Home Blog

Blog

August is almost upon us and anyone planning to visit Spain next month may find themselves immersed in some of the most fun and wacky fiestas on earth. Most towns hold their own fiestas, and cities like Madrid have different neighbourhood fiestas each week, so there is always something exciting going on.

Here’s a selection of some of the top August fiestas, from the north to the south of Spain:

International Festival, Santander

From 4-31 August, visitors to Santander can enjoy Cantabria’s biggest cultural event. You’ll find music, art, dance and theatre taking place everywhere from the most grand gardens and palaces to churches and even caves!

August Fiestas, Ibiza

The parties in Ibiza aren’t just inside the clubs and between 5 and 15 August everyone will be celebrating, with ten days of local fiestas which include fireworks, sporting competitions and a special tribute to the island’s seafaring heritage.

San Lorenzo Fiestas, Huesca

Head to Huesca in Aragón between 9-15 August for a week of fiestas celebrating the city’s Patron Saint, San Lorenzo. Catch traditional music and dancing, parties, religious processions and activities for visitors of all ages this week.

Semana Grande in Bilbao and San Sebastián

From 9-16 August San Sebastián will be awash with merrymakers, free concerts and theatre, pop up bars across the city, fireworks and fun throughout both day and night, while 16-24 August it will be Bilbao’s turn.

Octopus Festival in O Carballiño, Galicia

10 August sees the annual Octopus Festival take place in the Galician town of O Carballiño and is the perfect moment to sample the tasty local delicacy, Pulpo Gallego. Around 25,000 kilos of octopus will be cooked up – all washed down with Ribeiro wine!

Feria de Málaga

Between 16 and 23 August Málaga is the place to be, with events, processions and fireworks taking place all over the city. The central point of the Feria is the El Real fairground area, where there’s a definite festival vibe, but you’ll also find plenty of action on the beach and at the port, as well as within the city’s historic winding streets.

Walking Festival, La Palma, Canary Islands

If you’ve overindulged with the rest of Spain over the fiesta period, head over to the island of La Palma between 22-24 August for the walking festival. Tours are led in Spanish, English or German and follow different routes across the island, from the “rum route” and the “cheese route”, to the less calorific “Sistine Chapel of the Atlantic”. As you make your way around on foot, aside from the beautiful scenery you’ll be entertained with live music and traditional celebrations.

Cider festival, Gijón, Asturias

If you’ve never tried delicious Asturian cider you’re in for a treat at this annual celebration of the region’s favourite tipple between 26 and 31 August. The festival sees thousands of cider fans head to Gijón’s beach where 30,000 litres of cider are given out, as well as cider pouring competitions (it’s an art and much harder than it sounds!) and festivities across the city.

La Tomatina, Buñol, Valencia

This famous and totally off-the-wall celebration needs little introduction. 27 August is when the town of Buñol near Valencia launches tons of tomatoes on top of eager partygoers and plays host to the world’s biggest tomato fight.

INTERNATIONAL tourism is on the rise in Malaga with an 8 per cent rise in the number of Europeans choosing the Costa del Sol as their favourite summer destination.

So far this year 2.3 million Europeans have passed through the arrival gates of Malaga airport.

There has been an even bigger increase in the number of international tourists from further afield with 267,580 of them arriving from places as varied as China, the Far East or the United States; this makes for a 10 per cent rise in this group.

Elias Bendodo, provincial delegate for tourism, has commented that the numbers so far augur well for the yearly targets of 10 million tourists, with five million of them coming between June and September.

Bendodo went on to comment that the number of national tourists has also risen by 2.4 per cent.

The nationality showing the greatest rise is German followed closely by Russians and Italians. The greatest number of tourists arriving on the Costa del Sol are still coming from the UK and even this group has risen by 5 per cent.

This summer  Mallorca has 39 Blue Flag beaches – eight more than in 2013.

This year’s Blue Flag beaches were named in June by the awarding body, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), in recognition of standards including quality of water, security, environmental conditions and beach installations.

