40390 Biaudos, France

80+ Basque festivals to plan your next trip to the Basque Country 2

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

The Basque festivals from July to December.

Basque festivals in July.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

contact@bearndesgaves.com

infos@tourisme64.com

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: 19 to 22 September 2019.

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 20 to 27, 2019.

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 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.

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.

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 31 October to 3 November 2019.

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.

Type: Gourmet meeting.

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, 2019 to January 6, 2020.

Type: Christmas lights, sounds and lights.

Biarritz is less than 40mns from my holiday rental.

Conclusion.

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.

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

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