Summer is a time full of things to do if you visit Galicia. Besides the music festivals, there’s a lot of summer festivities in Galicia that you can’t miss if you visit our land. Gastronomy, traditional Galician music, fireworks and ancient traditions are part of the summer life for local people. We offer you a selection of our favorites, although there are thousands of celebrations in cities and villages spreaded all around Galicia. Enjoy them!
A Rapa das Bestas. First weekend of July in Sabucedo (Pontevedra)
Sabucedo, a tiny village in the mountains of Pontevedra, is the most known of different ‘Rapa das Bestas’ festivities that happen in summer in Galicia. The horses who spend all the year free in the mountains are gathered in a fenced area called ‘curro’, where men and women cut the mane of the wild horses using only their hands and skills to mount the horses. This is a centenary tradition celebrated every year for more than 400 years. A Rapa das Bestas has been declared an “International interest festivity” and gathers thousands of visitors every year.
Virgen del Carmen Festivities (16 July, in all the fishermen’s villages of Galicia)
“Virgen del Carmen” is one of the many Catholic denominations of Virgin Mary. She’s traditionally considered the protector of fishermen and sailors. On 16th July, the ships celebrate a colourful procession on the sea, carrying an image of Virgen del Carmen to pray for here protection. But this is not only a religious festivity. Food, music, fireworks and parties until the late evening are guaranteed in all those places.
Festas do Apóstolo-Saint James festivities (July, 25, Santiago de Compostela)
25th of July is the date when Santiago de Compostela celebrates its biggest festivity in honor of Apostle St. James. That’s the end of two weeks of concerts, music and party in every square of the city, especially in the Old Town. The night of 24th of July is the big night: an exceptional spectacle of sound, lights, projections and fireworks at Obradoiro Square attracts thousands of people to the city. If you plan to be in Santiago on that night, don’t expect to sleep too much!
The procession of coffins (29th of July, Santa Marta de Ribarteme, Pontevedra)
This procession was called by the English newspaper The Guardian “The most singular celebration in the world”. And certainly it is the most curious of summer festivities in Galicia. In the tiny village of Santa Marta de Ribarteme, every 29th of July some people (alive) takes part of the procession in honor of St. Martha in their own coffins. Those people has been previously “offered” to St. Martha because they had a serious illness and they survived, so they lay down in an open coffin to express their gratitude for being saved from death, usually carried by their relatives. This curious celebration worths a visit, and of course you can taste some food and wine after!
Viking’s landing (1st weekend of August in Catoira, Pontevedra)
From 1960 the people of Catoira, disguised as viking warriors, perform the attacks of vikings that happened 1000 years ago. It has become a very popular festivity, with lots of fun, music and, as good vikings, food, wine and beer. It takes place besides the remains of the West Towers, a fortress built around IX century to protect the village from viking attacks. The celebration includes a medieval market and some concerts and performances until late evening. Funny experiences are guaranteed at one of the funniest summer festivities in Galicia!
Festa do Albariño (1st weekend of August at Cambados, Pontevedra)
Started at 1953 as a wine competition, this celebration of Albariño wine has become a big event around food and culture. You can taste our most awarded wine of Rías Baixas, our seafood and interact with lots of wine makers, as well as attend a complete program of musical concerts and cultural activities.
Festa da Istoria (August 30-31, Ribadavia, Ourense)
From the dozens of medieval fairs and celebrations that happen in Galicia in summer, we selected one of the oldest and most popular. The last weekend of August, the Festa da Istoria transforms the charming village of Ribadavia in a medieval city. A big market in the well-preserved old town (that includes one of the few examples of medieval Jewish quarters in Galicia) to fill all your senses with food, music, a lot of spectacles in the streets and concerts in the evening. Being properly dressed in medieval clothing in highly recommended (don’t worry, you can’t rent some clothing there). You even need to change your money for medieval coins to buy in the market.
This is just a small selection, but summer festivities in Galicia can be found at almost every corner and village. It’s a good opportunity to know more about our history, culture and traditions, enjoy the legendary hospitality of the local people and have a unique experience beyond the usual tourism sightseeing.