Tamborrada de San Sebastián: what is it and how is it celebrated?
There’s a special day written in fire on every calendar in San Sebastián. January 20th is a date that needs no further explanation: it’s the date of the Tamborrada de San Sebastián, and the festive spirit is everywhere. Are you planning a trip to Donostia around that date? If your answer is yes, we encourage you to stay at our hotel in San Sebastián centre while you enjoy one of the most traditional festivals of the region.
San Sebastián’s Day
January 20th is San Sebastián’s Day, a day to honor the patron saint of the city. Losing no time, the festivities kick off the night of January 19th. Everything builds to midnight, when the fla gis hoisted and the Tamborrada officially begins.
But what is a Tamborrada? The name refers to the sounds of the drums (tambores in Spanish), which are the stars of the event. Through out the day, thousands of drums fill every corner of the city with sound. The music of Raimundo Sarriegui, a local musician who, among other pieces, composed the March of San Sebastián, is a favorite.
The origins of the Tamborrada de San Sebastián go all the way back to the War for Independence. Apparently when Napoleon’s troops invaded San Sebastián, they made a habit of ostentatiously marching through the streets playing their drums. As a sort of mocking response, the women of the city began to beat their pitchers as they went to get water from the fountain. Bit by bit it became a symbol of the resistance, finally turning into the festival the celebrated in the city to this day.
Celebrating the Tamborrada in San Sebastián
As we mentioned above, the Tamborrada de San Sebastián starts at night. The hoisting of the flag by the la Sociedad Gaztelubide in la Plaza de la Constitución is the signal to start this festival, which draws crowds every year.
Close to 150 drum groups will liven up the streets of San Sebastián with their drums throughout the day, turning the city into a parade of drummers dressed as cooks, soldiers, and women from the era.
Every January 20th, San Sebastián is a melting pot of parades, songs, and an all-around festive atmosphere that never stops, just like the sound of the drums.
I hope you enjoy an unforgettable stay at our hotel by the Concha bay, 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