Virgen del Mar
(Our Lady of the Sea)
On Whit Monday (May-June), hundreds of pilgrims carry the patron saint of Santander, La Virgen del Mar, in procession to her hermitage, which stands on an islet linked to Santander by a concrete bridge. After the procession and mass, in which pieces of the maritime tradition are sung, there is an open-air meal attended by thousands of people. The feast continues with performances, stalls and activities.
San Juan (Saint John)
The summer solstice is celebrated on June 24th with a big bonfire and a pilgrimage. Several districts of Santander organise their own ceremonies in honour of San Juan, but the central bonfire is placed on the Second Beach of El Sardinero, where there are an open-air dance.
(Our Lady of Mt. Carmel)
On July 16th Santander gets all decked out to honour the Virgen del Carmen, faithful protector of fishermen and sailors. The Barrio Pesquero district is the place where this event is celebrated with the greatest fervour, but there are also celebrations in other areas of the city as Canalejas, Santa Teresa, Las Antenas and Nueva Montaña. The feast of El Carmen dates back to late 19th century and it is one of the most outstanding festivities in Cantabria. A maritime procession takes the Virgin from Barrio Pesquero to the Bay in a boat decked with flowers and accompanied by fishing boats, barges and rowing boats. On the occasion of this festival, street stalls are set up, meals are cooked outdoors and the performances and fireworks previous to the Semana Grande (literally the “Big Week”) are programmed in Barrio Pesquero.
Baños de Ola
Festivity of Regional Tourist Interest
On mid-July events continue in Santander with the celebration of Wave Baths, a programme of activities in commemoration of the first tourist milestone that took place in the city. It happened in the early 20th century and it attracted the monarchy and the court to the Cantabrian capital in search of the health benefits of seawater. This is how Santander became the social and cultural centre every summer. To celebrate it, each year in July the atmosphere of the early last century is recreated, with bathing huts and actors dressed in the style of the time, beach activities, educational games and performances.
Santiago (Saint James)
July 25th is the day of Santiago. In his honour, the city lives the Big Week of Festivals (in Spanish, Semana Grande), which starts in the City Hall Square with the opening ceremony known as chupinazo and the entertainment of giants and large-headed figures… and it continues the following days with concerts, children’s activities, parades, performing arts shows, fireworks, food stalls and popular competitions. In addition, the Bullfighting Festival of Santiago, one of the most important in the North of Spain, takes place those days in the bullring of Cuatro Caminos. The funfair is set up in the car park of the stadium of El Sardinero Sports Grounds.
The clubs called peñas, who are especially important in livening up the party, organise their own activities. These are La Pera, La Pirula, La Panderetuca, El Desfiladero and Los Vividores.
Holy Martyrs. ‘La Semanuca’ (The Small Week)
Festivity of Regional Tourist Interest
The day of Holy Martyrs San Emeterio and San Celedonio, patron saints of the city, is celebrated on August 30th. Legend has it that the heads of two soldiers of the Roman army, who had been martyred at Calahorra for not giving up their Christian faith, reached the coast of Santander in a stone boat. Since then, the city honours them bearing their name (San Emeter) and holding celebrations in their memory during the festival known as ‘La Semanuca’, when markets, leisure activities, music and fireworks take place.
Sailing World Championship 2014
Santander was selected by the International Federation to be the venue, from the 11th to the 21th of September 2014, for the Sailing World Championship. With the slogan ‘By sailors for sailors’, this event will revolutionize the city with the presence of 1,400 sailors from 95 countries and 960 boats. It is the biggest competition of Olympic sailing above the Olympic Games. The following institutions collaborate on this project: the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, the Higher Sports Council, the Town Council of Santander, the Government of Cantabria, the Port of Santander, the Cantabrian Sailing Federation, the Royal Maritime Club of Santander and the Spanish Olympic Committee, whose sailing team has trained for years in the Príncipe Felipe High Performance Sailing Centre (CEAR), next to Puertochico. The worldwide event will cover the Royal Maritime Club of Santander, the CEAR and the port areas of the Dam of Gamazo. But before that happens, the waterfront of the city will experience a great Transformation, since a centre for sportsmen will be erected and a public square will be built over the sea with stands so that the spectators can enjoy the competitions, among many other facilities.
UIMP Summer Courses
The Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP) has its headquarters in La Magdalena Palace, the place where all its premises are transferred to offer its prestigious Summer Courses. From mid-June to mid-September, thanks to the activity of the UIMP, the greatest figures of science and culture come to Santander, as well as the most prominent politicians, bankers and social representatives.
The International Festival of Santander (FIS), which began its activity in 1948 seeking to provide a high-quality cultural programme for UIMP students, is held in August. Little by little, both the public and the programme started to grow in quantity and importance and the Porticada Square, the place where performances used to take place, ended up being considered the “main square of music” in Spain for forty years. In 1991 the FIS was transferred to the Festival Hall. Great opera singers, musicians and dancers as Rostropovich, José Carreras, Julio Bocca or Ivo Pogorelich have participated in this festival.
The Exhibition and Congress Centre hosts each month of July the Artesantander international fair, a meeting with the best works of the best national and international galleries. Activities parallel to the exhibition of works are organised with the aim of taking art to the streets and bringing it closer to the non-specialist public.
Música en Grande
Coinciding with the Big Week, the Amstel Música en Grande festival takes place in the open field known as Campa de La Magdalena, organizing performances of different music styles from leading artists such as Luz Casal, Raphael, Sergio Dalma, Barricada, Rosendo, Celtas Cortos…
In august, the Santander Music festival is also held in the Campa of La Magdalena. Its proposal is based on independent music, pop-rock and the most modern electronic music. Groups as Mando Diao, Crystal Fighters, El Guincho or Russian Red, among many others, have performed on its stage.
Regional Championship of Rowing Boats
It usually takes place in Santander at the end of July or August, depending on the year. The rowing boats or traineras competing in this seafaring race are those of Santander, Castro Urdiales, Astillero, Pedreña, Camargo, Colindres, Santoña and Pontejos. This sport, which belongs to the fixed seat rowing, is typical in the entire Northern coast of Spain. Crews are composed of thirteen oarsmen, divided into six pairs sitting on the boat and one remaining in the bow, called proel, and the skipper, who acts as a cox and sets the rhythm of the strokes.