The best food festivals in Spain

If discovering new dishes and flavours is an intrinsic part of your travelling experience then take a look at our guide to the most delicious and eclectic gastronomic events of this year.  
Spanish gastronomy is much more elaborate than the well-known paella and tapas. For years, culinary festivals have been held all over the country in order to promote the most typical or popular dishes of a particular area and to demonstrate the latest innovations in the kitchen.
Chef in the restaurant of Jose Carlos García

1. The Madrid Gastrofestival

Number one on our list is one of more the cosmopolitan gastronomic events in Spain: The Madrid Gastrofestival. The top restaurants, museums, markets and shops in Madrid come together to offer a banquet of flavours and smells for the senses. 

The Gastrofestival programme includes innovative menus created by internationally renowned chefs, cooking workshops, culinary routes and gastronomy exhibitions held in some of the most important museums in the city. Celiacs are also welcome and fully catered for as this year’s festival offers gluten-free menus so that no one is left hungry. A day out at the Madrid Gastrofestival is a great opportunity to discover the latest culinary trends. 


The Madrid Gastrofestival

2. El Festival Transfronterizo del Gurumelo - Villanueva del Fresno, Extremadura 

"The Festival Transfronterizo del Gurumelo" or "The Gurumelo Transfrontier Festival" takes place during March in the town of Villanueva del Fresno, Extremadura. This is a mushroom festival, celebrating a particular species of mushroom found in southern Europe known as the "Amanita ponderosa" or "gurumelo".

The Gurumelo Mushroom from Extremadura
This particular mushroom is notoriously difficult to find and every year hundreds of people from Spain and Portugal flock to this festival in the hope of finding the elusive gurumelo during one of the event's guided tours. For anyone that doesn't like navigating the countryside, there are other activities to enjoy such as culinary workshops, tastings, concerts and exhibitions.

3. The Barcelona Beer Festival

The Barcelona Beer Festival is one of the biggest craft beer festivals in southern Europe. If you are passionate about beer, its production and the range of flavours and textures on offer, we recommend that you plan a trip to Barcelona in late March and visit this fun festival. 

Barcelona Beer Festival

It's definitely worth making the trip and sampling some of the 350 different varieties of beer on offer including Belgian, English and Russian blends. Brau Beviale will also have a stall here, which as the experts will know, is one of the most famous beer festivals in the world. 

4. The Cherry Blossom Festival - Valle de Jerte, Extremadura

Extremadura is a gastronomical delight and at the beginning of spring in the green valleys, a beautiful natural display takes place. With the arrival of the milder weather, the blossoming flowers of more than one million cherry trees turn the hills of the Jerte Valley a pinkish-white, creating a dream-like and idyllic landscape.

Cherry blossom in flower, Valle de Jerte, Extremadura

The Cherry Festival has a variety of phases which last until early May. The first weeks are known as the “Despertar del Valle" or "The Waking of the Valley", from April onwards the "Floración de Los Cerezos" or "Flowering of the Cherry Trees" takes place and in early May the breathtaking "Lluvia de Pétalos" or "Petal Rain" provides a magnificent end to the months of beauty. Various gastronomic and cultural celebrations take place in the different towns of the valley including guided tours and artisan markets.

5. Vivid Wine Festival - Empordà, Costa Brava

In April, the Vivid Wine Festival takes place on the Costa Brava. If you are a lover of wine, we assure you that this festival will live up to your expectations.

Vivid Wine Festival, Costa Brava

With more than one hundred different activities including wine tastings, wine therapy treatments, nature trips, open days and specialised activities for industry professionals, there’s something for everyone at this festival in the region of Empordà.

6. The International Paella Competition - Basque Country

What could be a more perfect setting to enjoy a good paella than atop a cliff overlooking the tranquil Cantabrian Sea? This is the location of the International Paella Competition which takes place every July in Getxo, a small town in the Basque Country. The competition coincides with the feast of Saint James which takes place in Santiago de Compostela on the same day. Thousands of people gather under the shade of the Aixerrota (windmill in Basque) to sample and enjoy the hundreds of different types of paella which are competing in the contest.  


Complemented by beautiful landscapes, incredible views of the bay of Getxo and bathed by the salty sea breeze, this festival offers visitors not only the chance to taste some of the world’s best paellas but also, to soak in the spiritual atmosphere in beautiful, historic surroundings. 

The Basque Country also hosts to the “Feria de Primavera de la Miel” or “Honey Spring Fair” which is celebrated in the beautiful little town of Antoñana, on the Alavesa mountain. The fair takes place in May and here you can pick up some locally produced, homemade honey and other products typical of Basque gastronomy. 

