Ávila in Castilla y León, Spain is a short drive or train ride away from Madrid, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or a short European city break. It is a big festival city too, having fiestas and events going on throughout the year. The best known of these Spanish festivals is the Fiesta de Santa Teresa in October, but it also holds a vivid Semana Santa (Holy Week), as well as the more curious Medieval Market in September and La Ronda De Las Leyendas in June.
Events in Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain: Fiesta de Santa Teresa (Festival of Santa Teresa)
Saint Teresa came from Ávila – although she is not the city’s patron saint, as many believe. The biggest party of the year is in her honour, though, and it goes on for ten days in October. The feast day is October 15th, and it is celebrated first with a solemn mass, followed by a parade of giant-headed figures and monsters (called gigantes, cabezudos and tarascas) through the city streets. During the festivities, there are also fireworks, bullfights, music concerts and the Week of Flamenco.
Events in Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Semana Santa (or Holy Week) is a major event throughout Spain, but Ávila’s version is still pretty spectacular. Taking place in the week before Easter (in either March or April) and it features a series of elaborate parades across the city by men wearing religious hooded costumes and carrying crosses. One interesting local variation is the tradition of going to the casino and playing Los Barregos (or lambs), which is a dice game that was formerly only allowed to be played in the Wednesday to Sunday of Holy Week.
Events in Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain: Medieval market
At the start of September, Ávila reverts to the Middle Ages, with locals getting into medieval dress and setting up market stalls in El Mercado Chico and Plaza de Pedro Dávila. Expect plenty of knights in shining armour, damsels in distress, and, disconcertingly, people pretending to sell slaves.
Events in Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain: La Ronda De Las Leyendas (The Round of The Legends)
At the start of June, the city immerses itself in old legends, and turns itself into the Ávila of ages past. Wooden gates are put back in the city walls, and torches are lit as drama groups re-enact the defence of the city against the Moors, gentlemen partake in duels in Calle De La Muerte y La Vida and romantic tales are told from balconies. It’s as much a celebration of storytelling as genuine historical events.