How to Make the Most of San Sebastian’s “La Semana Grande”

Who said culture had to be boring? 

Get the dates right 

San Sebastian’s La Semana Grande, or, The Big Week for us English speakers, is a week-long fiesta throughout the city, starting on the 8th of August 2020, to the 15th. Yes, you read that right. From official kick-off at 8pm, marked by a cannon firing in the Alderdi Eder gardens, this absolutely textbook Spanish party goes on all-day and all-night for an entire week. Now I’m not saying that going to San Sebastian at any other time wouldn’t be fantastic. Its stunning coastline, world-class food, and totally skits nightlife makes it a must-stop destination for any traveller taking on Spain. However, if you can time your trip to land around August, you’ll see the city in all of its fiesta-infused glory. 

Sort your accommodation out early

You’re not the first person to hear about La Semana Grande. The fiesta brings in thousands and thousands of people all trying to get a slice of that party pie. On one hand, that’s an incredible vibe, but on the other hand, where the hell is everyone going to sleep? It’s important to book your accommodation early, as everything, especially budget options, are going to sell out fast. It seems that you’ve got two options. One, you book yourself a fancy hotel for an extortionate price, maybe afford one night, and then be forced to go home early with your six-month backpacking trip limited to one expensive (but probably brilliant) night in San Sebastian. Then of course there’s option two. Staying at Stoke’s San Sebastian Surf House. With unlimited beer constantly flowing out of the in-house bar’s taps, new mates constantly arriving, and the classic Stoke vibe we’ve made a business out of, you’re guaranteed a big fucking week – and it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg. Book ASAP, to avoid missing out. We’ve only got so many beds. 

Check out the sports

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, trust me, you’re going to want to see what’s getting played during La Semana Grande. Swap out soccer with high-intensity wood chopping, and football with a sixteen-kilometre open sea swimming race. You’re about to see athleticism at its finest. You’ll be surprised at how, having never even heard of the sport in the first place, you’ll find yourself desperately supporting your favourite athlete as they lift, drag, chop and throw shit all around the city. It’s like the Olympics, but with more drinking. 

Make sure you catch the fireworks

Fireworks have always been, and always will be cool. It’s a fact of life. Ever since the lads down in China put fire and bamboo together, the magnificent scenes in the sky have become a symbol of international fiesta. That’s why, like any big week, La Semana Grande puts on a display every night from pyrotechnics all across the world. These are some high-quality fireworks we’re talking about here. International artists come to San Sebastian to show off what they’ve got – resulting in some of the best displays in the world. It’s hard to miss the show, but I would recommend heading down to the beach to watch it in all its glory. Bottle of rum in hand of course. 

Boogie. Hard. 

As two plus two equals four, parties plus dancing equals fun. It’s just simple maths. Live music will be played all throughout the city, and there’s something magical about boogieing on the streets. Every Spanish fiesta involves music, and at La Semana Grande, every night a major act will play on the main stage at Plaza Tomás Alba. Whatever happens, don’t miss it. The plaza attracts thousands of party-goers ready to dance until the sun comes up, and fresh off seeing the fireworks display, I trust you’ll be in the mood to join them. 

San Sebastian is always great, it’s just that it’s a little greater during Semana Grande. Whenever you can get out there, make sure you come and visit us at our San Sebastian Surf House, it’s really a little slice of paradise tucked in the hills behind Zarautz, the number one surf beach in the area, and a short hop from downtown San Sebastian, and all of its bars, pintxos, drinks and babes. 


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