Galicia is a land of pilgrimage, fairs, traditional markets and gastronomic festivals able to satiate the most demanding palates. Celebrations that are also present all around the year in the municipalities conforming the Xeodestino Terras de Santiago. On Sundays you can go by the street market in Padrón or Melide, on Wednesdays to Ordes, to the fair they have the 5th of every month in Touro, or the ones they have on the 8th and 22nd in Arzúa, where you can buy clothes or local produce (greens, vegetables, cheeses, honey) or taste an exquisite octopus.
Gastronomy lovers will never lack celebrations in which to enjoy and taste local products. From the festival of the filloa da pedra (Galician pancake made over a stone) in A Baña, to the mushrooms or grelos (turnip leaves) in Ordes; going through the pig’s ear or the wine from Ulla, in Vedra; or the festa da merenda (afternoon snack festival), in Frades, are some examples. The Santo Isidro, in Rois; the Emigrant’s festival, in Val do Dubra, the flower festival in Curtis and the festival of Light in Boimorto are some other celebrations that any visitor in this territory can enjoy.
Among all of them we can highlight the Tourist Interest Festivals of Galicia celebrated in the municipalities conforming the Xeodestino Terras de Santiago, which are another reason to come visit and enjoy this territory. They are the Entroido dos Xenerais da Ulla (Generals of the Ulla’s Carnival), Arzúa’s Cheese Festival, Lestedo’s Festa da Filloa (Pancake Festival), the Festa do Melindre e da Repostaría Tradicional da Terra (Festival of the Melindre and Local Traditional Confectionery) in Melide, the Festival do Galo Piñeiro e Mostra Cabalar in O Pino, Oroso’s Trout Festival and the Festival of the Herbón Pepper, in Padrón.
Entroido dos Xenerais da Ulla (Boqueixón, Santiago, Teo, Touro and Vedra) (Generals of the Ulla’s Carnival)
The natural outline of the Ulla has an original rural carnival of which there were witnesses since the mid-nineteenth century: the Entroido dos Xenerais da Ulla (Generals of the Ulla’s carnival), characterized by the presence of generals and couriers, dressed up with ornate costumes, who stage dialectical confrontations in pairs (called the atranques or altos) where they use couplets to make fun and satire of local affairs, politics or events of the year. Of this vast region in which it is celebrated, the municipalities belonging to the Xeodestino Terras de Santiago are Boqueixón, Santiago, Teo, Touro and Vedra. In the official site of the Entroido dos Xenerais da Ulla you can check the schedule for each year.
The most important characters are the Generals and Couriers on horseback, who go through the parishes of the territory over several weeks entertaining both residents and visitors, accompanied by an “army” of flagmen, choirs, troupes and parrandas. They finish staging an atranque (or alto), dialectical confrontation in pairs where they use verses to highlight and make satire with the popular or controversial affairs in the neighborhoods. From one parish to the next one the Entroido da Ulla (Ulla’s Carnival) presents small differences, keeping each of them defining characteristics that make them unique. Generals and Couriers dressed up make up the amazingness of this true expression of the traditional Galician carnival.
Lestedo’s Festa da Filloa (Pancake Festival) (Boqueixón)
And coinciding with the Carnival, though rather when it’s almost over, the Boqueixanese town of Lestedo celebrates since 1984 the Festa da Filloa (Pancake Festival), which has become one of the most important gastronomic exaltations of the region with the assistance of thousands of people on piñata Sunday (first Sunday after Ash Wednesday with which Easter begins). The filloa is the typical dessert of the Galician carnival (made with milk, water, flour and eggs) which is prepared in different ways and eaten on its own or accompanied with honey, chorizo, meat, vegetables or a large etcetera of combinations.
In recent years, it’s usual for the Alto dos Xenerais da Ulla (Alto of the Generals of the Ulla) to be organized in the town of Lestedo during the celebration of the festival, which fills this festivity in which most of the neighborhood participates with even more colour.
Arzúa’s Cheese Festival (Arzúa)
Depending on the year, and the calendar, the visitor will be able to enjoy as well, in addition to the filloas, the Festa do Queixo de Arzúa (Arzúa’s Cheese Festival) that is celebrated since 1976 the first weekend of March to extol one of the products of Galician gastronomy, the Arzúa-Ulloa cheese, which today has a protected designation of origin. This festival combines the traditional farming activities, such as cheese making, with leisure and avant-garde artistic expressions.
