When to bring an event to San Sebastián
Its perfect location between the mountains and the sea, its fantastic characteristics and wonderful climate make all times of year equally good for visiting San Sebastián. In all four seasons, you can enjoy the open and innovative character of the city’s cuisine, art, culture and Basque traditions, each with their own distinctive style.
During autumn, the trees and seasonal produce on display at the local markets add a dash of vivid colour to the city’s streets.
The climate is mild and the days are still long, making it the perfect time of year to enjoy a pintxo tour, a stroll around the parks and secluded spots of each neighbourhood, immerse yourself in a dining society taste experience or to try your hand at one of the various cooking courses or workshops on offer.
This is unquestionably the best time of year for runners, as this season hosts the emblematic Behobia-San Sebastián race and the San Sebastián Marathon, in addition to a broad selection of short and middle distance races.
But autumn in San Sebastián is not your average autumn. It is synonymous with events and festivals. September begins with a spectacle of colour, culture and tradition, as the city hosts the annual La Concha Bay Regatta. In this event, small boats row around the bay in pursuit of the much-sought after Bandera de la Concha flag. A sport that dates back to ancient times.
The month ends on a glamorous note, with the San Sebastián International Film Festival. It is also the perfect time to visit the Balenciaga Museum: a home to authentic jewels of haute couture.
October is also ideal for film lovers, with zombies and scary characters invading the city during the week of the San Sebastián Horror and Fantasy Film Festival. The Literaktum festival shines a light on literature in November, marking the end of the autumn chapter and turning the page onto winter in San Sebastián.
The city assumes a special charm in winter. The sea and the sky blend into the same colour as the waves take turns to jump over the rocks, creating a wonderful spectacle. Meanwhile, the streets are filled with lights and the scent of roasted chestnuts.
This is the perfect season for experiencing some of the Basque Country’s most deeply-rooted traditions, such as the Saint Thomas Fair, held on 21 December. On this date, the city is filled with the aroma of txistorra sausage and recently-made talos, with locals donning traditional Basque suits.
This is also the best time of year to visit a cider house and sample the typical menus based on cod and pork chops, with all diners rising to the call of “Txotx!” as the cider house owner opens a new barrel. It is also a great time to attend a game of Basque pelota.
The biggest day on the city’s calendar comes around every January. San Sebastián Day. An emblematic date on which locals of San Sebastián, dressed as Napoleonic soldiers and chefs, play their drums to the ‘March of San Sebastián’, written by Raimundo Sarriegui, for 24 hours.
This is unquestionably the best time to feel like a real local, as you will witness the waves breaking over the Paseo Nuevo and playing with the Peine del Viento [Comb of the Wind] sculpture – as depicted by many postcards – and be able to enjoy Basque culinary traditions.
Spring is the perfect time of year for open air events, with San Sebastián’s multiple parks and gardens exhibiting blossoming flowers, lending the city a burst of colour.
After winter, San Sebastián comes into bloom in spring. This season bursts into life with the dFeria International Festival in which dance and theatre take the baton, impregnating the city with art and transforming it into a gigantic open-air stage.
In Spring, the days get longer and the temperatures start to rise, making it the perfect season to walk along the 6km coastline or to grab your surfboard and take to the waves in Zurriola: one of the world’s best surfing beaches.
Food lovers need to find time in their schedule to visit a traditional txakoli house, where the traditional Basque wine Txakoli is made. Another option could be to visit a cheese shop, where they can learn how shepherds make artisan Idiziabal cheese.
This season also has its fair share of festivals. One such example is the Olatu Talka, which submerges the city under waves of citizen energy. Another is the International Human Rights Film Festival, where San Sebastián outlines its clear decision to extend a culture of peace and cohabitation to residents and visitors alike.
With the arrival of June, temperatures begin to soar in San Sebastián. To combat the heat, you might be tempted to take a plunge in the water at any of the city’s three beaches, sail around its beautiful coastline or swim out to the Santa Clara Island, where you will be able to enjoy its crystal-clear waters.
The temperatures aren’t, however, suffocating, meaning you can still undertake cultural tourism activities. This includes everything from travelling back in time by riding a cable car dating back to 1902 to paying a visit to the emblematic Monte Igeldo theme park. You could also play outdoor sports, take a stroll around the city and go exploring in the mountains surrounding the city.
Summer nights have a life of their own, with a choice of several pleasant terraces, live music performances and the ritual of enjoying a delicious artisan ice cream.
In summer, the city’s squares are populated by long-standing traditional Basque sport competitions, such as sokatira (tug-of-war), harri-jasotzailes (stone lifting) and aizkolaris (wood chopping). The streets also become stages for events and festivals, such as the Heineken Jazzaldia and the Quincena Musical. The perfect fusion between contemporaneity and classicism, allowing you to embrace the essence of the Basque Country.
National holiday Calendar
- 01januaryNew Year’s Day
- 20januarSan Sebastián Day
- 19marchSaint Joseph’s Day
- 01mayWorkers’ Day
- 25julySaint James’ Day
- 15augustAssumption of the virgin Mary
- 12octoberSpain Day
- 01novemberAll Saints’ Day
- 06decemberSpanish Constitution Day
- 08decemberImmaculate Conception
- 25decemberChristmas Day