40390 Biaudos, France

80+ Basque festivals to plan your next trip to the Basque Country

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

Have you ever visited the Basque Country and regretted missing out on an interesting Basque festival?

Or maybe you live here and find it difficult to organize your cultural outings to discover the region’s traditional festivals?


As I live in the Basque Country Landes since 2002, I know how frustrating it can be.

I may be specialized in promoting traditional festivals, but I myself have the greatest difficulty in getting the right advice and I have had to set up my own organization in recent years to try not to miss important dates!


Today, I have therefore decided to share with you my agenda for the Basque festivals, so that you can anticipate your stay in the Basque Country Landes according to the festivals that interest you.

Be careful, however, this agenda is by no means exhaustive and corresponds to some of the most traditional moments of Basque culture.

Also, check the dates with the tourist offices.

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


If you know of a Basque festival that might be of interest to me and could be included in this listing, feel free to let me know via the comment section at the bottom of the page or via the contact page in the menu.

You will also find some interesting festivals in Bearn as it’s very close to my vacation rental.


If you are looking for an apartment to rent 16 kilometers from Bayonne, don’t hesitate to visit me! The apartment, which can be booked on Airbnb site with a commission or directly from me, can accommodate 5 people. It is located on the ground floor of my house, on a 2,500 m² enclosed orchard, in the Seignanx countryside. For babies, a bed, high chair and bathtub are provided. Dogs are welcome and there is no danger of escape, the fence being high enough. Central heating and air conditioning are included. Check the price, full description and photos on the Airbnb website.

Contact me directly for your reservation and my guiding services to save Airbnb’s extra costs.


Agenda of 80+ festivals in the Basque Country

Summary of the article.



Where is the Basque Country located?

The Basque Country is located in both France and Spain.

It includes 7 provinces, 4 in Spain, 3 in France.

This means that each region has its own festivals, dances, traditions, beliefs and that many cities or villages often have their own dance!

As with Basque cuisine, each province has its own cultural identity despite a strong Basque identity above all.


The map of the 7 Basque provinces


If you look at the map, Labourd (Bayonne), Basse-Navarre (Saint Jean Pied de Port) and Soule (Mauléon) are the 3 French Basque provinces.

Biscaye (Bilbao), Guipuzcoa (San Sebastian), Alava (Vitoria-Gasteiz) and Navarre (Pamplona) are the 4 Spanish 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.




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.

Also noteworthy are the celebrations of the Bixintxo, the patron saint of the city of Ciboure, from 18 to 27 January 2019.


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.

To find out more, click here.


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, 2019 at 11:30 am.

Type: Christmas ceremony, liturgical drama, outdoor theatre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Sanguesa.


The souletine masquerades.

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

A performance takes place every Sunday from January to April.

In 2019, it is the young people of Ordiap who play 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 mid-January 2019 to mid-avril 2019. The calendar village/date is not available yet.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Mauleon.



The tamborrada of San Sebastian.

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 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.

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

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.

To find out more, click here.


Place: San Sebastian, Guipuzcoa.

Date: January 20, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in San Sebastian.


The carnival 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: from the end of January 2019.

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 Joaldunaks in Ituren and Zubieta.

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. 28 and 29 January 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Ituren.




Basque festivals in February.

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

In 2019, mardi gras nevertheless falls in March.

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.


Caldereros de la Hungria in San Sebastian.

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.


Place: San Sebastian, Guipuscoa.

Date: Depending on the year, the last Saturday in January or the first Saturday in February. February 2, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in San Sebastian.




Nurses and shepherds in San Sebastian.

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, about which I speak below and which I love so much!


Place: San Sebastian.

Date: the Sunday after the Caldereros. February 3, 2019.

Type: parade, carnival, outdoor, traditional music.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in San Sebastian.


Saint Agatha in Alsasua.

The Saint Agatha 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.


Place: Alsasua, Navarre.

Date: February 5, 2019.

Type: traditional dance, parade, outdoor activities.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Alsasua.


Sorgin gaua in Ciboure (witches night).

The Friday after the bear Day, 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: the Friday after the Bear Day, from 8pm. February 8, 2019.

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.


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. February 9, 2019.

Type: carnival, traditional dances, outdoor.


