tolosa.

Click here to check the availability and prices

Where to eat in Tolosa?

For the best pintxos, the Basque tapas voted best culinary experience in the world by Lonely Planet, go to the bar known to be the best pintxos bar in the city, Orbela Taberna, Errementari Kalea. When a Tolosarrak friend took us there, we were surprised by the incredible quality and very soft prices.

Tolosa is also the ideal place to test chuleta, the prime rib of beef. The city is renowned for producing the best in the Basque Country and even organises a txuleta festival at the end of the year.

Chapter of the ttoro fraternity in Ciboure.

Mass, parade, intronization and tasting.

Ttoro is the fish soup of the Basque Country.

Place: Ciboure, Labourd.

Date: May 1, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: gourmet meeting, folklore.

Book my vacation rental for 5 people in Biaudos via the contact section.

The harbour of Saint Jean de Luz and Ciboure

Romerias in Orreaga-Roncesvalles.

The pilgrimages in honour of the Virgin of the Real Colegiata de Santa Maria in Roncesvalles take place in May, June and the first Wednesday in September since the 16th century.

Thus, at this time, one can meet pilgrims dressed in dark tunics, penitents wearing black veils and bare feet and inhabitants in traditional costumes.

Place: Roncesvalles, Navarre.

Date: May, June and September, 2022.

Type: pilgrimage, religious celebration.

Click here to watch the pics and reserve your room in the beautiful Hotel Roncesvalles

Pintxos Eguna in Bayonne.

About thirty peñas participate in pintxos eguna and offer the pintxos for 1€.

An opportunity to discover these traditional places that are the peñas and this specialty elected by Lonely Planet in 2018 as the best culinary experience in the world.

Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: a gourmet meeting.

Book my vacation rental for 5 people at 16kms from Bayonne through the form at the bottom of the page or the contact page.

Bayonne weekend gourmand.

I’m happy to announce that “Bayonne fait le pont” is replaced by “Week-end gourmand”, that will propose chocolate and other Basque specialities degustations for free.

The official communication is not ready yet but it will be on Friday and Saturday of the Ascension weekend.

Originally the Bayonne Chocolate Days, these were incorporated into Bayonne fait le pont, with various attractions offered throughout the Ascension holidays.

Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: Friday and Saturday Ascension weekend. 27 and 28 of May 2022 – Pending confirmation.

Type: chocolate tasting and various activities.

Book my vacation rental for 5 people at 16kms from Bayonne through the form at the bottom of the page or the contact page.

Pasaia maritime festival.

Pasaia was for the first time in 2018 the scene of a maritime festival, incorporating traditional dances and songs, concerts, many activities and the visit of traditional boats specially brought for the occasion, such as the Hermione.

Accommodation next door in San Sebastian:

Or take the beautiful Jaizkibel road to the other side of the mountain, to Fontarrabia and stay at the Hotel Obispo.

Click here to check availability

Place: Pasaia, Guipuscoa.

Date: Next one in 2022 (the Portuguese ships).

Type: maritime festival, outdoor.

Are you looking for accommodation and/or a guide for Holy Week, May holidays or any other period? Contact me via the comments or the contact section. I can also organise your full trip thanks to my partnership with a local travel agency.

May Basque festivals featured on the blog.

A little girl preparing chocolate balls with the help of her parents

Chocolate festival

Basque festivals in June.

In addition to the festivals below, you can discover:

  • Visit your Basque Country.
  • Dance show Elgar Oinka and Azpeitia in Hasparren.

It is also worth seeing if the Paloteado del Casco Viejo in Tudela is renewed for a second edition or not (a mixture of traditional dance and theatre, which was performed in the 1940s).

All the festivals of the beginning (Labourd and Basse-Navarre) are easily accessible from my home. You can book my rental for 5 people via the contact section.

Udaberria Dantzan, festival of the 7 Basque provinces dances, in Saint Jean de Luz.

A dance festival not to be missed!

