Spain’s National Day, known as Fiesta Nacional de Espana, is held annually on 12th October. The date commemorates Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492, with celebrations having been observed since 1935.
The main celebrations are in Madrid, with an impressive parade providing the highlight of the day. The Royal family attend, the Prime Minister leads the procession, and the military get involved, as it is also the country’s Armed Forces Day. The army is part of the parade, and the sight of the air force planes leaving red and yellow smoke trails in the sky is much photographed.
Following the parade, the King and Queen of Spain offer a traditional reception in the Royal Palace of Madrid where representatives of Spanish society are present, including government members and people from different aspects of Spanish social life.
Although most people take the day off work, as it is a public holiday, most people across Spain do not actively celebrate their National Day. The only large-scale public events are in Madrid, although there are smaller celebrations in regional capitals.
October 12th is also the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patron saint of Spain. This is one of the biggest religious celebrations in the country and somewhat overshadows Fiesta Nacional de Espana. Over 400,000 pilgrims travel to Zaragoza in the northeast of the country to place flowers at the statue in front of the Basilica.
Useful Information For Fiesta Nacional de Espana
Dates: Friday 12th October 2018
Time zone: CET
Weather: Pleasantly warm with highs of around 21°C.
Book flights and hotels: The day is only really celebrated on a large scale in Madrid, but you should have no problems finding accommodation.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.