Cultural Festivals Along The Camino De Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago is a cultural experience in itself, with rich history, fabulous cities, exquisite food, and breathtaking landscapes leading you all the way to the hallowed gates of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. 

However, if you really want to throw yourself into the mix and find a truly authentic cultural festival or experience along the route, there are plenty of those as well. From the iconic running of the bulls that will test your nerves to the very limits, wine harvest festivals in the world-famous La Rioja wine region, or the deeply bizarre festival of near-death, plenty happens throughout the year along the Camino de Santiago. 

Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona

Could we start anywhere else? The Fiesta de San Fermín, held in July in Pamplona, is world-renowned for its running of the bulls. The festival, a blend of religious and secular events, includes parades, fireworks, music, dance, and plenty of alcohol, celebrating San Fermín, the co-patron of Navarre. It’s a vibrant display of local customs and traditions, offering a unique cultural experience.

Of course, you don’t actually need to participate in the main events – trying desperately to stay one step ahead of a group of snarling bulls and make it into the bull ring before getting impaled – and many thousands simply come to the city to soak up the event and enjoy mountainous amounts of food and wine. 

2024 dates – 6th July to 14th July – Pamplona

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 1

Cultural Festivals Along The Camino De Santiago

Fiesta del Apóstol en Santiago de Compostela

This festival, celebrated in late July, honours St. James, the patron saint of Santiago de Compostela. It’s marked by religious ceremonies, including a pilgrim’s mass and a stunning pyrotechnic display known as the “Fuegos del Apóstol,” illuminating the cathedral’s facade. The streets are filled with music, regional dance, and traditional Galician bagpipe performances – if you can time it right, it makes for an unforgettable visit to the Galician capital. 

However, we should also say that the experience of arriving in Santiago de Compostela is completely different during the festival. If you’re looking for something peaceful, soulful, and laidback, best to avoid this period. 

2024 dates – 8th to 12th May – Santiago de Compostela

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 6 – Final Stage

La Rioja Wine Harvest Festival

In September, the region of La Rioja, famous for its wine, hosts a harvest festival that is enormous in size. It features grape stomping, wine tasting, parades, and cultural events that celebrate the region’s winemaking heritage. It’s an excellent opportunity for pilgrims to immerse themselves in local traditions and savour some of Spain’s finest wines.

2024 dates – Third Week in September – Lograno

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 2

Cultural Festivals Along The Camino De Santiago

Festival of San Juan de Ortega

In June, near the town of Burgos, the Festival of San Juan de Ortega celebrates the life of Saint John of Ortega, one of the patrons of the Camino. The festival includes a unique nighttime procession, local food, music, and dancing, providing a glimpse into the spiritual and historical aspects of the Camino.

Compared to some of the other festivals on this list, the festival of San Juan de Ortega is a mellow affair and perfect if you’re looking for a small-town festival. 

2024 dates – 20th to 24th June – San Juan de Ortega 

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 2

Fiesta de la Virgen del Camino in León

This festival, held in September in León, honours the Virgin of the Way, the patroness of the Camino. It features religious processions, folkloric dances, and various cultural activities. The blend of devotion and celebration in this festival exemplifies the deep religious roots of many communities along the Camino.

2024 dates – End of September – Exact dates not yet released – León

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 4

Fiesta de San Isidro in Sahagún (Castille and León)

Every May, Sahagún honours San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers. This agricultural festival features a procession, folk dances, and a market where local produce and crafts are showcased. It’s a celebration of the region’s agrarian roots and community spirit.

2024 dates – 15th & 16th May – Sahagún

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 4 

Cultural Festivals Along The Camino De Santiago

Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme

Near the end of July, in the small village of As Neves in Galicia, the peculiar Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme takes place that needs to be seen to be believed. 

This festival is known for its procession of near-death experience survivors who express gratitude to Saint Marta, sister of Lazarus. It’s a unique blend of solemnity and festivity, with attendees carrying effigies or being carried in coffins to show their thanks.

This is one of the strangest festivals along the Camino route – indeed in all of Spain – but if you’re looking for something truly different that will stay in your memory for the rest of your life, give this a try – you won’t be disappointed. 

2024 dates – 29th July – Santa Marta de Ribarteme

Uwalk section – Camino Frances Stage 6 – Final Stage

What to think about if you want to attend

It’s all well and good picking one of the above festivals, but getting to the right place at the right time can be tricky. Some of these areas are somewhat isolated and if you’re hoping to time your walk perfectly to arrive on festival day can be a challenge. 

If you have your heart set on a particular festival and you want to incorporate it into your walk, check out our Uwalk.ie to see what guided tours are running around the period of the festival and feel free to contact us directly to talk it through. 

Alternatively, you can simply focus on your walk and try to time a visit to a certain festival or event either before or after you finish. This takes away the difficulties of trying to align the two, and with public transportation easily accessible along the Camino, it’s easy to jump ahead. 

Whatever festival takes your fancy, experiencing one of them on a trip with Uwalk.ie provides an entirely different view of the Camino de Santiago. Away from the tourists and the pilgrims, these events are often hugely popular with the locals, making them a truly authentic experience to add to your Camino adventure.  

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