Bilbao Events, Fiestas and Festivals
(Bilbao, Biscay, Basque Country, Spain)
Every year, Bilbao offers a superb selection of festivals and events, which appeal to both locals and visitors alike. The Bilbao calendar includes film festivals, book fairs, local markets and a number of religious parades, particularly around Easter time, during the Semana Santa / Holy Week.
A number of additional festivals take place in towns and villages close to Bilbao, including Getxo, which hosts an International Jazz Festival each July and a Folk Festival in September.
National Public Holidays
- 1st January - Ano Nuevo / New Year's Day
- 5th January - Epifania / Epiphany
- 19th March - Dia de San José / St. Joseph's Day
- Late March or early April - Jueves Santo / Maundy Thursday
- Late March or early April - Viernes Santo / Good Friday
- 1st May - Fiesta del Trabajo / Labour Day
- 15th August - La Asunción / Feast of the Assumption
- 12th October - Nacional de Espana / National Day
- 1st November - Todos los Santos / All Saints' Day
- 6th December - Dia de la Constitución / Constitution Day
- 8th December - La Inmaculada Concepción / Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- 25th December - Navidad / Christmas Day
Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015
- Zinegoak / Bilbao International GLT (Gay-Lesbo-Trans) Film Festival - early January, with various screenings at Bilborock and Capitol cinemas, together with the Arriaga Theatre.
- St. Agueda's Day - February 4th, a particularly historic festival, with parades of mainly children's choirs performing on the streets of Bilbao, dressed in traditional costumes.
- St. Blas Day - mid-February, a religious festival which lasts for nine days, commencing on February 3rd and based at the Church of San Nicolás, celebrating the life and work of St. Blas.
- Carnaval - mid-February, parades and general festivities throughout central Bilbao, where a party atmosphere takes over the city centre.
- There are no significant events in Bilbao during the month of March.
- Semana Santa - early April, notable religious festival dating back around 500 years, held during the week of Easter, with many exciting activities throughout Bilbao, including slow parades with drums and trumpets. Also part of events are reenactments of Christ's final days, and bulls which are allow to run through the streets of the nearby fishing village of Zumaia.
- Via Crucis Viviente de Balmaseda - early April, a range of events and Holy Week festivities held at the nearby town of Balmaseda, which is located around 30 km / 19 miles from Bilbao and attracts large crowds. Highlights include theatrical performances of the Last Supper and other notable events in Christ's history.
- Bilbao Fantastic Film Festival - early May, with many film screenings and related events.
- Feria del Libro / Bilbao Book Fair - early June, held in the city's Arenal area, in the historic Casco Viejo district, attracting many famous authors and celebrities, with award ceremonies for significant authors deemed to have raised the profile of Vizcaya, together with puppet shows and other performances for families and children.
- Fiestas del Carmen en Santurce - mid-July, held in the nearby village of Santurce, around 18 km / 11 miles from Bilbao, lasting just over one week, celebrating the patron saint of Santurce, la Virgen Del Carmen. Festivities include theatrical events, concerts and dancing, a boat race and plenty of hot food, including sardines - a local speciality.
- Getxo International Jazz Festival - mid-July, with a range of blues concerts held during the third week of July in the nearby village of Getxo, located around 25 km / 16 miles from Bilbao.
- Festividad de La Magdalena - late July, the local La Magdalena Festival takes place each year on July 22nd and is held around the nearby village of Bermeo, which stands just 34 km / 21 miles from central Bilbao and includes sailing events between Bermeo and neighbouring villages along the Vizcayan coast, culminating in festivities at Mundaka, which continue well into the night.
- Fiestas de Santiago en Gorliz - late July, held in nearby Gorliz, close to the beachfront, around 29 km / 18 miles from Bilbao, with many street festivities, sports events, local craft fairs and running races.
- Fiestas de Andramari en Gorliz - early August, Andramari Food Festivals held between August 4th to 8th in the nearby village of Santurce, around 18 km / 11 miles from Bilbao, including many cooking competitions and a notable paella contest.
- Fiestas de San Nicolás de Bari - mid-August, held between August 11th to 14th just outside of Bilbao, in the scenic Getxo area, around the Puerto Viejo de Algorta, with many fun and competitive sporting events, festivities based around food and drink, concerts and dancing, and a boat race.
- Aste Nagusia - late August, Bilbao, known as the 'Big Week', with a plethora of cultural events and festivals throughout the city lasting around ten days, including traditional music, concerts and dancing, bullfighting, boat races and sporting events, culminating in a colourful fireworks display. Aste Nagusia is one of Bilbao's premier festivals and attracts large crowds, which often line the central streets.
- Fiestas de Plentzia - late August / early September, held in the nearby village of Plentzia, around 25 km / 16 miles from Bilbao, a San Antolin festival with a range of contests, competitions, dancing displays and traditional events, together with many impressive nearby attractions and a superb beach.
- Festividad de San Antolin en Lekeitio - early September, a historic local festival in the nearby village of Lekeitio, around 60 km / 37 miles from Bilbao - a journey of less than one hour. This festival attracts hundreds of boats, which congregate in the harbour, and involves catching a dead goose, which has been greased. A nearby stunning beach can also be found along the Lekeitio coastline.
- Fiestas de Andramari en Bermeo - mid-September, celebrating the life of patron saint of Andramari, in the nearby village of Bermeo, known for its fishing heritage, which stands around 34 km / 21 miles from central Bilbao. Highlights include a local agricultural show and craft fair, food and drink festivities, and a boat race.
- Folk Festival - mid-September, with a range of folk concerts and festivities held in the nearby village of Getxo, located around 25 km / 16 miles from Bilbao.
- Nacional de Espana - October 12th, celebrations around the city on Spain's National Day, which has long been a public holiday.
- Bilbao Tango Festival - late-October, exhibition displays by professional dancers, classes and concerts held over a weekend.
- Festival Internacional de Titeres - early November, a famous, local storytelling festival, attracting people from around the world, with many free events and popular puppet shows, based around the El Carmen and Bilborock - La Merced Theatres, with further events held at Bilbao's nearby Barrainkua Cultural Centre.
- International Festival of Documentary and Short Films (Festival Internacional de Cine Documental y Cortometraje de Bilbao / Zinebi) - late November / early December, a major annual event with many screenings at local theatres and cinemas, organised by the International Federation of Associations of Film Producers (FIAPF). This film festival has grown in popularity over the years since it first began in the mid-20th century, attracting many noteworthy film directors, with award ceremonies and other cinema-related events.
- Feria del Libro y Discos Vascos - mid-December, a popular Basque book fair, with books, CDs and DVDs from all over the region, based around the El Arenal area of Bilbao's historic Casco Viejo district.
- Markets in Jardines del Arenal / Plaza Nueva - mid-December, a traditional market previously known as the Mercado Rural de Santo Tomás. Overflowing with local produce, attractions at the market include fruit, vegetables, tasty cheeses, sausages, ciders and wines, together with market stalls selling a range of hot snacks, street musicians and outdoor entertainment.
- Festival de Teatro y Danza (Festival of Theatre and Dance - BAD) - mid-December, based around the Indautxu district of Bilbao, with a range of theatrical performances, demonstrations and events, together with family puppet shows and dancing. Held at a number of local theatres, including the Teatro Ayala, the Fundicion and also the Barrainkua Theatre.