Semana Grande in Gijón: not-to-be-missed festivities
Gijón is one of those places that you simply have to visit when you go on holiday to Asturias. This coastal city is the largest in the region and it has an irresistible positive vibe. There are so many reasons for this ambience that it’s hard to know where to begin. Where else can you find one of Asturias’ top beaches right in the very heart of the city? That’s Playa de San Lorenzo. When you stroll through Cimadevilla, the fishing district, you’ll get the feeling that time has stood still. And if you’re looking for a fun family day out, visit the amazing Aquarium of Gijón. Don’t forget to take a walk through the old quarter and browse around the charming shops in Calle Corrida. Enjoy the sunset from the headland of Santa Catalina and marvel at Chillida’s impressive Eulogy to the Horizon sculpture, a symbol of the city.
Don’t forget to try some tasty Asturian food and drink such as the cachopo, fabada and cider in any of Gijón’s amazing restaurants. And don’t miss the city’s heritage which is on display in a number of museums and present for all to admire in religious and civil buildings. For example, Revillagigedo Palace. Last of all, you simply cannot miss the festivals.
Gijón hosts a wide range of cultural events all year round but things get particularly exciting in the summer. Some of the top tourist attractions are the summer season festivities, including Semana Negra, a noir fiction festival that is held in July. But you simply cannot miss Semana Grande in Gijón. The festivities usually start during the first week of August and come to a close on 15 August when locals honour the Assumption of the Virgin of Begoña, the focal point of the celebrations. Days are filled with traditional, fun celebrations, making Gijón an incredibly special place to be. So what can you expect to see?
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Semana Grande in Gijón: concerts and other events
Semana Grande starts eight to ten days before 15 August and, during the celebrations, there is no end to the music, busy streets, fireworks and a whole host of activities. However, if there is one characteristic of the week of celebrations that stands out in particular, it’s the concerts, many of which are free. There are usually two or three concerts a day in different locations across the city. Stages are set up so that artists can entertain the crowds. Many famous singers and bands have played there.
Plaza Mayor in Gijón is a real hub and one of the main locations for holding Semana Grande events. In this square, when the opening speech is delivered by a well-known personality from the City Hall balcony, the festivities begin. The rectangular, arcaded square is an architectural delight. It is also where a number of concerts and shows are held during the festivities.
Playa de Poniente is also a must during Semana Grande. In addition to San Lorenzo and Arbeyal, it is one of three urban beaches in Gijón. It’s an artificial beach and it was built in the mid-nineties. It’s one of the busiest spots at this time of the year and the place to be if you want to enjoy the daily concerts.
During Semana Grande, you can also listen to music in the Botanical Gardens of Gijón. Stages are set up in this large and beautiful natural environment and it is the setting for a number of events. You can go there to listen to well-known rock, pop, jazz, blues and traditional Asturian folk music singers. August evenings are never silent and there is a special atmosphere in the city.
What else happens during Semana Grande in Gijón?
Our Lady of Begoña bullfighting festival is also held this week. It takes place in the city bullring and you can buy tickets to see a number of bullfights starring well-known bullfighters. Jovellanos Theatre also participates in the celebrations and puts on a play or show of some kind during Semana Grande.
There are also activities for children including puppet shows, traditional dances and concerts in the botanical garden. The botanical garden also organises workshops, treasure hunts and picnics for all the family.
There is a highly recommendable fireworks display on the evening of 14 August. The best place to see it is on the main San Lorenzo beach because they are set off from the headland of Santa Catalina. That said, it really doesn’t matter where you are because the sky lights up and you can enjoy the impressive display from anywhere in the city. For example, on Playa de Poniente or in Providencia park.
15 August is the big day and it is a local holiday in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin of Begoña. The prima dance and the release of thousands of firecrackers give the event the finishing touch. The prima dance is a regional dance. Participants group together and move in unison to the sound of a capella music. They all link their little fingers and move in time to the rhythm. You can join in on Playa de San Lorenzo.
The festivities come to a close with a loud boom from the headland of Santa Catalina. You can hear it right across the city. Over 100 kilos of gunpowder fill the air with the sound of bangers. For several minutes, spectators enjoy the heady mix of bangers and the red and white colours of the Gijón flag. On 15 August, the Semana Grande of Gijón festivities end with a solemn mass in Nuestra Señora de Begoña church. This great week of festivities is a constant display of music and folklore and everyone is invited.