SPAIN IN 2014 (APRIL-JUNE)

Welcome back to all our readers! Spain is famed worldwide for its festivals and fiestas and looking at the various events coming up in the next three months it’s easy to see why. Below you can find a brief summary of our pick of the best festivals, sport events and religious celebrations, etc. taking place in our country from April to June!

April 2014

As you would expect from a deeply Catholic country, Easter or “Semana Santa” is an extremely important event in Spain. From the smallest village to the largest city, Easter celebrations take over the whole of the country for a week, starting with Palm Sunday on the 13th April until Easter Sunday on the 20th, with thousands of events taking place all across the country. These festivities have centuries of history and tradition and are quite possibly the most important of the year, in all corners of Spain the streets and squares will be filled with people displaying their religious fervour and piety.

Easter Procession in Sevilla. Source: Visitasevilla
Easter Procession in Sevilla. Source: Visitasevilla

For an insder’s glimpse into the preparations that go in to the spectacular Easter Week festivities in Seville, watch the video below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0P662dIpdA

Later in April, another important festival takes place, especially in Catalonia… Sant Jordi (St. Georges day), also known in Catalonia as the Day of the Book & the Rose takes place on the 23rd of April in the Catalonia region of Spain. Often compared to St. Valentine ’s Day, Sant Jordi day celebrates Barcelona’s patron saint in a very unique manner. According to traditions dating back to the 15th century, on the 23rd of April, couples exchange gifts: a book for the men and a rose for the women.

Ramblas during Sant Jordi. Source: Hotel Omm
Ramblas during Sant Jordi. Source: Hotel Omm

Book and flower stalls are hastily set up along the streets of Barcelona for the tens of thousands who will take to the streets seeking a gift for their beloved. Throughout the day the streets and squares will also be filled with musicians, authors signing their works, literary events and an endless number of street performers and events.

May 2014

Just as things are beginning to wind down in Seville after the completion of the momentous Easter Week festivities, the Andalusian capital comes alive once again with an equally spectacular albeit very different festival: the “April Fair” (Feria de Abril). Despite its name, this year it will take place from May 6 to 11.

The April fair is held every year around 2 weeks after the completion of Easter week and in stark contrast to the sombre religious rituals and traditions of the “Semana Santa”, the April fair revolves entirely around good music, delicious food, dancing and great atmosphere. In short, it’s all about the fun.

During the celebration, over a thousand “casetas” or tents are installed in the fairground that then become the hub of all activity in the city, packed to the brim with Sevillians and guests dressed in traditional Andalusian attire: the men with the typical outfit of a farmworker (traje corto) and women with traditional flamenco dresses (faralaes) .

FERIA DE ABRIL SEVILLA SOURCE UNKNOWN

These casetas are mostly owned by groups of friends and local associations and so are private for members and their guests; however there are plenty of public tents which are open to all. Sevillians have always been well known for their friendliness and being inside a caseta really feels like you have stepped in to a family gathering. With plenty of conversation, music, food, wine and local flamenco dancing (“sevillanas”)throughout the night you are sure to have a good time!

A short video clip to give you an idea of the superb atmosphere you’ll find.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNDZ0DPegD0

In Madrid, from the second week of May you can enjoy the festivities in honour of its patron saint, San Isidro, who himself was a resident of Madrid in the 11th century. Whilst the festivities will take place all over the city, they will mostly be concentrated in the barrio of San Isidro in the southern district of Carabanchel.  This lively festival celebrates all things Madrilenian, from the wearing of the typical chulapo and goyesco outfits to the cooking of giant Cocido Madrileños, Madrid’s most traditional dish.

San Isidro. Source: Inspirado en España
San Isidro. Source: Inspirado en España

The main celebration takes place on the Pradera de San Isidro on the banks of the Manzanares River on the 15th of May as thousands will gather to take part in a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Isidro at the Hermitage of San Isidro and drink water from its spring. Later in the day, hundreds of Madrileños outfitted with traditional clothing will head to Plaza Mayor for the dancing of the typical regional dance known as the chotis as well as to enjoy various open air concerts. Whilst the main festival lasts only from the 9th until the following Sunday, San Isidro also marks the start of Madrid’s San Isidro bullfighting festival season, quite possibly the most important bullfighting festival in the world  and as such it also attracts both the best bullfighters and the best bulls from all across the world.

