Bilbao Bilbao Bilbao oh how I LOVE Bilbao!!
Let me get straight to the point. Each year throughout the summer there are street parties in each town throughout the Basque Country. The biggest of all being the “Fiestas of Bilbao”. (Semana Grande/Aste Nagusia) This takes place at the end of August each year and involves the whole community. When I say community I’m talking about over 200,000 people.
Its like going to a festival yet it’s simply in the streets and you don’t have to pay.
During the day there are bands playing, break dancing, hip hop groups, traditional dance, magicians, market stalls. The list goes on and on!
At the Casco Viejo metro stop (photo) choose to walk or take the lift up to the top of Artxanda hill which is where the fair ground is situated, along with the circus, stalls ect. However, beware, the food is a rip off and the lift normally has huge queues.
I’d recommend finding somewhere nice to eat in the centre instead, after all, Bilbao is famous for its food.
This photo to the left shows the stairs you must climb in order to get to the fairground. Takes about 15 minutes.
At around 10:45pm each night during the week there’s a huge firework display. Take your pick to watch from high on the hill where the fairground is or down by the river. I personally prefer by the river. Although, get there slightly earlier as the bridge fills up and it can be impossible to see the fireworks due to there being just so many people!! Trust me, one night the firework display I saw consisted of nothing but booms, bangs and the occasional resemblance of a firework spark.
All along the river there are “Txoznaks” pronounced Choz-naks these are the bars by the river which all play different music. Trust me its absolutely crazy. My favourite Txoznak was the gay bar as the music was all the classics and being British I like to dance to the songs that I know / understand. Spanish music isn’t my favourite to party to. There are huge concerts throughout the night with different stages, yet I preferred to be by the river at the Txoznaks because the concerts in general were Basque style music (heavy rock) which to me just sounds like noise.
Txoznaks are the way to go to get the real festival feeling.
This is at the Txoznaks.
This is what everyone does for a night out here..(if your not doing an all dayer)
- 21:00 Meet in Bilbao and find somewhere cheap to get a sandwich (Bocadillo).
- 22:30 Head to where you can see the fireworks.
- 22:45 Firework time
- 23:15 Buy your alcohol from one of the Chinese shops with plastic cups and of course ice! They are crazy on the ice here. (or make at home)
- 23:30 The drinking commences, find somewhere preferably that isn’t wet to sit and drink for 2 hours and have a good time with your friends while you finish your drinks. (top tip, if its raining head to under the bridges)
- 1:30 Dancing Time!
- 8:00 Home time!
This was what we basically did each night! I was in my element, although I am still trying to recover as I write this! This year the weather was amazing it only rained the first Saturday (22nd August) they say that usually it rains throughout! You have fun either way, once you’re wet it really doesn’t matter everyone is just dancing and having a good time! My friends and I were dancing for hours in the rain it was actually quite refreshing!
If you don’t want to be in such a crazy environment like there is at the Txoznaks you can always head to the Abando area, 5 minute walk from the river which is slightly less manic. It’s more like going on a normal night out yet it’s still in the street. Another option, if you want to party until 9 am, head to one of the House Music Clubs which don’t stop playing music until 8am.
So next summer if you don’t know what to do and have done all the typical festivals about a million times, why not try heading over to Bilbao. I doubt you’ll manage a whole week, but you can give it a go! You’ll honestly not regret it! It’s one week of pure madness! The best thing about it, there’s hardly any tourists.
Be phialess and try something new!