Looking for some January sunshine in Spain for the New Year?

Like a  bit of noise?  Feel the beat of San Sebastian next month and come to the noisiest festival of all – La Tamborrada – and drum up a Spanish holiday with a difference!

After the festivities of Christmas

When the turkey has been roasted, carved and demolished, the Three Kings have been and gone, and you’re still stepping on pine needles, consider an early New Year break and come to Spain in January. What’s the best time to come?  Well, if you like a Spanish Festival – and who doesn’t? – and you also like a bit of noise, here is a holiday with rhythm and  more.  Come to La Tamborrada Festival at the end of January, in stunning San Sebastian.

24 hours of playing drums!

When and where is it?

The date set is the 20th of January, but it all starts at midnight the night before. The place is San Sebastian and after all the excitement of the Three Kings, it is back to celebrating – noisily! In fact, this just might be the loudest Festival you might encounter in the whole of Spain!

In Euskadi, or Basque, San Sebastian is Donastia– and this is also the name of the patron Saint.

La Tamborrada starts. Ear plugs at the ready!

Non stop party

There’s no resting up at this party, it runs for a full 24 hours – starting at midnight on the 19th January and not stopping for one beat until the close of deafening noise on the 20th – at midnight. You’ll need your vitamin pills, ear plugs, and milk thistle ahead of time for this one!

The festival has been beating away for no less than 300 years, when a rhythmic baker began singing at the water fountain, accompanied by the beat of his assistants with their water bowls – like a lot of crazy Spanish fiestas, they all start small and grow big!

Today you’ll find marching bands, processions and lines of drummer boys – and girls!  The local youth will also join in, sending a crescendo of thunderous beat across the city and beyond for the full 24 hours.

The all singing all drumming bakers

A bed to rest your head

You’ll need somewhere quiet and comfortable to stay after all that head banging noise – why not have a look through some nearby holiday rentals in Cantabria for a place to hang up your ear plugs and a soft bed to rest your sore head – plenty of choice by clicking here.

A private garden at property number 8428




What about this stunning country house in Miengo with direct access to the sea?  There’s a 1400 square metre garden if you like it private. Just 60 short steps t your own bit of beach and canoes thrown in too.

San Sebastian – city or beach resort?

Both!  Founded way back in 1180 by King Sancho the Wise – yes, really!  A city you will find and with all the usual amenities, but also you can discover beaches and coves on the doorstep, a hot spot with surfers during the Summer months.

If it’s beaches that you are after then visit La Concha – the seashell – one of the prettiest beaches in Spain and right in the middle of the city of San Sebastian. Shaped like a perfect arc it even boasts it’s own island right in the centre. Now, how many cities can boast that? You can perfect your Paseo on the walk of the same name – the Paseo de la Concha – it follows the beach and goes all the way downtown. As you do, you’ll pass the Alderdi Eder park on the way, the apartments on the other side are one of the most expensive places to live in the hole of Spain  so you can hob nob as you walk – maybe even spot some famous Spanish faces.

what a beach!

What else is to see?

You might also want to do a little sightseeing whilst in San Sebastian. Besides the beautiful beaches, there are lots of other places to cross off the list –

  • The Church of San Vicente – Gothic and worth a photo
  • The Kursaal – This is the auditorium that acts as host to the annual film festival – as is the Victoria Eugenia theatre –  and looks stunning lit up by night next to it’s setting by the River Urumea – another camera moment.
  • The Ayntamiento – situated at the end of the Alderdi Eder park mentioned above – not just a Town Hall but said to be one the most architecturally pleasing buildings in Spain – originally a casino for the rich and beautiful during the heady Belle Epoque years.
  • The bridge of María Cristina – walk across it on the way to the RENFE train station and admire the sculpture as you cross over.
  • The Miramar Palace – originally designed and built for Queen María Cristina in the style of an English cottage – a rather posh cottage at that! It’s situated on a hill top location between the La Concha and Ondaretta beaches. You must visit the garden, the enormous Hydrangea plants are worth seeing, and the planting is beautiful, also the best view of the city can be had from here.
  • Perfumeria Benegas – yes, really, just a perfume shop, but like no other you will ever have previously visited. Follow your nose to Calle Garibay, number 12, where you’ll find an extraordinary and elegant building – a perfumery like no other which has been trading for over one hundred years – draped in chandeliers made from Venetian crystal and a stunning painted ceiling to rival anything in Rome.  Buying your favourite perfume here simply makes it smell better!
  • Climb the Monte Urgull, with it’s 12 metre high statue of Jesus Christ, towering over the bay and dominating the town – another great spot for the best holiday pictures – there’s also a castle here with a military museum if that takes your interest.

Top notch Nosh


After seeking out all the beaches, and there are many in this area and surrounding coastline, you’ll be looking for something to eat. Why does a bit of sea air make you so hungry!  You’re in the right place though. Did you know that San Sebastian has been voted as having the BEST food in the world? Quite a claim, but there are more Michelin starred establishments in San Sebastian than anywhere else in the world, read all about it in an article by John, by clicking here. It fought off some really big name cities to grab that coveted title.

So, wherever you choose to eat out, you just know that it’s going to be a good meal.


In October, if you choose San Sebastian as your Autumn break destination, then you can attend the yearly Festival of Horror and Fantasy Film Festival – shiver me timbers!

In fact, there’s so much to scream about in San Sebastian, I think it calls for a drum roll!

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..