Day of the Dead in Mexico: a time to celebrate

Anyone lucky enough to have already seen the latest Bond film, Spectre, will have been treated to the most fabulous opening sequence shot during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations.

The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is not the morbid event it may at first appear: to the contrary, it is an uplifting fiesta, celebrated mainly in Mexico, to remember and pay tribute to friends and relatives who have died.

It is believed that the souls of the deceased are believed to return to earth on this day, which falls on 2nd November each year, in conjunction with the Catholic holy festival of All Saints’ Day (Día de Todos los Santos) on 1st November.

As with many Mexican rituals, the Day of the Dead has pre-Hispanic roots, dating back some 2,500-3,000 years to the Aztecs, Mayas, Olmecs and other indigenous civilisations. In Aztec times the festival was celebrated in August, the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, and for an entire month. In modern-day Mexico, celebrations take place in November, and the day before Día de los Muertos, 1st November, is dedicated to lost children and infants: this is known as Día de los Angelitos, or Day of the Little Angels, as children who die are believed to automatically become angels.

On the Day of the Dead families traditionally build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to commune with their lost loved ones. They take offerings, or ofrendas, of sugar skulls, garlands and flowers (often marigolds, which have ancient ceremonial importance), and personal gifts such as photos and favourite foods of the departed. It is thought that these will encourage the souls of the dead to visit, and pillows and blankets are even laid out so that they can rest after their long journey. Many people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. But it is a happy atmosphere that prevails, with dancing, feasting and the recounting of affectionate anecdotes.

One of the best places to experience Day of the Dead is around the beautiful region of Pátzcuaro in Mexico’s Western Central Highlands. Mexicans and sightseers flock here to remember their loved ones and join in the renowned festivities, which include traditional music and dances, candlelit vigils and picturesque ceremonies.

Cactus offers Spanish courses in 4 locations across Mexico, including Oaxaca which is famed for its Day of the Dead celebrations. Spanish courses start each week, from one week upwards, and can be combined with accommodation and meals with a local family – the perfect way to immerse yourself in the language and culture.

Rugby World Cup Host Cities – Learn English

The Rugby World Cup host cities are fantastic locations to learn English

England is host to the Rugby World Cup 2015 and teams from all over the world will be meeting in venues across the country throughout September and October 2015.

If you are travelling to England to support your team, this is your perfect opportunity to learn English! Many Rugby World Cup host cities are home to excellent English language schools, where you can take a course for one week and improve your English. You will be able to get around and communicate with confidence! Taking an English course also guarantees you accommodation with a local family or in a student residence, which is useful in host cities where hotels are often booked up in advance.

Even if you don’t have tickets, you will be able to experience the atmosphere and excitement of the Rugby World Cup just by being in England! Games are being broadcast live in bars and venues across the country – and the Japanese rugby team was even seen swimming in the sea off Brighton after their win on the opening weekend!

Whichever team you support, wherever you are, there will be a great atmosphere for the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham on Saturday 31st October. Come and enjoy the fun, and learn English at the same time!

The best English courses in Rugby World Cup host cities:

brighton_beachHost City: Brighton & Hove

Venue: Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton

Best English course: 1 week General English course (5 lessons) in Brighton



Rugby World Cup host cities - CardiffHost City: Cardiff

Venue: Millenium Stadium, Cardiff

Best English course: 1 week General English course (16 lessons per week) in Cardiff



leeds_statueHost City: Leeds

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds

Best English course: 2 week General English course (20 lessons per week) in Leeds



kensingtonHost City: London – Brent

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London

Best English course: 1 week General English Course (20 morning lessons) in Kensington, London



wimbledonHost City: London – Richmond

Venue: Twickenham, London

Best English course: 1 week General English course (24 lessons) in Wimbledon, London



Rugby World Cup host cities - ManchesterHost City: Manchester

Venue: Manchester City Stadium, Manchester

Best English course: 1 week General English course (18 lessons) in Manchester



nottinghamHost City: Leicester

Venue: Leicester City Stadium, Leicester

Best English course: 1 week General English course (22 lessons) in Nottingham




Cactus offers English courses in many locations across the UK and in destinations worldwide.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.


Free Language Courses: 11 Courses To Win!

Cactus is giving away 11 free language courses in exciting locations across the globe!

