Spain is a country that celebrates its rich culture and heritage through numerous holidays and festivities, both nationally and regionally. The various celebrations offer opportunities for both locals and tourists to experience unique traditions and immerse themselves in the country's rich history. From Holy Week and the Feria de San Bernabé to the Epiphany and New Year's Eve, each holiday has its unique significance and customs.
In 2023, Spain will have 11 public holidays nationwide. In addition to those, there will be 2 more holidays specific to certain regions, as well as 2 local holidays, bringing the total to 15.
It is also important to note the concept of a 'puente' or bridge in Spain. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, it may be moved to the following Monday in certain regions such as Andalusia. Moreover, if a public holiday lands on a Tuesday or Thursday, it is common for people to take the day in between off to create a long weekend, also referred to as a 'puente'.Find below is a list of the official holidays in Spain
In addition, you have two local holidays in the Marbella area and two national holidays in Andalusia:
Discover how the residents of Marbella in Spain celebrate their holidays.
On New Year's Day, it is customary to share the first meal of the year with family members. Equally significant is New Year's Eve, which features a unique Spanish tradition. In the last 12 seconds of the year, individuals attempt to eat one grape per second. Successfully eating all 12 grapes within the allotted time is believed to bring good luck and happiness for the upcoming year. Wash it down with a glass of champagne and toast to a joyous new year: Feliz año nuevo!
In 2022, New Year's Day will fall on a Saturday. For 2023, New Year's Day will occur on a Sunday, and in Andalusia, Monday, January 2nd will also be observed as a public holiday.
For children in Spain, this is one of the most important holidays of the year. The festivities typically begin on the day before with the 'Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos,' a traditional procession celebrating the Epiphany.
During the procession, one float after another passes by, distributing sweets to the eagerly waiting Spanish children. They look forward to this all year long and excitedly place their shoes under the Christmas tree in anticipation. On January 6th, it's time to unwrap the presents and enjoy a slice of Roscón de Reyes, a round cake with fruit, marking the conclusion of the holiday. Maybe a nice to know: After Three Kings Day the big sale starts at El Corte Inglés in Spain.
This day commemorates Andalusia's autonomy as a community, established in 1980. It is often celebrated as a public holiday with most shops closed. Following the holiday, the winter break for school children, known as "semana blanca," begins.
The week leading up to Easter Sunday, also known as "Semana Santa" or Holy Week, is extensively celebrated throughout Spain. In major cities, one can witness the impressive processions organized by the church, featuring two thrones with statues of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, accompanied by music, incense, candlesticks, and other religious objects. Due to the popularity of these processions, it is recommended to secure a spot in advance to ensure a good view.
Children are typically on school holiday during this week, and most Spaniards have time off work on Thursday, April 14th (Maundy Thursday) and Friday, April 15th (Good Friday). The week culminates with Easter Sunday on April 17th and 18th, which is traditionally celebrated with dishes such as Hornazo and Pestiños. However, April 18th is not a holiday in Andalusia only.
Would you like to read more about the Holy Week click here.
This Catholic holiday, also known as Saint Joseph the Worker Day, is observed on May 1st. As May 1st falls on a Sunday in 2023, Monday, May 2nd, is a "puente" holiday in Andalusia, meaning many Spaniards have an extended weekend off. While no major festivities are typically held, coastal towns like Marbella often experience a surge in visitors due to the increased number of people with time off.
Each June, Marbella honors its patron saint San Bernabé, one of the municipality's most significant holidays, celebrated in the old town. The traditional "fair" features food, drinks, concerts, dance performances, parades, and the iconic "casetas" (stalls).
Annually during the celebration, the "Rey" and "Reina" (king and queen) of the Feria are selected.
This is an important day off for Catholic Spaniards. More important than Pentecost and Ascension Day, which are not actually celebrated there. On this holiday you can expect village festivals and fireworks shows.
This day is typically marked by military parades in Madrid, which are held in honor of the King and the Prime Minister. While most shops are closed, many museums remain open for visitors. Due to the increased traffic, it is advisable to secure your tickets in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
This day is dedicated to the remembrance of deceased loved ones. It is common for families to visit cemeteries and decorate graves with flowers as a tribute to their departed family members.
This day is celebrated by Spaniards in recognition of the approval of the constitution by referendum in 1978, following the end of the Franco dictatorship. The parliament building is opened to the public in the days leading up to the holiday.
Similar to the Feria de San Bernabé, the celebration of San Pedro de Alcántara is also a local holiday specific to the municipality of Marbella. Festivities are typically held throughout the week, with the main event taking place on October 19th. The day begins with a solemn morning mass and procession in honor of the patron. Following the procession, the festivities commence, featuring market stalls, a fun fair, and various performances. Like the Feria de San Bernabé, a king, queen, and miss are also chosen during the celebrations.
This day commemorates the Immaculate Conception of Mary. While typically no special celebrations take place, many Spaniards often take advantage of the public holiday and make a 'puente' with the Dia de Constitución to enjoy an extended break.
Feliz Navidad! In Spain, Christmas is only celebrated on December 25th, which is Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, or 'Nochebuena,' is a crucial moment when families gather for a traditional dinner and often attend mass at church. The following day, the family reunites again for an extensive lunch.
On Christmas Eve, almost all restaurants and bars will be closed.