In the world of finance and urban development, Bilbao is known as an upcoming “magnet city”. This means Bilbao has been highly successful in drawing people, business, and tourism to the city.
Bilbao has developed this magnetic pull with some big investments, and also some interesting cultural events. Some of those events include:
Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition: Bilbao’s magnetic pull attracted this competition for the first time in September 2014. The competition uses the La Salve bridge over the Nervion river behind the Guggenheim Museum as the 27-meter (90 foot) diving platform. The Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition attracts top cliff divers from around the world, performing dives like the “back armstand with blind entry”, “inward double half”, and so on. Picture the Olympic high dive, just much, much higher to supply more time to twist and flip.
You can watch this event for free along the riverbank streets or the North terrace of the Guggenheim, but expect some big crowds. Or, if you can somehow get a kayak into the Nervion river, you can watch from there, too.
Aste Nagusia Festival: Aste Nagusia (translation: “big week”) is a nine-day festival taking place at the end of August each year. It’s the largest festival in Spain – attracting over 100,000 people – outplacing even the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. This festival atmosphere fits somewhere in the neighborhood of Carnival in Brazil and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but is just a touch more family friendly.
The events during Aste Nagusai include music, dancing, a huge food fight, and of course bullfighting. Each night of the festival includes an international fireworks competition. Note that Bilbao has an actual event called Carnaval that coincides with Carnival in Brazil, but is a bit smaller than Aste Nagusia.
Bilbao Tango Festival: There is a scene in the movie “Scent of a Woman” where Al Pacino takes Gabrielle Anwar onto the dance floor to teach her how to tango. This scene could have easily taken place at the Bilbao Tango Festival. This festival attracts professional dancers from around the world, and at the same time offers classes for beginners. September or October is the typical timing of this event.
Bilbao Fantastic Film Festival: This film festival is a bit more specific than the Cannes film festival and others like it. The Bilbao festival focuses on the genres of Fantastic, Horror, and Science Fiction. Think of films like “The Wolfman”, “Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman”, and “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. The Bilbao festival usually features around 30 long and short films, and is known to conduct screening of classics like “The Shining” and “Rosemary’s Baby”. Plan for early May to catch this event.
Bilbao Night Marathon: Each October, Bilbao hosts the premier night marathon in Europe. The running events start and end at the Guggenheim Museum, and feature a full marathon, half marathon, and 10K race. You’ll have to stay up late to run or watch the event – it kicks off at 10:00 PM. Timing for the 2015 event is set for October 18, with registration fees around 40€ ($50 U.S.).