This is a fantastic chance to learn a language for FREE! To enter, visit us at the upcoming Expat Show or Language Show Live or simply complete the entry form below by 22nd November – and you could be jetting off to learn one of seven languages in some of our best locations:

Chinese Mandarin Prize
Learn Chinese in one of China’s biggest and most exciting cities – Shanghai. Feel the buzz of its vibrant music and club scene, shop til you drop, admire the city’s beautiful architectural heritage and indulge in delectable food – this should be on everyone’s ‘to-do’ list!

Free language courses Shanghai

1 x 1 week General Mandarin Course (20 lessons) in Shanghai with Mandarin House. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a shared apartment.





French Prizes

Whether you want to enjoy the glamorous Côte d’Azur in Nice, be chic in Paris, sip wine in Bordeaux or catch some waves in Biarritz, we have a fantastic choice of prizes to learn French in France!

Free language courses Biarritz

1 x 1 week General French Course (20 lessons) in Nice, Paris, Bordeaux or Biarritz with France Langue. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a host family.

1 x 1 week French & Cooking Course (20 language + 2 cooking lessons) in Nice with France Langue. Prize includes 6 nights’ stay in a host family.



German Prize

There can be fewer exciting places than Berlin to learn German, a city of fascinating history, cutting edge architecture, first class food and nightlife like no other – and we have two courses to be won in this captivating German capital!

Free language courses Berlin

2 x 1 week General German Course (20 lessons) in Berlin with GLS. Prize includes activities but not accommodation.





Italian Prize

If your idea of heaven is a twinkling blue sea, pastel coloured buildings adorning the hillside, bougainvillea tumbling over balconies and mouthwatering food and wine, then this Italian course in Salerno should be yours!

Free language courses Salerno

1 x 1 week General Italian Course (20 lessons) in Salerno with Accademia Italiana. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a shared apartment OR host family.





Portuguese Prizes

Portugal’s colourful capital is an inspiring place to learn Portuguese, with its cobbled streets, iconic yellow tram, traditional bars and leafy plazas. Learn Portuguese on its own or take painting lessons too – we have two fantastic prizes to be won here!

Free language courses Lisbon

1 x 1 week General Portuguese Course (20 lessons) in Lisbon with Portuguese Connection. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a host family.

1 x 1 week Portuguese & Painting Course (20 language + 6 painting lessons) in Lisbon with Portuguese Connection. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a host family.



Russian Prize

If you want to learn Russian in stunning surroundings, Latvia’s capital, Riga, fits the bill perfectly. A treasure trove of art-nouveau architecture, this is a city of elaborately carved façades, funky gargoyles, winding cobbled streets and stately boulevards – as well as the most unexpectedly brilliant nightlife.

Free language courses Riga

1 x 1 week General Russian Course (20 lessons) in Riga with Durbe Latvia. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a shared apartment OR, for students under 18 years, in a host family.




Spanish Prizes

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Valencia, and we’re delighted to be able to offer two people the chance to jet off to this charming city on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast. Home of paella, fabulous festivals, a bustling port and excellent beaches, this is one our favourite places to learn Spanish.

Free language courses Valencia

2 x 1 week General Spanish Course (20 lesson) in Valencia with Taronja. Prize includes 6 nights’ accommodation in a shared apartment.




Evening Language Course Prize We are also offering ONE free evening course in any location in the UK! The lucky winner will be able to choose their preferred language and location for a 10-week evening course starting in January 2016. See our evening courses website for full details of courses near you.

Free language courses: please note

  • Our free language courses are available on selected dates and we ask all winners to check dates with us before confirming flights
  • Accommodation is included in the prize where stated
  • Entry is open to all visitors to the Cactus stand at the Expat Show (11th-12th September) and Language Show Live (16th-18th October) who complete an entry form, and to everyone who signs up using our entry form below
  • The deadline for entering is Sunday 22nd November
  • The lucky winners will be announced on Monday 7th December
  • Please consult our Terms and Conditions for full details of the competition and individual prizes.

We look forward to seeing you, and good luck! If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

Expat Show Free Tickets: London Olympia

Are you considering moving abroad? Whether you are thinking about relocating for work or emigrating for an improved lifestyle, the Expat Show in London promises to be an excellent source of information and advice from the experts.

As leaders in language training for relocation, Cactus is exhibiting at the Expat Show and we have FREE tickets for anyone wishing to visit – available until 6th September!

Expat Show Free Tickets

Expat Show free ticketsOrder your Expat Show free tickets here








Why visit Cactus at the Expat Show?

