Spain 2016 – who, what and where are in the spotlight this year

San Sebastian

San Sebastián 2016 European Capital of Culture

Gastronomy is the first thing that springs to mind when you think of this elegant Basque city, but it has a strong cultural heritage too –  of which food is of course an important part. This year you can alternate Michelin-starred meals and pintxos crawls around the old town with a huge range of cultural events, which will kick off with some jolly festivities running from January 18th to 24th.  The opening ceremony is on January 23rd and there will also be live music, screenings, performances and much more. One of the key concepts for the year is Waves of Energy, which in practical terms means that dozens of small cultural initiatives devised by local citizens will receive grants to get them off the ground; this Capital of Culture is not just about flashy big events but is instead aimed at improving the arts scene in the long term for the people who actually live in San Sebastián.  See San Sebastián 2016 European Capital of Culture for more information on these opening programme and events throughout the year.

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Toledo: Spanish Capital of Gastronomy 2016

While foodie city San Sebastián is putting the focus on culture, the opposite is happening in Toledo. For centuries the capital of Spain, visitors are  usually attracted by its astounding cultural heritage. In 2016 i, however, the city is also drawing our attention to the excellent cuisine and wines in its new role as Spanish Capital of Gastronomy. It is also 30 years since Toledo achieved Unesco World Heritage status and the province is also one of the main destinations in the Cervantes Centenary events (see below), so what with one thing and another, there is a lot going on this year. There are tapas routes, food and wine tastings, appearances by top chefs and special menus to showcase the area’s specialities, which include Manchego cheese of course, as well as game – particularly partridge and venison – ham, olive oil and saffron.  Although the Toledo Capital de Gastronomia website isn’t ready yet, the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy site has some information, but there is no English section unfortunately.  Meanwhile, you are better off looking at the Spanish tourist office’s useful page about the event.

 

Cervantes Centenary

It is the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes in 2016 and there are events to commemorate the author of Don Quijote de La Mancha all over Spain and elsewhere in the world throughout the year, including exhibitions, theatre, opera, ballet, concerts and conferences. The Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) in Madrid and Acción Cultural España are holding the exhibition Miguel de Cervantes: from the life to the myth: 1616-2016 from May 3rd to May 22nd.  From January 14 to 24, tapas bars in the Las Letras neighbourhood in Madrid, where Cervantes lived, are holding the Gastroletras event, with tapas specially created to celebrate the great figures of the Golden Age and authors who lived in the area over the centuries. Alcalá de Henares, just east of Madrid, where Cervantes was born, will be a major hub of events, making 2016 a great time to visit this historic town. The Quijote Route, which traces the character’s perambulations around La Mancha, is also being revamped, if you fancy paying homage to Cervantes with a road trip.

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Bosch: The Centenary Exhibition

This year is the fifth centenary of the death of Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516) and to mark this event the Prado museum in Madrid is staging the most important exhibition ever to be held about the artist. Organised in collaboration with the Noordbrabants Museum in Hertogenbosch, where Bosch was born, and sponsored by the BBVA Foundation, the show opens on May 31st and runs until September 11th.  More than 60 works by Bosch and his contemporaries will be on display in the Jerónimos building, selected from the Prado’s own collections – including of course The Garden of Earthly Delights – and borrowed from other Spanish and international museums, such as the Triptych of the Temptation of Saint Anthony from the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon.

Spain locations in Season Six of Game of Thrones

Seville, Córdoba and Osuna featured in Season Five of Game of Thrones, attracting fans of the HBO medieval fantasy series to Andalucía. In Season Six, scheduled for April 2016, Spain once again provides the backdrop for the Seven Kingdoms. Locations include Almería province in eastern Andalucía, which has featured in many films, television series, music videos and adverts. Also making an appearance are the city of Girona in Catalunya, Zafra in Extremadura and the Bárdenas Reales desert landscape in Navarra. The castle on the headland in Peñiscola also features, which should attract new visitors to the resort on the Costa de Azahar in the Castellón province of the Valencia region, particularly as Ryanair now flies to Castellón from UK airports Stansted and Bristol.

 

 

 

 

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