Tuesday, 21 April 2015

St George's Day in Catalonia

April 23rd is La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day), or ‘the day of books and roses’ as it is sometimes known, and is an important day in the Catalan calendar. In the UK we often recognise St George’s Day as an inherently English concept; however George is the patron saint of many countries and communities throughout the world, and few celebrate him more vibrantly than Catalonia.

St George’s day in this area of Spain is essentially the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, and is very much a celebration of love and literature with friends and lovers exchanging books and roses. The red rose has often been associated with St George, with many cultures bearing a rose on their clothing in recognition of the day; the exchanging of books, however, wasn’t introduced until 1923. Traditionally, lovers would exchange gifts, with men presenting a single rose to their sweetheart and receiving a book in return.
Barcelona is one of best places to be on April 23rd as streets are lined with stalls offering both new and previously owned books, and you can find a flower vendor on each street corner selling roses of every colour imaginable. The Rambla is packed with people surrounding the book stalls, cafes and venues hold 24-hour reading marathons, and book signings are arranged all over the city, renowned for being Spain’s publishing capital. To celebrate, some of the bigger companies even give free roses away with book purchases!
The popularity of the event in Catalonia has made such an impact that in 1995 UNESCO formally announced April 23rd as World Book and Copyright Day.

Nevertheless, Catalan celebrations for Sant Jordi aren’t just limited to flowers and literature. Spain is infamous for its ability to throw a good fiesta, and Sant Jordi is no exception. Celebrations in Catalonia involve lots of dancing as well as staging of the popular Castellers (towers of people) that the region is known for.

Hotels in Catalonia

We have some excellent hotels in Catalonia for those wishing to celebrate St George’s Day in typical Catalan style and have chosen the following two to recommend to you:

HCC Regente 4*, Barcelona

Located on the Rambla de Catalunya, just above the Passeig de Gracia, this lovely 4* is ideal for exploring Barcelona's centre. Its rooftop terrace and pool boast fantastic views of the city where guests can see both Mount Tibidabo and the Sagrada Familia. The building dates back to 1913 and its façade retains much of the original wrought iron and stained glass, meanwhile the interior was renovated in 2012, giving the hotel a fresh and contemporary feel. Its 79 guestrooms are spacious and feature all the modern amenities you would expect from any decent 4* hotel.
Carlemany Hotel 4*, Girona

This beautiful hotel is located in the heart of Girona's commercial centre , a 5 minute walk from the historic quarter and a stone's throw away from the town's main train station. The hotel's stylish interiors are accompanied by various artworks and tapestries by local Catalan artists, enhancing the hotel's contemporary atmosphere. The Carlemany also benefits from two restaurants and a coffee shop offering some of the finest food in Girona.

Girona - a quick guide

North of Barcelona, this lovely historic town is a beautiful place to stay for those who wish for a more peaceful break away from the hustle and bustle of the city. With plenty of history and home to the famous El Celler de Can Roca restaurant (the former World's Best Restaurant now holds the title iof second best), Girona is a fantastic way to discover a little more of what Catalonia has to offer.

To check prices and availability for these hotels, please click here.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Epiphany Celebrations in Spain

The Epiphany (Twelfth Night) is a major event in the Spanish calendar and it is seen as a more important date than Christmas Day during the festive period. The Spanish typically celebrate Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) and then gifts are exchanged on 6th January (Reyes) to mark when the Three Wise Men arrived to bestow gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh on the baby Jesus.

Whilst Christmas Day has become more widely celebrated in Spain, the Epiphany remains the most exciting celebration for children who wait eagerly on 5th January for the Wise Men to arrive with their gifts. To mark the occasion, towns and cities throughout the country hold fiestas and parades where people dress up, feast, and celebrate.
 A popular traditional food eaten at this time is the Roscón de Reyes (Roscon of Kings). This a sweet bread ring decorated with colourful candied fruits to give the appearance of a bejewelled crown. A small figurine (usually a baby Jesus) and a dried fava bean are baked into the cake and tradition dictates that whoever finds the figurine will be named king or queen for the day, whilst whoever finds the fava bean has to pay for the following year’s Roscón. 


Alcoi Parade – 5th January 2015

Parades are held throughout Spain to mark Reyes, however the country’s longest-running parade is held in Alcoi in Valencia and has been a fixture in the town since 1885. The entire town comes alive at this time of year and celebrations can last for around 3 days.
For 2015, the fiesta will begin on the Sunday before 6th January with the epiphany feast and children dressed as shepherds arriving to give gifts to the baby Jesus, this children’s parade is known as ‘les Pastoretes’ (the little shepherds).  People will continue to celebrate on 4th January with a ‘Royal Envoy’ announcing the arrival of the Three Kings the following evening, and children will place letters to the Wise Men into letterboxes carried by donkeys. 
Celebrations culminate on 5th of January with the arrival of the Three Wise Men (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) on camels, with torchbearers lighting their way and Royal Pages handing out gifts to children.  On the 6th of January families will then exchange gifts amongst themselves.
This is truly a magical time of year to be in Spain, and a fantastic opportunity to witness traditional Spanish celebrations.


