PONTEVEDRA

                                                                                                                                                            14.3.06

 

BULLFIGHTING, FESTIVALS AND THE AUGUST FIESTA

 

Bullfighting is not a big thing here, which is why Hemingway thought that the Galicians were big sissies who, incredibly, preferred folk dancing to dying. Or at least watching things being killed. To be fair, he did speculate that they had quite enough death to deal with via shipwrecks, occasional famines and the like.

The bulls [La Corrida] come to Pontevedra in the first week of August, as part of the town’s biggest fiesta [see next section]. Prices are not cheap but are lower if you opt to sit in the sun. If you are wandering the streets of the old quarter after one of the 3 corridas, beware of the crowds of T-shirted people whose idea of a good laugh is to spray others with red wine. You used to be required to wear the T-shirt of an opposing peña to be accorded this honour but this is no longer de rigeur. Any clothing will do now.

If you miss this set of fights, then you might be able to catch those in Noia (west of Santiago) in the last week of August but this is a bit of a trek from Pontevedra.

The usual score at the bullfights is Matadors 6 – Bulls 0. So don’t place any bets on the outcome.

There are numerous festivals in which to participate, especially in July and – even more so – in August [infra]. Other ‘active’ periods include the first week of Lent, Easter/Holy week and early September. A list of the major festivals in or near Pontevedra is attached as Appendix 4. But there are many smaller celebrations. Basically, if you are awoken (around 8) or disturbed (around midnight) by fireworks going off, there is a fiesta nearby. Or it has just finished. For example, the feast of San Juan is celebrated in numerous villages on 23 June. If you are lucky, you will get free sardines but bear in mind that things won’t really start until around midnight. And that the local wine could leave you without the use of your tongue and throat for an hour or two.

This is a new site which provides details [albeit in Gallego] of the July/August fiesta events in Pontevedra - http://www.enpontevedra.com/

The first Saturday of August is the Fiesta de La Peregrina, the town's patron saint. Or patron virgin, to be more accurate. This marks the beginning of Semana Grande [Big Week], when Pontevedra is given over to numerous activities in honour of the Virgin Mary. Some of them almost religious. It all used to start with a speech from the balcony of the town hall around midday Saturday, followed in succession by a colourful procession from the town hall to the Chapel of the Peregrina, the opening of the fairground on the Alameda, the first of the three bullfights at 6 in the evening, drunken nocturnal revels involving all the peñas and then a spectacular firework display at midnight, or thereabouts. However, last year [2004] the bullfights took place on three successive evenings for the first time and the inaugural one took place on Friday evening, bringing forward both the fairground opening and the drunken revels of the peñas. By the time of the firework display on Saturday night, some of the revellers had possibly been unconscious - or close to it - for 24 hours. And they still had another night to go!

In truth, Pontevedra goes into party mode in mid July, when we have jazz and blues concerts both in the streets and in the town's main auditorium. Plus other events such as a clown festival for kids of all ages. In addition to these formal events, there is a continuous supply of street performers such as this excellent group from from Eastern Europe who entertain us every year.

The Saturday procession to the chapel features huge papier mache mannequins ...

....women and children in local costume

.... and bagpipe and drum bands

Younger participants are awash with flowers ....

Down the side of the Alameda there are stages for the various live musical groups that perform each night and numerous stalls offering a vast variety of items, ranging from CDs to bows and arrows from South America.

And the smaller squares in the old quarter play host to such things as a market of craft-ware, a festival of honey, performances from the town band, cartoon shows, folk-dancing from around the world, art displays and a classic cars exhibition. There is even a battle of flowers.

In the larger squares there are musical events to suit most tastes - from folk-dancing to whatever is current with the teenagers. The latter start around midnight - usually in the main square - and can be quite deafening until they finish around 2am. Needless to say, I have never heard of any of the performers.

Semana Grande starts and ends with firework displays that get more spectacular [and noisier] each year. Things have now reached the point where I suspect that, if I had ever been in the Vietnam war, they would surely bring back memories. As it is, I just feel like an extra in Apocalypse Now.

The festivities wind down toward the end of august but there is a brief upsurge in the first week of September, when we have the Feria Franca, or Medieval Fair, which is an opportunity to dress up in medieval costume and have more fun. It is said that this particular festival has been going on since 1467 but the truth is it's only 5 years old, but bigger every year. Last year, my younger daughter was impressed by the scattering of artificial horse dung to heighten the medieval effect. On the other hand, this could have come from the real horses ridden in the inevitable processions. 

Things then go quiet until Christmas.

