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29 Jan

Twelve months of culture in San Sebastián byDuncan

Twelve months of culture in San Sebastián banner

With its rich heritage, fascinating history and passion for pleasure, it’s no wonder San Sebastián has been named European Capital of Culture 2016. There’s plenty planned across the year and all the events are built around four key themes: peace, life, voices and conversations. Here, we’re taking a look at some of the highlights of the festivities San Sebastián will be hosting as 2016 unfolds. From the food to the films, the art and music to the theatre and festivals, this Spanish city has a lot in store.


Begin the year with WhatsART – this fun project will unite 11 of the brightest and best young artists from around the city to create personal work, building on their own hopes for the future. The fresh days of spring in San Sebastián will also bring with them the first sounds of the fabulous Music Box Festibala, which begins in May and runs through to November. A diverse set of local and international musicians will be bringing brilliant sounds to venues across the city so make sure you pack your dancing shoes. Don’t worry – car hire in San Sebastián is a breeze so you won’t miss a note.

If food is your main preoccupation, why not try some delicious Time Machine Soup? This clever exhibition will explore the sweet and the sour of European history via the soups we’ve savoured through the ages. Visitors are expected to find that the flavours of the 12 soups served up will transport them through time to completely different culinary eras.

Late April also sees the start of a Film and Human Rights Festival and HidroLogikak, a series of fantastic guided excursions up the River Urumea, will begin.


It is summertime in the European City of Culture and things are hotting up. Culinary adventures will once again take centre stage, as the On appétit! project begins. Top chefs from around Europe will arrive in San Sebastián’s most innovative food venues to share their talents with hungry diners.

In June, anyone with a love of comic books should make sure they’re in Reyes Católicos, because Zapart! promises to transform the neighbourhood into a sea of colour, fun and all things cartoonish. If you’re looking for a more grown-up experience, head to Cristina Enea Park where, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, an enchanting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed. Audiences of up to 300 people will indulge in a gorgeous banquet before the curtain goes up each evening, so arrive hungry and enjoy every midsummer moment.


As summer slides into autumn, there’s no sign of the celebratory atmosphere dying down in this City of Culture. Throughout September and October, San Sebastián’s maritime heritage will be promoted during Itsasgileak. The series of exhibitions will explore the role of hardy seafaring women in 16th-century Basque regions, as well as looking at the area’s rich shipbuilding heritage.

Science too will be an important part of these months, as the Passion for Knowledge festival gets under way at the Victoria Eugenia Theatre. This great event will create a sweet spot where scientists and the general public can swap ideas and experiences. The importance of movement and exercise will also be celebrated during these cooler months, as Plaz & Play rolls into town. See San Sebastián’s public square suddenly awash with opportunities to get active, play, move and have some fun.


With the year entering its final quarter, energy and passion for cultural pursuits will remain high. In November, the health of the city’s population will become the focus point as comedians, writers and health professionals come together to stage Irrizetak. This engaging event will be comprised of a series of fun sessions with serious health messages in an attempt to educate people about the benefits of making better lifestyle choices.

Kontu Kontanitz will explore the challenges of living with various disabilities through writing workshops and the task of breaking down the obstacles disabled people face. Many of the events taking place during the city’s year of culture are long-standing calendar highlights – the Feminist Culture Festival, for example. December 14th-17th will see this year’s programme offer up a smorgasbord of feminist art, intellectual pursuit, literature, film and music.

There’s so much happening as part of the 2016 European Capital of Culture celebrations in San Sebastián, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love. So, throw yourself into the Basque way of life and embrace the cultural fun.