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


Carnival of Bayonne.

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.


Place: Bayonne, Labourd.

Date: from 14 to 16 February 2019.

Type: carnival, outdoor.


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


Need a guide to discover the carnivals and festivals of the Basque country? Contact me via the contact section or the comments at the end of the article.


Carnival of Goizueta.

Goizueta Carnival is held every year on February 20.

Its particularity is the zahagi-dantza dance, performed by the charcoal maker, which you will see in the video.


Place: Goizueta, Navarre.

Date: February 20th afternoon.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation close to Goizueta.


Carnival of Estella.

Place: Estella, Navarre.

Date: Saturday, February 23, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Estella.



Basque festivals in March.

In 2019, mardi gras will be March 5.

Don’t forget the springtime of the restaurants.


Carnival of Bera.

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 nannies 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. March 3, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Bera.



Carnival of Lantz.

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: Monday and mardi gras. March 4 and 5, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


If you are looking for a place to stay, it’s quite easy to find a cosy place a few kilometres from Lantz (Ultzama, 4kms; Eugi, 9kms, etc.).

Click here for a selection of the best accommodation close to Lantz.



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. March 3, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Lesaka.


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 28 to March 5, 2019.

Type: carnival of Guipuscoa.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.


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: mardi gras. March 5, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Alsasua.


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. March 5, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


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

Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Alsasua.


Carnival and caldereros of Pamplona.

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


Place: Pamplona / Iruña, Navarre.

Date: from the previous Saturday to mardi gras. March 2, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Pamplona.


Carnival of Tudela.

Place: Tudela, South of Navarre.

Date: Friday before mardi gras and mardi gras. March 1 and 5, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tudela.


Carnival of Aoiz.

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. March 2, 2019.

Type: carnival of Navarre.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Aoiz.


The Javieradas.

Pilgrimage in honour of St. Francis Xavier, held every March in the town of Javier, Navarre.

During the first two weekends of March, thousands of pilgrims gather on the roads leading to Javier’s castle to worship the saint.

A pilgrimage of more than 50 kilometres in an excellent atmosphere, whose origin dates back to the 19th century – a time when St Francis Xavier was said to have spared the village of Navarre from a cholera epidemic.


Place: Javier, Navarre.

Date: March 2 and 3, 2019 / March 9 and 10, 2019.

Type: pilgrimage, religious festival, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Javier.



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 2019, it will take place from Thursday, April 18 to Sunday, April 21.

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: from Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 April 2019.

Type: Local festival, gourmet event, outdoor activities.


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


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.

Check my article here for all the practical information.


Place: Balmaseda, Biscaye.

Date: April 18 and 19, 2019. Good Thursday and Good Friday.

Type: religious festival, living Stations of the Cross.


You will see in the Booking search engine below that often no accommodation is available in Balmaseda, that is strange as there’s my recommended option – Convento San Roque) below.

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 de 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 20 and 21, 2019.

Type: Religious festival, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tudela.


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 21, 2019.

Type: Traditional dance, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Valcarlos.


San Prudencio in 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, 2019.

Type: pilgrimage, religious feast, key event.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Vitoria.


Día de la Almadía – 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.


For more information, you can visit the official website here.


Place: Burgui, Navarre.

Date: April 27, 2019.

Type: historical commemoration, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Burgui.


3rd 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: April 28 or May 5, 2019.

Type: gourmet meeting, folklore.


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



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.

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.


Place: Txindoki, Tolosa, Guipuscoa.

Date: May 1, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.


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 4, 2019.

Type: pilgrimage, religious celebration.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in 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 4, 2019.

Type: a gourmet meeting.


Feel free to book my apartment for 5 people at 16kms from Bayonne.


Bayonne fait le pont + Chocolate Day.

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: Ascension Holidays. From 30 May 2019.

Type: chocolate tasting and various activities.


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: Unknown.

Type: maritime festival, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Pasaia.


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.



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 2 or 9, 2019.

Type: traditional dances.



Cherry festival in Itxassou.

Place: Itxassou, Labourd.

Date: June 2, 2019.

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


Corpus Christi and Octave.

Although Corpus Christi is most certainly still taking place in Guipúzcoa, 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, Labourd and Basse-Navarre.