Also in May, one of Spain’s most visually stunning festivals, the Courtyard or “Patios” Festival takes place in Cordoba  in the midst of Spring between the 5th and the 18th of May and celebrates the hundreds of beautiful courtyards that the city boasts.

A beautiful courtyard in Cordoba. Source: Cordoba Flamenca

During the two weeks, Cordoba’s inhabitants welcome the general public in to their stunning courtyards carefully decorated with pots of beautiful flowers hanging against the whitewashed walls for all to see and appreciate, with the most beautiful courtyard being crowned the winner at the end of the festival. There will also be various events, concerts and live music happening throughout the weeks so there is plenty to enjoy besides the flowers and of course you will have to take some time to sample Cordoba’s delightful tapas and the delicious local wines!

Other interesting events taking place in May would be the Horse Fair in Jerez, The Moors & Christiana Festival in Alcoy and for those “speed-lovers” the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix near Barcelona and the Jerez Motorcycle GP.

June 2014

For those interested in Culture, The Madrid Book Fair returns to the Retiro Park again this year from the 30th of May until the 15th of June.

Established in 1933, the book fair attempts to promote Spanish & International literature as well as the authors, editors and institutions engaged in the publishing and distribution of books.

Madrid Book Fair. Souce: elmundo.com
Madrid Book Fair. Souce: elmundo.com

During each day of the fair, publishing companies and bookshops organize book signing sessions as well as talks with some of the world’s most popular authors and with over 200 stalls set up for the occasion, there is bound to be a book for every taste!

On the evening of the 23rd of June, cities, towns and villages all across Catalonia will be lit up with traditional bonfires and countless fireworks for the celebration of the Nit de Sant Joan (St. Johns Eve).

The Nit de Sant Joan, also commonly known as the Night of Fire or the Night of the Witches in Catalan,is celebrated in honour of St. John & the arrival of the Summer Solstice.

Catalonians celebrate the shortest night of the year with feats, firecrackers, street dancing, bonfires and fireworks throughout the night. The electric atmosphere that is felt throughout the region will no doubt keep you going until the early hours!

SANT JOAN BARCELONA BEACH  s

Other events on this month would be the Catalonia Motorcycle GP and the Haro Wine Festival, in La Rioja, with the popular “Battle of the Wine”. Also, even if the Soccer World Cup will be held in Brazil (from June 12th to July 13th) you shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the Spain’s national team games, etc. at the bars, terraces or giant screens surrounded by hundreds (or thousands!) of lively fans supporting the title holder. Don’t forget your red shirt!

Stay tuned for more interesting posts about Spain and, please, remember to share!!!

 

 

A SHORT ESCAPE TO SEVILLA

Last month I was lucky enough to go on an “inspection trip” to beautiful Sevilla. It wasn’t the first time I’ve visited this lovely city but this time I got to experience some of the private tours and special experiences which we at Madrid & Beyond arrange for our clients there. I stayed in a couple of hotels where our clients sometimes stay thus experiencing first-hand the facilities and services, and visited several others in the short time available.

For those who don’t know Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia is a captivating and beautiful city. It is well known for being a city of flamenco and bulls, the city of Carmen and Don Juan. Its history and culture give rise to pride, tradition, passion and joy. It’s easy to be seduced by its enchanting neighborhoods, with its twisting narrow streets, stunning patios and squares lined with orange trees. The most important monument in Sevilla is its enormous cathedral, the third largest, and the largest Gothic building in the world, featuring the tomb of Christopher Columbus and its 12th-century bell-tower, La Giralda, originally built by the Moors as a minaret.