Moving abroad is a big decision, especially if you are moving to a country where a different language is spoken. Cactus can help you make the process smooth and enjoyable by designing a bespoke language course to suit you and your family – be it through lessons before you go (evening language course or private tuition) or once you are in your new location (language course at a local school or private tuition). Speaking the language will help you integrate into the local community and feel at home much more quickly; it will also help you to make friends, give you confidence and make daily routine much easier.

Visit us on Stand A12 in the Relocation & Lifestyle Centre for a FREE language needs analysis and to claim your £50 voucher to put towards any language course!

We will talk you through the best language learning solution for you and make sure you are fully prepared to follow your dream.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

Bastille Day: The best places to celebrate in France

Former Cactus intern Cécile Sargueux gives us a bit of history and top tips for celebrating ‘le quatorze juillet’ in her home country…in English / en français!


Le 14 juillet est le jour de la fête républicaine française symbolisant la Liberté et l’Egalité, et commémorant le passage de la monarchie à la République.

A Paris, le mardi 14 juillet 1789, des émeutiers prennent d’assaut la prison de la Bastille qui est le symbole du pouvoir absolutiste. Leur objectif est de s’emparer des armes pour pouvoir affronter les troupes du Roi. Ce jour marque le début de la Révolution française, la constitution de nouvelles règles de fonctionnement et l’instauration de nouvelles valeurs, définies dans la Déclaration des droits de l’homme. Comme ce jour a été très sanglant pour le peuple français, c’est le jour de la Fédération du 14 juillet 1790 qui est officiellement célébré, et non pas la prise de la Bastille.

Jour de fête nationale: feux, bals et défilés
Partout en France et pour tous c’est jour de fête nationale. De somptueux défilés militaires sont organisés, avec défilés motorisés, aériens et à pied, sauts de parachutistes et fanfares militaires. D’innombrables feux d’artifice sont tirés les 13 et 14 juillet, et des bals populaires et des concerts animent les villes en effervescence jusqu’au bout de la nuit ! Chaque année, flonflons, pétards, cocardes tricolores, danse et musette accompagnent l’ambiance festive, bon enfant et féérique du 14 juillet. C’est une expérience unique à vivre !

Voici 3 des villes qui offrent un spectacle fabuleux à cette occasion:

La plus importante parade militaire se déroule à Paris. Les principaux corps d’armées sont présents, et les militaires défilent en grande tenue sous les yeux du président de la république et de la foule. Brandissant fièrement le drapeau de la nation, le cortège descend le long des Champs Elysées, de la Place de l’Étoile jusqu’à la Concorde.
L’impressionnant feu d’artifice de Paris est un de ceux qui nécessitent le plus de moyens financiers et humains en France. Tiré au pied de la tour Eiffel, on peut l’admirer depuis le Champ de Mars ou la Place du Trocadéro.

Un bal des pompiers est généralement organisé dans toutes les villes de France. A Lyon, les sapeurs pompiers de Gerland transformeront leur caserne en un club géant, avec une plage de sable à l’extérieur. Sur la Place de la Croix Rousse, une véritable station balnéaire prendra place, où danse, musique, transats, boissons et pétanque seront au programme. Sur les quais de Saône, 3 scènes différentes constitueront le grand bal populaire. Le feu d’artifice grandiose de Lyon partira depuis la colline de Fourvière.

Carcassonne, à une heure de Toulouse:
Chaque année, un exceptionnel et époustouflant feu d’artifice de renommée internationale embrase les légendaires remparts de la cité médiévale. Pendant 25 minutes, plus de 700 000 personnes assistent à ce spectacle inouï de lumières et de couleurs qui enflamment le ciel. C’est un des meilleurs feux d’artifices au monde !


On the 14th of July, French Republican day is celebrated to commemorate the transition from the monarchy to the First Republic, and to symbolize la Liberté et l’Egalité (Liberty and Equality) won by the people.

In Paris, on Tuesday, the 14th of July 1789, rioters stormed the prison of Bastille, a symbol of the absolutist power. Their objective was to take possession of the weapons to be able to face the King’s troops. This day marked the beginning of the French Revolution, the constitution of new rules of functioning, and the establishment of new values defined in the Déclaration des droits de l’homme (Human rights statement). Given that this day was very bloody for the French people, we officially celebrate the 14 July 1790 Fête de la Fédération, and not the storming of the Bastille.

