Festivals in Rías Baixas: great shows and the best food
The Vikings of the 21st century who land in the town of Catoira are not hunting for the treasures of Compostela anymore: they want to party. Baiona goes back to 1493 in March to re-enact the Discovery of America. Locals from Ponteareas show their magnificent flower carpets to the world in Corpus Christi. And every year, the aloitadoras and aloitadores shear the manes of wild horses in an epic battle in the place of Sabucedo (A Estrada). These four events, declared Festivals of International Tourist Interest, are the most representative of the traditional events celebrated in Galicia. However, there are many more: up to 47 festivals bearing honorary distinctions at different levels.
Festivals of International Tourist Interest
- Festa da Arribada (Baiona) The most remarkable medieval festival is held in Baiona, and it re-enacts the announcement of the Discovery of America after the return of the caravel La Pinta, commanded by Martín Alonso Pinzón, on the 1st March 1493. Thousands of visitors and locals dressed up as knights, artisans, blacksmiths, jesters, landlords, gypsies and other typical characters of the time fill the town to enjoy this amazing journey back in time.
- Corpus Christi (Ponteareas) The tradition, dating from the 19th century, of creating small carpets on the way where the Corpus Christi procession in Ponteareas marches has today become a great tourist festival of ephemeral art. All the locals participate to create over 5,000 m2 of colourful flower carpets, which adorn the town and are made of petals of the flowers collected during the year. A festival to be seen, smelled and touched: a delight for the senses.
- Rapa das Bestas (A Estrada) This show, visited by photographers coming from all over the world out of curiosity, was born as part of an eighteenth-century tradition of removing the parasites of the wild horses. The aloitadoras and aloitadores in Sabucedo do not use ropes, sticks or any other tool to overpower the beasts; they do it with their own hands. These horses graze freely in the nearby hills the rest of the year.
- Romería Vikinga (Catoira) The Vikings, on board their drakkars, land every summer at the towers Torres de Oeste, in the town of Catoira, to have a good time. Thousands of visitors come every year to enjoy the performance re-enacting an event that took place more than one thousand years ago. This event is a reference for all towns somehow linked to the Vikings
Festivals of National Tourist Interest
- Festa do Albariño (Cambados) The festival devoted to the king of the Galician wines, the Albariño, attracts thousands of visitors every year to the town of Cambados. It was born as a contest between some wineries of the region held during the feast to honour the Virgen de la Pastora, patron saint of this town in the region of O Salnés. Today, it is a renowned festival, the same as the wine it honours, under the Designation of Origin Rías Baixas. Here, the close bonds between Cambados and the wine culture are shown through many different activities
- Feira do Cocido (Lalín) Lalín is the world capital of the cocido (Galician stew) in winter. The festival was born in 1968 as a day to pay tribute to a traditional dish. However, it has been extended in time, and today it lasts for a month, known as “mes do cocido”. This town in the region of Deza gathers thousands of visitors coming to taste this delicious dish, including a dozen of ingredients which, perfectly combined, make up the best cocido.
- Fiesta de la Lamprea (Arbo) The ancestral lamprey, one of the oldest fishes in the world, being more than 500 million years old, travels along the Miño River towards the sea and climb up the river at the end of its life to die. This culinary delight can be tasted in different dishes in a festival held in Arbo. The event is also the showcase of the quality products from the region of O Condado-A Paradanta.
- Fiesta del Marisco (O Grove) The sea and the restaurants and bars are two of the key sectors in the town of O Grove which are part of this event created in 1963. Here, the best products captured in the Ría de Arousa are showcased. Thousands of visitors gather under the marquee set up near the port and fill the local restaurants to taste one of the best seafood in the world.
- Fiesta del Agua (Vilagarcía de Arousa) In the heat of the summer, pilgrims devoted to Saint Roch used to go to the town of Vilagarcía de Arousa to freshen up after the procession, and this tradition has turned today into a great event. This pagan festival, which is linked to religious celebrations, gathers every summer thousands of visitors. The opening speech is followed by a collective “shower” in the streets, with the collaboration of the local firefighters, civil peace forces and locals, leaning on their windows or balconies armed with buckets of water and hosepipes.
Galician Festivals of Tourist Interest
Festa do gaiteiro de Soutelo de Montes (Forcarei)