Public and Regional HolidaysObserved in Spain
Each month, Spain celebrates at least one religious holiday.
Planning for a vacation or moving to a new country means that you need to be aware of the national and regional holidays. It’s not just for practical reasons, like grocery shopping, but it will also give you a taste of the local culture and customs. In Spain, there is no shortage of national and regional holidays.
When you first arrive, you might find yourself needing something from the grocery store only to find it’s closed. Chances are, there is a public holiday.
Introduction to Spain’s Public Holidays
The Spanish Government sets the Spanish national holidays each year, although Spanish bank holidays differ between each of the regions. While each city observes the national holidays in Spain, regional holidays are set by the local governments.
Spanish national holidays are busy periods, particularly if a holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday and employees take a puente (bridge) holiday of four days (dias festivos or vacaciones – holiday in Spanish).
Bank holidays in Spain that fall on weekends are sometimes replaced with alternate days (usually on the following Monday) if the regional government so chooses.
In general, regional Spanish holidays coincide with large Spanish festivals and can be a wonderful time to explore a new city and learn more about local culture and gastronomy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, travel is slowly opening up again. If you have any of Spain’s world famous festivals on your list, it is important to book early especially if your travel plans fall on a Spanish national holiday.
Many businesses close during the national and regional holidays in Spain and this can include some tourist attractions like local museums. You can always check the website of the local autonomous community as they generally include a list at the start of each year.
Spaniards love public holidays and bridges (puentes)
The bridges I mention here have nothing to do with the structure. It has to do more with national or regional holidays that happen or are moved to a Monday or Friday to create long weekends. For example, in Canada, there is a guaranteed long weekend each month. The same in Spain, although here, there are some months that have 4-day weekends instead of a 3-day weekend.
For many locals, it is common for them to head out of the city for a long weekend getaway in the surrounding towns (pueblos) or seaside. That’s the beauty of the ‘puentes’.
You can find them spending the day, joining in on the festivities, eating delicious food, and enjoying themselves with family and friends. One of the things we love about Spain … people really understand how to enjoy life!
- Most supermarkets are closed. Only a few open on public holidays such as Carrefour Express and Suma. Supermarkets are usually really crowded right before the holidays, so do your groceries on time or before Spanish mealtimes.
- All public offices close. If you have anything important to fix, do it before or after the public holiday.
- Most shops are closed. If you want to do some shopping, check the opening hours of your favorite shop on Google Maps. Oftentimes, it will show you whether or not it’s closed due to a public holiday. If you’re not sure, just call.
- Public transport services change their routes/schedules. Make sure to use the public transit apps to get accurate information. You don’t want to wait for a bus that’s not going to show up. If you see “desviado” at the bus stop, that means the bus won’t be coming due to a fiesta, race or road construction.
- Some medical and emergency services are limited too.
- Taxi fees might increase a little and the demand is usually high, so if you have to be somewhere, leave your house a bit earlier than planned.
- If you use Google Calendar, you can easily add Spanish holidays to your calendar. It shows you all the public holidays, including the regions.
- 1st of January: Año Nuevo – New Year’s Day
- 6th of January: Epifanía – Epiphany / Three Kings Day
- Viernes Santo – Good Friday: This falls on a different date in late March or early April each year.
- Lunes de Pascua – Easter Monday: This falls on a different date in late March or early April each year.
- 1st of May: Día del Trabajador – Labor Day
- 15th of August: La Asunción – Feast of the Assumption
- 12th of October: Día de la Hispanidad – National Holiday of Spain
- 1st of November: Todos Los Santos – All Saints Day
- 6th of December: Día de la Constitución – Constitution Day
- 8th of December: La Inmaculada Concepción – Immaculate Conception
- 25th December: Navidad – Christmas Day