Jai Alai in Basque Country
The Basque Country may be known for its pintxos (Basque tapas), wine, and beaches, but this northern region of Spain is also home to unique games. Jai alai, locally called pelota, is a high-speed, acrobatic game that is similar to handball.
What Is Jai Alai?
Popular among locals, jai alai includes hitting a leather-covered ball against a high wall. Balls can reach speeds of up to 185 miles (300 kilometers) per hour, and knock-outs are not uncommon. There are several variations of the competitive game, including bare-handed or playing with a paddle made out of wood, leather, or reeds. Pelota matches are frequent in the Basque Country, especially in the summer months when games are held most nights of the week.
How to Experience Basque Pelota
The fast-paced game is also fun for spectators—just be ready to duck at any given moment. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you can book a trial class or jump in with a prematch warm-up.