The city of San Sebastian in northern Spain resounds to the sound of drumbeats, when parades of drummers, dressed as chefs or soldiers, take to the street (starting at midnight) to celebrate the Tamborrada fiesta.
The origins of Spain's noisiest festival, which dates back to the 18th century, are obscure. It may have originated as a noisy way of mocking French occupiers during the Napoleonic Wars. Other people contend that a musical baker was singing as he filled his water barrels, and some flirtatious young girls started banging on the barrels to accompany him. A crowd gathered, and the fiesta was born.
The festivities start in the Parte Vieja (old quarter) at midnight on the 19th when the mayor raises the flag in the Plaza Konstituzioa. Parades of drummers, representing the different gastronomic societies of the city, march through the streets accompanied by a cacophony of drumbeats, playing drums and barrels in honour of their patron saint, the Donostia of San Sebastian. Wine and cognac flow freely and the city never sleeps. The following morning the children of San Sebastian enjoy their own version of the parade.
After 24 hours of non-stop noise and revelry, this deafening festival draws to a close at midnight on 20 January.