7.  Pulpo Festival - O Carballiño, Galicia

Thanks to the high quality of the water that flows through the Galician rivers, everything caught in these waters stands out due to its flavour and freshness. With its unmistakable texture and a slightly spicy flavour, “pulpo á feira” or “fair-style octopus” is one of the most popular recipes among the locals and in the town of O Carballiño in Ourense. They pay homage to this paprika flavoured octopus with a party that attracts crowds of fans year after year.

Pulpó á Feira

This party, which is celebrated at the beginning of August, started as a simple hangout among friends but over the years it has grown in popularity and prestige and now attracts thousands of people from all over Spain, seeking a holiday in Galicia and eager to savour this local delicacy.

8. The Cocido Montañés Festival - Ucieda, Cantabria

If you like homemade food, take the opportunity to visit the Fiesta del Cocido Montañés, which takes place on the first Sunday of September in the heart of the Saja-Besaya Natural Park, Cantabria. In a natural spot of great beauty, you can try the most typical dish of the area “el cocido montañés”, which is a type of stew made with pork, beans, cabbage and local potatoes.  

The famous "Cocido Montañés" in Ucieda

To aid digestion, you can participate in a competition of traditional sports such as woodcutting, or even join in with one of the regional dances to the sound of bagpipes.

9. The Iberian Ham Festival - Aracena, Andalusia

Every October, the Iberian Ham Festival returns to the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva packed full of culinary activities to excite our senses and satisfy our appetites. The festival’s “ruta de la tapa” or “tapas route” takes visitors on a tour of local bars and restaurants which all participate in an offer of two tapas for €2 each. After each visit, the bar or restaurant will stamp the little card or “tapaporte” and when the tour ends visitors can vote for their favourite tapas.    

The festival's closing event is one of the most anticipated. A contest called "Your Weight in Ham" is held, where competitors can win the equivalent of their weight in Iberian ham as a prize. The cutting of the ham is considered an art, so don’t miss the “Concurso de Cortadores” or “Cutters Competition”. 

Iberican Ham Festival, Aracena

Like the Iberian Ham festival, the Festival of the Chestnut also takes place in Andalusia and honours the tasty sweet chestnut. The exact dates of this festival vary year to year but each year, but it is generally held in November. They celebrate by distributing more than 300 kilos and up to 200 kilos of sweet potatoes in the main square of the host town. Up to 3,500 people come every year to enjoy these delicacies as well the very delicious, traditional buttermilk which is typical of Alcaucin. 

10. Cheese Festivals

The smell of cheese permeates in the air in Spain. Visitors are able to enjoy cooking workshops, tastings, exhibitions, guided tours and more throughout the year.

The “Concurso de Quesos de Idiazábal de Pastor” or “Idiazábal de Pastor Cheese Competition” is one of the smaller but still popular cheese festivals. It is celebrated in October and it exhibits some the best cheeses from the Basque Country. Visitors can also taste typical local products like cider, wines and roasted lamb. 

Idiazábal de Pastor Cheese competition, The Basque Country

October is also the month of the “La Semana de la Torta del Casar” or “The Week of the Cake of Casar” which takes place in Cáceres, Extremadura. The cake of Casar is not actually a cake but a big wheel of cheese and the festival celebrates with a range of activities including tastings of European cheeses and Torta del Casar restaurant routes. 
Cheese lovers can visit another very special event called the Trujillo Cheese Fair which is held in Extremadura. This fair takes place in May and here, you can find a fantastic selection of some of the best national and international cheeses accompanied by a diverse cultural agenda.

11. The Cava Grape Harvest - Penedés

Would you like to enjoy a high-quality wine tourism experience in an unbeatable environment? Then don’t miss “La Verema del Cava” or “The Cava Grape Harvest” in Penedés, where the main wineries of the Penedés area open their doors. Here, visitors can discover the secrets and history of cava, the most typical drink of Catalonia.

The Cava Grape Harvest, Penedés

There are a range of activities on offer including moonlit vineyard walks, movie screenings, live music and tasting workshops. In addition, the most popular restaurants in Penedés partner with the festival and offer tasting menus with local recipes.

Also, in December, the “Gallo de Vilafranca” festival takes places in Vilafranca, the capital of Penedés. This party tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and here, visitors can taste several dishes based on the famous "Gallo del Penedés" or “Penedés Cockerel” accompanied by wines from this area.

As you can see from our gastronomic event guide, not everything in Spain revolves around tapas and paella. This is just a sample of the diverse range of gastronomic events which are taking place in Spain this year, but as you can see there is a huge variety and something to suits every taste.

Make this the year for discovering the best of Spanish gastronomy!

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