The new additions for 2014 are:

  • Oratori,
  • Cala Vinyes,
  • Ses Penyes Rotges,
  • Cala Marçal,
  • Cala Ferrera,
  • Cala Sa Nau,
  • S’Arenal (Porto Colom),
  • Cala Mondragó.

Spain has held the record for the country with most Blue Flag beaches and ports since 1987, gaining an additional 34 since last year. Of Spain’s 681 Blue Flags, the Balearics have 85 in total.

British expats living in Spain will have to be on their toes to keep up with the new Spanish tax rules. There are a number of changes afoot which could trip you up faster than a flamenco dance. These include:

· A new double tax treaty

· New disclosure rules

· New tax allowance bands

Before becoming too entangled in the new rules, you need to clear whether you are a resident for tax purposes. This applies to expats and homeowners. You are a Spanish resident if you spend more than 183 days (roughly six months) in Spain in one calendar year , and they don’t have to be consecutive days.

But you will also be presumed to be a Spanish resident if your “centre of vital interests” is in Spain. For instance, if your husband or wife lives in Spain and you’re not legally separated.

“The centre of vital interests was introduced to prevent fraud where individuals maintained their whole life in Spain, but made sure they remained under the 183 day barrier,” explains Jason Porter, Business Development Director at tax and wealth management firm Blevins Franks.

Double taxation

The UK and Spain have had a Double Taxation Convention for some time, but the new treaty only came into force in June with further rules covering income tax and other taxes kicking in on January 1 and April 6, 2015.

“The new treaty is especially relevant to individuals and companies who are tax residents in Spain, but who draw income from the UK, as well as those who split their time between the two, perhaps paying tax in both,” says Richard Way, Editor of the Overseas Guides Company.

“For example, the new treaty could affect the amount of tax certain expat pensioners’ pay.”

Government service pensions paid to retired members of the fire service, police, civil servants, armed forces and local authorities are exempt from Spanish tax. Under the new treaty the amount of the pension is still exempt but must be included when calculating how much tax is due in Spain. This could have the effect of pushing any other income – perhaps from investments and rent – into a higher tax bracket meaning you’d have to pay more tax in Spain.

Disclosure rules

The new Spanish ‘disclosure’ rules mean that Spanish residents and expats living in Spain will have to declare all relevant overseas assets worth more than €50,000. This includes bank accounts, property and life assurance policies.

“Tax authorities are now openly sharing information about citizens’ taxable assets in order to claim unpaid tax,” says Rachael Griffin, head of technical marketing at Skandia.

“For Spanish residents who have been declaring their assets already, this should simply be an extra administrative burden. However, for those who have not been declaring assets up until this point there is a potential for a significant tax charge and fine. Individuals in this situation should seek professional advice as soon as possible”

And in a move that’s led to mutterings of a new Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish authorities have started automatically taking tax debts from people’s bank accounts.

Reduced tax bands

On the plus side, there are proposals to simplify and reduce the tax bands which will be introduced in 2015 and 2016 after consultation. Under the proposals, the seven income tax bands would reduce to five and the lowest tax band would fall to 19pc by 2016 from the current level of 24.75pc. The top rate for those earning more than €300,000 could fall from 52pc to 45pc by 2016.

“The average income tax burden is expected to reduce by 12.5pc – but taxpayers with earnings of less than €24,000 will pay 23.5pc less tax,” says Mr Porter.

Savings income rates and thresholds could also fall.

But it’s not all positive. The €1,500 annual exemption against dividend income could be removed and the 60pc deduction against net rental income for Spanish residents could fall to 50pc. In addition, indexation, which allows for the effect of inflation over time, would no longer apply when a property is sold.

“These proposed changes are not a foregone conclusion,” adds Mr Porter. “Even if they are passed, the different autonomous regions in Spain have the right to either not apply them or change the rates.”

The combination of all the tax rules in Spain means that tax freedom day – the day you finally stop paying tax to the state and start earning for yourself – is June 12, up from May 19.

“This really highlights the increased tax burden on the individual,” says Mr Porter