If you’re seeking an off-the-beaten-path festival steeped in tradition, history, and a touch of the bizarre, look no further than Antzar Eguna, or Goose Day. This unusual annual event takes place in the small Basque town of Lekeitio, Spain.
At the heart of Antzar Eguna is a tradition dating back centuries. On the festival day, a dead goose is suspended from a rope stretched across the town’s harbor. The bird is greased, making it even more challenging for the young men of the town who, one by one, leap from a boat to grasp the goose and attempt to decapitate it.
Each participant holds onto the goose while his fellow boatmen row back and forth, swinging him in the air. The goal is to endure the ride and tear the goose’s head off. This peculiar, and some might say brutal, spectacle draws a crowd of locals and curious tourists alike.
Over the years, concerns about animal rights led to modifications in the tradition. Nowadays, the goose used in the festivities is already dead before the event, and in some cases, a fake goose is used.
Artwork and Symbols
While Antzar Eguna does not feature conventional artwork like sculptures or paintings, it is rich in symbolic tradition. The goose itself is a potent symbol, potentially embodying local agricultural traditions or ancient rites of passage.
The participants’ struggle to rip off the goose’s head while enduring their wild ride can be seen as a symbolic act of courage and endurance. Similarly, the festive atmosphere, the communal gathering, and the harbor setting all paint a living picture of Lekeitio’s historical and cultural landscape.
Lekeitio is located on the northern coast of Spain in the autonomous Basque Country.
By Air: The closest international airport to Lekeitio is Bilbao Airport. Direct flights to Bilbao are available from various cities in Europe. If you’re coming from outside Europe, you will most likely transit through Madrid or Barcelona.
By Public Transport: From Bilbao, you can take a bus to Lekeitio. The journey takes about an hour and a half, and buses run several times a day. Alternatively, you can also take a train from Bilbao to Gernika, and from Gernika, a bus to Lekeitio.
Antzar Eguna is part of Lekeitio’s larger San Antolines festival, which usually takes place in the first week of September. If you’re planning to visit, remember to check the festival dates and bus schedules in advance.
While it’s a unique cultural spectacle, Antzar Eguna is not for the faint-hearted. If you do choose to attend, remember to respect local traditions and customs. This event is deeply rooted in the town’s history and identity, so it’s essential to approach it with an open mind and a respectful attitude.