Visitors to Cantabria can enjoy the unujusual, unique Christmas festivities it has to offer. Today we’d like to recommend two festivals that have been designated as being of National Tourist Interest and are certainly something you’ll never forget. Are you coming along?
Auto Sacramental and the Procession of the Three Kings in Santillana del Mar
Want to experience an authentic, live performance of the Auto Sacramental (a traditional medieval religious street play) and Procession of the Three Kings, in a setting that will rekindle the magic of your childhood? In Santillana del Mar, on 5th January every year, you can do just that. The town – one of the most important in Spain in terms of its artistic and historical heritage – provides the perfect backdrop to take both locals and visitors on an immersive journey back in time, making the audience feel that they are authentic witnesses to the scenes being played out in the street.
The festival dates back to 1959, when it was started by the chaplain of the Monastery of the Clarisas. It became established as an event in 1966, when the renowned Santander-born poet Leopoldo Rodríguez Alcalde wrote the script that is still used today. New scenes have been added over time to incorporate even more Bible stories.
Over the years, it has become one of the country’s best-known performances, with over 500 people taking part in the nine scenes of the Auto Sacramental and the four of the Procession of the Three Kings. With over four hours of fun and excitement in the streets of Santillana del Mar, you’ll be swept away by the magic.
La Vijanera, Silió
La Vijanera is a masked winter festival that originated in the valleys of Iguña, Anievas, Cieza, Toranzo and Luena. Currently, it is only celebrated in the village of Silió. The festival is one of the many winter carnivals that take place every year across Europe. Yet while they all share certain roots and features, few are as filled with character and symbolism as this one.
The masked festival is always held on the first Sunday of the year, and begins with the tradition of the bells at around 6.30 in the morning. This involves the youngest vijaneros parading around the village, each one carrying one or two bells. Their job is to wake up the locals and get them used to what will be the background noise throughout the day. With the village awake, the characters arrive: the Zarramacos, the dancers, the saquero, the zorrocioco, the gorilona, the ‘Hungarian’, the trapajeros, the ojáncano and many more, filling the village with light and colour.
Don’t miss the first masked festival of the year in Europe and one of the region’s most iconic events. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Vijanera museum to find out more about this festival.
Like the sound of what we’ve suggested? The festive season in Cantabria has so much more to offer, with festooned streets and squares bustling with activities for visitors of every age and taste. Hurry along and see for yourself. Check out everything that’s going on in Cantabria on our official website: www.turismodecantabria.com