Every year, Saint Jean de Luz invites dance groups from each of the 7 Basque provinces for a magnificent show on Place Louis XIV.

Although each year offers different dances due to the number of existing dances – each province but also many villages have their own dances – Godalet Dantza, the spectacular glass dance, is systematically presented.

Place: Saint Jean de Luz, Labourd.

Date: Sunday, June 5, 2022.

Type: traditional dances.

Ethno Travels goes there almost each year!

Cherry festival in Itxassou.

Place: Itxassou, Labourd.

Date: May 29 or June 5, 2022.

Type: cherry tasting and Basque culture: dances, music, Basque force.

For this festival, you can book my holiday rental for 5 people through the form at the bottom of the page or the contact page.

Corpus Christi and Octave.

Although Corpus Christi is also still taking place in Guipúzcoa and Soule, I will only talk here about Corpus Christi in the northern Basque country, in the villages of Basse-Navarre.

Corpus Christi and Octave celebrations on the following Sunday are called in the Basque Country Besta Berri or Pesta Berri (Fête Dieu in French).

The mass is animated by men from the village, dressed in Napoleonic clothes, then a parade takes place.

Place: various villages in the diocese of Hasparren, Basse-Navarre, Soule, Guipuscoa.

Date: June 19, 2022.

Octave: June 26, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: religious festival, procession, dance.

A festival I regularly go to.

For your accommodation, you can book the independent apartment for 5 people in my house, by contacting me via the contact section.

Saint Jean festival in Saint Jean de Luz.

Many interesting activities, including bandas, dances, solemn mass with orchestras, choirs and dances, tamborradas, small corsairs in black and red…

Place: Saint Jean de Luz, Labourd.

Date: June 2022.

Type: patronal feasts, open air.

For this festival, you can book the independent apartment for 5 people in my house via the contact section.

Traditional pilgrimage in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

June 24 for Saint John’s Day: this is a traditional pilgrimage, known mainly to the inhabitants of Bermeo.

Surrounding residents, especially from Bermeo, come to the foot of the chapel to get married beforehand, to keep their promises or thank the saint.

The day before, on June 23, the “Fogatas” of the night of San Juan are celebrated in Bermeo as part of the events of the Fiestas de San Juan. It starts at 7:30 pm with a parade and concerts until about 10 pm, then the traditional songs of Saint John are sung around the fire. People also burn the messages they wrote to make the bad things of the previous year disappear and attract happiness.

A floral offering is also made to the image of the Virgin Mary, immersed in the depths of the sea, under one of the natural arches that emerge at the foot of the islet.

Location : Gaztelugatxe, Biscay.

Date : June 24, 2021.

Type : pilgrimage, outdoor.

Click here to see the pics and reserve the best flat in Bermeo

Religious celebration in Txindoki hermitage.

On St. Peter’s Day, a great popular and religious celebration takes place at the hermitage (a gathering called erromeria in Basque).

Location: Hermitage of Txindoki, near Tolosa, Navarre.

Date: 29 June 2022.

Type: religious holiday, outdoor.

For your accommodation, I recommend you the very central Hotel Bide Bide Tolosa, ideally situated on the main place of Tolosa.

Click here to check the availability and prices

Alarde in Irun.

On June 30, San Marcial Day, Irun commemorates the Battle of San Marcial with a magnificent military parade in Napoleonic dress.

Location: Irun, Guipuscoa.

Date: June 30, 2022.

Type: local celebration, military parade, commemoration.

Stay in the city center so you can walk to the parade in the morning. I recommend the Alcazar Irun Centro Ciudad.

Check availability and prices here

June Basque festivals on the blog.

What to do in Saint Jean de Luz : Udaberria dance festival

Udaberria Dantzan

The harbour of Saint Jean de Luz and Ciboure

Saint Jean festival

Besta Berri, the Basque Corpus Christi festival

Corpus Christi

Best Basque Holidays in July.

