Week before Lent: Carnaval
Águilas’ carnaval is one of the wildest in the country. Vinaròs also has good carnaval celebrations.
12–19 March: Las Fallas de San José
Valencia’s Las Fallas is by far the biggest of the bonfire festivals, and indeed one of the most important fiestas in all Spain. The whole thing costs over €1 million, most of which goes up in smoke (literally) on the final Nit de Foc when the grotesque caricatures, fashioned from papier-mâché and wood, are burned. Throughout, there are bullfights, music and stupendous fireworks.
19 March: Día de San José
Smaller fallas festivals in Xàtiva, Benidorm and Denia.
Third Sun of Lent: Fiesta de la Magdalena
Castellón de la Plana celebrates the end of Moorish rule with pilgrimages and processions of huge floats.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
In Elche, there are, naturally, big Palm Sunday celebrations making use of the local palms, while throughout the week there are also religious processions in Cartagena, Lorca, Orihuela and Valencia. The Easter processions in Murcia are particularly famous, and they continue into the following week with, on the Tuesday, the Bando de la Huerta, a huge parade of floats celebrating local agriculture, and, on the Saturday evening, the riotous “Burial of the Sardine” which marks the end of these spring festivals.
April 22–24: Moros y Cristianos
After a colourful procession in Alcoy, a huge battle commences between the two sides in the main square.
1–5: Fiestas de los Mayos
Fiesta in Alhama de Murcia, and Moros y Cristianos in Caravaca de la Cruz.
Second Sun: La Virgen de los Desamparados
The climax of this celebration in Valencia is when the statue of the Virgin is transferred from her basilica to the cathedral.
Third Sun: Moros y Cristianos
23–24: Noche de San Juan
Magnificent hogueras festival in Alicante (and San Juan de Alicante) with processions and fireworks, culminating as huge effigies and bonfires are burnt in the streets at midnight. It’s celebrated on a smaller scale on the beaches of Valencia (Malvarossa, Cabanyal and Aloboraya) with bonfire-jumping. Altea also celebrates with a popular tree-bearing procession and a bonfire in the old town.
Early July: Fiestas de la Santísima Sangre
Dancing in the streets of Denia, plus music and mock battles.
15–20: Moros y Cristianos
Second week: Feria de Julio
Valencia hosts music, bullfights and above all fireworks, ending with the Battle of the Flowers in the Alameda.
Penultimate weekend: FIB
Benicàssim’s international music festival, a massive party bringing together the major names in alternative and electronic music.
25–31: Moros y Cristianos
Villajoyosa sees battles by both land and sea.
4: Festa del Cristo de la Salut
Festival in El Palmar with processions by boat into the lake.
Mid-Aug: Misteri d’Eix
Elche presents a mystery play, based on a drama dating back to medieval times.
14–20: Feria de Agosto
Xàtiva’s fair has a very extensive cultural dimension including concerts, plays and exhibitions, plus bullfights and barrages of fireworks.
Local festivities in Denia.
Last week: La Tomatina
A riotous free-for-all of tomato-throwing takes place in Buñol on the last Wednesday of the month. There’s also a music festival in Morella.
Local fiesta in Sagunto, and at the same time the great Moros y Cristianos festival and a mystery play in Elche.
4–9: Moros y Cristianos
Bull-running through Segorbe’s streets.
8–9: Les Danses
Celebrations in Peñíscola’s old quarter include a human tower construction.
22: Fiesta de Santo Tomás
In Benicàssim with bands and a “blazing bull”.
Second Sun: La Virgen de Suffrage
Benidorm celebrates its patron saint’s day.