For easy reference, here's a list of all the festivals that take place in or [relatively] near Pontevedra during the year. Those marked with an asterisk are food festivals. The italicised words can be found in the Glossary

 

 

Jan 1                                          Livestock fair                                                              Betanzos
Jan 6                                          Los Tres Reyes Magos                                               Pontevedra
Jan 15                                        Fiesta de San Mauro                                                   Vilanova
Jan 20                                        Fiesta de San Sebastian                                               Pontevedra
Sunday before Carnival Week    Feira del cocido*                                                         Lalin
Week in which Lent starts           Carnaval. Entierro de Ravachol                                    Pontevedra and elsewhere
March 1                                     Fiesta de San Rosendo                                                 Celanova
March: 1st Sunday                      Festa do queixo*                                                         Arzúa
March: Middle of the month        Fiesta de lamprea*                                                       Pontecesures
March: 1st w/e                            Arribada de Carabela Pinta                                          Baiona
Easter Week                               Holy Week processions                                               Pontevedra and elsewhere
Easter Sunday                             Fiesta de rosquilla*                                                      Abades (Silleda)
Easter  Sunday                            Fiesta del Salmón*                                                       A Estrada
Easter Sunday                             Angula*                                                                       Tui
Easter Monday                            Romeria de San Cibrán                                               Pontevedra
April: ‘Middle of the month’         Fiesta de ostras*                                                         Arcade
April: 3rd week                           Lamprea*                                                                   Arbo
April: ‘Late April’                        Ribeiro wine festival                                                    Ribadavia
2nd Sun. after Easter                   Fiesta de San Telmo                                                   Tui
May 1                                         Romería                                                                     Pontevedra
May: 2nd Sunday                        Choco*                                                                      Redondela
May 22                                       Fiesta de Santa Rita                                                   Vilagarcia
June: 1st. week                            Festival de vino tinto*                                                Barrantes, Ribadumia
June: 1st fortnight                         Corpus Christi festival. Flowers                                  Ponteareas
June-July ‘variable’                      Langosta*                                                                 A Guarda
July:  1st  full w/e                         A rapa das bestas                                                      Sabucedo. (A Estrada)
July 11                                        Fiesta de San Bieito/Benitiño                                      Lérez, pontevedra
July 11                                          Romería                                                                   Cambados
July 16                                          Virgen del Carmen. Romerías                                   Camariñas, Muros & Corcubión
July 25 Fiesta de Santiago.            Santiago,                                                                  Pontevedra
July: Last Sunday                          Fiesta de pulpo*                                                       Vilanova de Arousa
July: Last Sunday                          Romeria de Santa Marta                                           Ribarteme (As Neves)
July: Last Sunday                          Cordero al espeto*                                                   Moraña
Aug. 9                                          Fiesta de Percebes*                                                  Finisterra
August: most of the month             Fiestas de la Peregrina                                               Pontevedra
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Mejillón*                                                                  Vilanova de Arousa
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Festival of Albariño wine                                           Cambados
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Viking festival                                                           Catoira
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Fiesta of the Holy Cross. [Bagpipes]                         Ribadeo (Lugo)
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Virgen de la Roca observances                                 Near Bayona
Aug.: 1st Sunday                           Sword dance                                                            Quintáns-Muxia
Aug.: 2nd  Sunday                         Fiesta de pulpo*                                                       O Carballiño (Ourense)
Aug. 10                                         Fiesta de S. Lawrence                                              Foz (Lugo)
Aug.: Nearest Sunday to 16th        Almeja*                                                                   Carril, Vilagarcia
Aug. 14-25                                   Fiesta de S. Roque                                                   Betanzos (A Coruna)
Aug. 16                                         Fiesta de S. Roque                                                  Sada (A Coruna)
Aug. 18-25                                   Las dos giras a Os Caneiros                                     Betanzos
Aug. 24                                         Fiesta and bullfights                                                  Noia
Aug. 24                                         Pilgrimage for human/animal healing                          San Paio de Tiobre
Aug. 25                                         Fiesta de San Ginés                                                 Sanxenxo
Aug.: 3rd Sunday                           Aguardiente de O Condado                                     Sela, Arbo
Aug. : Last Tuesday                       Fiesta de la empanada*                                            Chantada
Aug.: ‘End of August’                     Romería                                                                  O Naseiro. (Lugo, near Viveíro)
Aug. : Last Saturday                       Fiesta de Istoria                                                       Ribadavia (Ourense)
Aug. : Last Sunday                         Romería                                                                   From Sanxenxo to La Lanzada
Aug. 31                                          Fiesta de ponte                                                        Maiños
Sept. 6-10                                      Fiestas del Portal                                                   Ribadavia
Sept. 8                                            Fiesta de San Andreu/Andrés                                Cervo (E. of Viveiro)
Sept. 8                                            Fiesta de San Andreu/Andrés                                Teixido
Sept. : Sunday after 8/9                   Romería de N. Senora da Barca.                           Muxia (A Coruna)
Sept. 14                                          Romería                                                                Viveiro
Oct.: Starts 2nd Sunday                   Week-long Fiesta de marisco*                              O Grove
Oct. 19+                                         Fiesta de S. Luke                                                 Mondoñedo (Lugo).
Nov. 11                                          Fiesta de S Martin                                                Bueu
Nov.: Last Sunday                           Fiesta de ostras*                                                  Arcade
Dec. 21                                           Fiesta del capón*                                                 Vilalba
Dec.: Last week                               Crafts fair (O Feitoman)                                       Vigo