Alcoi is ideally located between Valencia and Alicante, and we represent a large number of hotels in both cities which can provide excellent bases for visiting Spain’s longest-running Reyes parade.
We have chosen some our favourite hotels below:


This lovely 3-star hotel is located in the new centre, one of the most popular commercial centres in the city and a short distance away from the historic centre of Valencia, with prices from £64 B&B per room, per night.

This beautiful 4-star hotel is located in the heart of Valencia's cultural centre, close to the Cathedral and the well-known Carmen quarter. With plenty of restaurants and boutiques nearby, this a great choice to explore Valencia and prices start from £74 B&B per room, per night.


Tryp Ciudad de Alicante 3*  
Located in cosmopolitan centre of Alicante close to the beach, pier, and historic centre, this contemporary 3-star has plenty of charm stemming from its modern interiors which use stylish decoration to create a light and lively atmosphere. Prices from £47 B&B per room, per night.

Hotel Eurostars Mediterranea Plaza 4* 
This 4-star is located in the heart of the historic quarter in the 'town hall square' with fantastic views looking over the beautiful plaza and views of the Santa Barbara castle which towers over the city. It is also a short walk from the beach. Prices from £50 B&B per room, per night.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Parador Autumn Offer

Paradors have launched a fantastic Autumn Offer - prices from just £48! Book by 14th October for stays between 15th October '14 to 29th March '15.

To view full details, please click here.

Pousada Seasonal Sales

Enjoy special discounts of up to 23% this Autumn and Winter when you book before 31st October.

Participating hotels include: Pousada de Cascais, Pousada de Porto, Pestana Porto and Pestana Palace (Lisbon).

Only 3 weeks remaining to take advantage of these unbelievable prices- Don't miss out!

View more details

2015 Parador Offers

We are happy to announce that all of the Paradors offers have now been launched for 2015 including: Golden Days, Young Persons, Promotional Rate, Minimum 2-night offer, the 5-Night Card and their 3 and 7-night rutas. 

To view all special offers, please click here


If you are a frequent visitor to Paradors, you may already be an Amigos member?

We can help you plan your Parador stays making the best use of Parador special offers and Amigos offers when available. We can also make reservations using your Amigos points for your free night stays.

The Keytel team can also offer advice on where to stay and transport options to and from the UK in order to make planning your trip as simple as possible.

Call us on 020 7953 3020 for more information.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Spotlight on Spain: San Sebasitan's Jazz and Film Festivals

© Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA)

A popular tourist spot since the 19th century, the coastal city of San Sebastian has plenty to offer in terms of scenery, history, and culture.

Jazz Festival

The annual Heineken Jazzaldia Jazz festival is held on the third week of July in this beautiful Basque city. Established in 1966, it is the oldest jazz festival in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe and celebrates its 49th year in 2014.

The Heineken Jazzaldia organizes nearly a hundred concerts, both free and paid, in dozens of indoor and outdoor venues. The most popular are those held at Zurriola Beach, Trinidad Square and the Kursaal terrace.

Below are details of five of the best concerts this year which will be held in Trinidad Square, Kursaal Auditorium, San Telmo Museum and the Victoria Eugenia Theatre.

24th July 2014: Trinidad Square. 9pm. 35.00

  • ·      Enrico Rava Tribe
  • ·      Bobby McFerrin: spirityouall

    25th July 2014: Kursaal Auditorium Kutxabank Space. 6.30pm. 35.00

  • ·      Chick Corea & Stanley Clarke Duet: The Songs of Return to Forever

25th July 2014: Trinidad Square. 9pm. 28.00

  • ·     Sketches Of Spain: Nicholas Payton & L'Instrumental de Gascogne The John Scofield Überjam Band

   26th July 2014: Trinidad Square. 9pm. 28.00

  • ·         Dave Holland: Prism
  •       Sun Ra Centennial Dream Arkestra

Film Festival

Courtesy of  San Sebastián Turismo & Convention Bureau
The Zinemaldia International Film Festival of San Sebastian is a film festival held annually in the month of September.

First established in 1953, this is one of the most prestigious internationally recognized film festivals in the world and attracts both home grown and international giants of the film industry. In previous years, the festival has been attended by big names such as Woody Allen, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Pedro Almodovar, and Steven Spielberg to name but a few.

It has also hosted major film events such as the international premiere for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and the European premiere for Star Wars.

This year marks the 62nd anniversary of the festival and San Sebastian is hoping to draw in film lovers and tourists alike. The festival is a great opportunity to discover new European and international talent and see some of the best films of the upcoming year.

For more information on both of these festivals, visit the San Sebastian Tourist Office website here.

Did you know?

© Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA)

We represent over 10 Keytel Hotels in San Sebastian and you can find out how to book here.