This fantastic figure is Celedón – the character that opens Vitoria-Gasteiz’s most important festival.
At six in the evening on August 4, the bells of San Miguel Church ring out, and the traditional ‘chupinazo’ firework is let off to mark the beginning of the festival in honour of the Virgen Blanca, the city’s patron saint.
As the bells ring, a life-sized doll dressed in the traditional costume of the region starts its descent from the top of the church tower. This is the ‘bajada del Celedón’, with umbrella open, ‘flying’ over the crowds below. As he passes, thousands of bottles of champagne are opened, cigars are lit, and the music of fanfares, txistu and drums mixes with the joyous hubbub of the thronging crowd gathered in the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca.
Then Celedón reaches the balcony of a house in the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca – and that’s the official start of the celebrations