Famed for beautiful coastlines, stunning architecture and colourful festivals, Spain also boasts a magnificent tradition for folk music and dancing.
The most notable and famous is Flamenco, which comes from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. Despite its joyful tone, this genre of music actually details the suffering endured by Andalusian gypsies.
However, if you want to experience some of this authentic entertainment first hand but are on a tight budget, cheap holidays to Spain are readily available. What’s more, finding a tablao (restaurant with a stage) is relatively easy wherever you may be.
So if you’re in Madrid, Barcelona or the heart of Flamenco country, here are some of the options on offer.
If you happen to be around Madrid in February, then get ready for some musical delight. The Festival de Flamenco Caja Madrid takes place in venues around the city, including Teatro del Canal. Some of the country’s best singers, dancers and musicians descend on Spain’s capital for this scintillating extravaganza.
In May, another fantastic opportunity for Flamenco is the Festivity of San Isidro. Here, parades take place on the streets and local inhabitants dress up in typical chulapo and goyesco costumes.
Otherwise, recommended tablaos include Casa Patas, Corral de la Pacheca and Cardamomo. Sundays night at El Juglar, a laid back hangout for bohemian types, hosts performances by students from the nearby Amor de Dios School.
Traditionally, Barcelona is not usually associated with Flamenco. Nevertheless, this intriguing and fascinating metropolis has attracted an increasing amount of artists to perform Spain’s native music genre.
Tarantos Flamenco Show claims to be one of the oldest in Barcelona, while family owned Tablao Nervión is conveniently located near Picasso Museum and the Cathedral.
For a truly genuine performance, take a trip to the later showing at El Patio Andaluz. And for something even more unique, visit Teatre Poliorama for Opera y Flamenco, an original blend of “melodic lyrical singing, Spanish tradition and the magic of Flamenco.”
The capital of Andalusia is rightfully proud of its Flamenco roots and has around half a dozen tablaos to choose from. Although the converted warehouse Palacio Andaluz on the outskirts can house 400 people, there are several more intimate and personable places to go.
Tablao El Arenal, near the famous bullring, has beautiful colonial surroundings, while the Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus is located in a former Sephardic Jewish mansion. Both of these venues tend to get busy, so booking in advance is advisable.
To learn more about Spain’s love of music and dancing, visit Museo del Baile Flamenco set up by Seville dancer Cristina Hoyos. After a day of viewing the interactive exhibits that explain the history and development of Flamenco, stick around in the evening, as the central courtyard is transformed into a live performance venue.