Bastille Day: pyrotechnics, balls and parades
Everywhere in France and for everyone, this is a national day of celebration. Sumptuous march-pasts are organized with flypasts, motorised and walking parades, parachute jumps and military bands. There are many firework displays on 13th and 14th July, and cities across France celebrate with balls and concerts throughout the night! Every year, brass bands, firecrackers, dance and accordion music go with the festive, friendly and enchanting atmosphere of the Bastille Day. It is a unique event to experience!

Here are 3 cities offering a fabulous show for this occasion:

The greatest march-past takes place in Paris. The main army corps are present, and impeccably uniformed servicemen parade before both the President of the Republic and the crowd. Whilst proudly brandishing the national flag, the procession goes down Les Champs Elysées, from La Place de l’Etoile to La Concorde. The impressive fireworks display of Paris requires the utmost financial and human resources. Fired at the bottom of the Eiffel tower, it can be watched from Le Champ de Mars or La Place du Trocadéro.

A Firemen’s ball (Bal des pompiers) is generally organised in every French town. In Lyon, the fire-fighters of Gerland will turn their fire station into a giant club, with a sandy beach outside. On La Place de la Croix Rousse, a real seaside resort will take place, where dance, music, deckchairs, drinks and petanque are planned. On the quays at Saône, 3 different stages will host the big popular ball. The spectacular fireworks of Lyon will be fired from the Fourvière Hill.

Carcassonne, only one hour from Toulouse:
Every year, an outstanding fireworks display, well-known all over the world, sets ablaze the ancient ramparts of the medieval city. For 25 minutes, more than 700,000 people attend this extraordinary show of lights and colors setting fire to the sky. This is one of the best firework displays in the world!

Cactus offers French courses in Paris, Lyon and many other fantastic locations in France.

We also offer evening language courses in French in London, Manchester, Bristol and other major UK locations. This is the perfect way to learn the basics or brush up on existing skills prior to visiting France!

Tennis fever: Top French tennis phrases

With Wimbledon upon us, it’s time to pick up more than your racquet…here are our top tennis expressions in French and English!

With tennis season in full swing – the French Open recently finished and Wimbledon finally here – it is customary for local tennis courts to become full as wannabe Federers dust off their racquets and tennis fever sets in.

This year why not impress your friends with more than your passing shot? Here we bring you essential tennis vocabulary and expressions in French, for use on or off court and preferably with a bowl of strawberries (fraises) and cream (crème) to enjoy afterwards.

Top 10 French Tennis Vocabulary:

Backhand Revers
Forehand Coup droit
Serve Service
Smash Smash
Game, set, match! Jeu, set et match!
Umpire Arbitre
Ballboy Ramasseur / ramasseuse de balles
Out! Out!
Foot fault Faute de pied
Tramline Couloir

Top 10 French Tennis Expressions:

Great shot! Joli coup!
You cannot be serious…that shot was in! Vous n’êtes pas sérieux… la balle était bonne!
Can I have another ball please? Je peux avoir une autre balle s’il-vous-plait?
I saw the chalk flying! C’était pleine ligne! (J’ai vu la craie voler)
Somebody’s mobile has gone off in the crowd Un téléphone portable a sonné dans le public
It’s another ace! C’est un autre service gagnant / ace!
He’s broken his serve! Il a fait le break!
That’s a killer drop shot C’est un amorti gagnant (qui tue)
The rain covers are coming out…play is suspended Les bâches imperméables sont sorties…le match est suspendu
It’s gone to a tie-break…there’s nothing between them! Ca va être un jeu décisif / tie-break…un rien les sépare!

Wimbledon takes place from 29th June – 12th July 2015. Cactus runs foreign language evening courses in Wimbledon and in other locations across London and the UK

English courses in London are also available throughout the year.

Tour de France: Essential cycling vocabulary this July

Shift your language up a gear with our French cycling vocabulary for this year’s Tour de France

Kicking off on 4th July 2015, top cyclists and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world will congregate on French soil for 21 days of gruelling, thigh-burning action that will cover over 3,500 km of mountains, valleys, remote countryside and busy cities. Although the course route changes each year, the race always finishes in Paris, with riders cruising to the finishing line, cheered on by thousands of supporters, along the famous Champs-Elysées.

It’s hard not to get into the spirit of things – even if you’re not a huge cycling fan – if you happen to be in a part of France where the race passes through. For the French the Tour can be an excuse for a great party, and the sense of anticipation is contagious. Families set up picnic tables at the side of the road to wine and dine, the adults sipping wine patiently in the shade whilst the children play around them, waiting for the riders to pass through. When the drone of the helicopter finally announces the arrival of the front riders, everyone jumps to their feet and prepares to applaud the multi-coloured lycra-clad bodies flying past – a true spectacle in itself, to say nothing of the countless publicity vans, police bikes, camera bikes and support cars that follow. You can support the race anywhere along the way by checking out the Tour map online.

