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When August arrives, the streets of Bilbao begin to prepare for the inauguration of its Semana Grande, (Big Week or Aste Nagusia in Basque). This tradition is celebrated in the capital of Biscay from the second half of August onwards and offers both the residents of Bilbao and those who visit the city on these dates an unforgettable experience.


When will Bilbao’s Semana Grande be held in 2023?


In 2023, Bilbao’s Semana Grande will be held from Saturday 19 August to Sunday 27 August.

And, as every year, the programme of festivities is packed with emblematic events and special moments to enjoy this intense week.



Everything you should not miss about Bilbao’s Big Week 2023



The Proclamation: The Voice that Announces the Festival


The festive spirit is consolidated with the Proclamation, a moment of great significance in Bilbao’s Big Week, as it officially inaugurates the week of festivities. The Proclamation is held in the main square and, each year, a prominent personality is chosen to officially open the days of the festivities.

And who will give the opening speech of Bilbao’s Semana Grande 2023? The person in charge of giving the proclamation of Bilbao’s Semana Grande 2023 is the singer Aiora Rentería, from the group Zea Mays. And the traditional txupinazo (the launching of a rocket to signal the start of the festival) will be carried out by Izaskun Pinedo, a nurse from Bilbao who has been linked to the festival as a comparsera all her life.



Descent of Gargantua, Giants and Big-heads: A parade of fantasy and tradition


Bilbao’s Semana Grande kicks off with a roar of joy and colour during the traditional Bajada de Gargantúa, with the Giants and Big-heads as the main attraction. The streets are filled with the presence of these emblematic figures that captivate young and old alike. The parade, accompanied by the festive music of the txarangas, turns the streets of Bilbao into a magical setting where fantasy and tradition merge in a special way.




Tribute to Marijaia: Symbol of Identity and Union


During the week of festivities, one of the most prominent images is that of Marijaia, the most popular icon and symbol of Bilbao’s Semana Grande. Marijaia, which means “Lady of the Festivities”, is a fictitious character designed by the painter and engraver Mari Puri Herrero for the 1978 Semana Grande, who represents the very essence of the celebration, as well as the resistance and vitality of the Bilbao community, and is adorned with the typical costume of the festivities.



Parades and Passacaglias: A Show on Every Corner


Fun can be found at any time and in any corner of the historic centre of Bilbao and its surroundings. Parades with floats or parades with music and dance flood the streets at many times of the day and help to create a special festive atmosphere. These street shows are undoubtedly essential to discover and watch, for example, how regional dance groups perform traditional Basque dances dressed in traditional costume.



Concerts and Fireworks: Notes and Lights that Light up the Night


During Bilbao’s Semana Grande, the official programme of concerts by national artists or performances by large orchestras is packed with live music. The official concerts of Aste Nagusia 2023 are packed with various musical genres to suit all tastes: Iñaki Uranga and the Bilboko Orkestra Sinfonikoa will open the concert programme on Saturday 19th;

Tamara Macarena Valcárcel Serrano with the Banda Municipal de Música de Bilbao on Sunday the 20th;

Lori Meyers on Monday the 21st; Gatibu on Tuesday the 22nd; Vanesa Martín on Wednesday the 23rd; Alex Ubago on Thursday the 24th. Esne Beltza: Friday 25th. Marlon Saturday 26th. There will also be performances by Lola Índigo, Zetak and the Los 40 Pop event with DJ Dani Moreno, Zzoilo, Miriam Rodríguez and Depol, on Friday 25th.

And at night, not only concerts, orchestras, music and dance fill the streets of Bilbao, but it is also essential to enjoy one of the fireworks displays that take place when night falls.


Tasting Tradition: Going out for pintxos in Bilbao during Aste Nagusia

Since we are in Bilbao, we must take advantage of one of the strong points of the area: its gastronomy. And what better time to take advantage of the celebration of the Aste Nagusia to go out for pintxos.

Going out for pintxos is an integral part of Bilbao’s culture and during the Semana Grande, bars and restaurants dress up to offer the best of Basque cuisine. Authentic flavours and culinary creativity merge in every mouthful, providing a unique experience for the palate. Without a doubt, it is a must during your stay in Bilbao.



In short, Bilbao’s Semana Grande is an authentic celebration that fuses tradition, culture and fun. It is an opportunity to discover how Bilbao keeps its history alive with joy and celebration.


Are you visiting Bilbao during the Semana Grande and want to take the opportunity to get to know Bilbao, its towns and surroundings better? One of the most popular mobility options is car hire.

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