Traditionally referred to as the Día de la Hispanidad, Spain’s National Day is the most important date for most Spanish in the national holiday calendar. Celebrated on 12th October, it has its origins in 1892 as a celebration of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus.
It is especially important this year, as it’s the first holiday period since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic where many restrictions on crowds and opening hours have been relaxed across most of Spain.
A proper ‘puente’
The other great news is that in 2021, 12th October falls on a Tuesday, which means the vast majority of Spaniards will turn the holiday into a ‘puente’ – or long weekend. Puente means bridge in Spanish, and so Monday is also a holiday as it’s a “bridge” between the Sunday and holiday Tuesday.
Fiestas, parades and processions
The day is celebrated in many ways across Spain, with the red and yellow of the Spanish flag as the focal point.
In Alhaurin de la Torre (where Upsticks is based), we have flower beds planted with red and yellow roses and a full street covered in red and yellow parasols. To give you an idea of how popular this event is in Spain, a local restaurant owner told us that this year, people started to book tables in August!
As well as an excuse to get together with family and friends, the holiday is also an opportunity for local talent to show their skills. This year in Malaga city there will be 19 local bands performing over the course of the day, alongside the more traditional celebrations – you can read more here.
The Mayor of Almeria has gone all in with the decorations around the city, so if you’re in that area, it’s definitely worth a visit.
As the capital city, Madrid has the biggest party. Led by King Felipe and the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the celebrations are always televised, with a flyover from the Patrulla Agula (Spanish Red Arrows) being one of the highlights. There are parades from the various branches of the Spanish military and police forces, and the event culminates in spectacular fashion, with a parachutist delivering a flag to the Spanish king.
Unfortunately, not everything went to plan in 2019, when after an absolutely perfect descent, the parachutist hit a lampost on the final bit of the descent. Oops.
Zaragoza has a double-whammy, because 12th October is also the feast day of the patron saint of the city, Our Lady of Pilar. The flower festival held in celebration of this is one of the great cultural events of Spain.
All in all, whether you live in Spain or are just visiting, it’s a great day to get out and about and soak up the party atmosphere.
The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 10.08.2022