History of Jaialdi

Jaialdi was originally supposed to be a one-time-only event.

But successes have a way of building upon themselves, and Jaialdi 2025 marks our eighth International Basque Festival.

The first Jaialdi was celebrated in 1987 at the historic Idaho State Penitentiary and was intended to celebrate the old and new, local and international aspects of Basque culture. More than 30,000 enthusiastic participants arrived and were treated to a parade, symposium, Mass, street dance, sports exhibitions, cultural performances, souvenir booths and food and drink.

In 1990, Idaho’s then-governor, Cecil Andrus, requested that another Jaialdi be held as part of the 100th anniversary of Idaho’s statehood. Jaialdi ’90 took the same format, but with a few minor changes and improvements. It proved so popular, again, that organizers decided that Jaialdi would be a recurring festival that would happen every five years. Jaialdi is always held during the last weekend of July, which coincides with the Boise Basque community’s celebration of San Ignatius de Loyola, the patron saint of the Basque people.

Jaialdi 2020 was slated to be the seventh Jaialdi, but the Covid-19 pandemic had other plans. After postponing to 2021, then to 2022, organizers decided the safest and surest thing would be to return to the original five-year format. Because of the pandemic, Jaialdi 2025 will be our first Jaialdi since 2015 – 10 years ago!

With upwards of 30,000 attendees at the last festival, Jaialdi is the largest Basque festival in the United States by far, and is larger than most Basque festivals in the world. Many Basques living in the Basque Country even make the trip to experience their own culture through the lens of the Basque-American diaspora.

Like most things Basque, the festival is planned and staffed by an amazing cast of volunteers, who work for years in between each festival to plan a fabulous celebration for our local community and visitors from afar.

Jaialdi 1987
Cecil Andrus