Spain is a country famous for its beautiful cities, coastline and festivals. Summertime in particular is packed with fun events all over the country, ranging from the running of the bulls of San Fermin to the giant tomato battle in Bunyol. Participating in Spanish fiestas can be an intense experience, but if you can make it, you will be rewarded with a rich cultural experience and lifelong memories. For those who crave a more relaxed exposure to Spanish tourist attractions, the city of Barcelona offers many sites that are well worth seeing.
One of the largest festivals in Spain it starts in the middle of March, celebrating the beginning of spring. Large, thematic statues called ninots are built from plaster and are placed in different parts of the city, and each neighborhood is responsible for creating its own ninot. The main festival takes place in the city of Valencia, but there are many smaller scale celebrations in the towns all over the province. The buildup to Las Fallas involves enormous firecracker displays, known as the mascleta, as well as fireworks at night. The festival officially lasts five days, but there is plenty of buildup throughout the month of March in Valencia and the surrounding countryside. In the city, parades take place and the population of the city can triple, crowding the streets with revelers at all hours of the night. At the end of the festival, all of the statues (except for one, decided on by popular vote) are burned at midnight of the last night.
Sagrada Familia/Parc Güell
Barcelona is host to countless attractions, but its perhaps most famous were designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi. His iconic cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, is still in construction (it is built exclusively from donations), but can be visited extensively. The cathedral is one of the symbols of the city of Barcelona, due to its distinct Modernist design and soaring towers, which can be climbed, offering the viewer a spectacular vista of the city. Gaudi's other famous attraction, the Parc Güell, is a sprawling urban park located in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona. The park is full of distinct structures, all designed by Gaudi, and is capped by a hill, which offers another panoramic view of Barcelona.
The San Fermin festival is Spain's most famous, due to the running of the bulls and frequent injuries that occur as a result. This festival takes place in Pamplona, in Spain's Navarra region. This festival has a decidedly Basque feel, with the traditional dress that all participants in the running must wear (white pants and shirt, with a red scarf), in addition to Basque terminology and traditional drinks. The festival takes place from July 6th to the 14th. There is a running every morning, except on the first day, and anyone can participate, but if you choose to do so, you must first prove yourself to not be inebriated. The festival revolves around the runnings and the subsequent bullfights, although there is plenty of partying in the streets for those who do not agree with bullfights.
La Tomatina, held every year in the small Valencian town of Bunyol, is an intense, one-day experience that consists purely of an enormous tomato fight on the last Wednesday of August. The tomato fight lasts for an hour; several trucks full of tomatoes are parked in the central plaza of the town and whoever can get through the sea of people to the trucks is free to grab as many tomatoes as possible to hurl. Participants are expected to crush the tomatoes before throwing them, so as not to hurt anyone. Since the festival is so fleeting, many people take a train from Valencia to Bunyol on the morning of the event, then clean up and return the same day.
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