Whether you’re watching the race live in France or on television at home – or even planning a cycling holiday yourself to France – you’ll impress your friends by picking up a few cycling terms to shout out at opportune moments.

Here’s our list of essential Tour de France vocabulary:

Le cyclisme Cycling
Un cycliste Cyclist
Un domestique Support rider
Un échappé Breakaway rider
Le peloton Pack / bunch of riders
La tête de course Leader of the race
Une équipe Team
Une étape Stage / leg of the race
Contre la montre Time trial
Le parcours Route
La course Race
Une montée Uphill slope
Une descente Downhill slope
Changer de vitesse Change gear
Ralentir Slow down
Dépasser Overtake
Un vélo de course Racing bike
Un vélo tout terrain Mountain bike
Une crevaison Puncture
Un bidon Water bottle
Un casque Helmet
Le maillot jaune Yellow jersey (worn by the overall leader)

Get up close to the action by taking a language course in France this July! Cactus runs French language courses in 15 locations across France, including Paris and other locations near to the Tour route.

If you can’t make it to France this year, why not learn the language closer to home? Cactus also runs French evening courses in London, Brighton, Manchester and other major UK locations.

The Language Show Live & The Expat Show – Autumn 2015

Whether you want to learn a language for relocation, work, love or brain power, come and talk to Cactus at two fantastic shows this year – and make the most of our special show offers and spectacular course giveaways!

1. The Expat Show


11th-12th September 2015 – Olympia, London

Moving abroad is a big decision, especially if you are moving to a country where a different language is spoken. Cactus can help you make the process smooth and enjoyable by designing a bespoke language course to suit you and your family – be it through lessons before you go (evening language course or private tuition) or once you are in your new location (language course at a local school or private tuition). Speaking the language will help you integrate into the local community and feel at home much more quickly; it will also help you to make friends, give you confidence and make daily routine much easier.

Visit us on Stand A12 in the Relocation & Lifestyle Centre for a FREE language needs analysis and to claim your £50 voucher to put towards any language course! We will talk you through the best language learning solution for you and make sure you are fully prepared to follow your dream. You can also enter a competition to WIN one of 11 free language courses abroad!

2. Language Show LIVE


16th-18th October 2015 – Olympia, London

For anyone with any language interest, the Language Show is a brilliant source of inspiration, ideas, advice and offers – all of which will be brought to you by Cactus this year! We are passionate about languages and we would love to speak to you about your language learning goals – whether you are a teacher looking to go away with a school group, a parent, a student or someone who just loves languages. With our range of school group trips, evening language courses in the UK, language courses abroad and TEFL courses worldwide, we really do have something for everyone and are always happy to advise on the best language course for you.

Visit us on Stand 532 to enter a competition to WIN one of 11 free language courses abroad, or a free evening course in the UK!

And come along to our FREE language taster classes – a fun-packed half-hour session for beginners, available on a first-come, first-served basis. A great opportunity to try something new!

  • Friday 16 October            12:45 – 13:15      Dutch
  • Friday 16 October            16:30 – 17:00     Norwegian
  • Saturday 17 October       16:30 – 17:00      Hindi
  • Sunday 18 October          12:00 – 12:30     Portuguese
  • Sunday 18 October          15:45 – 16:15     German

We look forward to seeing you and, if you are signed up to receive our newsletters, we’ll drop you a friendly email nearer the time with full details of our special show offers.

See you there!

Cinco de mayo: a day of history and celebration in Mexico

5th May is an important and fun date for Mexicans all over the world

Cinco de Mayo is an annual festivity celebrating the unexpected victory of Mexican forces over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on 5th May, 1862. Although it is an unofficial Federal holiday, it is one that holds plenty of meaning for Mexicans in their home state of Puebla as well as those who reside in the US.

In Mexico, 5th May has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and as such people come out in force, dressed in traditional dress and ready to enjoy the food, drink and dance that typically accompany Cinco de Mayo festivities. These are usually limited to the state of Puebla, where the battle originally took place.

