These festivities are amongst the most popular in Spain and there's no wonder why! The festive atmosphere that takes over Zaragoza during these days in October is as special as its people and the traditions that take over the streets of the Aragonese capital.
Want to know more about the El Pilar festivities in Zaragoza? Read on!
The Virgen del Pilar: tradition and devotion
The El Pilar festivities are held in honour of the Virgen del Pilar, the patron saint of the city. They are held on the week of 12 October (national holiday) and have been declared Festivals of International Tourism Interest.
- Offering of flowers. This is probably the most special moment of the entire festivities, when locals dress up in their typical regional costumes to present the Virgin with flowers. She leaves her altar in the Basilica del Pilar to occupy a central position in the square that takes her name, where devotees weave a giant, beautiful shawl of flowers.
- Opening speech and parade. The opening speech is read on the Saturday before 12 October from the balcony of the Zaragoza City Hall, marking the beginning of the festivities. Each year, a popular character associated with the city is tasked with reading it.
- Giants and big heads. These fun characters take to the streets every day of the festivities, dancing in all the city's neighbourhoods. Nothing could be more fun for children and adults alike!
- Offering of fruit. One day after the offering of flowers, on 13 October, the regional houses offer the best fruits produced by their land to the Virgin. This ceremony sees more than 6 tonnes of food collected and donated to the brotherhood of El Refugio.
- Rosario de Cristal. This imposing procession tours the streets in the historic centre of Zaragoza, representing a Rosary consisting of 15 glass lanterns transported by floats, as well as various lanterns carried by hand.
What you can't miss during El Pilar
- Concerts. Concerts are the perfect backdrop to a great party and no less can be expected from Zaragoza! Music, something that the city is well known for, plays a key role in these festivities, with multiple concerts in public settings. Pabellón Príncipe Felipe, Plaza del Pilar, and the Zity and Interpeñas venues host first-rate artists every year who liven up these festivities for those in attendance.
- Gastronomy. And is a good party without food? These festivities see Zaragoza filled with spaces where you can sample typical local products such as Carpa del Ternasco de Aragón, food trucks and fairs, where you can enjoy the infamous roast potatoes and caramel apples.
- Zaragoza Fair. Valdespartera fairground plays host to more than 100 attractions, raffles, food stalls and much more, designed for all audiences and guaranteeing fun for all the family.
- Fireworks. The skies of Zaragoza are filled with colour from the day of the opening speech until the last day of the festivities, which sees the final fireworks display. Head to the famous Puente de Piedra to enjoy privileged views of these fireworks with the River Ebro and the Basilica del Pilar in the background. An unforgettable image!
- Bullfighting during El Pilar. One of the most important events on the Zaragoza and bullfighting calendar in general. If you're a fan of this Spanish tradition, make sure not to miss it! During the festivities, bullfights are held at Plaza de Toros de la Misericordia, where the most famous and well-known bullfighters compete to impress the public. Furthermore, the festivities also play host to other events, including parades.
How to get to Zaragoza by train?
If you're interested in discovering Zaragoza for yourself, the most comfortable way to travel is by train. The city's main station, Zaragoza Delicias, is located close to the centre and Parque del Agua (where the 2008 Universal Exhibition was held), making it the perfect starting point for your visit. Take a look at our routes: