Semana Grande in Bilbao – Basque country, Spain

Guggenheim Museum in BilbaoThe Aste Nagusia (“Semana Grande” in Spanish and “Big Week” in English) festival of Bilbao is a 9 days event held at the end of August. The festival begins on Saturday when crowds gather at the iconic Arriaga Theatre on the banks of the Nervion River.

Semana GrandeOnce a rocket is shot into the sky (known as the txupinazo), the festivals mascot, Marijaia, makes her grand entrance onto the balcony. What follows next is the culmination of events that forms the biggest party of the year, known as Aste Nagusia or Semana Grande.

At Aste Nagusia, Basque culture is celebrated at its fullest. There is traditional Basque music and dancing, as well as Basque rural sports such as wood chopping and stone carrying competitions. The streets are lined with tents offering a wide variety of food and drinks. And for the kids there are parades of giants and the Gargantua, who devours the children who enter into his mouth. But don’t worry, inside the Gargantua is a slide and the children exit safely from his posterior.

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