While most people think of Burning Man or Glastonbury when someone mentions “festival,” there are many other festivals worldwide that are just as exciting! One of these interesting festivals is the Cascamorras Festival in Spain.
Whether this is a bucket list festival for you or something that intrigues you, here are all the details you need to know! Read on for my guide to Cascamorras Festival to learn more about this exciting festival and whether it's worth the trip to Spain.
What Is the Cascamorras Festival?
Cascamorras Festival is a running festival between two rival villages in the Andalucia Region of Spain. Two main runs are the event’s highlights—the first in Baza and the second in Guadix.
While it’s a running festival, it’s also become known as a paint-throwing festival because of the significant role paint plays in the festival’s practice. Taking place in September every year, pictures of the participants prove that it’s a great time every time!
It’s now considered a Festival of International Tourism and attracts tens of thousands of tourists annually.
Why is Cascamorras Celebrated?
The festival’s origin is from a “dispute” between the villages of Baza and Guadix over the image of the Virgin Mary in Baza. The story states that a farmer from Guadix found a picture of the Virgin Mary in Baza, and a dispute began over which village would get to keep the image.
As tensions rose between residents of both cities, Baza was granted the right to keep the image of the Virgin Mary in their church. Still, residents of Guadix could celebrate the Festival of Our Lady and visit it once a year.
As an additional agreement, they decided that if residents from Guadix could enter Baza and get into the church without being covered in paint, the image could be taken to Guadix.
How is Cascamorras Celebrated?
Part 1: Baza
The “Cascamorras,” a clown dressed in unique clothes, comes from Guadix and enters Baza, and it attempts to take the image of the Virgin Mary. Wearing a Harlequin costume, the Cascamorras must run through the streets of Baza, going through obstacles along the way to the church with only a club to defend themselves.
The run begins in the evening, on a hill outside Las Arrodeas, with rockets sounding to mark the start of the festival. Residents and tourists gather to defend the route from the hill to the church.
The locals of Baza cover themselves in eco-friendly black paint and prepare to defend the image. The Cascamorras descends into the city, and Baza residents aim to add to the obstacles by attempting to cover the Cascamorras in black paint along the route.
While cohorts surround the Cascamorras for protection, the citizens of Baza’s primary goal is to “dirty” the Cascamorras.
Other obstacles may include villagers throwing buckets of water onto the streets from balconies or at each other while running the race. The fire brigade even gets involved with water hoses, and foam is sprayed at the participants as well!
The Baza route ends just outside the Iglesia de la Merced. After the Cascamorras has removed the black paint, the nominated individual can enter the church to pay their respects to the Virgin Mary.
Part 2: Guadix
After a couple of days, the festival moves to Guadix. Residents of Guadix will gather, covering themselves and everyone around them with paint.
If the Cascamorras was unsuccessful in retrieving the image of the Virgin without being covered in paint, they return to Guadix to be covered in paint by Guadix residents. It is still a race and takes place in the field near the Railway Station.
Unlike in Baza, the residents of Guadix use colorful paint to cover each other and the Cascamorras.
When is the Cascamorras Festival?
The Cascamorras Festival takes place in September every year. Traditionally, the run in Baza takes place on September 6th, and the run in Guadix takes place on September 9th.
How to Get There
If you’d like to participate in, or watch, the Cascamorras Festival, you’ll need to make your way to Spain. The closest airport to Baza is Granada Airport, and from there, you can take two buses to Baza. The first is a shuttle service from the airport to Estacion de Autobuses. Once there, grab tickets for the ALSA train service to Baza.
From Baza to Guadix, you can take the same ALSA service headed in the opposite direction, and it will stop in Guadix. This service only runs four times a day, so be sure to plan accordingly!
There is also a train station in Guadix if you prefer to head directly from another train station in Spain.
Where to Stay for the Festival
Whether you want to watch from afar or get covered in paint, you’ll need a place to stay. Also, using that same home base as a place to clean yourself up afterward if you’re participating in the race.
In Guadix, you can stay in La Casona de La Luz.
Since the festival is popular with locals and tourists alike, make a booking early if you’re hoping to visit and participate.
Top Tips for the Cascamorras Festival
If you want to participate in the race, be prepared to get covered in paint. Traditionally, participants wear a white or black ripped T-shirt and black shorts. Suppose you don’t own anything like that, no worries! In the end, anything goes. Just make sure it’s not something you want to keep clean!
Shoe-wise, wear comfortable, close-toed shoes whether you’re participating or not. The Cascamorras Festival is full of people running, and you may get stepped on at some point. The roads can also get slippery when covered with paint and water.
Attendees have also suggested applying olive oil to your skin before participating, as it can make removing any paint a little easier!
What to Do in Baza and Guadix
Unless you show up precisely on September 6th, you’ll find you have some time to explore Baza. Make sure you visit the Arabic Baths (Banos Arabes De La Marzuela) and the archeological museum. There you’ll find archaeological exhibits covering several periods of history and locations, including the Iberian Peninsula.
When you head to Guadix, you can’t miss the Roman Theatre and the Cuevas de Guadix neighborhood. There you’ll find the famous cave houses, and the area in Guadix is home to the most cave houses in the world. You can also visit the Gothic Cathedral or the Cerro de Magdalena viewpoint for a view of the whole city.
Make the Most of Your Time in Spain!
You're in for a treat if you decide to check out the Cascamorras Festival. If you're curious about other celebrations that happen in Spain, you can also check out the Running of the Bulls Festival, another famous event. As you start planning your trip to join the party, be sure you’re using Pilot to keep track of all your trip plans!