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

Discover the 80+ Basque festivals in my 2021-2022 calendar

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.

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.

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 take into account that I am neither an organizer of these parties 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.

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.

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.

Although many festivals will not be held in 2021, you will find them on the downloadable calendar below. It is indeed a perpetual calendar. Festivals are sorted by month and only fixed-date festivals have their exact dates indicated. So you will be able to use it from one year to the next without difficulty!

Click here to download your FREE Basque festivals calendar!

The Best Basque festivals
Basque horseman, zamalzain

Get a taste of your trip to the Basque Country by discovering some of the typical dishes in this book. Winner, 2019 IACP Award, Best Book of the Year, International

Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post at no extra charge for you.

Summary of the article – 80+ Basque festivals.

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!

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.

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 or help you prepare your itinerary. Contact me via the form on the site, letting me know what you need (guiding and/or itinerary planning service).
See some tour ideas here

Not sure if you need a Schengen visa for your trip?

>> You can check here if your situation requires a visa or not

Top Basque festivals.

  • TAMBORRADA – SAN SEBASTIAN. January 20, 2022.
  • NAVARRE CARNIVALS – NAVARRE PROVINCE. January 25 to February 16, 2021. Cancelled
  • SEMANA SANTA – SPAIN (Via Crucis Balmaseda – Volatin Tudela…). March 28 to April 4, 2021.
  • SAN PRUDENCIO – VITORIA. April 27 and 28, 2021.
  • ALARDE – IRUN AND HONDARRIBIA. June 30, 2021. September 8, 2021.
  • SAN FERMIN – PAMPLONA. July 6 to 14, 2021.
  • BAYONNE FESTIVAL – BAYONNE. July 28 to August 1, 2021.
  • VIRGEN BLANCA – VITORIA. August 4 to 9, 2021.
  • ASTE NAGUSIA – SAN SEBASTIAN. August 14 to 21, 2021.
  • ASTE NAGUSIA – BILBAO. August 21 to 29, 2021.
  • HAM FAIR – BAYONNE. April 1 to 4, 2021.

Map of the 7 Basque provinces.

In this article, the festivals will be classified by month but will also include the province, or even the village, where they take place. 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.

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, 2021 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 January 2021 to the end of April 2021.

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, 2021.

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 2021.

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. 25 and 26 January 2021 – 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 festivals 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. January 30, 2021 (pending confirmation).

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

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 31, 2021 (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, 2021.

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

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.

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, 22th.

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 4 to 6 February 2021 (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 14 to 16, 2021.

Type: carnival of Navarre.

Carnival of Estella.

Place: Estella, Navarre.

Date: Saturday, February14, 2021 (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 14, 2021 (pending confirmation).

Type: carnival of Navarre.

In terms of accommodation, I recommend you to stay in the beautiful nearby San Sebastian.

Check above in Caldereros de la Hungria’s section.

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 14 and 16, 2021.

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 14, 2021 – 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 11th to 16th, 2021 (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 16, 2021.

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 16, 2021.

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 12th to 15th, 2021 – 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 13 and 14, 2021 – 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 13th and 16th, 2021 – 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 7 and 13, 2021.

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


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: Postponed from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 October 2021.

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

Via Crucis Balmaseda.

The Via Crucis of 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 1 and 2, 2021. 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

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 3 and 4, 2021.

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 4, 2021.

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, 2021.

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 24 or May 1, 2020.

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 festivals 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, 2021.

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 2, 2021 (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, 2021.

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 8, 2021 (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. From 14 to 15 May 2021.

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.

Place: Pasaia, Guipuscoa.

Date: 28 May – 1st June 2020. Cancelled. Next one in 2022?

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 6, 2021.

Type: traditional dances.

Ethno Travels goes there almost each year!

Cherry festival in Itxassou.

Place: Itxassou, Labourd.

Date: May 30 or June 6, 2021.

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 6, 2021.

Octave: June 13, 2021.

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 17-21, 2021 (pending confirmation).

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 2021.

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, 2021.

Type: local celebration, military parade, commemoration.

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

Basque festivals 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, 2021 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, 2021.

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 and 2020. 2021?

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, 2021.

Type: Shepherds’ Day, commemoration.

Medieval festival in Orthez.

Place: Orthez, Bearn.

Date: July 17 or 24, 2020. Certainly cancelled.

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 18, 2020. Certainly cancelled

Type: historical show, alarde (parade).

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 19, 2020. Certainly cancelled.

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

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, 2020. Certainly cancelled

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

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, 2020.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.

Basque festivals 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.



Sauveterre Cultural Centre – 05 59 38 92 49

Place: Sauveterre de Bearn, Bearn.

Date: Saturday 1 August 2020 – Certainly cancelled

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 2, 2020 – 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, 2020. Waiting for decision. Certainly cancelled

Type: patronal feasts, open air.

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: from August 8 to 15, 2020. Certainly cancelled

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

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 22 to Sunday 30 August 2020. Certainly cancelled

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

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 9, 2020 – pending confirmation. Certainly cancelled

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 12, 2020 – 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, 2020.

Type: historical commemoration.

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, 2020.

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, 2020.

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, 2020 – 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, 2020.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.

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, 2020.

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

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.
  • To 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, 2020.

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, 2020.

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: 17 to 20 September 2020.

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 2020 – 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, 2020.

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 11, 2020 (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: 24 October 2020 (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 12 to 15 November 2020 – 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 23 November to 1 December 2019. Waiting confirmation for 2020.

Type: International festival, puppets.

Basque festivals 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 10 December 2019. Waiting confirmation for 2020.

Type: Gourmet meeting.

Biarritz en lumière.

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

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

For the first time, the bridge leading to the Rock of the Virgin Mary was illuminated, but my favorite place every year is the Church of St. Eugenia.

Place: Biarritz, Labourd.

Date: from December 22, 2019 to January 6, 2020 – waiting for 2020’s dates.

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

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!

Share this article with your family or friends who are planning their next trip to the south of France.

You can read more articles about the Basque Country here

Disclaimer: Ethno Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and its partners. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Thank you for supporting my site and helping me make it the best sustainable travel resource on the internet!

Save on Pinterest for later.

Agenda of 80+ festivals in the French and Spanish Basque Country

1 thought on “Discover the 80+ Basque festivals in my 2021-2022 calendar”

  1. Thank you for all your work on this site. Gloria enjoys carrying out investigation and it’s really easy to understand why. All of us hear all about the lively mode you convey vital things through this website and cause response from others about this point then our own child is without a doubt learning a lot. Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year. You’re the one carrying out a powerful job.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.