Rías Baixas is a picturesque coastal region in the heart of Galicia which stands out not only for its breathtaking landscapes of golden beaches, green mountains and serene rivers but also for its rich festive tradition that encapsulates the very essence of Galician culture.
In this north-western corner of the Iberian Peninsula, traditional festivities come alive with unparalleled colour and infectious joy. These festivities are not only moments of celebration but also vehicles to preserve ancestral customs that have defined this region over the centuries. In this post, we will tell you more about them and highlight the most popular ones.
Rías Baixas and its festivals
The deep connection between Galician identity and local festivals is rooted in the region’s history and geography. With its Celtic heritage and strategically important position facing out to the Atlantic Ocean, Galicia has cultivated a unique festive tradition that fuses the pagan and the religious, the traditional and the contemporary. The Rías Baixas, with its spectacular scenery of calm waters, undulating vineyards and picturesque coastal villas, becomes the perfect backdrop for these celebrations full of symbolism and emotion.
These festivities bring colour and joy to the lives of the local inhabitants and have become a powerful means of transmitting Galicia’s cultural roots. From pilgrimages full of devotion and enjoyment to gastronomic celebrations honouring the delicacies of the sea along with Albariño wines, each festivity is a link in the chain that connects the past with the present and projects Galician identity into the future. In the rich heritage of traditional festivals in the Rías Baixas, colour and Galician joy converge in an unforgettable way.
In total, 57 festivals of tourist interest are held in this area of Galicia. The best known are the Feira do Cocido, the Romaria Vikinga, the Arribada, Ponteareas and its carpets of flowers, the Rapa das Bestas and the Festa do Albariño. Below, we tell you a little about each one.
La Feria del Cocido de Lalín
The Feria del Cocido de Lalín is held in the municipality of Lalín, in the region of Deza, Galicia. This annual event, held in February, attracts foodies from all over the world. Started in 1969 by six mayors of Deza, the fair has grown in popularity, becoming an emblematic event that honours the culinary and cultural tradition of the region.
It offers a unique experience promoting the authentic flavours of an unforgettable gastronomic feast. Cocido Gallego is a Galician stew made with local ingredients such as chorizo, pork, potatoes and greens. It is undoubtedly one of the star dishes of the region, and in this area, they make it like nowhere else.
In addition to food, the fair features cultural and musical activities.
The Romaría Vikinga de Catoira
This well-known Viking festival is held in the small village of Catoira, at the foot of the Arousa estuary. This unique celebration takes place on the first Sunday of August. It involves a pilgrimage commemorating Viking attacks on the region in the past, particularly the siege of the fortress of Catoira, known as Torres del Oeste.
The festival consists of a historical re-enactment depicting a simulated Viking attack, where “Vikings” disembark in traditional boats to storm the defensive towers. Participants attend dressed in Viking costumes and a festive atmosphere reigns, with music, dances and typical cuisine. During the pilgrimage, you can also visit the Torres del Oeste to see exhibitions about the history of the Viking attacks and their influence on the region. A unique experience that fuses history, tradition and entertainment in an unforgettable event.
This celebration is one of the most famous festivals in Rías Baixas.
The Arribada de Baiona
The Arribada de Baiona is one of the most popular festivals in the Pontevedra area. This festival takes place at the beginning of March and commemorates the arrival of the caravel, La Pinta, in 1493, bearing news of the discovery of the New World. The Arribada is a historical recreation featuring numerous participants in period costumes.
The event consists of reliving the arrival of the caravel in Baiona. The promenade in the port is full of music and traditional historic dances. Traditional boats also fill Bayonne Bay with a festive atmosphere. Parades, theatrical performances and a medieval market are set up for visitors’ enjoyment.
The Arribada de Baiona is an opportunity to immerse yourself in history, enjoy the local culture and relive the exciting moment of the discovery of the New World.
As usual, on these dates, we offer a maritime transport service for the celebration of the Festival of the Arribada de Baiona. During the Saturday and Sunday of the festival in March, we offer an extensive timetable of departures from Vigo, Cangas and Panxón, returning from Baiona in the morning, afternoon and evening, so you can fully enjoy this very special celebration. We have been offering this service for over 20 years in collaboration with the Council of Baiona.
Ponteareas and its carpets of flowers
The Floral Carpets of Ponteareas is a very beautiful and popular celebration. This event takes place on the day of Corpus Christi, the date varies according to the liturgical calendar. The festival focuses on creating stunning carpets made from petals and flowers.
The celebration consists of designing intricate carpets featuring vivid colours and elaborate patterns in the streets of the village. Participants use flower petals and other natural elements to create these ephemeral works of floral art.
The carpets decorate the path of the Corpus Christi religious procession, and designs range from religious motifs to abstract patterns. It is a very special artistic and cultural event that attracts both locals and visitors, offering a unique experience.
A Rapa das Bestas, Sabucedo
The ancient festival of “A Rapa das Bestas” is celebrated in the town of Sabucedo in Galicia. Every first weekend in July, the hills of Sabucedo come alive with this unique tradition. The festival consists of the release of wild horses that are guided by riders and locals to a fenced area, where the “rapa” or branding of the horses is carried out.
The horses, which live in the wild during the year, are gathered in this celebration to be examined, branded and cared for by the local community. This cultural tradition reflects the deep bond between the people of Galicia and their natural environment.
The Fiesta del Albariño, Cambados
The vibrant Albariño Festival is celebrated in the picturesque town of Cambados. This annual event, which takes place on the first Sunday in August, pays tribute to the region’s famed Albariño wine.
The festival celebrates wine culture in style, attracting wine lovers and curious visitors alike. During several days, you can participate in tastings of this characteristic wine. Music, dance and cultural activities fill the streets with a festive atmosphere.
Now that you know some of the most famous festivals in the Rías Baixas, you can organise everything before your visit. Try to visit at least one of them and discover more about the history, culture and traditions of this beautiful coastal area. And, once there, you can explore everything that this area of Galicia has to offer: both its urban areas and its natural environment – such as the well-known Cíes Islands or the Island of Ons – or, in the Ria de Pontevedra, visit the Island of Tambo from the port of Combarro.