This song is based on a traditional Spanish fairground melody, which seems an unlikely inspiration for The Pogues, a very Irish band. But in 1986, they found themselves in Almeria, Spain, filming a low-budget movie called Straight To Hell, which also featured Joe Strummer and Courtney Love. Almeria is famous for its fiestas, which enveloped the band.
Pogues guitarist Phillip Chevron on the Shane MacGowan website described the genesis of this song. "'Fiesta' actually came out from our time in Spain," he said. "We had peculiar hours. We would get up at 6 in the morning and drive to the set, which was about 25 miles from the hotel. This meant that we had to get to bed relatively early, which was difficult enough for The Pogues. The actual hotel in the film is the one we stayed in. Typically we would get back at 8 O'clock, have a bite to eat and a few drinks to unwind and then go to bed. We were filming at Fiesta time, and the Spanish take their Fiestas very seriously. The problem with the Fiesta is that they start at sun down and continue to sun up. That wouldn't be too bad except the noise of the fiesta is something else. All through the time we were in Almeria there was two tunes that kept playing, they came like Chinese water torture. It would stop for five minutes and then start again. The first tune was what we made the main tune in 'Fiesta' and the other one was the coming from the doll-selling stall. You know the line 'will you kindly kill a doll for me!'"