One of the first things you’ll discover about public holidays in Spain is just how many there are.
A total of 14 public holidays make up the annual calendar, one of the highest in Europe.
If you’re employed in Spain, the 14 public holidays come as extras on top of your official annual leave.
Dates for public holidays in Spain
Of the 14 annual public holidays, 10 are celebrated nationally (see the list below).
One is either Maundy Thursday (jueves santo) or Easter Monday (lunes de Pascua) depending on the region, one more is a regional holiday and the remaining two celebrate local festivities.
The following 10 dates are public holidays throughout Spain:
1 January – New Year’s Day (día del año nuevo)
6 January – Epiphany/ Three Kings (día de los reyes magos)
March/April – Good Friday (viernes santo)
1 May – Labour Day (día del trabajo)
15 August – Ascension Day (día de la Asunción)
12 October – Spanish National Day (día de la hispanidad)
1 November – All Saints’ Day (día de todos los santos)
6 December – Constitution Day (día de la Constitución)
8 December – Immaculate Conception (día de la Inmaculada Concepción)
25 December – Christmas Day (día de navidad)
Need to know – all public offices and banks close on public holidays. Shops generally close while monuments, museums, restaurants and bars open as usual with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. On both those days it’s difficult to find anything open in Spain.
Every locality in Spain celebrates two public holidays a year. These generally fall on the patron saint’s day plus one other date marking an event in the area.
For example, in Madrid, public holidays fall on 15 May for San Isidro (patron saint of the city) and on 9 November for the Virgin of the Almudena (another patron saint of the city).
In Malaga, local holidays are on 19 August commemorating the taking of the city by the Catholic Kings and on 8 September celebrating the Virgin of the Victory (patron saint of the city).
In many areas, one of the local public holidays usually falls during the fair (feria) festivities.
These celebrations tend to last for around a week during which banks, public offices and local businesses often run a special fair timetable. For example, they may open only from 9am to midday during the week.
Top tip – if you’re going somewhere and plan to do business, go to the bank or shop when you get there, check your chosen date doesn’t fall on a public holiday.
Longer public holidays in Spain
Public holidays in Spain are always celebrated on the day they fall on, unlike some countries where they are moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
This means you may find a public holiday in the middle of the week or at the weekend.
If a public holiday falls on a Saturday, no other day is taken in lieu. If it falls on a Sunday, however, the following Monday counts as a public holiday.
When a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, it’s common to take the Monday or Friday off as well.
This practice is known as a bridge (puente) and whilst the day in the middle doesn’t officially count as a holiday, many people take advantage of the long weekend.
In some cases, particularly in early December when two public holidays come in quick succession, some people take the previous and following day off.
This is known as a viaduct (viaducto). This year, the early December public holidays fall on a Wednesday and Friday – expect most businesses and schools to open just on the Monday and Tuesday during that week.
Top tip – if you’re working in Spain, plan your holidays around the bank holidays to make the most of your days off.