The Cathedral and its "Giralda"
The Cathedral and its “Giralda”

The day I arrived, I checked into the 4* Hotel Fontecruz Los Seises, a newly renovated hotel of very special design, construction and history. What was once a sixteenth century palace belonging to the Archbishop is now an elegant and modern hotel that closely maintains its links with its past. Inside one can discover a Roman mosaic, an Arab well and sixteenth century columns amongst other attractions. A great plus in the warmer months is its rooftop offering an expansive terrace, and a small swimming pool and wonderful views of historic Sevilla.

After visiting the hotel, it was out to enjoy a Private Bike Tour of Sevilla. After meeting my English speaking guide, we got on our comfortable bikes and started riding through the historic city center. As my guide told me, there’s no better way to visit Sevilla than by bike. The city is flat, full of cycle lanes and usually very sunny… in fact it’s been recognized as the 4th best city in the world for cycling, according to several researches. I can only agree with it… in three hours and with little effort we visited most of the landmarks of the city, including the Barrio de Santa Cruz (Jewish Quarter), the Sevilla University (former tobacco factory), the incredible Maria Luisa Park and the Plaza de España, the riverside and the Triana neighborhood.

20140202_191251_resized
View from the Triana bridge

My second day in Sevilla started with a very special Private Cooking Class. The host for the day picked me up at the hotel and we headed to the Triana Market, where we soaked up the atmosphere and purchased some of the ingredients for the class. After that we headed to our “workplace”, a kitchen located at beautiful penthouse property in the centre of Seville, with large roof terrace. During the preparation of the dishes, I was able to taste some local delicacies together with some drinks. The class was “hands on” and I get involved as much as I could in the preparation of the typical Andalusian dishes. After the class, we enjoyed the fruits of our “hard” labor with a sumptuous meal washed down by some excellent “house” wine…

Kitchen-Terrace
Kitchen and Terrace

After the class I headed to my next stay over, the impressive Hotel Alfonso XIII, which was designed in 1928 to be one of Europe’s most luxurious hotels. After huge renovation work completed in 2012, the hotel is in mint condition and there is no better time to stay here than now. Named after the king who commissioned it in 1928, Hotel Alfonso XIII was built to provide fitting accommodation for the heads of state and high-ranking guests that attended the 1929 Great Ibero-American Exhibition. Today, this famous hotel continues the tradition of luxury and impeccable service for all its distinguished guests. Located a short walk from the Reales Alcázares and Plaza de España, the hotel is the most distinguished address in Sevilla. For those who like to wallow in its comforts, there are also lush gardens, a lovely typical Sevillian inner courtyard with fountain and an sizeable outdoor pool during the summer.

20140202_232745_LLS_resized
Alfonso XIII at night

Having been shown the hotel, there was little time to spare before meeting my local guide who took me to a Private Tapas Tour of Sevilla (yes, more food!!!). Tapas is one of Spain’s most famous and enjoyable ways of having a meal. It normally involves visiting a number of bars during the course of an evening, trying local delicacies and sharing each dish with your companions. As my guide says, Sevilla is one of the best cities in Spain for tapas. It is after all, the home of the tapas and has a very large number of bars per inhabitant, offering an amazing range of food. After talking about the food and drinks I would like to try, we head to the first bar, where we tasted some delicious seafood dishes: “tortillitas de camarón” (shrimp omelets)  and “ortiguillas” (battered seaweed) with some beer. Then in the second bar we tried a delicious jamón ibérico and “torreznos” (thick pieces of marinated fried rasher) with some red wine. We finished our tour in a bar where we tried some “secreto ibérico” (pork special cut) and a healthy salad… It was indeed a very food-focused day!

"Ortiguillas"  Source: cosasdecome
“Ortiguillas” Source: cosasdecome

On my last day in Sevilla I took the chance to visit a few other hotels in the Andalusian capital, including:

After a hard day visiting hotels and taking notes about the different types of rooms, the common areas and discussing the added values we get for our clients in each of the properties, I headed to Santa Justa train station and board the AVE (high speed train) to Madrid.

