The Bembibre´s Botillo Festival gala consists of two parts: on the one hand, the institutional and cultural act to introduce and present the event, which includes the mantenedor’s (chairperson) speech and, on the other, the tasting of the botillo in a great gala dinner.
This takes in count two essential maters: cultureand gastronomy.
In the first part the mantenedor gives his or her vision of the festival, the botillo and mention some personal experiences related with them and the Bierzo county too.
Moreover, the mantenedor announce the winner of the Literary Contest. Very especially, in recent editions the musical performance has played a leading role. Figures and artists such as José Mercé, Bertín Osborne, Café Quijano, Marta Sánchez, Shayla Dúrcal and Carlos Núñez, to name a few of them, have passed through Bembibre. Although in this commitment to the show there has also been time for comedy (with Leo Harlem, who also served as mantenedor in the 2011 edition too) or with the magician René Lavand (in 2010).
Botillo is the shining star in the second part of the gala. This embutido is tasted.
During the last editions there has been an enormous interest in the gala dinner, which has had to look for alternative venues to expand and be able to host 1,400 guests in the last edition in 2020.
Nowadays Bembibre´s Botillo Festival is the gastronomic and cultural most important event in Castilla y León. Furthermore, it is also one of the most relevant in north-western Spain. A level reached thanks to the different municipal corporations chaired by Alberto Blanco, Fernando Calvo, Gonzalo Mansilla, Antonio Rey, José Eloy García, Jaime González, Jesús Esteban, José Manuel Otero anda Silvia Cao. All the organizers have expressed their unbreakable commitment to promoting Bembibre through a celebration that has already been awarded with the triple recognition of Provincial, Regional and National Tourist Interest and has obtained the Silver Badge of Honour of Tourismtoo. These granted the access to involve the Provincial Council and the Castilla y León Regional Government in its development.
That first idea of a group of friends has become an outstanding social event that has already spread to other parts of Spain and abroad. With the support of many locals, the “botillo” is currently celebrated in cities such as Alicante, Barcelona, La Coruña, Seville and New York.
Currently, the objective is to ensure that the most important gastronomic event in Bierzo gains recognition as an event of International Tourist Interest. It will not be a short journey, but the first steps have already been taken.
However, it should not be forgotten that El Botillo has had two relevant gastronomic encounters: in Cape Verde and in Antarctica.
In 2005, the Municipal Corporation took Botillo to Cape Verde to celebrate a Botillo festival, within the framework of the twinning protocol with Sao Domingos. The mantenedor was the then mayor of Bembibre, Jesús Esteban, and the botillo, loaned by Embutidos El Arco, was cooked by the former municipal spokesman, Esteban Carro.
That was the first International Botillo Festival that happened there just once, but it was a relevant moment for Bembibre and Cape Verde too.
The second international event took place far far away, at the Gabriel de Castilla Base, on Deception Island (in Antarctica). More than 13,000 kilometres away from Bembibre. An event promoted in 2017 by the Bembibre City Council that was carried out together with the help of the journalist and writer Valentín Carrera, chronicler of the XXX Spanish Scientific Expedition.
The botillos were prepared with iceberg water and the participants in the mission gave a good account of their tasting, thanks to the disposal of the Army.