'Festival of the Near Death Experience'
Ten Best Places to Visit in Spain
1 to 10 of the best tourist sites in Spain
Best Places to visit in Spain
A few more ideas on interesting tourist locations in Spain
Events in Spain
All the events in Spain. Fiestas, festivals and all that's exciting in entertainment in Spain
What's On in Spain
Guide to concerts, theatre, festivals & events in Spain.
Singers in Spain
Popular singers from Spain
Famous Singers from Spain
A list of famous singers from Spain past and present
Concerts in Spain
A comprehensive list of groups and artists performing in Spain
Gig's in Spain
All acts local & international appearing live in Spain
Festivals in Spain
Spain is the land of festivals. These are great entertainment and most of them free.
Sport in Spain
All the sport events in Spain in a monthly guide
Group's & Bands
Spanish & international groups and bands in Spain
Famous People
Famous Spaniards from now and yesteryear
Today in Spain
One step guide to what's on today in Spain. Entertainment in Spain in one easy click.
Hot in Spain
Read all the latest information on what's Hot & Exciting in Spain.
Places in Spain
The best places to visit in Spain. The beautiful and interesting places in Spain
Party, wedding & bar entertainers in Spain.
 Bulls, bull fighting, bull running, matadors, toreadors and all that's bulls in Spain
No need to spend a fortune. There's plenty of free things to do in Spain.
Tourist Offices
A list of tourist offices throughout Spain
A guide to theatre, art & more in Spain
Kids  & Families
Theme Parks, amusements, aqua parks and everything for kid's and family to do in Spain
 A guide to the many brilliant musicians in Spain
Entertainment agencies, wedding planners in Spain
Trade Shows & Fairs
Spain has a full calendar of trade events
Local Societies
All the hobbies and associations
Holiday Dates
National & Local holiday dates in Spain
VO & VOS Films
International films being shown in their own language
Travel Ideas
A few holiday ideas for Spain
Best Things to Do in Spain
Fun Things for all the family
Spanish Album Charts Best Twenty Albums in Spain
Find out the most popular music in Spain
Top Twenty Spanish Singles
Best selling music singles in Spain


'Festival of the Near Death Experience'
Las Nieves, Pontevedra
July  29th
Religious pilgrimages have been a part of Spanish life since the time of the Crusades, but none are as outrageous as the one that takes place today in the small northwestern town of Las Nieves. The action that unfolds today can hardly be believed. "Near death" and real life merge together in a surreal stew of Catholicism and Paganism in honor of Saint Marta de Ribarteme, the patron of resurrection.
In short, the pilgrimage is specifically for those who have had a near-death experience in the past year. These lucky folk pay their respects to Santa Marta by carrying (or riding in!) a coffin into the church to hear mass.
Thousands of people pour into this tiny town, and by 10am the streets are clogged with believers and gawkers. The coffins begin to arrive, borne by solemnly-dressed relatives carrying their lucky loved ones who have recently escaped death, and lugged by old men without families, who must carry their own coffins towards the small granite church of Santa Marta de Ribarteme. Mass begins around noon and is broadcast with loudspeakers outside of the sanctuary so the crowd outside can hear (the mass is then re-broadcast throughout the day in case you arrive late).

When the mass is complete, the church bells ring and a procession of coffins starts up the hill toward the nearby cemetery and then back to circle several times around the church. The people begin to chant "Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death," as a large statue of the saint is removed from the church and carried along with the coffins. The image of Santa Marta has her right hand raised to hold a cascade of money "offerings" to help protect those who have recently escaped entering the "dark mansion called death."

While the sentiment of the pilgrimage is overwhelmingly sober, the scene today is anything but. Street merchants are everywhere selling colorful statues of the Virgin and Jesus, illuminated scenes of the Last Supper, silver crosses and small plastic angels. There are plenty of Gitanos (Gypsies) there to entertain, along with brass bands playing enthusiastic "paso dobles" in the town square. Typical of Spanish fiestas, the locals are lighting fireworks everywhere. You won't go hungry, because there'll be plenty of street food - the specialty of the day is pungent octopus cooked in copper cauldrons.

Las Nieves is in the isolated northwest part of Spain, called Galicia, where mysterious pagan rites have been part of the culture since anyone can remember. Witches, "evil spirits" and exorcisms are not uncommon here, and it is said that Galicians have always added a bit of "black pepper" to their spiritual beliefs. The Catholic church has never been able to fully integrate their teachings and dogma here, and the Santa Marta de Ribarteme Pilgrimage is an attempt to integrate the Church's beliefs with the more primitive beliefs of the local inhabitants.