North of the border, in the US, Cinco de Mayo has also taken on an importance significance, mostly in areas that have a high population of people with Mexican descendency. In these areas, the day is usually seen as a celebration of the culture of Americans with Mexican ascendency, but is often enjoyed by other Americans regardless of their origin. Music and dancing are an important element of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, with baile folklorico and mariachi displays taking place each year in the center of Los Angeles. American schools take the opportunity to educate students about Mexican history, and traditional religious symbols such as the Virgin of Guadalupe are also revered at this time.

Elsewhere in the world, Cinco de Mayo celebrations are limited but certainly newsworthy! Mexican beer is enjoyed on the Mediterranean island of Malta, an air guitar competition takes place each year in the exotic Cayman Islands, and a Canadian sky diving club near Vancouver holds a celebratory skydiving event. It may be one of the smaller festivals in the Latin calendar but it is certainly one worth catching if you can.

Cactus runs Spanish immersion courses in locations across Mexico, and also Spanish evening courses throughout the year in the UK.

Top 5 Spring festivals in Spain

Fiesta time is upon us! If there’s anywhere that knows how to throw a good party, it’s Spain. These festivals are the perfect pick-me-up after the long winter months, and a great incentive to learn a little Spanish too!

1. Moros y Cristianos, Alicante: 21st-24th April 2015


Of the 150 or so locations in Spain to celebrate Moros y Cristianos, there is no beating the celebrations that take place in Alcoy, Alicante. The festival dates back to the 16th century and commemorates the Battle of Alcoy in 1276, when the Christian army of Saint George helped defeat the Moorish troops lead by Al-Azraq. In homage to St George, the people of Alcoy made him their patron saint and vowed to hold a festival in his honour each year…and what a festival it is. With 28 armies in mock battle, intricately-made costumes on show, a spectacular procession and breathtaking firework displays, the streets are full and the atmosphere is electric in this fitting tribute to the battle that expelled the Moors from Spain.

Spanish courses in Alicante

2. La Feria de Abril, Seville: 21st-26th April 2015


Little may need to be said about what is arguably Spain’s biggest fiesta. The solemnity of Semana Santa the week preceding Easter is cast aside as the vibrant Andalucian city of Seville erupts into the much-anticipated April Fair, a week-long party of flamenco dancing, horse shows, bullfighting and more. This is Spanish fiesta at its best. The only problem is what to see and how to reserve enough energy to stay up all night and join the locals at what they do best – party, party, party!

Spanish courses in Seville

3. Patios de Cordoba: 4th-17th May 2015


Exploring a city’s streets is one thing, but knocking on somebody’s door and entering through heavy wooden doors that are kept closed for 50 weeks of the year is a real privilege. And this is what Patios de Cordoba grants you – the chance to enter into the cool shade of private homes and feast your eyes on their patios which have been lovingly adorned throughout the year with all manner of flowers, plants and decorations. Lemon trees, geraniums, roses, carnations, fountains – the list is endless, but the colour and scent won’t fail to impress, and nor will the chance to enter hidden corners of Andalucia away from the rush of modern life.

Spanish courses in Cordoba

4. Horse Fair, Jerez: 10th-17th May 2015


You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy Spain’s best horse fair, the Feria de Caballo in Jerez. Taking place in its famous sherry-producing town, Jerez de la Frontera, could be incentive enough. Or maybe you’ll be won over by the sight of impeccably-dressed locals riding through the streets and ladies dressed in bright flamenco dresses, ready to wow the crowds with their Sevillanas dance displays. But most of all you can’t help but be impressed by the supreme skill and care taken to train and groom the horses that star in this annual show. If there is one performance not to miss, it’s the Dancing Andalusian Horses – a true equestrian ballet, fully choreographed, accompanied by traditional Spanish music and costume. You’ll swear you didn’t know horses could do that type of thing…

Spanish courses in Seville

Spanish courses in Marbella

5. San Isidro, Madrid: 15th May 2015


If you want to experience the most quintessential of Spanish traditions then head for Madrid during its San Isidro festival. Not only is this the world’s most important bullfighting festival, it is also an excuse for flamboyant Spanish fiesta in the form of music, dancing, fairs and what is known as a romeria, or pilgrimage, to the shrine of Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro. Las Ventas bullring plays host to the much-anticipated bullfights, concerts are held in the beautiful Plaza Mayor to concerts, and Vistillas Park is transformed into an open-air dance hall. Book tickets to specific events in advance, or just turn up and soak up the exhilarating atmosphere.

Spanish courses in Madrid

Cactus offers Spanish courses in many locations across Spain as well in countries throughout Central and South America.