Date: June 20, 2019.

Type: religious festival, procession, dance.



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 20-24, 2019.

Type: patronal feasts, open air.



Traditional pilgrimage to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

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


Place: Gaztelugatxe, Biscaye.

Date: June 24, 2019.

Type: pilgrimage, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Bermeo.


Religious festival 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).


Place: Hermitage of Txindoki, close to Tolosa, Navarre.

Date: June 29, 2019.

Type: religious festival, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.


Alarde in Irun.

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


Place: Irun, Guipuscoa.

Date: June 30, 2019.

Type: local festival, military parade, commemoration.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Irun.




Basque festivals in July.

In July, you can also discover:

* Gauargui, 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, 2019 at noon. But on July 7th for the dances.

Type: patronal feasts, traditional dance.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Lesaka.


San Fermin in Pamplona.

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

They last 9 days, alternating popular and religious rituals, trade fairs and bullfights.

You can read a very complete description in this excellent article on Wikipedia.


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


Place: Pamplona, Navarre.

Date: July 6-14, 2019.

Type: 3rd largest outdoor festival in the world.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Pamplona.


Medieval market in Bayonne.

The Medieval market of Bayonne takes place every year on Place Montaut from 12 to 14 July.

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: July 12-14, 2019.

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, 2019.

Type: Shepherds’ Day, commemoration.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in La Pierre Saint Martin.


Medieval festival in Orthez.

Place: Orthez, Bearn.

Date: July 19, 2019.

Type: medieval festival, outdoor.


Orthez is accessible from my holiday rental in 45 minutes.


Alarde del Moro in Antzuola.

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 20, 2019.

Type: historical show, alarde (parade).


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Anzuola.


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 21, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Elizondo.


Día 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, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Vitoria.


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, 2019.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Bermeo.



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 Béarn.



Sauveterre Cultural Centre – 05 59 38 92 49


Place: Sauveterre de Bearn, Bearn.

Date: Saturday 3 August 2019 – to be confirmed.

Type: medieval festival.


Sauveterre is 45 minutes from my holiday rental.


Sheepdog competition in Biriatou.

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


Place: Biriatou, Labourd.

Date: August 4, 2019 – 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, 2019.

Type: patronal feasts, open air.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Vitoria.


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 10 to 17, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in San Sebastian.


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 17 to Sunday 25 August 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation 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 11, 2019.

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 14, 2019.

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: Roncesvalle, Navarre.

Date: August 15, 2019.

Type: historical commemoration.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Roncesvalles.


Espadrille festival in Mauléon.

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, 2019.

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


1 hour from my holiday rental.


The old-time jobs in Salies-de-Béarn.

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, 2019.

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 17 and 18, 2019.

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, 2019.

Type: traditional pilgrimage, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Bakio.



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.


Orhipean SL, Ochagavía.

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: September 1, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Ochagavía.


Salt festival in Salies de Béarn.

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 6 to 8 September 2019.

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.


Place: Fontarrabie-Hondarribia, Guipuscoa.

Date: September 8, 2019.

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


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Hondarribia.


Ochagavía 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, 2019.

Type: primitive dances, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Ochagavía.


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: 12 to 15 September 2019.

Type: shepherds’ festival, outdoor, transhumance.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Aramits.


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.

Date: September 15, 2019.

Type: harvest festival, outdoor.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Logroño.



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 5 and 6, 2019.

Type: local celebration, gourmet meeting, outdoor activities.


Cambo is 40 minutes from the house.


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 13, 2019.

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: 26 and 27 October 2019.

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: 26 October 2019.

Type: local celebration, gourmet meeting.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.



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: 16 and 17 November 2019.

Type: gourmet meeting, local celebration.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.


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 (24 November to 2 December 2018).

Type: International festival, puppets.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.



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 6 to 8 December 2019 (7 to 9 December 2018).

Type: Gourmet meeting.


Click here for a selection of the best accommodation in Tolosa.


Biarritz en lumières.

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, 2018 to January 5, 2019.

Type: Christmas lights, sounds and lights.


Biarritz is less than 40mns from my holiday rental.





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



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80+ Basque festivals to plan your next trip to the Basque Country
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