Come and have a good time in Valladolid

Valladolid and cinema is a love story that has lasted for several decades, both for the filming that has taken place in its streets and for being the venue for the Seminci, the Valladolid International Film Week

The streets of Valladolid have seen actors such as Raúl Arévalo and Dani Rovira work and have given awards to others such as Karra Eleja and Emma Suárez. So if you head for this welcoming city, who knows what familiar faces you might meet? Without a doubt, much of this is possible thanks to the work carried out by the Valladolid Film Commission, which is responsible for attracting all kinds of filming to this capital.

Valladolid to the rhythm of the G-Men

But if there is one film that reflects the possibilities of screen tourism in the Castilian capital, it is David Serrano’s musical “I’m Going to Have a Good Time”, one of the highest-grossing films of 2022. The winner of the Award for Best Audiovisual Production Spain Film Commission 2022, it has everything to make you enjoy an afternoon at the cinema.

Filming of “I’m Going to Have a Good Time” in the Plaza Mayor / Valladolid Film Commission

If you still haven’t seen this fast-paced film in which the lives of its protagonists are mixed with spectacular dance numbers, now is the time. Whatever age you are, this story has everything you need to get hooked: love, friendship and music, thanks to the great songs of G-Men. If you have already seen it and have decided to go there, we show you some of its most outstanding spots. 

There are several things you have to do in Valladolid: take a photo with a peacock in the Campo Grande, go for tapas around the cathedral, attend a good performance in the Calderón theatre and visit all the places you have seen in the film.

Any visit to Valladolid begins in its Plaza Mayor, the city’s emblem, full of terraces, cafés with a 19th-century flavour and plenty of entertainment at any time of the year. The proof that it is a stage set in itself can be seen in the great dance scene that the protagonists of “I’m Going to Have a Good Time” have, including a climb up the lampposts. 

The streets that lead to the old town, the elegant shopping area and the river start here. If you come with your family, the Campo Grande is an especially cool spot for the little ones. Peacocks and other birds roam freely and approach passers-by to pose for photos. Squirrels come down from the trees and allow themselves to be fed by the little ones, who can also take a stroll around the lake while the grown-ups enjoy a refreshment in the pergola. 

Santiago Street is the hub of the city / Valladolid Film Commission

For shopping, there’s nothing better than Calle Santiago and the surrounding area. As well as window-shopping, you’ll also come across some of the beautiful buildings that dot this area. Turn a corner and you may come across the beautiful Plaza de la Universidad, surrounded by bars full of idle university students. Or the beautiful Plaza de Santa Cruz, with one of the finest Renaissance palaces in Spain. All these squares and their nooks and crannies are the haunts of our protagonists, both children and adults. Here you can find David/Raúl Arévalo’s bookshop (in the Plaza del Salvador) or the place where Paco/Dani Rovira parks his taxi (San Benito church)

As the capital of Spain, Valladolid has no shortage of royal palaces, cathedrals and grandiose churches. They are all concentrated around the same area. You can start this tour at the cathedral, which has a curious history. Philip II wanted to build the largest cathedral in Europe. But, with the transfer of the Court to Madrid, the funds destined to finish it went to another spectacular work: the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial. Even so, the cathedral in Puebla is well worth a visit. From its tower you can enjoy one of the best views of the city.

La Antigua and the cathedral share the same square / Valladolid Film Commission

On your way to the Plaza de San Pablo, you’ll pass the beautiful church of La Antigua, with a Romanesque tower that doesn’t go unnoticed, and the legendary Calderón theatre, home to the Seminci.  This event serves as a meeting point for all industry professionals and has been awarding the best film productions with the Espiga de Oro (Golden Spike) for 68 years. The history of the Seminci boasts a list of winners that includes filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Françoise Truffaut, Akira Kurosawa, Bernardo Bertolucci, Lars Von Trier, Ken Loach, Abbas Kiarostami and Goran Paskaljevic. Today he is considered an international benchmark in auteur cinema. 

As a good festival city, a lover of culture, theatre and audiovisuals, Valladolid has hosted filming of all kinds of genres. For example, Orson Welles chose the Alcázar of Segovia to shoot the scenes of Gregory Arkadin’s castle in Spain (“Mr. Arkadin”, 1955). But the famous masked ball scene was filmed at the Colegio de San Gregorio in Valladolid, now the main site of the National Sculpture Museum. Another of the great blockbusters of the time, “Doctor Zhivago” (David Lean 1965) also passed through Valladolid. In the Estación del Norte (still in use) the Russian Yuritain station was recreated, with snowfall included.