In July, you can also discover:

  • Gauargi, Espelette World Dance Festival.
  • Tuna Festival of Ciboure.
  • Tuna festival of St Jean de Luz.
  • Bayonne Feasts (July or August depending on the year).
  • Night of the sardine of Saint Jean de Luz.

San Fermin in Lesaka.

San Fermin festivities without the crowds of Pamplona festivities!

They start on July 6 at noon like those in Pamplona, but the most interesting moment culturally is the 7th.

It is the only day of the year when ezpatadantzaris dance the Zubigainekoa, the dance on the bridge!

This dancing ritual is the symbol of peace signed in the 15th century between the city’s districts.

The Dantzaris must show dexterity and balance by not falling into the Onin River.

Place: Lesaka, Navarre.

Date: from July 6, 2022 at noon. But on July 7th for the dances.

Type: patronal feasts, traditional dance.

Click here for the best accommodation in Lesaka

San Fermin in Pamplona.

The famous Pamplona San Fermin would be the 3rd in the world in terms of attendance.

It lasts 9 days, alternating popular, religious, trade fair and bullfighting rituals.

If you decide to attend the San Fermin festival, keep in mind, and it is the same for the Bayonne festival, that every year there are deaths and sexual assaults. The festive side should not make you forget the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

Location : Pamplona, Navarra.

Date: July 6-14, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: 3rd largest festival in the world, outdoor.

Click here to reserve the best hotel in Pamplona

Medieval market in Bayonne.

The Medieval market of Bayonne was taking place every year on Place Montaut from 12 to 14 July, except in 2019. So we don’t know yet if it’s definitively over or not.

The reconstruction of a medieval market around craft trades invites the visitor to a journey into the past at the end of the 14th century.

Exhibitors and participants from all over France and also from abroad make it possible each time to discover crafts, music, costumes, dances, fights, receptions…

Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: Cancelled in 2019, 2020 and 2021. 2022?

Type: medieval market, outdoor.

Book my cottage 16kms from Bayonne via the contact section.

Junte de Roncal or three cows tribute.

Every July 13th at the Pierre Saint Martin Pass, the oldest European peace treaty between the French and the Spanish is commemorated.

The celebrations begin at 11am with an open-air mass.

At 12 noon, around milestone 262, the French and Spanish elected representatives celebrate the treaty with the choice of three cows by the Navarrese for the payment of grazing and watering rights on their territory.

Place: Pierre Saint-Martin Pass, Béarn.

Date: July 13, 2022.

Type: Shepherds’ Day, commemoration.

For your accommodation, I recommend the Chalets de la Forêt d’Issaux.

Check availability here

Medieval festival in Orthez.

Place: Orthez, Bearn.

Date: July 18 or 25, 2022.

Type: medieval festival, outdoor.

Orthez is accessible from my holiday rental in 45 minutes.

Alarde del Moro in Anzuola.

Alarde del Moro is celebrated during Antzuola’s feasts, on the third Saturday of July in the afternoon.

It is the main rite of independence of the municipality, renewed every year.

The celebration consists of two parts: the parade that takes place in the streets of the city; and the act that takes place in the square.

Place: Antzuola, Guipuscoa.

Date: July 16, 2022.

Type: historical show, alarde (parade).

You can stay in the beautiful village of Escoriaza, at Casa Rural Areano.

Check availability here

Baztandarren biltzarra in Elizondo.

The Sunday before July 25, Baztandarren Biltzarra, the great celebration of brotherhood organized by the inhabitants of Baztan Valley during summer, is celebrated.

It takes place in Elizondo.

After a religious ceremony, the inhabitants of the 15 villages that constitute the valley march with their chariots through the locality.

After the parade and to the sound of the txistu, they dance in the town hall square the mutildantza, an exclusively male dance in which the number of dancers increases as the melody progresses.

The morning ends with a group meal in the Market Square.

All day long, craftsmen and farmers display their products in the streets, while musical groups follow one another.

Place: Elizondo, Navarre.

Date: July 24, 2022.

Type: religious festival, parade, traditional dance, concerts, outdoor activities.

