Coming in March: Extremadura, Spain’s Cherry Festival

Studying in Spain on an Erasmus or other study-abroad programme? Especially if you’re based in Madrid or points west such as Salamanca, here’s a splendid suggestion for something different to in mid to late March. Japan (even in Autumn) and Washington DC may be known for their cherry blossoms, but so are parts of Spain, and one of them is the western region of Extremadura, right up against the border with Portugal.

More specifically, it’s the Jerte Valley in Extremadura’s far north, a bucolic area with 11 small towns ensconced amid abundant nature. Every March and April, its million and a half cherry trees abruptly blossom into a riot of white blooms for ten day to two weeks (the exact dates are impossible to predict, but can be monitored at, blanketing the entire valley in white.

When that date arrives, the local jerteños spring into action, launching a cherry blossom festival which includes open-air celebrations, mediaeval markets, exhibitions, cherry tasting sessions, touring routes, performances, and other activities in the valley’s 11 towns (more details on them, too, can be found at the above tourism board web site).

And as long as you’re in the area, check out the valley’s capital and largest city (pop. 41,000), historic Plasencia. Roaming its mediaeval Old Town and lovely Plaza Mayor is a treat, as is biking through pretty parks and enjoying local specialities such as palomitas (wheat crisps filled with potato salad) and casual spots like Plaza Mayor’s Cafetería-Bar Español, popular with local young people.

It will put the cherry on top, so to speak, of a magical visit to the white blossoms of the Jerte Valley. Come experience it with the discounted fares of Iberia Joven!

Foto | Cristina Torres