In addition to such illustrious filmmakers, Valladolid has welcomed a good number of Spanish filmmakers. From “Memorias de Leticia Valle” (1980), “Soldados de plomo” (1983), “Caminos de tiza” (1988), “Monseñor Quijote” (1988), “Hola, ¿estás sola?” (1995), “Todo menos la chica” (2002), “El robo más grande jamás contado” (2002), to “Un buen día lo tiene cualquiera” (2007). 

As a sign of Valladolid’s commitment to cinema, from 2019 it will belong to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the Cinema category.

More tips for your travel script to Valladolid

Once in the royal quarter, the centre of what was the 16th-century Court, there are several must-see sights. The spectacular church of San Pablo, an example of Spanish Plateresque, the Palace of Pimentel (where Philip II was born), the College of San Gregorio, the Palace of the Marquis of Villena and the Casa del Sol. These three are home to the National Sculpture Museum, with the best collection of polychrome woodwork in Europe. Another building in the Plaza de San Pablo that exudes history is the Royal Palace, where the likes of Charles V, Philip II, Napoleon and Saint Teresa of Jesus have passed through.

Solemnity aside, very close by is one of the most emotional places of the musical based on the great hits of G-Men. The Plaza del Coso is where the main characters live as children. From one of its doors David comes out singing the mythical “I’m Going to Have a Good Time”. Pure energy. And, as we follow the route of the film, the walk can end at the Pisuerga River and its banks. There you can go to the beach in summer (river beach, but beach) and get on board the boat in which David and Layla reminisce about their childhood, which travels through a large part of the city and offers its best views. Very cinematic.

Plaza del Viejo Coso Square / Valladolid Film Commission

Valladolid by day and night

It is not surprising that the Valladolid Film Commission has so much work to do because, in a city with so much to offer, the locations multiply ad infinitum. Cervantes, Columbus and Zorrilla lived here. Don Miguel’s house, which can still be visited, is in one of the most central streets of the city and is surrounded by a beautiful garden. It is well worth a visit as it is just a stone’s throw from Calle Santiago. Another illustrious literary figure, Don José Zorrilla (whose name you will find everywhere) also enjoyed a beautiful house with a garden. It is next to the Plaza de San Pablo. As for the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, he died here in 1506. Where his house used to be, there is now a curious museum worth visiting.  

In the Castilian capital, tapas have the category of art. Any self-respecting evening begins with this form of dining, known here as “ir de vinos” (wine tasting). The places for this are spread all over the historic quarter. Around the cathedral, in the San Pablo area, on the banks of the river Pisuerga (Plaza de Poniente) and in the streets surrounding the Plaza Mayor, there is a network of bars offering these small portions of haute cuisine with the best wines of Spain. Within a radius of a few kilometres from the capital, there are the Ribera de Duero, Rueda, Cigales and Toro wine regions. The hard part is choosing. 

Other good leisure options in Valladolid are its theatres and concert halls. From the legendary Calderón (home of the Seminci) to the Miguel Delibes Auditorium (home of the Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra), there is a wide range of genres on offer: several jazz festivals, the Street Theatre Festival, the nights of San Benito… By the way, “I’m Going to Have a Good Time” also passed through the Calderón to film the scenes of the award ceremony for Layla, remember that?

In Pasaje Gutiérrez there is always a great atmosphere / Valladolid Film Commission

For that drink that every good day of screen tourism deserves, the evening can end in the beautiful Pasaje Gutiérrez, a little piece of Paris in the centre of the city.

What’s next: “Memento Mori” and the Goya Awards

If “I’m Going to Have a Good Time” reflects the most beautiful corners of the city, what promises to be one of the great premieres of autumn 2023 will take us to its darkest side. We are talking about “Memento mori”, the fast-paced thriller that Amazon has filmed adapting the novel by the Valladolid writer César Pérez Gellida. The pursuit of a serial killer throughout the city will turn the police upside down and disturb the calm of its neighbours… Stay tuned to your screens.

Do you already know when you’re going to have a good time in Valladolid? Well, if you’re looking for a special date to go, remember that the next edition of the Goya Awards will be held there. Do you need any more excuses to plan your trip?

By María Parcero

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