Tour guide @ San Sebastián Urban Adventures. Just another Basque hoping to explore the world. Passionate gamer, repressed prose writer, and language nerd.
San Sebastián feels like autumn. It is the time for chestnuts and hot tea, fluffy coats and umbrellas, falling leaves and thunderstorms. For the last few weeks, the climate has been setting up the mood for a quiet end to the year. Mind you, we still have three more months to dive into local culture. Here are the highlights of next month’s cultural agenda:
San Sebastián Gastronomika Congress
For three days, San Sebastián, the mecca of Basque gastronomy, will organise the biggest gastronomic event in Europe, as the city welcomes international chefs to present their culinary works in Kursaal. And because this congress is not limited by borders, every year thousands of delegates from outside the continent are also invited to join.
The goal of the San Sebastián Gastronomika Congress is not just to build bridges between professionals in the industry; it is also about giving people a more profound notion of the diversity in food products, traditions and cooking secrets all around the world. Similarly, the congress is also a great tool for learning more about the history behind each meal, and for sharing techniques between cooking experts.
This year, the selected country will be India and their millennial of cooking traditions. With flavours described as mysterious, intriguing and even magical, how can we not be eager to try their splendid cuisine of lamb, chicken masala, infinite spices, breads, legumes, vegetables and curry?
From October 8 to 11, San Sebastián will welcome the biggest chefs in the region. The congress has confirmed the presence of more than 50 Michelin star chefs, including the chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world, Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco. The main star, however, will be Gaggan Anand, chef of the best restaurant in Asia according to The 50 Best Restaurants. Anand and his team will be introducing the audience to the unlimited possibilities of Indian cuisine.
The Gastronomika Congress is the best opportunity to expand your knowledge of gastronomy. So if you’re a foodie or a cook yourself, you might want to visit San Sebastián during these dates. If you work in the industry, you’ve still got time to get in touch with the congress organisation and ask for your accreditation.
During the congress, you’ll be able to sample from interesting stands in the Kursaal area — there will be more than 200 options that the public will be allowed to try. Don’t hesitate to sample their small portions of food for mindblowing explosions of flavour!
Fantastic Film and Terror Festival
Like in most of Western Europe, some foreign traditions have spread over our region. One of these, Halloween, has become popular worldwide, although it’s not traditionally celebrated in Spain. Here, the most common celebrations involve simply meeting friends for a sleepover and watching horror movies; aside from schoolchildren, hardly anyone dresses up for Halloween.
But if there’s something locals in San Sebastián will do during these dates, it’s attend the Fantastic Film and Terror Festival Week, happening from October 28 to November 3. If you’ve been to San Sebastián before in October, it’s very likely you’ve seen frightening film characters and villains taking over the streets. Can you imagine the children from the Village of the Damned (1960) staring at you from Teatro Principal?
Terror Week is celebrated at Teatro Principal, the main theatre in the Old Town. Frequently, the building façade is subtly transformed into a terrifying old building. Will you dare entering the theatre doors to watch contemporary fantastic, horror and gore movies?
And for those early visitors who won’t be present during this bloodcurdling festival, some have organised two film showings in collaboration with the festival week, again at the Teatro Principal. The tickets for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) are available online for this special session on October 21.
You can view the official line-up on the Terror Week website — a list of international films coming from Spain, France, Hungary, Germany, Japan, United States, Canada and Australia. And if you’re a cinephile, you can always apply to be part of the Youth Jury, to really be a part of the horrific viewings.
The festival will also organise different expositions, with original scripts and drafts, make-up work, weapons, photography and spooky props.
Donostikluba, an electronic music festival in Egia, will also be celebrated this month, from October 5 to 7. This project promotes independent music and assists with helping local bands to perform with international musicians. Have a look at their agenda if you want to enjoy unique music during your visit to San Sebastián!