In fact, planning your trip around festivals, ferias, and fiestas is a great way to ensure an unforgettable experience.
Let's take a look at five of the most remarkable festivals you can experience in Spain in May.
Fiestas de San Isidro
When: May 10–15, 2019
The Fiestas de San Isidro take hold of all of Madrid in central May, transforming every plaza into a stage for music, dance, and celebration.
View traditional dances on large outdoor stages. Visit the Plaza Mayor or the Puerta del Sol to see world-class buskers who have traveled from far afield just for the Ferias de San Isidro. And don't miss the outdoor carnival, where a ride to the top of a Ferris wheel will afford lovely views of Madrid — and of some pretty unique carnival rides, including a mechanical bull about 10 people can ride at once.
The spirit of celebration and joy that grips Madrid during the Fiestas de San Isidro is unmatched. There's no better time to get to know this marvelous city.
To plan your trip, view our definitive city guide to Madrid.
Feria de San Isidro
When: May 10 – June 10, 2019
During the Fiestas de San Isidro, you also have the opportunity to attend the world's largest bullfighting festival.
Bullfighting certainly isn't for everyone, and expect to walk away feeling a little queasy. But while many Spaniards oppose the practice, it remains one part of the culture and history of the Iberian Peninsula.
At the Feria de San Isidro, you'll have the opportunity to see some of the best matadors in Spain. Each event generally starts with newer, less experienced bullfighters, and with each successive bull, increases in the size of the bull and the matador's level of skill.
Feria del Caballo (Horse Festival)
When: May 11–19, 2018
The Feria del Caballo, or Horse Festival, takes place at the heart of where flamenco, a traditional style of music and dance, was born. Jerez de la Frontera is a small, charming city at the heart of Andalusia, and every May, the Feria del Caballo brings the best of local tradition to life.
The Feria del Caballo is organized on a bright grid of stall-lined walkways, where horses, riders, and carriages in their best regalia march up and down for much of the day.
Meanwhile, attendees come dressed in their finest flamenco-style dresses and suits. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to see something truly special: most attendees seem to know a few basic styles of flamenco dance, and you’ll be able to see them dancing in the large, gorgeous pavilions or in one of the stalls almost any time of the day or night. This isn’t the kind of masterful flamenco you’d see on stage at a performance — it’s the kind that everyday people know. And, with the help of a kind stranger, you’re likely to learn a few dance steps yourself.
While you’re at the Feria del Caballo, help yourself to the local sherry, manzanilla — “Jerez” actually means sherry, since this is where the drink originated — or to a rebujito, a mixed drink made with wine, lemon-lime soda, yerba buena, and lots of ice.
Of all the events you could attend on your trip to Spain, festivals included, the Feria del Caballo would be ranked in the top five.
Fiesta de los Patios de Cordoba (Courtyard Festival)
When: May 6–19, 2019
Where: Cordoba, Andalusia
The whitewashed, flower-lined streets of Cordoba’s old city are at the core of its charm. And never are they in fuller bloom than during the Fiesta de los Patios de Cordoba.
This UNESCO World Heritage event celebrates the patio — the outdoor area at the heart of a traditional private home. You can visit many of these patios for free and without a reservation during this Spanish festival. View an interactive map of patios you can visit here.
Feria de las Flores de Girona (Flower Festival)
Called the Temps de Flors in the local Catalan language, the Feria de las Flores, or Flower Festival, in Girona's old city is one-of-a-kind.
Girona is perhaps best known for its prominent appearance in Game of Thrones, but it's also known for its celebrations. Of all the Spain festivals you could attend, few welcome the spring quite like the Feria de las Flores.
The festival features multiple events, including an a cappella festival, a museum night, and an interior decorating competition. You can attend live music performances or take a guided tour of the city. Check out a map of festival-related floral exhibitions, patios, gardens, and landmarks here.
Watch our Culture & History page for more Spain festivals, events, and unique opportunities to experience the Iberian Peninsula's many cultures live and in person.