Direction Oronoz-Mugaire and Kuko Hotel Restaurant.

Click here to check availability

Festivities of Santa Ana Tudela.

The festivities in honor of Santa Ana are held in Tudela, Navarre, from July 24 to 30 every year.

At noon on July 24, the launch of the pyrotechnic rocket marks the beginning of the seven days of uninterrupted festivities. The colors of the festivities are red and white and all participants wear these colors.

One of the great moments of the festival is the Revoltosa dance, which takes place every day around the bandstand in Plaza de los Fueros. After midnight, after dancing the jota and the Baile de la Era, the participants begin the 3 rhythms of the Revoltosa, circling the bandstand very quickly.

Do not miss the solemn procession of Santa Ana on July 26, carried out in the strictest tradition. The procession leaves the cathedral at 11:30 a.m. and travels through the streets of the old part of the city, escorted by the city council, the band and the company of Giants and Big Heads. Encierros – bullfighting in the streets – also take place every morning at 8 am. Dances and bullfights are also on the program.

Place: Tudela, Navarra.

Date: July 24 to 30, 2022.

Type: Religious festival, open air, patron saint’s day.

Take advantage of your stay in Tudela to discover the beautiful Bardenas desert, where many films have been shot.

For your accommodation, I recommend the Atico el Muro, a beautiful apartment of 72m² in the center, with a terrace and a magnificent view.

Check availability here

Dia de la blusa in Vitoria.

The Día de la Blusa (Blouse Day) is a celebration of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

It takes place on July 25.

The protagonists of this celebration are the Blusas.

The groups, which gather just over two thousand gowns, begin with the traditional tribute in memory of their deceased predecessors in the city’s cemetery.

Immediately after, at ten thirty, the entertainment begins, with the donkey race, one of the most popular moments of the festival, where the men will have to test their skills on donkeys in a closed circuit around the square of the Virgen Blanca (White Virgin).

The Vitorianos/as (Vitoria’s people) buy garlic rosaries at the market (Portal del Rey and Cuesta de San Francisco streets), which they wear on their shoulders in the morning.

Agricultural fair, trade fair, concert of the municipal banda in the Florida kiosk, Basque force in Plaza de los Fueros complete the morning program.

In the afternoon, the blousas perform the traditional “paseillo” with bulls: they invade the centre of Vitoria, in the company of bandas and txistu players.

They will spend the rest of the day and night walking the streets.

This festival is a kind of rehearsal or prelude to the descent from Celedón, which opens the Virgen Blanca festivities on August 4.

The gowns also have an important role in Blanca’s festivities.

Place: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alava.

Date: July 25, 2022.

Type: commemoration, popular festival, agricultural fair, Basque force, concert, outdoor.

Direction Casa Ensanche for accommodation.

Check prices and availability here

Saint Ignace of Loyola festival in Gaztelugatxe.

The feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, on July 31, is celebrated by a traditional pilgrimage to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, from the village of Arrieta.

Place: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Biscaye.

Date: July 31, 2022.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.

Stay at Bakio.

Check availability here

Best Basque festivities in August.

In August, many villages have their summer festival.

It would be too long to give a full list and you will only find below the most interesting and traditional events of the month.

Medieval feast in Sauveterre de Bearn.

contact@bearndesgaves.com

infos@tourisme64.com

Sauveterre Cultural Centre – 05 59 38 92 49

Place: Sauveterre de Bearn, Bearn.

Date: Saturday 31 July 2022 – Pending confirmation.

Type: medieval festival.

Sauveterre is 45 minutes from my holiday rental. Check the link in the menu.

Sheepdog competition in Biriatou.

Day of Tradition with many cultural demonstrations: Basque strength, dance, etc. and dog show.

Place: Biriatou, Labourd.

Date: August 7, 2022 – to be verified.

Type: sheepdogs competition, outdoor.

Biriatou is accessible within 40 minutes from my holiday rental.

La Blanca in Vitoria.

The main feasts of Vitoria take place in honour of the White Virgin, from August 4 to 9.

