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Santo Tomás in Bilbao, guide to the great festival of our culture and gastronmy

Santo Tomás en Bilbao

The best opportunity for you to get to know our culture and gastronomy first-hand. If you are visiting Bilbao on December 21, you cannot miss the great festival of Basque farmers and ranchers. A special day, which marks the beginning of Christmas, in which more than 100 baserritarras expose their products to the thousands of people who come to their stalls. Do you want to enjoy the Santo Tomás fair in Bilbao as if you were from here? We tell you everything you need to know.

What is Saint Thomas

The Santo Tomás festival is a market where you can try and buy typical Basque products. Throughout the day, the baserritarras display their animals, cheeses, donuts, sweets, fruits, vegetables, txakoli, talos, crafts… enlivened with traditional music such as txalaparta, trikitixa, bertsos and other traditional sounds.

It could be summed up as the festival of our culture.

Origin of Saint Thomas

It comes from an old custom used by Basque ranchers and farmers to sell their products in the capital.

During the 19th century it was common for the baserritarras of Bizkaia to go to Bilbao to pay the annual rent for their farmhouses and sell their products. Tradition that has been maintained to this day.

When is Santo Tomas

It is celebrated every year on December 21.

Where is the Santo Tomás market held in Bilbao?
Traditionally, the Mercado de Santo Tomás has been divided between the Plaza Nueva and the surroundings of El Arenal. This year, all the stalls have been relocated so that they are concentrated in Arenal.

What you can’t miss in Santo Tomás

  • A bottle of txakoli/cider: you can buy it in the same stall, where they will give you glasses to drink it while you enjoy the party atmosphere.
  • Talo: it is a crime that you leave without trying one. Talo is a traditional Basque meal that is made up of a corn cake that is traditionally rolled up with a piece of chorizo ​​or chistorra inside. In recent years, it has also been modernized and you can choose among many other ingredients such as cheese, loin, black pudding, and even vegetarian and vegan stems.
  • The Market: a tour of the market is mandatory to enjoy the colors and smells of everything that our land offers. From fruits and vegetables to cheeses, meat, sweets, crafts…
  • Animal fair: during the day different farm animals such as chickens, pigs, cows or oxen are shown.
  • Basque music: beyond food, we have our own musical culture that is also present throughout the festival. In it you can discover our bertsolaris (poets who improvise verses in Basque), trikitilaris (accordionists) or txalapartaris (percussionists).
  • Santo Tomás at night: although the market lasts all day, the party lasts until late at night throughout the Casco Viejo.

 

And if, in addition, you come with children, you will be delighted to know that during the fair there are a multitude of games and activities aimed at the little ones: crafts, games to learn about working on a farm with animals, how to take care of an orchard…

How to get to the Santo Tomás Market in Bilbao

If you are not near the area where it is held, you can use any of the public transports that operate in Bilbao. The Abando and Casco Viejo metro stops are a couple of minutes walk from El Arenal. In addition, the Tram and Bizkaibus have stops nearby. We talk about all the options in detail in our post about public transport in Bilbao.

And if you are looking for a place to sleep in Bilbao, we invite you to visit our hotel in the Casco Viejo. Close to everything you want to see and acoustically isolated so you can rest when you need it.