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Feel The Roar – A Tradition Yet To Be Discovered – Paloma Morcillo

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With Easter just around the corner, it’s probably time to start planning a quick getaway from London’s busy streets. Fancy something different? Then, bear with me and learn about one of Spain’s oldest, but most unknown traditions: the tamboradas.


A bit of history

Tamborada refers to a massive concentration of drums in the streets of some Spanish cities and towns during Holly Week celebrations. The drums used are handmade, often inherited from older members of the family, and usually decorated with elaborated patterns and designs. There are 22 towns and cities in Spain ( where this tradition reaches its zenith during Holy Week, as its inhabitants flood the streets with a rhythm that makes all of them come and enjoy as one overwhelming roar. One of these cities, Hellín, happens to be the place where I was born.

Holy Week in Hellín – A tamborada of International Tourist Interest

Hellín is a medium-sized city in south-eastern Spain, in the province of Albacete (Castile-La Mancha). For those who want to discover it, a good idea is to visit us and wander through the maze of streets to discover the old Jewish and Muslim quarters, or beautiful buildings, with examples of architecture from the Middle Age, dating from the 12th century.

Our tamborada, declared of International Tourist Interest in 2007, is one of the most famous celebrations of this sort in Spain, but it is still yet to be discovered and enjoyed by international visitors. Every year, over 25,000 people of all ages and backgrounds, roll their drums at unison, dressed in black robes and red or black scarf. We all play to a rhythm which distinguishes us from other cities – it’s called racataplá.

To understand the origins of this celebration, we have to go back to 1441. At the time, Christians participated in processions around the city to frighten off evil spirits and witches. In this way, they used to play drums not only to create a big roar believed to keep the evil away, but also to encourage believers to participate in such celebrations. This tradition has evolved (nowadays, it is classed as a pagan tradition which should cease before the religious processions begin) and successfully survived up to this day, managing to involve the whole of our city as well as visitors from other parts of Spain. We even tried to make it into the Guinness World Record in 2015! But sadly, they couldn’t certify the exact number of people playing.

The first drum performance takes place at night on the Friday before Palm Sunday. However, it is not until Holy Wednesday when the first official tamborada occurs. Thousands of tamborileros (drum players) meet at 3 o’clock at the town hall square and play until the procession has finished, at around midnight. This is definitely the biggest performance out of them, since it happens during daytime and it allows the younger tamborileros to join the celebration. Several other tamboradas happen at night on the Thursday, Saturday and Easter Sunday, when the Holy Week is sadly over for us. You can check more information on this link:

If you are still unsure about visiting us, this celebration offers much more. Do not be scared of blending in with the locals, as Hellín is a very open city where everyone will be more than happy to show you how to play the drum. We also have a wonderful gastronomy and are surrounded by breathtaking mountain landscapes which are undoubtedly worth a visit too! Take a chance to experience how families, friends and visitors mix together in this amazing and loud celebration. Come and practise your Spanish while playing some drumbeats! ¡Feliz Semana Santa! Happy Easter!


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1 Comment

  1. Juan

    Una buena manera de dar a conocer la cultura de un pueblo ,muy bien expuesta por paloma morcillo para personas de otra nacionalidad que quieran aprender el idioma, disfrutar y aprender una detallada historia de la semana santa que se celebra en Hellín ,donde todos son bien recibidos,en todas las épocas del año.Saludos