San Sebastian’sTamborrada. The beat of the Basque Country

Every 20th of January, San Sebastian in the Basque Country (North of Spain) moves to the sound of the drums. In honor of the city’s patron saint, the Tamborrada de San Sebastián provides the soundtrack for what is the best festival in this city. More than 18,000 participants divided into 147 tamborradas take their drums to the streets during the 24 hours of the day.
We place its origin back in 1836, in a carnival group that, on the day of San Sebastian, paraded at 5.00 a.m. to announce the start of the bulls, an event known as sokamuturra. The procession ended with drumming at the time of entering the Plaza de la Constitución. This is said to be the original Tamborrada and is the current Unión Artesana, founded in 1870, which is considered its direct heir.

However, it wasn’t until 1882 when, for the first time, the groups left in uniform with drums and costumes. This happened because, from 1881, the Consistory gave the societies the drums kept in the San Telmo Barracks and the clothing of the Napoleonic troops. Also in this decade the barrels were joined to the drums to symbolize the citizens who, while waiting to collect water from the fountain, played their buckets as a mockery of the drums that the military sounded during the French occupation of Napoleon.

Finally, at the beginning of the 20th century, the evolution of the Tamborrada de San Sebastián led it to disassociate itself from its carnival origins and to land in what it is today. In this way, other groups with different clothing were added, women were included and the participation of the youngest began. With all this, the result is a festival of great identity and history that, at the same time, commemorates the patron saint of the city in which, for them, is the great day of the year.

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