Friday, 13 November 2009

A guide to some of Spain's quirkier festivals

A guide to some of Spain's quirkier festivals

Author: Mike Mcdougall

Spaniards seem rarely to need much of a reason for a fiesta or
festival of some sort and you can pretty much guarantee that
wherever you are in Spain there will be some merrymaking going
on somewhere in honour of a patron saint - I've decided to look
at some of Spain's quirkier, slightly less known festivals and
enlighten readers as to some of the stranger practices which
take place at various times around the country.

Our journey begins in the east of the country in the town of
Bunol in the Valencia region where a week long festival in
honour of the town's patron saint, San Luis Bertran, ends in the
famous "Tomatina", a two hour tomato fight where lorries
bring in 120,000 kg of tomatoes for the locals to pelt each
other with. It's all a bit of a free-for-all and it's usually
girls pitted against boys for two hours of madness from 11am to
1pm. Participants can expect to get extremely messy and it's
advisable to wear something old, and preferably red, if you
don't want the stains to show up. Despite the "Tomatina"
clearly being the highlight, there are many other facets of the
festival to be enjoyed throughout the week with fireworks,
parades and a paella cook-off amongst the most notable.

Not so far away in the city of Valencia, townsfolk revel for a
week in the festivities of "Las Fallas", another one of
Spain's more unique festivals. The raucous week of celebration
takes place in March and is most notable for "Las Fallas"
which are huge papier-mâché figures up to 60 feet in height.
Built in the streets, the figures often have a satirical edge;
Tony Blair and George Bush's effigies graced last year's
festival. The culmination of the merry-making comes on the
"Night of Fire" when all 700 of "Las fallas" are
burnt to a cinder turning many of the city's streets into huge
bonfires. Undoubtedly the local fire services busiest evening of
the year and certainly one not to be missed by visitors to the

Next stop is Catalonia and the town of Valls located about 100km
south west of Barcelona, where every year townsfolk gather for
the legendary "Calcotada". A celebration of food and in
particular the "calcot" (similar to a spring onion) with road
side bbq's char grilling piles of them for locals to eat.
There's even a hug pot of dipping sauce on hand to spice things
up a bit. The main event is the eating competition as burly
local champions from all over the region line up to see how many
onions they can put away in 45 minutes, apparently it's not
uncommon for the victor to eat in excess of 300! After a winner
has been decided the town decamps to huge local cafeterias where
for a small fee the "calcots" are served in plentiful numbers
alongside grilled meats and washed down with as much red wine as
you can drink. It's certainly off the beaten track a little bit
and for that reason you won't see many tourists but expect a
warm welcome from the locals who will, undoubtedly, be in high

29th June, the day of San Pedro and we're deep in Spain's wine
producing heartland, La Rioja, where for one day every year the
medieval town of Haro is host to the famous "Batalla de
(literally "Wine Battle"). Apparently the battle's
origins lie in an ancient dispute with between Haro and its
neighbours. These days the fight is pretty good natured with
thousands of gallons of wine being hurled around the
battleground (a hillside overlooking Haro). Like the
Tomatina, this is going to be a messy one and I'd suggest
coming prepared with some ammunition of your own, the locals
have been doing this for years so expect to take a few shots
early on.

About the Author:
For the last five years Mike McDougall has been working as a
travel writer and marketeer. He's currently working for a
Spanish language School ( to
provide additional cultural and travel related material on Spain
and Latin America. This article is licensed under a Creative
Commons License:

Article Source: - A guide to some of Spain's quirkier festivals



Author: Yetunde Farinloye

The Argungun International Fishing Festival can now be said to have assumed the status of one of the global preferred tourist destinations with nationals of 21 countries witnessing this year edition of the four-day event.

They came in their thousands to Bernin Kebbi, state Capital of kebbi state to celebrate one of Nigeria’s most flamboyant events in the tourism calendar.This year’s edition lasted from March 11th to 15th.

According to the figures released by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, a total of 262,386 visitors witnessed the famed fishing festival in 2009 out of which a total number of about 400 people were from outside the country.

The figures indicate that visitors from Niger, Mali, Chad, USA, Germany and Britain top the list of foreign tourists at the event.

True to their reputation as the most travelled tourists in the world, a total of 40 Germans attended the show followed by the Americans and the British.

The total expenditure at the festival according to NTDC was N1.3 billion out of which food and drinks alone accounted for half a billion naira, transportation fetched N78 million while accommodation at Argungu, Sokoto and Birnin Kebbi brought N146 million.

The report also indicates that at least about N206 million exchanged hands for shopping particularly for souvenirs, mementoes, decorations, textile materials and crafts; while N50 million was realized from package tours both by air and land.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on the report, the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe commended the Kebbi State government for utilizing to the fullest, the public/private partnership for the success of the festival.

He urged other states to bring up products that can be promoted and marketed by the NTDC as part of the holistic approach at developing Nigeria tourism.