On August 4, the Virgen Blanca square welcomes thousands of people who come to watch the chupinazo, a firecracker that the mayor of Vitoria lights to officially inaugurate the celebrations, followed by the descent of the Celedon.

The Celedon is the character who represents the feasts of the Blanca, wearing a beret, a blouse and an umbrella.

The festivities last six days, during which the festival, music, theatre and religious acts are on the programme.

Place: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alava.

Date: From August 4 to 9, 2022.

Type: patronal feasts, open air.

Stay at Casa Ensanche.

Check prices and availability here

Semana Grande / Aste Nagusia of San Sebastian / Donostia.

The Semana Grande of San Sebastian is certainly the most beautiful festival of summer.

All day long, you can enjoy cultural activities – giants, Basque force, bandas, etc.

In the evening, don’t miss the international fireworks competition from La Concha beach – voted Europe’s most beautiful beach in 2017 by Trip Advisor readers.

I strongly advise you to park in Irun and take the suburban train, Cercanias, to Gros stop in San Sebastian; or the Topo – which is no longer officially called that for a very long time but Transfermuga – to the left on the parking lot of Hendaye railway station and get off at Amara station.

Place: San Sebastien / Donostia, Guipuzcoa.

Date: August 2022.

Type: international fireworks competition, concerts, outdoor activities, folklore.

Accommodations I recommend in San Sebastian:

Fireworks from the Concha Beach

Semana Grande / Aste Nagusia of Bilbao.

Marijaia, the character who embodies the Bilbao celebrations, is in charge of inaugurating and closing these nine days of celebration.

Theatre shows, large concerts, some of the best fireworks in the world, gastronomic competitions, games for the youngest and all kinds of activities take place at different sites in the city, but the heart is in the streets and squares of Casco Viejo and on both sides of the river, where the “txosnas” (stands with music, food and drinks) are also located.

Metro station: Casco Viejo / Abando / Moyúa.

Place: Bilbao, Biscaye.

Date: Saturday 20 to Sunday 28 August 2022.

Type: popular festival, concerts, fireworks, various activities, outdoor activities.

Recommended hotels in Bilbao :

Basque feast of Hendaye.

The Basque Feast of Hendaye is the opportunity to see his cavalcade, which has been taking place since 1930.

Hiri Besta was created on Friday and Saturday to extend the celebration and involve associations.

The colours (clothes) of the Festival are blue and white.

Place: Hendaye, Labourd.

Date: August 7, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: Basque festival, cavalcade, fireworks, outdoor activities.

45mns from my holiday rental.

Sheepdog competition in Saint Pée sur Nivelle.

Place: Saint Pée sur Nivelle, Labourd.

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: sheepdogs competition, outdoor.

40mns from my holiday rental.

reading of Roland’s song at Roncesvalles.

The Santiago de Roncesvalles church in Navarre offers every 15 August the opportunity to listen to a reading of the poem “La Chanson de Roland”, which tells the story of the defeat of part of the Emperor Charlemagne’s army at the battle of Roncesvalles.

This historical event, which took place in the year 778 and is reproduced orally every year inside this monument, is a very original way of understanding one of the most beautiful epic poems of the time, which spread the name of Roncesvalles throughout Europe.

Place: Roncesvalles Orreaga, Navarre.

Date: August 15, 2022.

Type: historical commemoration.

Stay at the Hotel Roncesvalles.

Check availability here

Espadrille festival in Mauleon.

On August 15, the capital of La Soule celebrates the espadrille and the Basque pelota.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people gather in the city for mass sung in Basque, pelota games and Souletin dances.

You can learn the history of the espadrille and you can even watch a pair being made in a workshop on the “Place des Allées”.

Place: Mauleon, Soule.

Date: August 15, 2022.

Type: local celebration, Souletine dances, pelota, outdoor activities.

1 hour from my holiday rental.

The old-time jobs in Salies de Bearn.

