Hondarribia’s main festivities are held from 7 to 11 September, coinciding with the celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the city’s patron saint, on 8 September.
On the other hand, during Easter Week there is a Good Friday Procession through the streets of the Old Quarter. It is called the Procession of Silence and is one of the few Easter processions still held in the province of Gipuzkoa.
And lastly, on 25 July, the festivity of Santiago Apóstol, the Fiesta del Arca, which celebrates the taking of office of members of the Seamen’s Guild of San Pedro, Hondarribia’s fishermen’s guild, positions which are renewed annually on 29 June. A procession usually climbs from the guild’s main building in the La Marina neighbourhood to the parish church, located in the Old Quarter. A young woman leads the procession, carrying on her head the chest, the «kutxa» where the guild’s documentation was stored.
The City’s main festivity is the Alarde (military parade) on 8 September. The origins of this sightly parade are in a pledge made to the Virgin of Guadalupe, their patron saint, for her intercession during the resistance and subsequent victory over the French army during the siege the town suffered in 1638. Thus, every year this pledge is fulfilled, with a traditional staging organised to remember the ancient local militias.
A big festivity is the delivery of the Kutxa (Chest). In August 1361 one of the world’s oldest social institutions was created in Hondarribia, The Brotherhood and Guild of the Seamen of San Pedro.
By paying a small percentage from the sale of their catch, the arrantzales (fishermen) had a series of privileges, something akin to social security: financial security in old age, lower costs when purchasing fishing tackle… which allowed them to carry out their risky activity with certain guarantees. The annual ceremony to transfer power in the institution reaches its most colourful point at a parade that takes place on Santiago day, 25 July.
A young woman is the attraction of a procession where the abbots of the guild and the skippers of the boats are escorted by the rowers to the institution’s headquarters. On her head she carries the Kutxa, a symbol of the guild’s heritage that contains its manuscripts, funds and assets; she is located at the centre of an arch formed by rowers and their oars. There, with the Kutxa on her head, which she keeps in place with a white shawl, she must spin around as many times as she can, because according to tradition, the success of that year’s haul will depend on it.
On Good Friday the Procession of Silence or Comedy of the Passion takes place. Hondarribia is one of the few towns in Gipuzkoa that still performs this ritual, along with Segura. Every year for more than 400 years, on Good Friday, the ancient cobbled streets of the Old Quarter host a silent procession with ten statues that represent the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Each float is carried by four costaleros (bearers) dressed in brown.
Roman soldiers, the twelve apostles and two rows of men behind each float, carrying thick, lit candles, accompany them in total silence, captivating the large crowd watching. At the back of the procession is the ecclesiastical chapter preceded by the Municipal Band playing Chopin’s funeral march.