The San Sebastian Tamborrada takes place on the 20th of January. It is a major festivity when both young people and adults go out to the streets in order to celebrate.
History of Tamborrada
We cannot know for certain where the custom of playing the popular tamborrada comes from, but we are confident that it has something to do with the history of the city, as well as with the battalion of soldiers who defended San Sebastian against the attacks of the French and the English in the past. It is believed that the town people would imitate the battalion soldiers by making noise with spoons and sticks and frying pans so as to mock them. Anyhow, the tradition was established in San Sebastian and, over the course of the years, it has survived and been reinforced.
At the beginning, the tamborrada was a carnival-related festivity in which barrels were the only element used and people could dress as they liked. As time went by, they adopted the current traditional clothing and the drums and, finally, around year 1836, the official celebration of the tamborrada on the 20th of January was founded.
In 1860, Sarriegui wrote the well-known San Sebastian March, the main song in the whole tamborrada and which inaugurates the party in the midnight hour at Constitution Square every 20th of January. It coincides with the raising of the city flag. From that moment, a celebration that will last for 24 hours starts. The Gaztelubide association always kick starts the festivity with its tamborrada. Right there and 24 hours later, a tamborrada by the Union Artesana will put an end to the holiday.
During the entire day, aside from these two tamborradas at the beginning and end of the party, there are tens of tamborradas by gastronomic societies and social clubs that go around the city streets playing drums and barrels to the sound of Sarriegui’s song.
Apart from the adult tamborradas, every 20th of January at midday, a children’s tamborrada departs from San Sebastian city hall. It is made up by the tamborrada groups of all schools in the city and students themselves are the ones who play the drums. Nowadays, around 60 children’s tamborradas participate in this special parade, which normally congregates a total of 5.000 children. These “battalions” of children marching all over the city while playing the drums is a show absolutely worth seeing