Feria Franca Festival
On the first weekend of September every year, time is turned back for over 500 years in Pontevedra during the medieval festival Feira Franca.
Music and Entertainments
The modern-day version of Feira Franca is a colourful affair in which locals and visitors compete to dress up as medieval citizens or don local costumes.
Walk around the squares and streets and enjoy the many exhibits and spectacles during the weekend.
Food is of great importance, and apart from sampling specialities at the many stalls, you can participate in a medieval feast, bibs and all.
Arts and crafts are another highlights with demonstrations of how things were made in the Middle Ages.
Bagpipe players, the Gaita is the national musical instrument of Galicia and can be found on many street corners as well as among dance groups and other musicians.
The crowning glory is a medieval tournament with jostling knights performed at the Plaza de Toros (bull ring) from around 5.30 pm on Saturday.
Places to stay and hotel tips
Not too many hotels in Pontevedra, but if you book well in advance, you may find some rooms available for the festival.
Stay in a historic palace.
A tip is Parador de Pontevedra, a good and popular hotel in an old palace from around the year 1500, located in the historic centre of Pontevedra.
It is classically decorated in true Parador style with an elegant restaurant serving delicious regional cuisine.
At the same time, it suits well the medieval theme during the Feira Franca festival.
The hotel is also a short walk to the famous St. Maria Basilica and other historical buildings.
History of Feira Franca
Feira Franca dates back to 1467, when King Henry IV bestowed upon Pontevedra the right to hold a tax-free open market for one month, from the last two weeks of August to the first two weeks of September.
Tax-free trade for a whole month was undoubtedly a strong reason for the wealthy merchants of the time to celebrate, which they did with a huge festival, beginning Friday morning and ending on Saturday night.
More about Pontevedra
Pontevedra is located in Galicia, Spain´s northwestern province, in a valley where the rivers Lerez and Tomeza runs into the Atlantic Ocean.
It was once Galicia´s most populated commercial center and biggest port.
Sedimentation and silting have rendered the port unsuitable for commercial use and the city´s wealth diminished with the loss of its status as a hub of trade.
It is the second biggest old town in all of Galicia.
Much of it is today a pedestrian zone where you can easily walk around and admire churches, palaces and other old buildings.
Pontevedra had its Golden Age in the Middle Ages until the end of the 16th century.
Narrow, cobbled streets and picturesque squares like the Old Woodfire Market Place form the ideal background for a festival like Feira Franca