the water festival

We could say that the cleanest of all Spanish festivals is the WATER FESTIVAL, that takes place annually on August 16th in the locality of Vilagarcia de Arousa, situated in the extreme northwest of Spain, in the beautiful region called Galicia.On the opposite side of the Arosa estuary we find Padron, the final goal of St. James the apostle, friend of Jesus Christ, where legend tells us he arrived "in his boat of stone," and close to Padrón, one of the most beautiful World Heritage Cities symbol of devotion to the apostle, and final step in the legendary road, Santiago de Compostela. Bordering the estuary is Compostela, which is to be found at 46 kilometres from Vilagarcía, by road.

Passers-by from Villagarcía enjoying the traditional soaking at the St.Roque festival
On the 16th of the hottest month of the year, and coinciding with the feast of San Roque the great water festival commences. Just 15 minutes after the religous celebration where the statue of the saint is carried through the streets, thousands of litres of water are poured over the crowd During the last festival, people of all ages, received a drenching from more than 30 tons of water that were discharged from fire engines and water-hydrants.

To all this we must add the tradition of throwing buckets of water, water from hose-pipes, balloons or any other method, from the balconies.In this fun-filled water festival anything wet goes! (A festa da agua as it is called in the local tongue). The really daring folk finish up by shedding ALL their uncomfortable and soaking wet gear!

When the soaking comes to an end the crowd then begin to jump to the rythmn of the drums, begging St. Roque for more water! The finale takes place at the local port where everybody plunges into the water.
This festival was given birth ten years ago after a long period of drought. The people beseeched the help of their patron saint and took his statue from the church in procession, through the streets. When the procession was over the faithful went on begging heaven for water… and those who were looking on, from the balconies, obeyed the plea and threw buckets full of the precious liquid. photo
Medieval bridge over the river Ulla flowing into the Arosa estuary

With the passing of the years this event has turned into an ever-growing tradition. For the last six years the festival has been made official so as to guarantee the size and security of the event, where more and more water is demanded, and most generously granted!

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