The virgin of San Lorenzo is the patron saint of Valladolid and naturally that’s a reason to celebrate. I’ve only experienced village-sized patron celebrations so far: on a Sunday, after the service with pea soup in huge pots and homemade potato salads the size of laundry baskets.
Here, however, is the celebration SLIGHTLY bigger. For nine days they have Casetas all over the city; little stalls and booths, offering all kinds of food and beverages. Each evening there are concerts for free at the Plaza Mayor and right outside the town they built a fair. At the fair are of course more Casetas, but these are organized by different regions, so that you can sample yourself through whole Spain (thanks to Valencia I was finally able to eat my very first real Spanish paella, yum yum yum).
Aside from good food and much, much wine they offer an extended cultural program: folklore dancing, local artists, all museums are making a special effort – there are actually a lot of them – and at each corner they provide plays and concerts. Because of the high temperatures in the afternoon go people out very late and many Cafés and Casetas are still open until three or four a.m., for the common Spaniard also eats significantly later, than I am used to.
There are visitors from all over Spain, so that you have to dance around crowds with carry-on on Friday and Sunday evenings. Valladolid is neither very big nor very famous, so that you should speak at least a few phrases of Spanish; English is not really helpful around here. If you hear someone speaking in a foreign tongue it is in most cases an exchange student like me :D
The highlight of the Fiestas y Ferias de Valladolid is of course the actually day of La Virgen de San Lorenzo. Everyone dresses in their best clothes, the women wear dresses and the children are made up in a cute way and all citizens head to the cathedral. After the service they have a procession during which they carry a statue of the virgin of San Lorenzo through the alleys, which reminds me strongly of Corpus Christi, just with music that is a touch more dramatic and dancers with castanets.
There was a bullfight as well, but I didn’t have the heart to watch that.
Anyway, it is a very exciting festival and if you just moved here it is, of course, the perfect opportunity to go out and explore the city and its admirable culture. If the whole thing becomes to exhausting, however, you have to slow down and meet friends at the outdoor café at the park Campo Grande or at the beach bar Playa at the river, order a jar of homemade sangria and take time to breathe. There are enough opportunities to get upset at uni, work or school.