Semana Grande (Big Week)

San Sebastian’s Big Week (Semana Grande) takes place every summer and it lasts seven days, always including the 15th of August among its dates and both starting and coming to an end on a Saturday. The Virgin festivity, celebrated on the 15th, is the highlight of the festival, even though the big party begins on the evening of the 14th, a time when many Donosti inhabitants dine out with friends and family or attend special events at local pubs and clubs.

Semana Grande
Semana Grande

During Donosti’s Big Week, a large number of children activities are organised, although adults can enjoy other kinds of activities like concerts at Sagües Square or street performances at different points of the city. The latter ones may be musical or theatrical performances that can also be carried out in theatres around the city.

For those who like rides and attractions, a good number of them are assembled on the New Promenade for people to get an adrenaline rush or test their aim in the stalls.

International fireworks contest

Semana Grande Fireworks
Semana Grande fireworks

The Big Week is widely known because of its main attraction: the International fireworks contest. In 2013, its 50th anniversary will be celebrated. Companies from all over the world take part in this competition, where they display their best works in order to obtain the longed-for “Concha de oro” prize, which undoubtedly is a sign of prestige and recognition for the winning company. Every evening of the festival week, at a quarter to eleven, a large crowd fills La Concha Beach and its surroundings to witness the competition, which lasts for about 20 minutes. The show can be enjoyed from other points of the city like Zurriola Beach, Urgull Mount or the port as well.

History of the Big Week

This festival originated in the mid-19th century, when San Sebastian was a high-class tourist destination and, in turn, a leisure alternative for that kind of tourism. Bullfighting used to be its main attraction, which were for a long time celebrated in San Sebastian during the Big Week. Later on, the bullring disappeared and bullfights were not organised anymore. However, the construction works of the Illumbe bullring were restarted few years ago and, nowadays, bullfights are again in the spotlight during San Sebastian festivities.

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