La Tamborrada of San Sebastian 2019
A New Year has come, but in San Sebastian, what we are really waiting for is the 20th of January. Once again, the Donostia’s citizens go out to the streets to fill them with festivities and celebrate the city’s patron saint, to the drum rhythm. The main square is quickly filled with the drums’ sound, turning it into the centre of the celebrations. Everybody is welcome to join, the youngest as the elderly people and locals as tourists. Come to San Sebastian to enjoy this deeply rooted tradition and stay at our hotel for family in Donostia.
The Tamborrada festival (meaning drummed festival literally) consists of a series of drums’ parades. The participants are all dressed up with soldiers’ uniforms, initially the one from the Gipuzkoan battalions who fought during the War of Independence. Eventually, as the events grows, different uniforms are presented nowadays. Therefore, the ones who carry drums are dressed in military suits, while the replicants, who carry wooden barrels, are dressed as cooks.
This is one of the most important holidays for the people of San Sebastian and lasts during 24 (intense) hours. The party begins the evening of January 19 with a traditional dinner that includes consommé, elvers, sirloin and for dessert, pantxineta or mamia. The youngest children also have their turn each year, around noon, when they form the largest Tamborrada (about 5,000 children participate) and play in unison.
There is no accurate year when the celebration of the Tamborrada started. The truth is that the city, because of its geographical location, has historically been the epicentre of confrontations with invading armies, whether Spanish, French or English. The fact is that military music was constant in the city, as well as the desire for fun of the San Sebastian’s people. And at some point, local historians situate around 1836 the beginning of the Tamborrada, perhaps to imitate or mock the armies.
The Tamborrada is a street festival. You do not have to be a neighbour or belong to an association to enjoy it and be part of it. In fact, not all donostiarras belong to the companies that go out in procession. Throughout the night from January 19 to 20 and all day long, the streets of all neighbourhoods (Gros, Amara ...) are full of not only locals but tourists who come to live the Tamborrada. Get a brochure upon arrival, it will indicate the routes of each drum parade or just use your ears to follow the sound of the drums and watch the parade through the streets of each neighbourhood.
The celebration continues in the bars, especially the pintxos bars, where you can enjoy local drinks and most of all, the exquisite Basque cuisine. You might enter some establishment reserved for the associations during Tamborrada, but don’t worry, there are enough bars in the city for everyone to enjoy.
Live the party intensely like a Donostiarra, while having a txakoli or a cider (which is also when the Basque cider season begins), eating some pintxos and wait for the Tamborradas to pass while you are staying at our hotel on the beach front in San Sebastian.
Do not miss the opportunity to visit San Sebastian in one of its oldest parties enjoying the spectacular views of the shell beach from the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra.
I hope you enjoy an unforgettable stay at Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in San Sebastián!
Do not hesitate to contact our staff if you require any information.
Elena Estomba Garín, General Manager of Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra