Fiesta del Pilar is on our 12 Must See Festivals in Spain list, and is a very important date on the Spanish calendar! In 2022 the festival will start on Saturday the 8th of October and continues until Sunday the 18th of October. People have been traveling from around Spain and Europe to take part in this religious festival since 40AD. Back then Zaragoza was only a small city founded by the Romans called CaesarAugusta.
The History of Fiesta del Pilar
As the story goes, in 40AD Christianity was new to the world and James the Greater was on a mission to convert the people he met on this journey through pagan Spain. This was a difficult task for him and most of his gospels were ignored by the locals he preached to. One day, while James was praying for help on the banks of the Ebro River, he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary standing on top of a pillar. Mary explained to him that he must continue with his mission and soon the people would convert so long as he kept his faith.
She also told him that he must build a church for her on the very ground they stood on. The Church is now a large Bascillica called Basillica of Our Lady of the Pilar (Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar). Here you can find the pilar and the wooden statue of Mary.
Enjoying Fiesta del Pilar Today
The focal point of Fiesta del Pilar is the offering of the flowers. As a massive parade passes through the city can decorate the shrine to Mary with flowers. By the end of the day the float is covered in these flowers and is quite the spectacle.
Along with the float of the Virgin Mary, there are some items in this parade that are unique to Pilar. These are the Rosary floats. 30 Floats made completely of glass we made to represent the relationship between religion and art.
A more modern tradition, the exhibition area of the festival is a giant open-air market. Where you can find all kinds of thrift items, food, and beer!
As with every traditional Spanish festival, Zaragoza opens its bullring to the public. Here they host bullfights, and many community activities and games.
Food & Drink
Throughout the city you will find different food trucks where you can enjoy the typical Spain food. Golden beer, smoked meats, fried food, and baked goods are all you can smell everywhere you go!
The Street Parties
Not only are all the bars open, but during Fiesta del Pilar you can drink in the streets with your friends! Walk from bar to bar as you dance around and meet people from all over the country!
The Closing Concert
The festival comes to an end on the evening of October 18. There is a massive stage in the center of the main plaza. You will enjoy music of all genres until the final DJ’s go onstage to play the best dance music of the year. This is where the party gets serious!
Sounds amazing! My good friend who is named “Pilar” after the festival lives here in Indianapolis and is a teacher at our Spanish Immersion school! Love to visit sometime!
Will be already my 3rd time this year:-)