Saint James Feast day on the 25th of July every year is the most iconic day on the Camino calendar. Saint James was one of Jesus’ first disciples and the faithful believe that his remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Santiago de Compostela celebrates its largest festival of the year for two weeks and St James Feast day is the main day for a range of festivities. St James is the patron Saint of Santiago de Compostela and this is a public holiday for all of Galicia with celebrations for the last 2 weeks of July.
The diverse celebrations include cultural, art and musical events and street theatre throughout the town’s historic buildings and squares during the day and into the evenings. Most nights there will be events in the major squares, Plaza del Obradoiro and Plaza de la Quintana.
There is a spectacular pyrotechnic display on St James eve on the 24th of July and pilgrims, locals and tourists alike gather together at the Prazo do Obradoiro in front of the Santiago Cathedral to watch the show of fireworks, music, and lasers illuminate the historic cathedral.
On the 25th of July there is a special mass to honour the life and work of St James, often attended by Spanish royalty and this is one of the days the Botofumeiro is guaranteed to be swung. Read more about the Botofumeiro
Many businesses, stores, and other organisations are closed, but cafes and restaurants are open. Public transport services will run to a reduced schedule and there may be no services in rural areas. Large events may cause some local disruption to traffic, particularly in Santiago de Compostela.
On the day of the Feast of Saint James, the streets of Santiago de Compostela are lined with people watching processions of different carnival groups, papier-mâché cabezudos and a multitude of Galician pipers. The dancing, music, eating and drink continue well into the next morning and there is an emphasis placed on the eating of shellfish to ensure that the following year is wealthy and healthy.
The festival officially closes on the 31st of July with another spectacular fireworks display.
Should July 25th happen to fall on a Sunday, then the day becomes more special and the year is declared a Xabobean Year or (Holy or Jubilee year) where the numbers on the Camino swell mainly through religious motivations.
On this day, pilgrims may enter the cathedral through the holy door and can be granted a plenary indulgence
Find out more details about what’s happening in Santiago
If you would like to include this wonderful cultural festival as part of your Camino, you will need to book well in advance. RAW Travel can assist in planning this festival as part of a memorable Camino. Please contact us for a quote as a surcharge over this busy time may apply.
Images courtesy Santiago Turismo: http://www.santiagoturismo.com/