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Bucket list experience:

View of red carpet running into a covered walkway

The world-famous San Sebastian International Film Festival takes place there every September

Credit: Bahdanovich Alena /

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Begun in 1953, the San Sebastian International Film Festival is a sophisticated, established highlight of the global film calendar.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the town’s La Concha beach, SSIFF is a truly international affair, showcasing new movies from around the world.

It’s also one of the most accessible festivals around, with scores of tickets for new and classic film screenings available at reasonable prices.

Price from: £5
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
Frequency: annually
When: 3rd week September
Duration: One week

Getting there & doing it

The main venue, the striking, Brutalist Kursaal Centre, is across the river from San Sebastián’s historic centre. Tickets are available in person at the Kursaal Centre, or online in advance – they go on sale about two weeks before the festival. Book early for the best screenings. Seats aren’t numbered, so come early to get a good spot.

When to do it

The festival runs annually for one week during the third week of September.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Hotel Arrizul Congress

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.3 miles]

In central San Sebastian, by the beaches, this modern hotel has rooms of all shapes and sizes. Brilliant value for groups or families.

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Hotel Maria Cristina

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.4 miles]

Belle Epoque glamour and buckets of history wait at this film-star favourite in San Sebastian next to the festival theatre.

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Hotel Lasala Plaza

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[0.8 miles]

A stylish and romantic boutique hotel with a rooftop pool, in a fantastic setting overlooking San Sebastian’s bay.

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra

San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain[1 miles]

A Belle Epoque beauty right on San Sebastian’s La Concha beach, a short walk from the lively bar-filled old town.

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