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Tucked above Portugal on Spain’s west coast, Galicia is a very green and wild region known for its excellent quality produce. Galicians are proud of their regional cuisine, featuring everything from cheeses and seafood to wine and peppers. Most of these ingredients are celebrated with their very own festival – here are 10 of the best.
Galicia is particularly known for its fresh seafood, being surrounding by the Atlantic on two sides. Spain’s best seafood festival is held on the tiny peninsula of O Grove and takes place each October. The O Grove Fiesta del Marisco features everything from fresh seafood stalls to cooking demonstrations and competitions.
Pimientos de Padrón are well-loved throughout Spain and are often served as tapas, fried and sprinkled with salt. They come from the area of Padrón, where they were first cultivated, and are celebrated every year with their own festival. The festival actually takes place in the nearby town of Herbon, on the first Saturday in August. The small green pepper is celebrated with floats, cooking demonstrations, barbecues, stalls and plenty of feasting.
Northern Spain, particularly Galicia and Asturias, produce some excellent cheeses, and the small village of Arzúa situated along the Camino de Santiago makes some of the best. The soft white Arzúa-Ulloa cheese is honoured during the Festa do Queixo Azúra, held at the beginning of March each year. During the festival, many stalls are set up where visitors can learn about and try various local cheeses. Demonstrations, exhibits and cheese-making workshops are also part of the event.
Albariño is Galicia’s famous white wine, which is celebrated during its very own festival, held in the town of Cambados. Taking place in August each year, the event combines wine and music, and hosts concerts from various international artists.
Pulpo or octopus is Galicia’s most famous dish, so of course there’s a festival paying homage to this too. It takes place every August in the town of Carballiño, in the province of Ourense and attracts many visitors from all over the region. During the event, between 25,000 and 30,000 kilos of octopus are consumed, along with thousands of glasses of Ribeiro wine.
Unless you’ve been to Galicia, you won’t realise they actually make the best tortillas (potato omelettes) in the whole of Spain. Big, soft and gooey, the Galicia tortilla is celebrated at the Festa da Tortilla Xigante in the town of Carcacía. During the festival a gigantic potato omelette is made, measuring around three and a half metres across and able to feed around 500 people. It’s so big that a crane is needed to lift the huge frying pan into place!
Almost every region in Spain has has its own version of the cocido – a hearty stew, which often features chickpeas or beans and various types of meat and vegetables. The Lalín Galician cocido contains everything from tuna and snails to pork, rabbit, chickpeas and potatoes. The Feira do Cocido de Lalín takes place in February and not only features lots of stew and cooking demonstrations, but also around 50 different cultural activities and workshops.
Empanadas are similar to pies or small Cornish pasties, filled with various savoury ingredients. They are more commonly associated with South America, particularly Argentina, though Galicia also makes a tasty variety. Galicia’s empanadas are large and flat, with fillings such as tuna, cod, pork and rabbit. There is evidence that Galicia empanadas actually date as far back as the 7th century. Pay homage to these delicious pies by visiting the Empanada Festival in the town of Allariz each August, where empanadas are accompanied by music and sporting events.
Besides albarino wine, Galicia’s other famous wine is Ribeiro. The festival takes place on the first weekend in May in the town of Ribadavia, among medieval streets and the ruins of an old castle. Wineries throughout the region are represented at the festival with their own stalls, alongside live cooking demonstrations and wine workshops. The event also brings all of Galicia’s favourite treats together, including octopus, peppers and empanadas.
If you want to try many of Galicia’s delicacies in one festival, then make your way to the Concurso de Tapas de Santiago de Compostela, which takes place in the city of Santiago de Compostela in November. During the two-week event, various bars and restaurants around the city create a special tapas dish, and you can follow routes around the city to taste them all. Over a quarter of a million plates of tapas are eaten during the competition, to discover who has made the best of the year.