What an intense couple of days but I still felt there was so much more to soak up and enjoy about Sevilla. It’s hard to disagree with those who call it Spain’s most beautiful city; and with such wonderful hosts and guides, it’s a winner every time!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE “CAMINO DE SANTIAGO”

My name is Clara, and I’m the Madrid & Beyond “expert” on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). Before arriving to Madrid & Beyond more than 12 years ago(!) I worked as a guide, leading small groups from the USA on biking and hiking tours all over Spain & Portugal and many of these were along the Camino de Santiago. I hope you enjoy this post on this legendary route, based on its long history and my personal experience…

My bike and me

My bike and me

The Camino de Santiago is a journey through the History, Art, Culture and tradition over 1000 years. I’m sure it will ring a bell for most of you as it has become one of the most popular outdoor experiences in Europe.

Although it was conceived as a religious pilgrimage, nowadays more and more people are attracted to it as the best way to combine great walks along different regions of northern Spain and a superb spiritual and cultural experience.

There are different “Caminos” (Ways) that lead to Santiago de Compostela but the most popular is the “French Way” that begins in the Pyrenees and crosses the north of Spain through Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla, León and Galicia.

Old Map of 1648 which shows the French Way to Santiago de Compostela (Source: todocoleccion.net)
Old Map of 1648 which shows the French Way to Santiago de Compostela (Source: todocoleccion.net)

My first contact with the Camino was around 1994 and I immediately fell in love with it. I discovered a path of History and legend that was an unforgettable personal experience.

 For over 5 years I had the privilege of leading small groups along the Camino de Santiago, sharing this experience and experiencing it for myself through the eyes of many different people. The trip is indeed a very rewarding experience.

The most popular way of doing the Camino is on foot or by bike and although I’m an active cyclist, I must say the Camino is best done on foot in order to interact fully with this experience, it is also more relaxing this way.

Cycling the Camino is also an option, but I personally think it could be sometimes a rather annoying experience especially in high season. We must bear in mind that you will be sharing the path with hundreds of walkers (who have priority) and you may end up getting out of the original way in order to avoid them and have a more comfortable ride.

So, if you are thinking of doing the Camino I strongly recommend walking it.

camino de santiago shot2

When and where should I start my Camino?

The best months will be May, June and September. Summer will be nice in terms of weather, but it gets busier as most Europeans travel during the months of July and August.

The initial starting point depends on how many days you have for the journey. If you plan to walk the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port, you may have to prepare for at least a month.

Unfortunately nowadays, not many people have this amount of time available to spend on one trip, so you can either start from the beginning and do the whole Camino by shorter stages or begin closer to Santiago to finish in Compostela.

So if you have 10-12 days, you could start in the province of León and walk all the way to Santiago.

Qualifying pilgrims can receive an official “Compostela” (a certificate confirming you have made the trip) bearing their name upon arriving in Santiago.

To qualify for the Compostela, you must walk the last 100km or bicycle the last 200km of one of the recognized Caminos.

To prove that you met the requirements, you must have a Pilgrim’s Credential, which must have been stamped along the way at churches, pilgrim’s refuges, or other way stations, which are sometimes bars or stores in smaller villages.

Source: peregrinoszaragoza.org
Source: peregrinoszaragoza.org

For those who are tempted to discover this fantastic path, I recommend to see “The Way”, a film by Emilio Estevez starring his father Martin Sheen. A wonderful tribute to the Camino de Santiago.

 ¡BUEN CAMINO!

Interview with Nigel Hack, Founder of Madrid & Beyond

Nigel first came to Spain in 1992. After 3 years here he went back to his native country, the UK, only to realize that what he really wanted was to establish himself in Spain and to set up a travel company with a difference. He was convinced that the time was ripe to reach out to the discerning traveler offering more adventurous cultural experiences in Spain and thus, Madrid & Beyond was “born”. That was in 1998. Now, almost 16 years later Madrid & Beyond has established itself as Spain’s foremost specialist travel company catering to travelers seeking unique, authentic, exclusive, local experiences.

Hi Nigel, thank you very much for taking time out for this interview.

It’s my pleasure.

OK, let’s get started… After having traveled half of the world and with the opportunity of having a successful career in your own country, why did you decide to start a new life and business in Spain?

