Aste Nagusia of Bilbao 2023: Complete Guide

Bilbao’s Aste Nagusia (“Semana Grande” in Spanish “Big Week” in English) is the city’s main festival. It is held every year for nine days starting on the Saturday following the 15th of August, the day of the Virgin of Begoña. This festival has been held for over 40 years and attracts visitors from all over the world. It has a large number of events and activities of Basque culture that make it an unforgettable experience. In this article we would like to answer all your questions and give you some tips so that you can go to Bilbao fully prepared.

When does Bilbao’s Semana Grande 2023 take place?

Bilbao’s Semana Grande 2023 will take place from the 19th to the 27th of August. The festival kicks off on Saturday 19th in the Plaza del Teatro Arriaga. First the opening speech takes place on the balcony of the theatre, followed by the txupinazo (launch of a small rocket) and at the end comes Mari Jaia (“Mari party”), the “mascot” of the Semana Grande to kick off the festivities.

Mari Jaia is the icon of the Bilbao festivities, a doll that was created by the painter Mari Puri Herrero and that personifies a traditional Basque woman, with a cheerful and comical face, dressed in clothes covered with flowers, a headscarf and with her hands raised in a festive attitude.

How to get to the Aste Nagusia in Bilbao?

You have several transport options to get to the Aste Nagusia, but the fastest and most comfortable way to do it is with Book a Taxi, VIP Transfer or even Minivan (for large groups) in Bilbao to get to the Aste Nagusia quickly. You can also go directly to the festival from another part of the Basque Country or mainland Spain.

Other options for getting to the centre of Bilbao include buses (lines 28, 72, A3336, A3411, A3631 and A3912), trains (lines C1 and C3) and metro (lines L1 and L2).

What to do during Bilbao’s Semana Grande?

This festival includes a wide variety of different activities such as concerts, exhibitions, sports competitions and shows. Bilbao’s Semana Grande is also a good opportunity to enjoy Basque gastronomy and other regional products. And if you’re wondering what to wear, the locals usually wear a white T-shirt and a blue neckerchief.

The main “attraction” of these festivities are the txosnas, which are a kind of stalls where you can have a good time with friends while drinking kalimotxo, beer or kubatas. The federation of konpartsas of Bilbao (Bilboko Konpartsak) is in charge of organising them and setting them up around the Arenal and the back of the Arriaga.

Don’t miss out on the Giants and Big-heads gathering either. It usually takes place during the week, and is a real display of shapes and colours in which many people join in the celebration. And what about Gargantúa and his toboggan, another iconic character of the festival. These are two excellent alternatives if you are going to attend Bilbao’s Semana Grande with children.

On the other hand, you can also have fun in the attractions of the Barracas, which are located in Parque Etxebarria. In 2023 it returns with 73 attractions, for the enjoyment of young and old alike. Likewise, in La Plaza del Gas and Doña Casilda Park you can enjoy 18 theatrical performances.

Bilbao’s Semana Grande also includes many other activities, such as gastronomic contests, bullfights, sports competitions, traditional Basque dances, and concerts.

The closing ceremony takes place on the ninth day of the Aste Nagusia. Here a parade is organised to accompany Mari Jaia on her last walk around the fairgrounds. Then they put it on a boat in the Bilbao estuary and burn it amidst music and fireworks.

Aste Nagusia Concerts

The musical program for Bilbao’s Semana Grande in 2023 has not yet finalized all the concerts, but the lineup already includes some of the country’s top national stars. Here are the schedules:

Abandoibarra (23:30)

  • Lunes 21: Lori Meyers
  • Martes 22: Gatibu
  • Miércoles 23: Vanesa Martí

Europa Park (00:00)

  • Miércoles 23: Lola Indigo
  • Jueves 24: Zetak + Gaztea