Santiago de Compostela's festivals (fiestas)

The combination of Santiago de Compostela's significance as a religious center and high profile Galician city, provide an extra motivation when it comes to staging large scale fiesta celebrations. On the one hand, many of Santiago's festivals are of a religious nature and connected to the cathedral, and on the other, Santiago sees itself as showcasing the region of Galicia for the rest of Spain to see.

Santiago  Obradioro plaza

Easter (Semana Santa) sees the first major festival of each new year and is celebrated throughout Spain, and no where more so than in Santiago de Compostela. The typical fiesta celebrations, including processions and fireworks, focus as usual around the city's large Cathedral and main Obradioro square.

Above, the large Obradioro plaza in Santiago de Compostela is the site of the main St. James day festivities in July (photo 1999, taken by Laurie Lambert).

The next festival of major significance is the "Feria del Ganado" fiesta which lasts ten days during the month of May. This festival offers a particular insight into the "claimed" Celtic roots of Galicia and features a significant amount of Celtic folk music and dancing. Gastronomy is also very prominent during this particular festival, with the various regional dishes of Galicia taking center stage in the celebrations.

Santiago's largest fiesta

Santiago's main festival is of course on the 24th July when St. James the apostle is celebrated. This festival has already been mentioned and is the most important of all the fiestas. Whilst the music and fireworks are hard to ignore at this time, Galicia is still a religious region and the significance of the celebrations to Christianity are not lost, even on many of the younger partiers. On the evening of this day the Obradioro square is filled with people as the city hosts major concert events featuring stars like Janet Jackson.

Further festivals take place in late summer and Autumn, and music again plays an important role. In September, folk music moves to one side, as classical music takes the lead with several large concert events taking place.

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All of the major fiestas take place at the same time each year. This time may be a specific date, or it may be a day and a week, e.g. the second Sunday of a particular month. If you are in Galicia for a vacation you will have little difficulty obtaining the dates and locations of fiestas as nearly all are promoted with banners, posters and mentions on local TV and radio. You also have the tourist offices who will have full details.

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