Well, I first came here straight out of university with the idea of learning Spanish for a year before returning to England to pursue a career in education. It was only after I returned to England after those first three wonderful years in Spain that I realized that I had to return. Whilst I had been very happy teaching history for the second and third year in Spain, my enthusiasm for a life in the classroom waned back in England, and I pined for, well, let’s just say I longed for a long list of intangibles that I missed about Spain. So if not teach, then what to do… I was young but had traveled widely both before, during and after university. Travel had become part of my DNA… I had no business acumen nor experience but I had always been Mr Organizer even as a teenager and happily arranged several trips overseas for my history students. So, I kind of figured out that my ideal job would be to arrange travel in Spain…

“In Spain there’s now a greater sense of liberty than elsewhere and people are generally not judgmental. A live and let live attitude still pervades. Most cities provide a good-vibe feel… totally safe. As I’ve discovered much more recently, people are incredibly child-friendly too…”

More than 20 years later, what is left of the Spain you first fell in love with?

Hmm, good question! But for me it’s probably a shorter answer if I tell you what has gone, never to return, because to be honest, Spain hasn’t changed that much… I think it’s we as individuals who change… especially as we take on responsibilities, raise families etc.

So, where was I? Yes, Spain is still pretty much the same but what’s gone is the peseta and the very, very affordable way of life. The old boys who recount tales of the Spanish Civil War have mostly gone… the “black” widows [widows who only wear black as a sign of respect to their deceased husbands] whom I only see in very rural areas these days…. The wild abandon that seemed to characterize the night…. Although what would I know? I’m in bed most nights by 11pm! Oh and the makeup of cities… until the 1990s it was a fairly homogeneous country… 99% Spanish… so anyone tall, or blond or simply foreign looking got plenty of attention… Now it’s much more cosmopolitan and multiracial… I don’t know the exact figures but I think about 15% of Spain’s population now was born overseas. Anyway, it’s become more European… good in many ways of course but I do enjoy visiting smaller towns and rural areas where the modes of the Spanish way of life remain truly ingrained.

Madrid & Beyond founder Nigel Hack
Madrid & Beyond founder Nigel Hack

What have been the positive and negative aspects you’ve encountered for both living and setting up a business in this country?

Gosh… again I could talk for a long time on both but I’ll keep it short… First of all, the negative… taxes for the business! For the day-to-day, not so much… but the quality of television leaves a lot to be desired (compared to the UK) all the films are still dubbed! Most depressing of all right now is the corruption that seems ubiquitous for those holding in public office.

Positive… well, Spain is friendly and welcoming so it’s easy to become part of wider groups of friends, participate in all sorts of sport, social events etc. It’s very all-encompassing. There’s a greater sense of liberty than elsewhere and people are generally not judgmental. A live and let live attitude still pervades. Most cities provide a good-vibe feel… totally safe. As I’ve discovered much more recently, people are incredibly child-friendly… so a great environment for raising children.   Should I say more?

How about the positives for setting up a business?

Ah yes… I guess I’m just fortunate that it’s worked. More importantly, I’m just grateful to have the team around me that I have. Yeah… even you Jorge!

Thank you Nigel…  You´ve spent a lot of time traveling across of Spain, from your point of view and based on your broad knowledge of the country, what are the “must-do things” anyone visiting Spain should experience?

Another easy question! I think it differs for everybody but let’s just run with the first few things that spring to mind… let’s aim for ten… OK, in no particular order…

Meet as many locals as possible… More specific… Ok…
Tour of the Gaudi monuments in Barcelona (better with a good guide)…
“Do” the Prado Museum in Madrid….
Go out for tapas in Madrid or Sevilla
Go to San Sebastian for amazing gourmet experiences and much more
Spend some time in rural Andalucia… Ronda and beyond!
Eat chocolate and churros in a typical churreria
Take a high speed train
Learn more about flamenco and bullfighting… sorry, that’s a little evasive but … Is that it?

One more…

Ok… Go to watch Real Madrid or Barcelona… especially if you’re a family.

Have you seen a shift in the reasons people give for coming to Spain?

Not recently although the fame of Spanish food, tapas and general lifestyle attracts more than it did when we first started. The Basque Country and San Sebastian in particular are more popular now than ever before.