More than 80 craftsmen and artists work in front of the public and present their know-how in the streets of Salies de Béarn, the City of Salt from Béarn.

Manufacturer of clogs and espadrilles, violin maker, blacksmith, knitting machine, grinder, antique collections, etc.

They also celebrate the piperade with their brotherhood.

Place: Salies de Bearn, Bearn.

Date: August 15, 2022.

Type: old jobs, various activities, outdoor activities.

40mns from my holiday rental.

Medieval feast of Navarrenx.

I must admit that I have a big crush on Navarrenx, this pretty fortified bastide in Bearn, marked by the history of Alexandre Dumas’ true Musketeers, labelled most Beautiful Villages in France and on the road to Santiago de Compostella.

Do not miss the tasting of the local Shakespeare beer, the visit of the ramparts and the many monuments dating back to the 16th century, such as the arsenal or the military fountain.

Place: Navarrenx, Béarn.

Date: August 15 and 16, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: medieval festival, outdoor.

1 hour from my cottage.

Feast of San Juan Degollado in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

The San Juan Degollado feast is celebrated by a traditional pilgrimage to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from the city of Bakio.

On the same day, the people of Bermeo City Hall also go to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe to renew their sovereignty.

Place: Bakio, Biscaye.

Date: August 29, 2022.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.

Stay in Bakio.

Check availability here

Orhipean SL, Ochagavia.

Ochagavía-Otsagabia celebrates Orhipean, the festival of crafts and traditions.

The village and its inhabitants are transported to the Basque country 100 years ago.

This festival is an opportunity to discover the Pyrenean society of Navarre at the beginning of the 20th century.

The festival was first organised in 2003 to attract visitors to Ochagavía and show them its history, crafts and traditions.

For one day, the houses and bars of Ochagavía regain the appearance of the early 20th century.

The inhabitants are transformed into spinners, laundresses, barbers, children playing and many other characters.

Today’s lost jobs are represented and the youngest ones will have the opportunity to discover the games of that time.

To recreate the scenes, set, costumes and crafts as accurately as possible, Orhipean organizers studied period books and photographs.

During the day, the signs are hidden and everyone, including visitors, is even asked to respect “rules” regarding clothing.

Place: Ochagavía-Otsagabia, Navarre.

Date: August 31, 2022.

Type: celebration of trades and traditions, historical reenactment, outdoor activities.

Direction a nice guest house.

Check availability here

Basque festivals in September.

In September, you can also attend:

  • The Corniche Festival in Ciboure.
  • At the Feasts of the Rue de la République in Saint Jean de Luz.
  • At the Festival of the pintxo (Pintxo Egunak) in Saint Jean de Luz.
  • The Tripotx Day in Souraïde.

Salt festival in Salies de Bearn.

The city of Salt in Bearn will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its festival in 2019 with a special programme for the occasion.

Did you know that the famous Bayonne ham is actually salted with Salies salt?

Place: Salies de Bearn, Bearn.

Date: from 10 to 13 September 2020 – pending confirmation.

Type: local celebration, outdoor.

40 minutes from the house.

Alarde de Fontarrabie/Hondarribia.

This military parade, identical to that of Irun but within the surroundings of a beautiful walled city, commemorates the victory of September 8, 1638, in the context of the Thirty Years’ War.

Ethno Travels was there in 2019 – for Jaizkibel Mass and procession.

Place: Fontarrabie-Hondarribia, Guipuscoa.

Date: September 8-11, 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: alarde (military parade in period costumes), historical commemoration, outdoor activities.

Ochagavia dances.

“On 8th September, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Muskilda (two kilometres from Ochagavía) bears witness to primitive dances that have been performed for more than three hundred years. This delightful spot, which offers a spectacular view of the Irati Forest, has provided the setting, year after year, for one of the most emblematic and at the same time most ethnographically important dances in Navarre.

Passed down from generation to generation, the dance consists of a paloteado (stick dance) by eight dancers and an unusual character who directs them, the Bobo. They wear delightful red and green harlequin-style costumes with stockings, military jackets and longjohns adorned with golden stripes. They also wear a conical cap similar to the other dancers, but in purple.

