Basque cities celebrations

Basque cities celebrations

Many Basque cities have celebrations during the year. The often celebrates their Saints or for others, old battle victories. But it’s different than a historical commemoration, and much more like days to have fun, drink beers, eat basque foods, and dance.

Let’s have a small look on 2 towns, Irun and Donostia San Sebastian

City of Irun with San Marcial celebrations

Where is Irun ?

San Marcial a victory battle celebration


In 1512, King Ferdinand the Catholic starts building the Castle of “Gaztelu Zahar”, which was destroyed in 1539 by Charles Quint, in the event of reconquest by the Navarreses, who already had French support to recover the kingdom in previous occasions, we could no longer build forts here.

A significant fact has happened in the history of Irun. “The first battle of San Martial“, on June 30th, 1522, in which the battalion of the people of Irun, the same one that evolved during “the statutory armed demonstrations“, plus 24 horsemen of Irun, led by the Bidasoan captains, Juan Pérez de Azcue and Miguel de Ambulodi and further supported by 200 cavalrymen from Captain General Don Beltrán de la Cueva, who was garrisoned in San Sebastian, and whom the Irish captains had to convince to intervene in a business that he saw was very difficult.

This troop defeated the troops of the King of Navarre, who had the support of the King of France, composed of a contingent of 3,500 lansquenets (lansquenetes) and a battalion of 1,000 Labourdins, who were trying to reconquer the kingdom of Navarre. For their part, the Castilians counted 1,000 lansquenets (German mercenaries usual in those times).

In 1659 “the Peace of the Pyrenees” between France and Spain was signed in the Île des Phaisans (Béhobie). This island has been the scene of numerous political conferences, state weddings and prisoner exchanges between Spain and France.

On August 31, 1813, the second battle of San Martial ended “the War of Independence“. With their victory in this battle, the Spanish and Anglo-Portuguese troops of the Duke of Wellington defeated the Napoleonic troops in a bloody battle.

The celebration always takes place during the 30th of june each year.

Old celebrations of San Marcial in Irun early 20s
Old celebrations of San Marcial in Irun early 20s

Some video celebrations of Irun

City of Donostia San Sebastian with Tamborrada celebrations

Where is Donostia San Sebastian ?

Tamborrada a Saint celebration

La Tamborrada is the feast of the city’s patron, San Sebastian, on January 20 of each year. The celebration begins at midnight in the Plaza de la Constitución, with the raising of the city flag. The Gaztelubide Society and representatives of other tamborradas then begin to interpret the melodies of Sarriegui, which will resonate throughout the city for a whole day.


It all started in 1836 with one of the troops from the Carnival of San Sebastian; little by little, it was adopted as a tradition to celebrate the patron by walking the streets of the city. At first the participants were in disguise, but later on they dressed in uniforms, like those of the soldiers there were in the city. The first uniforms used, of French style, reproduced those of the battalions of Guipúzcoa which intervened in the War of Independence. As the number of participants increased, other companies were created with other uniforms.

The celebration takes places each year on the 20th of january.

Celebration of Tamborrada in Donostia Saint Sebastian
Celebration of Tamborrada in Donostia San Sebastian

Some video celebrations of Donostia San Sebastian

Arthur CATTANEO

About Arthur CATTANEO

My name is Arthur CATTANEO and I was born in France’s Southwest in the town of Biarritz. After studying law for 2 years, and then obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the IICP in Paris, I put myself out in the work place. Changing cap once again I followed a course to be Multimedia Project Head at the IESA Multimedia of Paris, a school which specialises in the area of multimedia. This is essentially where I learned to create web sites (among other things) and where I obtained a degree in this area. I create web sites using, as a base, CMS WordPress, and themes, which I deconstruct or reconstruct according to the client’s wishes.

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