The Loudest Festival in Spain: The Tamborrada of San Sebastián

Tamborrada San Sebastian | Spain festival January

Given Spain’s reputation for crazy fiestas and festivals it’s quite a feat to be dubbed the “loudest” of them all. But the Tamborrada in San Sebastian, a drum festival with thousands of participants playing for 24 hours, certainly lives up to it’s reputation.Tamborrada San Sebastian 
San Sebastian Tamborrada

Every year on the 19th January thousands of people head to Constitutional Square in the heart of San Sebastián’s Old Town for what is a true spectacle for the eyes, and well most definitely for the ears too! Here over more than 15,000 Donostiarras (as the people of San Sebastian are known in Basque), belonging to over 100 bands, wait for the clock to strike midnight and their cue from the mayor who raises the city’s flag to commence the 24 hours of non-stop drumming. Tamborrada San Sebastian. Spanish festival. 

The tradition is said to have been inspired by events from the time of the Peninsular War, when Napoleon’s army gained control of the city. At this time, when drinking water was sourced from fountains in the city centre, women who went to fetch water would beat against their buckets in mock gesture towards their French occupiers, whose troops continuously marched around the city banging their drums.

Tamborrada San Sebastian

The first official Tamborrada started back in 1836 as part of the local carnival but was quickly incorporated into celebrations for the city’s patron saint’s day on the 20th January. It has been kept
alive over the years by the local sociedades gastronómicas, who organise and form many of the bands, hence the reason many participants wear chef uniforms.

Now what initially began as an act of defiance has deep sentimental meaning as a celebration of what it means to be a Donostiarra and an opportunity for locals to celebrate their heritage. It’s also a great party that engulfs the city, spilling into the main streets, bars and restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area this January 19th, don’t miss out on one of Spain’s best festivals. Tamborrada San Sebastian . Spanish festival

Tamborrada San Sebastian


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