5 parties and events in Santiago de Compostela Galicia Travels
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There are many different reasons to visit the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, from seeing its magnificent cathedral to watching pilgrims complete the Camino de Santiago.
It is quite an emotional experience to see pilgrims enter Santiago de Compostela after their epic 780-kilometre journey across the top of Spain from the small French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
If you stand in the square of the great cathedral you will have the best view.
If you would like more information about the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, visit this link here: “Would you like to visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela?”.
In any case, there are numerous things to do in Santiago de Compostela and admiring the pilgrims is just one of them.
In this article, we will tell you about this city from the point of view of the events and festivals that take place every year in this wonderful city.
Festivals and Events in Santiago de Compostela
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Feasts of the Apostle
This is the festival in honour of the patron saint of Spain and Galicia and culminates in the spectacle of the ‘Fires of the Apostle‘, the Offering to the Saint and the exciting ceremony of the Botafumeiro swing in the Cathedral.
The feast of St James the Apostle is celebrated in many places in Spain and Latin America on 25 July.
Santiago de Compostela organises the most exciting. The Feasts of the Apostletake place in the second half of July.
The celebrations dedicated to the Apostle last about fifteen days.
During these fifteen days, the cultural activities stand out for their quality and diversity.
Music of all styles, dance or theatre, pasacalles and evenings with orchestras invade Compostela.
The traditional gathering of bands from Galicia and performances of regional costumes and folk dances are other highlights of these festivities, which end on 31 July with another great firework display.
These festivals combine religious solemnity, popular flavour and life, turning the town into a grand festival.
The 24th and 25th are the main days. On the night of the 24th, there is a marvellous fireworks display in honour of the Apostle and at the same time, the great firework castle imitating the Gothic façade of the Cathedral is burned.
On 25 July, during the solemn mass held in the cathedral, the King or a delegate of the Royal Household pays the traditional homage to the Apostle St James.
At this mass, you can see the botafumeiro, an extraordinary large incense burner, swinging at great speed, up to 68 km/hour, emitting a strong incense. The Cathedral is bathed in scent and is thus enveloped in a mystical aura.
The famous botafumeiro weighs 53 kilograms and measures 1.5 metres. Está suspendida a 20 metros de altura en el centro de la catedral. On special occasions or after certain masses, a group of eight tiraboleiros swing it through the crowd.
Feasts of the Ascension
On the sixth Thursday after Easter, the feasts of the Ascension are celebrated.
These festivities last about two weeks and are among the richest in the city, both for the cultural and recreational events they include and the participation of university students before the final part of their exams.
In addition to the cultural activities, the most characteristic and important livestock fair of the year is celebrated, with equestrian performances in the Amio fairgrounds.
During these festivities it is typical to go for a portion of octopus ‘á feira’ in the ‘pulpeiras’ places.
Festival of San Lázaro: Festa da Uña
This festival is held in the district of San Lazaro and is celebrated between mid-March and the beginning of April.
The festival in San Lazaro, a district located at the entrance to the city on the Way of St James, is characterised as a religious and gastronomic event.
On these days, the saint is honoured with a mass and procession, combined with the tradition of a very old festival that continues to celebrate the auction of pig’s feet as an offering to the saint.
Pig’s feet and cabbage are eaten these days. As with all festivals, there is also a party with a final dance.
Magostos and chestnuts in the streets
Magostos is a popular autumn festival where chestnuts are roasted on a plate placed over a fire.
The chestnuts are accompanied by wine, sausages, empanadas and queimada (a traditionally prepared alcoholic drink in which vine water is made to burn, accompanied by fruit, coffee beans and sugar, while the ‘meigallo’ is recited).
This festival gathers people around the fire and historically meant to honour the harvest.
In different neighbourhoods of Santiago (San Pedro, Vista alegre, etc) magostos are organised during this month in which traditional music (gaitas, panderetas) is played.
From the end of October until the beginning of February, coinciding with the chestnut season, you can buy chestnut coals in the traditional style in the streets of the old town from small street vendors.
The latter gives a characteristic touch to the city’s urban landscape during autumn.
St. John's Night
On 23 June, the summer solstice, we celebrate the magical St. John’s Night, an ancient festival celebrated by all cultures, which marks the entrance into summer, the moment of maximum sunlight and the longest day of the year.
Compostela’s St John’s Night is similar to that of the rest of Galicia, due to the enthusiasm of the citizens.
On this night countless bonfires are lit and groups of friends, neighbours and families gather for sardine barbecues accompanied by red wine and empanadas.
It is a custom among the people of Compostela to jump to ward off witchcraft and the evil eye of the ‘meigas’ (witches, the typical name for bad Galician spirits).
In the streets and squares of the city, you can breathe in the smell of fire, but also of sardines.
There is also music, mainly traditional but also current.
Throughout Galicia, these bonfires are lit on this night from north to south and from east to west. Cacharelas’ or ‘lumeiradas’ (bonfires) are erected in every house, every parish and every neighbourhood. The view from above is of thousands of small points scattered throughout the territory.
It is said that on this magical night, the world beyond communicates with the world beyond. It is time to scare away the evil spirits.