Blog >> Gizakunde


Gizakunde is a festival which takes place in  the small village of Arizkun in the north of Navarra.  It is to some extent a rehearsal for the Carnival Festival that will be celebrated on 16th of this month.  The tradition pre dates Christianity and involves several different characters who form a procession and walk from Arizkun to Erratzu a distance of around 5km through the surrounding hills.

Although the picture might suggest that the long cold winter nights lead to bizarre and bestial practices in these rural parts, we are in fact seeing the preparation of a Zanpanzar.  The Zanpanzarak carry enormous cencerros (cow bells) and lead the procession, opening the way by making an unholy amount of noise.  In addition to the Zanpanzarak various other characters take part in the procession.

The Zanpanzarak are followed by dantzaria (dancers) who perform various dances often involving apples.  There is a strong tradition of cider making in these parts and the procession started from an ancient and recently restored cider house which made just over 1500 litres of cider this year.  We drank a little of this along the way;)


There are also kindly souls who carry baskets of refreshments; cider, wine and patxaran in case anyone might feel thirsty.

There is a bear and his handler.  The bear is badly behaved, extremely randy and enjoys terrifying small children.  By return his handler treats him mercilessly.







Finally there is the Testigo or witness who is carried from Arizkun tothe plaza in Erratzu.  On arrival he is tried and condemned to be burned at the stake.  If you’ve ever seen the film “The Wicker Man” then you’ve pretty much got the picture.



Having burned the testigo and absolved our sins the fiesta moved to the community centre where we enjoyed a tremendous dinner of Corderro al Chilindrón (lamb stew).  Dinner was accompanied by Basque folk music and Bertsos.  I seem to remember stumbling home through the snowy streets at around 7am.    More Photos Here






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