On Saturday, August 21st, Bilbao prepares itself to receive Marijaia, the symbol of Great Week and festival mascot.
- 21 · 29 august
On Saturday, August 21st, Bilbao prepares itself to receive Marijaia, the symbol of Great Week and festival mascot. The nine-day non-stop fiesta begins with a txupin (a launching of a rocket and the reading of the proclamation of the fiesta) taking place in the Plaza del Teatro Arriaga. It will really be a Great Week!
Street theatre, big concerts, some of the best fireworks in the world, cooking contests, games for children and all kinds of fun activities take place in various locations around Bilbao for this special 41th anniversary of Aste Nagusia.
The festivities start with the grand entrance of Marijaia, a symbol of the fiesta and a 4-meter-tall festival mascot with her arms raised into the air as a sign of joy. Her song “Badator Marijaia” (“Here comes Marijaia”) is the festivities anthem and can be heard hundreds of times all around town during the Great Week. The festivities come to an end on Sunday, August 25th when Marijaia is set on fire.
Aste Nagusia has been celebrated since 1978 and includes comparsas – groups of singers, musicians and dancers that take part in the street festivities. There are 29 comparsas who put up their txosnas (stands and tents with food, drinks and music) on both sides of the Nervión River and around the streets of Casco Viejo (the Old Town) creating a spectacular atmosphere around Bilbao.
There are more than 400 different activities -promoted by Bilbao City Council- for everybody to enjoy. Among the most popular is the International Fireworks Competition, a spectacular fireworks display lighting the night sky every night at 10:30. The best area to see this magnificent fireworks show is the left bank of the Nervión River, from Navarra Street to Uribitarte. Make sure to get there early to pick a good spot to watch the show as it tends to get crowded.
How to reach us
Although there are activities that take place all around Bilbao, the largest number of festivities happens in the areas around the Arenal, the Town Hall, Plaza del Arriaga, Plaza Circular and Casco Viejo. You can get there by underground (Abando and Casco Viejo stations), by tram (Pío Baroja, Abando and Arriaga) and by Bilbobus that has various lines with numerous stops around the city centre.
Where to eat