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Tamborrada of San Sebastián 2023

A drum parade and street party to honour San Sebastián


Last updated: by Olha Savych
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Every year, in the evening between the 19th and 20th of January, San Sebastián holds a huge party to celebrate its patron saint's day. The Tamborrada drum parade is a major highlight of this celebration. San Sebastián is located on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s Basque Country. The first drum parade was held here in 1836 during the carnival. According to a legend, locals were mocking soldiers that were making daily marches through the city. Since then, Tamborrada has become an annual and cherished tradition.

San Sebastián Festival starts at midnight on January 20th, when the flag is raised in the Plaza de la Constitución. There are about 150 drumming groups in the city. Each contingent is sponsored by various organizations that are sanctioned by the San Sebastián city council. Tamborrada starts with the Sociedad Gaztelubide, who play the music of Raimundo Sarriegi.

Drummers wear the same uniforms as the soldiers that used to be stationed in the city. Some resemble Gipuzkoan battalions uniforms in the War of Independence. Other drumming groups are dressed as cooks. Each drumming group has 20-50 drummers and 50-100 barrels, a brass band, and flag-bearers. They entertain the streets with their drumming for 24 hours. The festival ends at midnight with the performance of the Unión Artesana Tamborrada. They lower the flag and close down festivities.

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