Nigel and his son enjoying the Barcelona Carnival
Nigel and his son enjoying a parade in Barcelona

Thanks to your profession and position, you’ve been able to visit and stay at most of the best hotels around Spain. Which ones are your favorite, including one or two “hidden gems” outside the mainstream hotels?

For a small hotel, I have to choose Fuente de la Higuera in Ronda. It sounds cliché but you’re made to feel part of the wider family… For a luxury hotel, the Finca Cortesin is a personal favorite of mine whilst I should also mention some of the amazing rooms at the Arts in Barcelona.

Gastronomy is one of Spain´s main strengths in attracting discerning travelers. What would you say are your favorite products/dishes? Is there anything you miss from your native country in this aspect?

First of all, I don’t miss any “British” food per se but I love Asian food and it’s not always so easy to find outside of Madrid and Barcelona. In Spain, my favorite dishes used to be meaty and seafood dishes, such as suckling lamb; seafood stew, grilled giant prawns, chorizo and jamon iberico of course, but these days I’m a vegetarian so I focus more on the vegetable and rice dishes, such as a properly made paella, the Valencian fideuá or a bean stew. And I could eat or drink gazpacho and salmorejo till the cows come home!

Continuing with gastronomy… What places (bars, restaurants, cafes) in Madrid can you recommend that you would only share with a close friend (and, of course, everyone reading this blog)?

For bars, in the historic part of town I’d got for Casa Lucas or Matritum. Near our office [commercial center of Madrid], Le Cabrera is great for a drink after work or in the summer months, on the roof terrace of the Mercado de San Antón. I now live out of the center so I miss special places like La Venencia which dates from another era.  For restaurants, the best meal I had recently was at Sagardi en Euskal Etxea. I’m looking forward to dining at Ten Con Ten early in the New Year.

I can imagine that many of your prospective clients ask you about the current economic situation in Spain. What would you say to those who might be reluctant to visit Spain during these times of economic difficulties?

To be fair, I can recall two or three travelers who were a little reticent about coming to Spain, but that was during the time when “the pain in Spain” was on every front page. Their concerns were suppliers going out of business after they had booked their trip. Paradoxically, the crisis years in Spain have been our best years at Madrid & Beyond. Whether that is a measure of our luck or abilities, or an upsurge of discerning travelers coming to Spain it’s hard to say, but my message to everyone is the same as before… Prepare to have one of the best vacations of your life!

Looking ahead 5 to 10 years, what do you think will be the next big changes and trends for discerning travelers coming to Spain?

Experiences. Everyone will be requesting experiences. Many do now, but it will be the buzz word of the immediate future. Good news for us! As for apps and technology, I have no idea… for me it remains ALL ABOUT PEOPLE.

“Paradoxically, the crisis years in Spain have been our best years at Madrid & Beyond. Whether that is a measure of our luck or abilities, or an upsurge of discerning travelers coming to Spain it’s hard to say, but my message to everyone is the same as before… Prepare to have one of the best vacations of your life!”   

Anything else you would like to add?  

Just a quick word of thanks to all those travel agents we work with around the world…. Thank you for entrusting us with the trips of your clients. We will continue to strive to provide them with the best possible experience of Spain; its culture and people.

Again, thank you very much for your time and good luck in 2014.

You’re welcome. I hope the readers find my answers interesting and that they’re useful for them.

Spain in 2014 (January-March)

Happy New Year to all our readers!!! From the Insider’s Spain Blog we hope that you will have many blessings in this 2014 and, why not, this might be the year you decide to visit our beloved Spain. If so, just continue reading and find out about some of the celebrations, cultural and sport events, festivals, etc. taking place in our country during the first three months of the year!

January 2014

It’s the end of the Christmas and New Year Holidays, and Spain goes back to “real life”… Just after these dates, from the second week of January, it’s the beginning of the sales season (Rebajas) which will be running in most of the shops and shopping malls until the end of February. During this time, retailers encourage us to keep spending (in case we didn’t do it enough during the holidays) by putting the prices of their products down (up to a 70% in some places!).

