Everything You Need to Know About Life in Spain, May 2023

May is historically a busy month in Spain, thanks to the public holidays and fiestas taking place across the country. It is an exciting time to spend time in Spain, with much to see and do. But there are also some significant political changes taking place in the country this month. Here’s everything you need to know:

A Public Holiday For All 17 Autonomous Regions

Each year in Spain, 1st May is a public holiday, to celebrate Labour Day or El Día del Trabajador . This holiday will be observed across all of Spain’s 17 regions. This year, 1st May will fall on a Monday, allowing those in Spain to take advantage of a long weekend.

If you’re just a tourist visiting Spain then you still need to be aware of this holiday, as schools and many shops and businesses will be closed for the day. Cities and popular tourist attractions are also likely to feel much busier.

A Public Holiday For Madrid

If you’re living in or visiting Madrid then you can take advantage of an even longer weekend, as 2nd May is also a public holiday in this region. This annual holiday celebrates the day in 1808 when the population rose up against Napoleon’s troops in the Peninsula War. This was a spontaneous act of patriotism, and schools and businesses in the city close to commemorate.

If you are in Madrid, then head to the streets of  Malasaña which will boast a party atmosphere and will be filled with art, music, dancing and events to mark the day locals call Dos de Mayo.

Mother’s Day is Celebrated

Although not a public holiday, if you live in Spain then don’t forget that Mother’s Day is coming up soon! Whilst Father’s Day in Spain is celebrated on the same day every year, the date of Mother’s Day changes, which can make it easier to forget.

Mother’s Day falls on the first Sunday of each month, and this year that will be 7th May. Mother’s Day won’t impact tourists in Spain, as schools and businesses won’t close. The day is usually celebrated by children giving gifts to their mothers and going for celebratory family meals.

A Month of Fiestas

In addition to the public holidays, May continues to be a month of celebration. Cordoba celebrates Cruces de Mayo from 27th April to 1st May, where floral crosses are strewn across the city. After this, Cordoba’s famous patio festival takes place from 2nd May to 14th May.

On 28th and 29th May, the small village of Romeria del Rocia will celebrate their annual fiesta. Although the village is small, more than one million people will make a pilgrimage to the village, often on horseback, during this period.

Finally, from 13th to 21st May in the Catalan city of Girona there will be an elaborate flower festival. Ornate art installations covered in flowers will be displayed across the city, attracting crowds from all over the world.

Air Europa pilot strike in early May

One thing that will make a difference to tourists and locals alike are more ongoing airport strikes in Spain. This time it is pilots working for Spanish airline Air Europa that will be striking.  These strikes will cover four days on May 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, and will involve between 620 and 640 pilots at all airports in Spain where Air Europa has bases.

These strikes will coincide with the two public holidays and Mother’s Day outlined above, which could impact holiday travel plans. However, Spanish law states that airlines have to offer a minimum service even when striking, so although flights may be delayed or cancelled, passengers will be offered alternative flights.

Spanish Judges and Public Prosecutors to Strike

The pilots won’t be the only Spanish professionals on strike in May. The main associations of judges and prosecutors have announced an indefinite strike that will begin on 16th of May. The reason for this strike action is the lack of sufficient resources in the justice system and the high workload of courts and prosecutors. The associations involved believe this is negatively impacting the quality and the speed of the judicial system in Spain.

Changes to the ITV Roadworthiness Test Are Introduced

The ITV test is the Spanish equivalent of the MOT in the UK, or vehicle safety inspection tests carried out in the United States. From May 2023, new changes will be introduced to the Spanish version of this test.
First, the eCall system will be reviewed. This is a mandatory component within all Spanish vehicles which will make an emergency call to 112 when you suffer a serious traffic accident. Secondly, data on how much fuel your car consumes will now be registered by authorities during your ITV test.  

Local Elections To Take Place

Spain’s municipal elections (the Spanish equivalent of local elections in the UK) will take place on 28th May 2023. These elections won’t change the president or the ruling government, but will impact local councillors and mayors.

This year, 414,500 foreigners living in Spain will be able to vote in the election. Foreigners living in Spain are even able to run for election in the municipal elections. Even though the country has more than 5 million foreign nationals registered as residents, only 414,500 will be able to vote because these are the only ones who registered to do so.

 Changes to Spanish Social Security

A series of changes to reduce delays and speed up processes in Spanish social security offices will be introduced in May. These changes are:

  • A single national telephone number will be established to distribute appointments throughout Spain. This will replace the current provincial numbers, and mean you’re more likely to get an answer when you call.
  • To support this, the staff in charge of answering telephone calls for the management of previous appointments will be doubled. 
  • Finally, you will now be able to book appointments up to 28 days in advance. This is a huge expansion on the previous 7 day system, and will make it much easier to get an appointment when you need one.

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