Thousands of people come to Arzúa, point of confluence of the Camiño do Norte (Northern Way), Primitivo (Primitive Way) and Francés (French Way), to participate in the music festivals that are organized during the first weekend of March and finish on Sunday with a fair exaltation of the Arzúa cheese where you can taste and buy artisan and D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin) Arzúa-Ulloa cheeses.
Festa do Melindre e da Repostaría Tradicional da Terra (Festival of the Melindre and Local Traditional Confectionery) (Melide)
There are two “compulsory” appointments with gastronomic exaltations in May. The Festa do Melindre e da Repostaría Tradicional da Terra de Melide (Festival of the Melindre and Local Traditional Confectionery of Melide) is the most important one in the municipality of Melide, with a great projection since being declared of tourist interest in Galicia in 2013. It is celebrated the second weekend of May, with the objective of extolling and highlighting the traditional Melidian sweets: melindres, amendoados and ricos.
The melindres are small shortbread donuts that are given a glow and colour with a sugar bath and are the most popular sweets in Melide’s confectionery. The amendoados are made of ground almonds, egg whites, sugar and wafers for the base, that give them their unmistakable aspect. The ricos, characterized by their elongated shape and their outer hardness, are unique sweets elaborated only in the Land of Melide.
Trout Festival (Oroso)
And before approaching Melide for dessert, you should walk around Sigüeiro the second Sunday of May. The Municipality of Oroso exolts since 1997 the ancient trout tradition of the territory, with a very busy fishing area all season long, located in the capital of the municipality, Sigüeiro. In this town, less than 10 km away from Santiago, the Festa da Troita (Trout Festival) is celebrated the second Sunday of May, declared of tourist interest in Galicia in 2009.
A fishing contest and a public tasting are the two areas around which the festive program runs throughout the weekend, including also musical performances, children’s workshops and traditional games, as well as the Festival Oroso en Vivo.
Festa do Galo Piñeiro e Mostra Cabalar (O Pino)
There is also festive coincidence during the month of August in the Xeodestino Terras de Santiago. The Festa do Galo Piñeiro e Mostra Cabalar, celebrated since 1999 the first weekend in Pedrouzo (Arca-O Pino), was born as a gastronomic exaltation to recover the species of the piñeiro rooster and chicken, which has its roots in the Celtic era. Thanks to this festival, to the involvement of breeders and the Municipality of O Pino, the piñeiro rooster and chicken have now numerous specimens in a wide territory and it is now being asked for it to be recognized as a native breed of Galicia.
Since 2009, the festival’s program of events coincides with the Celtic Fair, which fills with color, activities and history the streets of Arca all through the weekend. On Sunday, great day, they celebrate the fair of live roosters and chickens and the contest in which a professional jury chooses the best specimens of piñeiro breed. The tasting and popular lunch, in which this bird’s meat is an essential part of the menu, are other of the attractions of this festival.
Horse riding and horse lovers also have a compulsory appointment on Sunday with the celebration of the Mostra Cabalar, where several exhibitions and competitions of local mares and horses, mixed and pure Spanish breed, which compete for the award for the best specimen take place.
Festival of the Herbón Pepper (Padrón)
And the first Saturday of August they also celebrate the most acclaimed gastronomic festival of the Sar region, more specifically in the oak grove of the convent of Santo Antón de Herbón since 1978: the Festa do Pemento de Herbón (Festival of the Herbón Pepper). With this exaltation of the gastronomic product that made the municipality famous, the work of the Franciscans is also recognized, who brought the pepper seed from the Mexican county of Tabasco in the XVII century. Nowadays, the Sociedade Agraria de Transformación (Agrarian Transformation Society, SAT) A Pementeira, consisting of about twenty farmers, is innovating producing jam and chocolates with the protected designation of origin peppers. In the market you can also find cheese with Herbón peppers and pepper-tasting beers.
In the gastronomic tasting celebrated in the oak grove of Herbón, you will be able to taste this exquisite meal and check if the old saying of “os pementos de Herbón, uns pican e outros non” (“Herbón peppers, some are spicy others are not”) is true. During the celebration of this festival you can be a privileged witness of how the Orde do Pemento de Herbón (Order of the Herbón Pepper) grants titles of knights and ladies to producers and personalities that spread and promote this pepper with a protected designation of origin.