The Feria-Theatre Fair San Sebastian is an unavoidable event for the Performing Arts sector. July is the month of instrumental rhythm. Every year the Jazzaldia – International Jazz Festival, presents a brilliant and complete programme.
The good turnout at the Kursaal tickets offices around the time of the Quincena Musical (musical fortnight) demonstrate the love that the Donostiarran people feel for symphonic music. Concerts involving major musical artists and renowned orchestras bring together both old and young; the “no more tickets available” sign is inevitably displayed.
But the great cultural date which the city looks forward to with enormous anticipation every September is the International Film Festival. On those days the theatres overflow with spectators during morning, afternoon and night, and the city fills up with stars.
Another festival that is growing year by year is the Horror and Fantasy Film Festival that, with other activities, completes a year full of cultural events for all tastes.
The festive calendar is inaugurated by the popular tamborrada, which takes place on January 20th, the Day of San Sebastian, the patron saint of the city. The fiesta starts on the previous night with dinners out in restaurants or gastronomi societies. At midnight the city’s flag is hoisted in the Constitucion Square to the rhythm of the San Sebastian march. In the morning an army of 5.000 children dressed as drummers take part in the children’s parade.
February marks the celebration of Carnival, the most important fiesta of the winter period. Carnival is announced by the riotous tinkers who, as the popular song goes, “come from Hungary”. The band of inudes and artzaias cavorting alongside (nannies and shepherds) recalls their entourage. And finally the Carnival fills the streets with colour, ushered in by the appearance of the God Momo.
The arrival of summer is marked by the festivities of June 23rd, the eve of the solstice, with the blessing of the Tree of St John in the Constitucion Square. This is followed by a performance of the traditional Basque dance aurresku and at midnight bonfires are lit throughout the city. Later on in the summer comes the principal fiesta of Donostia, the Semana Grande, which celebrates the festival of the Virgen de la Asuncion (Virgin of the Assumption) and takes place throughout the whole of the week of August 15th. A packed programme of street parties, performances and cultural and sporting events fill the day. But the most incomparable event takes place at night: The International Fireworks Competition.
In September, the feast comes with the Euskal Jaiak and their complete festive programme including sports and dances. It immerses the city into a big popular celebration. On the two first Sundays of the month, the celebration will be completed with La Concha Flag, the main rowing boats competition of the Cantabrian Coast.
Bringing the year to an end, the Santo Tomas fair, held on December 215t, is one of the most keenly anticipated of Donostia events. The fiesta commemorates the old market which used to be held in San Sebastian, when the farmers and ranchers of the province used to come down to the capital to pay their taxes and display the best of their produce.