In the morning, the municipal authorities set off on the old road to the chapel, dressed in local costume and accompanied by the Council and the group of dancers. A formal Mass is held, followed by a procession around the church. The dancers then perform the ancestral dances of Ochagavía in honour of the Virgin to the sound of bagpipes, and a ‘changing of the guard’ takes place.”

Excerpts from the site http://turismo.navarra.es

Place: Ochagavía, Navarre.

Date: September 8, 2022.

Type: primitive dances, outdoor.

Festival of the shepherds of Aramits.

Several interesting activities take place during the 4 days of the festival, including the return of the herds followed by the shepherd’s supper on Thursday, the reconstitutions of the preparation of the summer pasture on Saturday, the open air mass and the large costumed parade on Sunday.

Place: Aramits, Béarn.

Date: 15 to 18 September 2022.

Type: shepherds’ festival, outdoor, transhumance.

Harvest festival Rioja Alavesa.

The Rioja Alavesa harvest festival takes place a few days before the harvest begins.

It is a nomadic festival, with activities such as the crushing of the wine, the tasting of the first must, a wine tasting tour of each locality and each cellar.

You can take the opportunity to discover the region thanks to the pleasant itineraries described on the website of the Tourist Office of the region.

Place: nomadic festival, Alava. 2019: Logrono.

Date: September 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: harvest festival, outdoor.

Basque festivals in October.

Basque cake festival in Cambo.

You will see everywhere in the French Basque Country “The King of the Basque Cake”.

However, the Basque cake has a historical link with the thermal town of Cambo-les-Bains. It was a local pastry chef who was the first to sell her cake at the Bayonne market.

The city and the “Eguzkia” pastry association have decided to honour it by organizing a big celebration every first Sunday in October.

You will learn how to make Basque cake, buy some cakes and exchange with the pastry chefs to learn their secrets. Each house has its own recipe.

But you will also taste the best Basque products and admire the work of local craftsmen.

Place: Cambo, Labourd.

Date: October 3 and 4, 2022.

Type: local celebration, gourmet meeting, outdoor activities.

Cambo is 40 minutes from the house.

Main entrance of the house of Edmond Rostand

Pastore Lore in Ascain.

Pastore Lore is the celebration of the environment, celebrated in particular through the descent of the pottocks, the small Basque horses, accompanied by riders in traditional costumes.

Place: Ascain, Labourd.

Date: October 9-10, 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: environment day, transhumance, sheepdog competition, Basque culture.

45 minutes from the house.

Espelette chilli pepper festival.

The village, famous for its PDO chilli pepper and its facades decorated with chilli braids, celebrates it every year at the end of October.

On Sundays, you can attend the solemn mass, the parade of brotherhoods, the blessing of peppers and the new intronizations.

Place: Espelette, Labourd.

Date: 24 and 25 October 2020.

Type: local celebration and various activities including mass with the brotherhoods and choir, blessing of the peppers.

40 minutes from the house.

Tolosa goxua.

Tolosa is famous for its pastry tradition.

During my visit in September 2018, I was very surprised by their appetizing nature, which is very rarely the case in Spain.

The city is home to some of the best pastries in the Basque Country and a Candy Museum.

During Tolosa Goxua, the city hosts the stands of local pastry chefs but also from other Basque regions and even from elsewhere.

For your lunch or dinner, I recommend the pintxos of Orbela Taberna, renowned for being the best in the city. Personally, I loved it!

If you come to spend the whole weekend there, don’t miss the market on Saturday morning.

Place: Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: 22 October 2022 (pending confirmation).

Type: local celebration, gourmet meeting.

Basque festivals in November.

Tolosa is very festive at the end of the year, with no less than four traditional festivals: Goxua, the pastry festival; the alubias festival; the puppet festival; and finally the chuleta festival.

Feast of the alubias in Tolosa.

