Wine, Pirates and Romans: Summer Celebrations in Spain

The stereotypical image of Galicia is one of grey weather, reserved people, and all in all, the contrary of what the south of Spain is famous for. Nevertheless, we like to party as much as all our fellow citizens; nearly 900 different festivities in the region only in August says it all.

Most traditional celebrations are of a religious character, but mainly we like to celebrate our food. In every town, big or small, there’s sure to be a food-related party every other weekend: octopus, sardines, padrón peppers, scallops, pie… are all deserving of their own fair.

But aside from that, we have other, more unusual festivals:

Albariño Festival
A small square in the centre of Cambados is presided by a statue of Bacchus, and there’s a good reason for that. In this fishing village, the star product is Albariño, a type of white wine. The big party takes place in the first week of August: wine makers put up stands to present their products. The custom is to hang a glass around your neck, and spend the night parading the stands to taste the different wines. You can buy whole bottles or pay 2-3 euro for a glass. The party goes on until the next morning, with streets full of cheery people young and old from all over the region enjoying their drinks, concerts, amusement rides, etc.

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Laza Carnival
The oldest carnival in Galicia takes place in a small rural village called Laza. The main character of this celebration is the Peliqueiro, who wears an outfit characterized by a mask, cowbells hanging from their waist, and a whip. The Peliqueiros run along the street, and whip anyone who comes in their way or isn’t celebrating.

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Viking Festival
A relatively young celebration, it started in the 60’s when some people decided to commemorate an attempt of invasion by the Vikings, who wanted to take Santiago de Compostela more than a thousand years ago. The inhabitants of Catoira play a re-enactment of the Viking landing and the battle between them and the people holding the Castle Towers. This is the peak of the festival, but during several days, you can enjoy many other activities like folk music concerts, a medieval market, history talks, theatre days or a canoeing competition.

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Festa do esquecemento – “Oblivion” festival
When the Romans were invading Iberia, they encountered an obstacle when arriving to what today is called Galicia. The small Limia river was believed by the soldiers to have the same effect as Lethe, a legendary river which caused all who crossed it to lose their memory. Their General Decimus Junius Brutus crossed it first, and once he got to the other side, started calling all of his soldiers by their name, thus debunking the myth.

Every August, the town of Xinzo holds festivities in remembrance of the crash between the Celtic people and the Roman invaders. For several days, you can take part in traditional Celt celebrations, a representation of the river crossing, the big battle between Romans and Celts, parades…

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