The San Mateo Festival, also known as “Fiestas de San Mateo’ and the Rioja Wine Harvest Festival, is one of the most significant and popular festivals in the region of Rioja, Spain. It is celebrated in the capital city of La Rioja, Logroño, and typically takes place from late September to early October. The festival is held in honor of Saint Matthew (San Mateo in Spanish), the patron saint of Logroño.
During this time, the streets of the city are filled with wine-loving tourists from the various autonomous regions. In addition, the event has been designated a National Festival of Tourist Interest.
The various areas of the city come to life with music and food tastings, parades, a bull fair, concerts, dancing, and various competitions. And once the sun has set? If you still have the energy, the streets are filled with parties and fun at night (Cale San Agustn, Calle Laurel, and Calle San Juan are some of the most popular streets).
At the weekend there is usually a parade, one of the festival’s biggest attractions.
Some other aspects of the San Mateo Festival:
- Duration: The San Mateo Festival typically lasts for about a week, and the dates can vary slightly from year to year. It usually begins around September 21st, which is the feast day of Saint Matthew, and continues until the first weekend in October.
- Religious Observance: The festival has strong religious elements, with various processions, ceremonies, and events dedicated to Saint Matthew. The most important religious procession, known as the “Procesión de San Mateo,” takes place on September 21st, featuring the statue of the saint.
- Cultural Activities: The festival is not just about religious observance; it also features a wide range of cultural and entertainment events. These may include music concerts, traditional folk dances, theatrical performances, and exhibitions. The streets of Logroño come alive with a festive atmosphere.
- Bullfighting: Bullfighting is an integral part of many Spanish festivals, and the San Mateo Festival is no exception. Bullfights are held in the city’s bullring, and aficionados gather to watch skilled matadors take on bulls.
- Fireworks: Spectacular fireworks displays light up the skies of Logroño during the festival. The “Fuegos de San Mateo” (San Mateo Fireworks) are a highlight and draw crowds of spectators.
- Gastronomy: As is the case with many Spanish festivals, food and wine play a significant role in the San Mateo Festival. Logroño is known for its excellent cuisine, particularly its tapas and Rioja wine. Visitors can enjoy a variety of local dishes and wine during the festivities.
- Peñas: One unique aspect of the San Mateo Festival is the presence of “peñas.” These are local social clubs or groups that organize their own celebrations, often with colorful costumes and music. They contribute to the lively and festive atmosphere of the festival.
The San Mateo Festival is an excellent opportunity to experience the vibrant culture, traditions, and local spirit of La Rioja. It attracts both locals and tourists, making it a memorable and lively celebration in this beautiful wine-producing region of Spain.