Basque Country and tradition: What not to miss at the Espelette Chilli Festival

The Pimento Festival is back in Espelette! Join us on Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29, 2023 for a new edition that promises to be even more mouth-watering than ever! Here are the highlights not to be missed.

The blessing of chillies

On Sunday mornings, you need to arrive early to have a chance of getting into theEspelette church and attending mass in Basque, accompanied by theEspelette choir. During this ceremony, the village priest blesses the year’s chillies. October marks the end of the harvest for the famous Basque pepper.

  • Sunday at 10am, at Saint Étienne church in Espelette.

The Brotherhood Parade and Enthronement Ceremony

Another eagerly-awaited event is the brotherhood parade, which promises to be a colorful affair. The procession passes through the village streets to the Château des Barons d’Ezpeleta, where the ritual induction of new members and the presentation of the “Prix Piment” take place. Every year, the Confrérie du Piment d’Espelette inducts new members from the worlds of sport, gastronomy, the press and show business.

  • Sunday at 11am, in the streets of Espelette (parade) and behind the Château des Barons d’Ezpeleta (induction ceremony and pimento award).

The Makilaris show

The makilari is the chief musician who played the role of drum major in the military parades of the Napoleonic Guard. The tradition lives on in Basse-Navarre, and makilari are always present at popular festivals such as the Piment d’Espelette festival. To rapturous applause, the young makilaris twirl the makila around their fingers, passing it from hand to hand, sometimes even backwards, and sending it whirling through the air!

  • Sunday from 3.30pm, on the Espelette fronton.

The bandas festival in the streets

Bandas music is a South-West tradition. All day long, brass instruments and drums will liven up the streets ofEspelette, bringing warmth and good cheer! Their varied repertoire ranges from traditional Navarrese, Basque and Landes music, and sometimes South American, to more popular tunes and film scores.

  • Sunday afternoon, in the streets of Espelette.

The Basque song concert

As every year, theEspelette men’s choir will be performing in concert on Saturday afternoon at theEglise Saint-Étienne. The Ezpeletan Kantuz choir, founded by former rugby international Peio Dospital, will perform traditional Basque, Spanish and French songs, with 28 singers and three musicians.

  • Saturday at 5:30pm, at Saint-Étienne church.

The evening banquet

Saturday is banquet night in Espelette, with a host of gourmets to delight. On the menu: garbure, veal axoa, cheese and Basque cake. All washed down withIrouléguy wine and accompanied by musical entertainment.

  • Saturday at 8pm, under the covered market halls, booking on site.

Practical information

  • The Fête du Piment d’Espelette always takes place on the last weekend of October, unless it falls on October 31st.
  • All day long, gastronomic fair, sale of chillies and regional products, gourmet meals in all “Espelette chilli specialities” restaurants.
  • Shuttle service from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Souraïde golf course,Espelette campsite and Cambo-les-Bains bus station.
  • A parking area for campervans is planned at the Errobi zone in Itxassou.