Steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, Asturias comes alive on its most important days, offering a tapestry of traditions and celebrations. From ancient rituals to vibrant festivals, in this post we unveil the significance of the region’s most cherished occasions. Let’s explore the 5 most important festivities of Asturias that define this enchanting land and reveal its rich tapestry of stories, customs, and community spirit!
1. Day of Asturias (September 8)
Asturias Day is celebrated on the 8th of September, which is the feast of the Virgin of Covadonga (La Santina as we call her here), the patron saint of Asturias. She is credited with the victory against the Arabs when they tried to invade the region. It’s here in Asturias where the Spanish Reconquista started!
This festivity has the peculiarity that it is not celebrated in the same place every year. This year (2023) it was celebrated in the capital of the Principality of Asturias, Oviedo.
This day features various cultural, religious and gastronomic activities. These include floral offerings in honour of the Virgin of Covadonga.
Oviedo has a rich and captivating history. Don’t miss the chance to explore its blend of history, culture, and charm. Our Higlights of Oviedo tour takes you through cobblestone streets, past historic landmarks, and into the heart of Oviedo’s rich heritage.
2. International descent of the Sella River (first Saturday of August)
Since 1930, this athletic competition has become a key highlight on the global canoeing agenda. Every year on the first Saturday of August, canoeists from all over the world come to Asturias to take part in the Sella River race. Nowadays the Sella descent is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage tourism event.
Declared a festival of international tourist interest, the celebration starts on Friday night in Arriondas and wraps up on Saturday night in Ribadesella. Keeping communication between both villages the ‘river train’. If you want to enjoy this experience, take into account that tickets are sold months in advance and get sold out very easily!
The canoe race starts with the enunciation of a traditional verse. The words were delivered by an important figure in the canoeing world, Dionisio de la Huerta, the founder of the race. The official kick-off takes place once an official has read the famous words: “Remain silent as we utter these words. On the order of Don Pelayo, after measuring the water, the canoe race is duly authorized to begin in Arriondas”. It is important to the the start of the river descent to be at least 30 minutes before it starts as you can se in the photo it gets very crowdy!
Even though the first weekend of August is the most important day for the Sella Descent, the rest of the year the Sella River has a lot to offer.
Not able (or willing, because it is very crowded!) to come to the International Descent? Do not hesitate and enjoy the experience of descending the river Sella as you discover Asturias’ nature and birdwatch during our guided birdwatching and canoeing tour.
3. Avilés Interceltic Festival (July)
The Avilés Interceltic Festival was established in 1997. It takes the lead as the paramount Celtic Culture celebration in Asturias. Dedicated to the diverse culture of the so-called “Celtic” nations, it draws in folkloric and musical ensembles from various countries. The festival encompasses a multitude of events, such as crafts, sports, and recreational activities. They all showcase the robust identity, uniqueness, and vigor of Celtic culture within the realm of the Atlantic Arc.
Spanning 10 days and boasting more than 100 events, the festival itinerary includes concerts, street theater, exhibitions, parades, gastronomic experiences, a cider competition, a traditional market featuring gastronomic items, and displays of traditional artifacts embodying the practices and customs of Celtic heritage.
4. America’s day in Asturias (September 19)
The day of the Americas in Asturias is celebrated every year since 1950. It’s celebrated on September 19, during the festivities of San Mateo, in Oviedo.
It’s a parade celebrating the true coming together of cultures. The parade showcases folk traditions and carriages, highlighting the significance of both Asturian culture and the cultures of Latin American nations where Asturians have historically migrated. The event even acknowledges European countries that have warmly received communities of Asturian descent.
My advice to best watch the parade is in Calle Uria, also because it is the heart of Oviedo!
Were your (great)grandparents from Asturias and migrated to ‘the Americas’? And are you interested to discover your family’s homeland and past? Our customized Ancestry tour offers you the opportunity to know more about your family heritage!
5. Festival de la Sidra in Nava (July)
Nava is one of the municipalities that make up the Cider region. This region has a common denominator: sidra production.
The weekend is a real party, with music, theatre, orchestras and concerts. In addition, the program includes a series of events revolving around cider culture, including talks, exhibitions, cider pouring and best cider competitions, as well as the “Cider Route” with its free distribution in the streets of Nava. During the popularly known cider route, you can accompany the cider ‘culetes’ with cheeses, chorizo, empanada, tortilla and other Asturian delicacies. A weekend festivity you won’t like to miss!
These festivities are just a sample of the diversity and vitality of the celebrations in Asturias. Did you find this post about the festivities in Asturias interesting? Are you eager to know more about Asturias?
Then do not hesitate to take a look to our Experiences if you are interested in knowing more about culture and traditions in Asturias!