The Tolosa alubias is a dark purple flageolet, almost black, with a white spot in the middle.

It has gained international recognition, thanks to its flavour, smoothness and traditional cultivation method.

It is harvested at the end of September or early October and is generally served with blood sausage and Ibarra green peppers.

Place: Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: from 10 to 13 November 2022 – pending confirmation.

Type: gourmet meeting, local celebration.

International festival of puppets in Tolosa. Titirijai.

Titirijai has been held in Tolosa since 1983.

It is a meeting for puppet professionals from all over the world.

The public, from the smallest to the largest, can enjoy the most diverse representations: classical texts blend with the most colourful, modern and innovative representations.

The city also has an International Puppet Centre, TOPIC, with more than 1,500 puppets from 40 countries.

Place: Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: from 21 to 29 November 2012. Waiting confirmation.

Type: International festival, puppets.

Saint Martin’s Day celebrations in Biarritz.

It is the patronal celebrations of the city of Biarritz, and not only of the Saint Martin district.

The traditional Ezpata Danza with the Maritzuli Company, in the streets of Biarritz, on Sunday morning. As well as the mass at the Saint Martin church.

Symbols of the passage from summer to winter, San Martin Ezpata Dantzak, the Sword Dances of Saint Martin composed of Ezpata Dantzariak children and adults and Ezpata Ttikiak, followed by the flag with the colors of the city, escort the bear on the occasion of its entry into hibernation. Indeed, Saint-Martin, patron saint of Biarritz, also embodies a facet of the cult of the bear in the Basque Country.

Fireworks on Saturday evening.

Numerous animations in all the districts during the four days.

Many free and paying shows.

Place: Biarritz, Labourd.

Date: 10 to 13 November 2022. To be confirmed.

Type: Patronal festivities.

Basque festivals and Best Christmas Events in December.

Feria de la chuleta in Tolosa.

Tolosa is renowned for having the four best rotisseries in the Basque Country.

Every year, they celebrate the chuleta or beef rib, the star of the rotisseries.

Place: Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: from 8 to 11 December 202. Waiting confirmation.

Type: Gourmet meeting.

Biarritz en lumière.

Every year during the Christmas holidays, Biarritz offers a beautiful sound and light tour called Biarritz en Lumière.

For 2017-2018, the theme was “Mythologies”.

The news finally came out on November 24th: Biarritz in the Light will take place this year! Program here

My favorite place for the projections every year is the Sainte Eugénie church.

This year, a lot of novelties :

  • for the illuminations, the footbridges of the Rocher du Basta and the Rocher de la Vierge will be completely illuminated, as well as Port-Vieux and the square near the Villa Belza. A splendid illuminated walk from the casino to Villa Belza!
  • In addition to the usual projections of the Sainte Eugénie church, the Bellevue casino and the tourist office, the Midi train station will also project a mapping: Midi under the moon.

Release of lanterns on December 29 at 22 on the Grande Plage.

Place: Biarritz, Labourd.

Date: December 18, 2021 to January 2, 2022 for the projections. Illuminations from November 26.

Type: Christmas lights, sounds and lights.

Biarritz is less than 40mns from my holiday rental.

If you are looking for a luxury hotel in Biarritz, read this review

The Travel blogger vlogger Stephanie Langlet with Basque characters

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Conclusion – 80+ Basque festivals

Now you are ready to organize your next stay in the Basque Country without missing out on important moments of local culture, or simply ready to discover traditional festivals in your region that you didn’t know existed!

Feel free to let me know if you notice any errors. This guide being very long, it is not safe from typos…

If you know of any other interesting Basque festivals, let us know. I will add them to the article.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Do you have any suggestions for further improving this content?

What kind of content would help you plan your next trip to the Basque Country? Use the comments below or the contact form to tell me!

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Agenda of 80+ festivals in the French and Spanish Basque Country
Discover the 100 Best Basque festivals in my 2021-2022 calendar

One thought on “Discover the 100 Best Basque festivals in my 2021-2022 calendar

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