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If you’re planning a visit to our region in winter, don’t be fooled into thinking there’s nothing to see or do. There are plenty of ways to discover Durangaldea in winter time.

Festival of San Antonio Abad

Date: 17 January
Place: Santuario de Urkiola

On 17 January, the sanctuary in Urkiola celebrates Anthony the Great, one of the two saints worshipped there (the other being Anthony of Padua). It’s a day when hundreds of people from across the area bring their animals to the sanctuary so they can receive a blessing. Anthony the Great is the protector of animals, after all. A few decades ago, when life was more rural, it was normal to see more livestock at the sanctuary. Nowadays people tend to bring their pets. After mass, as tradition dictates, 250 bread rolls are blessed and handed out to the worshippers, and the animals receive their blessing in the outer cloister. The blessing is said to bring work, money and health for the coming year.

After witnessing the ceremony, consider taking a stroll around the Urkiola Natural Park. You’ll likely see snow at this time of year.

Unveiling of the Nueva Sidra de Bizkaia

Date: Penultimate weekend of January (may vary)
Place: Amorebieta-Etxano

The Basque cider season kicks off on the penultimate weekend of January (dates may vary) with the unveiling of the Nueva Sidra de Bizkaia or new batch of Biscayan cider. The first “txotx” ritual (when a new barrel is opened for tasting) takes place in the Uxarte cider house in Amorebieta-Etxano, with the first taste usually enjoyed by a well-known person or celebrity. The Uxarte cider house or sidrería is inside a country house dating back more than 400 years, located in the Motorra district.

There’s usually a really great atmosphere at the start of the season and it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience the ancient cider tradition first hand.

Feria de San Blas

Date: 3 February
Place: Abadiño

The festival honouring Saint Blaise is a traditional religious event held on 3 February in several locations across Euskal Herria. The most famous of these takes place in Abadiño, where thousands of people descend for the farming and livestock fair.

Saint Blaise was a third-century martyr and doctor who allegedly performed a miracle to save the life of a child who was choking. Hence, in Christianity he is the protector against illnesses of the throat. Saint Blaise cords are famous Abadiño. After being blessed before an image of the saint, the cords should be worn around the neck for nine days (including on 3 February) and then burned, thus providing protection against illnesses of the throat as well as coughs and colds for a year.

The famous San Blas tortas and rosquillas are also blessed, and these sweet treats are alleged to protect the throat.

Carnaval

Date: Late February (varies each years)
Place: All municipalities in Durangaldea

Neguaren bukaera aldera Euskal Herriko herri gehientsuenetan ospatzen den jaia da; hortaz, Durangaldeko herri guztietan topatuko dugu egitarauren bat ospakizun horietarako. Onena, zauden herrian zaudela, mozorroa jantzi eta herritarrekin bat egitea izango da zalantzarik gabe.

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