Festivals, fairs and showsExtremadura boasts a surfeit of festivals, fairs and shows, both modern and traditional in origin.
Every town and village has its own fiestas or feria, which is their main annual bash, usually in the summer. However, this isn't to say there aren't numerous events at other times of the year, either to tie in with the catholic calendar or the seasons, as in the romerías that are held in most parts of Extremadura to celebrate the arrival of spring.
As mentioned in other sections of this website, Badajoz boasts a vibrant carnival scene leading up to Lent, Zafra is home to a huge annual livestock show and town fair that attracts visitors from all over the region, while Cáceres provides the backdrop to the Womad world music festival and Jerez de los Caballeros is famous for its Easter parades.
Let's focus on the more idiosyncratic village fairs and shows that are worth hunting down in the most remote corners of Extremadura.
One such is El Jarramplas in Piornal on 19th/20th December. A literal description of events is that a number of locals dress up in the costume that's pictured in the photo and are pelted with turnips as they march round the village to the sound of drums.
La Encamisá, meanwhile, takes place annually in Torrejoncillo on 7th December at 10 p.m. As the clock strikes the hour, the Virgin is brought out of the parish church, guns are fired into the air and it charges across the village's packed main square to be met by hundreds of horsemen covered in white sheets.
La Santa Cruz is held in the beautiful village of Feria in early May. The locals create beautiful crosses of flowers and parade them round the village's cobbled streets, as can be seen in this picture.
Furthermore, at Carnival time there's Peropalo in Villanueva de la Vera and Easter brings Los Empalaos in Valverde de la Vera. Both provide an unusual perspective and cast a different light on these widely celebrated dates in the Spanish calendar.
All of the above events are really worth visiting. You'll be one of few foreigners to witness them and they really play an important role in the locals' lives.
There is often a heady mixture of pagan and catholic origins that lends the occasions extra intensity. You don't properly know someone from Extremadura until you've experienced their town/village's feria and romeria alongside them. This is especially true of pensioners, who seem to shed fifty years when there's a street party in the offing!