A cash gift of 300,000 naira and a Honda Civic car was presented by President Umar Musa Yardua to the winner of this year’s edition, Abubarkar Indiri who caught a fish that weighed 65kg.

This year saw the fiftieth event since its origins in 1934, when the then Sultan Dan Mu'azu of Sokoto paid a friendly visit to the Emir of Argungun, Malam Mohammed Sama.

To commemorate the occasion, and as the highest traditional honour of the Kabawa, a grand fishing competition was organised by Malal for the august visitor and members of his entourage.

What began as a simple gathering of traditional Argungun fishermen has grown into an international event of epic proportion, where many thousands of fishermen converge to take part in the barehanded competition armed only with a modest net. Canoes filled with drummers and men rattling huge gourds drive the fish to the shallower waters where they are captured, much to the delight of the crowds who come to watch.

About the Author:

Goodlife is an online,offline,advertising and promotion company.For more info visit


The Varied Festivals of Japan

The Varied Festivals of Japan

Author: Luke Humble

If you're looking to take a holiday in Asia, Japan is an excellent choice. It's a land of many contrasts with ultra modern lifestyles juxtaposed against ancient traditions, and rural communities set against sprawling metropolises. A single holiday in Japan can take in many conflicting aspects of life in the country.

If you're looking to absorb the culture, or simply to find some outstanding entertainment for your stay, you could do a lot worse than timing your visit to coincide with one of the many popular festivals that the country is host to. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

Sapporo Snow Festival

The Sapporo Snow Festival will be entering its 60th year in February 2009, and you can expect the event to have an extra special feel to go along with its landmark year. The festival, based in Sapporo - the capital of Hokkaido - takes place over a week and includes the construction of hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures throughout the town. Each year you can expect around 400 immaculately sculpted ice structures displaying everything from instantly recognisable landmarks to famous celebrities. If you're planning a winter holiday in Japan, then it's well worth joining the 2,000,000 people expected to attend this legendary festival.

Nagasaki Kunchi Festival

If you're taking your holiday in Japan in Autumn, the Nagasaki Kunchi festival is a must. Started in the 16th century to celebrate the harvests, the festival has now grown to become one of the most popular in Japan. Visitors to the country will be able to see traditional dancing, huge floats decorated like river barges or Chinese boats and the legendary 'dragon dance'. To give you an idea over how well planned the whole thing is, preparations for the annual festival begin as early as June 1st.

Kyoto Gion Matsuri Festival

The Gion Festival is another famous one, this time held annually in Kyoto. Unlike the previous entries, this one is on for the entire month of July, but the legendary parade (Yamaboko Junko) is worth being there for on the 17th. Those wanting to get an insight into how Kyoto residents live will also want to visit at this time, as the customary Byobo Matsuri (folding screen festival) means that many residents will open their homes for others to visit. An unparalleled opportunity to get off the tourist trail and see how people live on your holiday in Asia.

Nebuta Matsuri Festival

The largest festival in the Tohoku region is the most popular 'nebuta' event in the country with tourists, and that should be enough to convince you to visit on your holiday in Asia. Nebuta festivals involve the float of brave warrior figures carried around the city, accompanied by dancers moving in time to the famous Rassera chant. It has an atmosphere like no other, and is definitely worth seeing.

Sanja Matsuri Festival

Although Sanja Matsuri is celebrated nationwide, Tokyo is without doubt the place to be for it. The main festivities take place at the Sensoji Shrine on the third weekend of May and some 2 million people come to enjoy the huge parades, traditional music and dancing. Those who dislike crowds need not apply, but it is an unusual experience that everyone with an interest in Japanese culture should try.

Takayama Matsuri Festival

One of Japan's most popular festivals, the Takayma Matsuri festivities take place both in Spring and Autumn. Both festivals welcome the changing seasons and involve colourful floats moving through the Takayama streets and huge crowds. The Autumn version is on the 9th and 10th October, while the Spring version is held on April 14th-15th. Accommodation can be hard to come by, but tourists looking to see it should be able to find something in the neighbouring towns of Furukawa and Gero Onsen.

Fuji Rock Festival

It may not be a traditional cultural experience like the others, but if your idea of a good music festival is a muddy field in England, Fuji Rock may just change your expectations completely. Hosted at the Naeba Ski Resort (it was moved from Fuji in 1997, but retained the name), it is the cleanest mainstream music festival you'll likely ever see. Alongside quality food and drink, the acts are impressive too - past years have attracted the like of The Cure, The Chemical Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck and The Foo Fighters.

Whether you're interested in music, arts or just absorbing the country's history and culture, there is a Japanese festival for you. By timing your luxury holiday in Japan to coincide with one of these festivals, you're guaranteeing yourself memories that will last a lifetime.

About the Author:
Kieron Sellens is the marketing manager of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO). With holidays in Japan from AITO, you can tailor-make the dream holiday.

Article Source: - The Varied Festivals of Japan