A town in blue

Apr 13, 2022

The colour blue is associated with depth, immortality and power: all characteristics of the sea. The colour of the uniforms of sailors on the high seas is a colourful, lively shade of blue – just like Zumaia during the San Telmo Festival. With an explosion of colour, the chupinazo rocket of the San Telmo festival covers the town of Zumaia in blue.

Let’s be honest, just one weekend is not enough! We repeat the festivities over two weekends. So, if you’re in Zumaia at this time, there’ll be plenty of events and activities to enjoy. The party starts with the chupinazo rocket and continues with the tamborrada drumming, which takes place on the Saturday night of the first weekend. Drums and barrels sound throughout the town's streets as locals sing a traditional hymn that calls on San Telmo, the patron saint of sailors, to take care of them. In response to their call, the patron saint walks the streets in the procession.

In the following days there are many other activities, almost without pause. For example, in the area of Txosnas, a wide programme of concerts is organised. Be prepared to lose your voice from singing and tire your legs out from dancing! You can also discover the traditional Basque sport of pelota up close, even seeing top pelota players and matches between professionals.

We also have something unusual that you can only see in a few places around the world. Do you want to know what it is? Here’s the answer: horse racing on the beach! You can enjoy the show on Sunday of the second week at Itzurun beach. If you can be there, we advise you not to miss it! It may be one of the few chances you get to see horses trotting across the sand.

Some people think goodbyes are sad, but here in Zumaia we don’t think so. At midnight on the last day of the festival, we celebrate the lowering of the flag and the farewell to the festival in a multitudinous event. The lowering of the flag has been becoming more significant with the passing of the years. This tradition began in an improvised way in the 1980s. It’s about saying farewell to the festive season, and has slowly grown into an unmissable event.

And all this is only a small part of the festival programme. If you want to enjoy the San Telmo Festival at its best, come to Zumaia as soon as Easter is over and pay homage to the patron saint of sailors. You’ll find Zumaia in a cheerful, lively mood, with the colour blue everywhere.