In Madrid, there’s a travel fair which has become more and more popular in the last decades: FITUR, which celebrates its 34th anniversary and will take place from January 22-26. The International Tourism Trade Fair of Madrid, with more than 200,000 visitors per year, is an important date for many in the travel business. Apart from FITUR, the city will also host the Gastrofestival, from January 24 to February 9, in which there will be many gastronomic routes, events, exhibitions, special menus, etc. along the city. The festival showcases one of Spain’s strongest identities in a fun, encompassing manner, bringing on board great national and international chefs but also combining with the worlds of fashion and art.

Source: Gastrofestival
Source: Gastrofestival

February 2014

The main festival taking place in Spain during this month is the Carnival. This year, the Carnival will take place from February 27 to March 9. Although there will be celebrations in most of the regions in Spain, the most popular places to enjoy the Carnival are Cadiz (Andalusia) and Tenerife (Canary Islands).

The Carnival of Cadizis one of the most popular in the World (it’s been awarded as a Festival of International Tourist Interest) and it receives every year more than 100,000 visitors. Apart from the costumes, etc. the highlight of this festival are the “chirigotas”, satirical groups of performers and their songs full of sarcasm and parody.

The Carnival of Tenerife has also been awarded as a Festival of International Tourist Interest. It does also attract people from around the World and it is considered the second most popular and internationally-known carnival, after the one held in Rio de Janeiro. Compare to Cadiz, this Carnival is more spectacular (in terms of costumes, parades, etc.) and mores similar to the idea of the Brazilian Carnival, which is famous Worldwide.

Carnival
Source: carnavaltenerife.es

March 2014

The Fallas in Valencia are the most important event in March. The days before Saint Joseph’s Day (March 19) the streets of Valencia are full of decorations (including the spectacular wooden constructions – ninots) and people celebrating (open air bars, music bands, etc.). Everyday tons of firecrackers and fireworks are thrown so, if you’re noise sensitive this might not be the perfect festival for you. On the last day of the celebrations (March 19) all the ninots (wooden constructions), except from the contest winner (which is spared) are burnt as huge bonfires, which is the culmination of this festival.

Apart from this festival, for those sport lovers, on the weekend of March 22-23 the “Clasico” soccer game Real Madrid vs F.C. Barcelona will take place at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (in Madrid). This is probably the most important soccer game in the World (at a clubs level) and it’s followed with interest by fans all around the globe. Do contact us if you are interested in securing tickets.

Source: resultados-futbol.com
Source: resultados-futbol.com

In the next few months we will publish another post with the upcoming events, festivals, etc. taking place in Spain during the second trimester of 2014, starting with the Holy Week Parades in Sevilla…

Stay tuned!

Here we are…

Welcome to the “Insider’s Spain” blog! My name is Jorge Arnanz, Social Media Manager at Madrid & Beyond and I, together with the rest of the M&B Team, will be in charge of the posts on this blog. First of all, I would like to ask you (our readers) to please disregard any mistakes or misspellings, since English is not my first language…

This blog won’t be a corporate tool created by Madrid & Beyond to sell our company. We aim to offer to our readers some very useful first-hand information on Spain, written by us, as specialists on this wonderful country… That is why we thought the name “Insider’s Spain” would be perfect for our blog.

What would you find on this blog? Our idea is to create our own content which, as mentioned above, will consist on useful information to our readers (mainly people with a genuine interest on Spain). We plan to post these contents twice or three times a month and we aim to become a source for those seeking information about the “authentic Spain”.

I love Spain

We will talk about the different destinations, activities, etc. we consider as “a must” when visiting Spain; we will publish interviews with our PEOPLE, which will provide the readers with an insider’s perspective on different aspects about Spain; we will post articles with our opinion on current news about Spain and articles about events, festivals… of interest; AND MUCH MORE!!!

Finally, we would like to ask our readers for some interaction. We would love to read your comments, your suggestions on how to improve the blog, your requests for specific topics, etc. We consider that a blog should not be a “one direction” platform, where we write and you read… your feedback would be essential and much appreciated!

Thank you very much for reading/following us and we hope you enjoy our blog!!!

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