“Fiesta de los Toros de Girón”
The small town of Girón, just south of Cuenca, is nestled in the northern end of the Yunguilla Valley.
It’s home to Fiesta de los Toros, an annual religious and cultural event that has been held for over a hundred years. The Festival of the Bulls celebrates the icon of El Señor de Girón, which is believed to bring rain and prosperity.
Before we moved south to Loja, the fiesta was in full swing. Starting in October, it lasts for 6 weeks. Many people come back to Girón from abroad to take part in and to help fund the celebrations.
We missed the actual running of the bulls but did experience some festival events. Rockets are fired off early on Saturday mornings, guiding people to the different fiesta locations. The noise scares the bulls into running and they are chased through the streets, captured, and eventually killed.
The warm blood of the bulls is passed around and drank, sometimes chased with a local liquor called aguardiente, followed by a beef barbecue and party. I think I would have to drink a lot of aguardiente before drinking the blood…
The rockets, or “cohetes” are loud and are detonated 24 hours a day – they can be heard all over the valley. Bands and loud music play all hours of the day and night. Lucky for us, we lived on a street where the “cohetero”, or Rocket Man as we called him, launched many of his bamboo missiles…
The Saturday before we moved – our move had nothing to do with the partying, by the way – we spent 4 hours watching festivities and fireworks. Horses and riders paraded around the soccer field, circling a drummer and flute player, and a parade of horses and people marched through the streets. Figurines of animals and people were carried on dancing men’s shoulders. Sidewalk booths sold BBQd food, candied apples, empanadas, and other treats. We had BBQd bananas and chicken – delicious.
After dark, the main events began. Men on horseback threw candies into the crowds as they rode past. The dancing men returned, carrying their figurines, this time strung with fireworks. They paraded around in front of the crowds, spraying sparks, children playing amongst them, running away from the explosions. Flames erupted from the eyes of a giant bird, a bull shot fire out of its horns, and a horse spouted sparks out of its nose. A great show!
Next came the main event – fireworks. Three giant towers were erected section by section throughout the day, the tallest stretching about 50 feet into the sky. They were strung with thousands of fireworks including fire wheels and cascading “waterfalls”.
Each tower was lit separately, from the bottom, the fireworks and spinning fire wheels igniting in sequence until reaching the top, where spinning wheels erupted and soared into the sky, shooting fireworks as they flew over the town.
Fire-shooting flying saucers floated across the soccer field, suspended on an invisible wire, followed by the grand finale – a fantastic display of fireworks.
After the light show, people danced on the street wearing colourful, traditional dresses and costumes, accompanied by ancestral music. Check out the little guy’s moves!
Wow! We were totally impressed by the display put on by this small town.
If you have the opportunity to visit Girón in October, you don’t want to miss Fiesta de los Toros!
- If you like hiking, biking, or exploring with your vehicle, you might want to check out some of the backroads around Giron.
- Don’t miss El Churro Waterfalls just outside of town.
- Laguna de Busa, close to the town of San Fernando, is another interesting place to visit. You can hike a mountain and stay in a cabin or tent – you may even get to meet some spirits on the lake.