For more than five decades, Basque communities throughout the Silver State have been celebrating their heritage during the National Basque Festival held in the heart of Elko each year since 1964.
What started as a local gathering among Nevada Basques and local cattle ranchers, the annual gathering evolved into a full-blown event 56 years ago. Through the decades that followed, the National Basque Festival has continued to take place on or around the weekend of the Fourth of July; not only to celebrate the United States of America, but also to thank the community for accepting Basques and their heritage so freely.
Although other states have similar festivals that celebrate this fascinating heritage, Elko proudly hosts the National Basque Festival. Typically beginning on a Friday night close to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, ALL visitors—Basque or not—are welcomed to the Elko Basque Clubhouse for the festival’s opening kickoff. Here, visitors and Bascos alike can get their first glimpse at what’s in store for the weekend’s festivities.
Attend this uniquely Nevada festival to see traditional Basque dancing, watch traditional Basque rural sports competitions like wood chopping, or simply check it out to get your hands on the famous Picon Punch.
Enjoy impressive live dance performances, listen to some traditional Basque music, or even get your hands on some mouthwatering paella or chorizo—a definite must when you’re in this neck of Nevada.
While the opening kickoff is a great way to familiarize yourself with this heartfelt culture, it will intrigue you so much that you won't be able to resist checking out the rest of the weekend’s lineup.
Head to the Elko County Fairgrounds to see traditional Basque Dancing—performed by all ages in traditional garb—or enjoy several traditional Basque rural sports competitions like wood chopping, stone lifting, weight carrying or the relay. Visitors can also marvel at other Basque competitions like the Sheepherder’s Bread-Making Contest, and can even participate in a 5K Run/Walk through the heart of Elko, enjoy a parade through the downtown area, or enjoy a traditional Catholic Mass. Best yet, visitors new to this alluring culture can't leave the National Basque Festival without trying one of the most traditional libations: the famed Picon Punch.
Cap off the weekend’s festivities by doing what the Basques do: Attend the Basque Dance at the Elko Basque Clubhouse. Here, you can get your hands on the famed Picon Punch or Kalimoxoto, dance live musical performance and even try your luck at drinking wine out of a bivy sack. And here’s an insider tip: On the night of the dance, purposely wear all white clothing with the intent of cutting loose and spilling red wine on your clothes. Local Bascos consider wine-stained clothes a badge of honor, drawing attention to the fact that another successful National Basque Festival in the books.
The National Basque Festival dates are confirmed closer to the event, though it's traditionally held during the first weekend of July near the Fourth of July holiday. Be sure to check TravelNevada.com, the Basque Clubhouse or on Facebook for details and updates.
For more information on the National Basque Festival and planning your trip to Elko, please dial the Elko Visitors Center at (775) 738-4091 or click Visit Elko.