As elsewhere in the Catholic world, carnival is celebrated before the 40 days of Lent. Most Andalucian towns stage some kind of parade, and there is usually a dance and a "Carnival Queen" contest. As one of Spain´s major ports during the 16th century, Cadiz copied the carnival of Venice, a city with which it had much trade, and since then it has become the liveliest and most dazzling carnival town in mainland Spain, famous for its amusing and creative figurines and satirical song groups. The Carnival centres around Shrove Tuesday. Most towns celebrate the carnival with processions either the weekend before or after. Larger towns have festivities lasting all week. The carnival is the fiesta of the people. It is a reaction against the abstentions and prohibitions of all types. This fiesta attempts to break social order and liberalise instincts, helped by wearing masks and fancy dress.
MÁLAGA Carnival is always celebrated in a very special way, even though it´s not an official festival. From the very beginning, carnival troupes start their competition with jokes and street bands. Afterwards Carnival takes to the streets with a mounted procession which goes all through the centre of town and major streets leading the way. Lots of people from Málaga dress up to take part in the parade and others enjoy watching the groups perform in the streets. During the night on one of the last days, street bands sing and perform all night long on stages set up on Plaza del Carbón, Plaza de los Mártires and Plaza de Las Flores. On the eve of the end of Carnival there is a big carnival dance and the last day there is yet another parade, which is called the parade of the Burial of the Sardine. The route of this procession leads from Esperanza Bridge, Hilera Street, Pasillo de Santo Domingo, Pasillo de Santa Isabel, Cisneros, Especerías, Larios, Plaza de la Marina, Paseo de los Curas, to La Malagueta beach.
Easter week processions compete with one another in luxury and splendour. The parades leave each of the town´s churches to wind slowly around the streets, with their lifelike statues of Christ on the Cross and his mother the Virgin Mary in mourning. The processions are organised by the religious brotherhoods, representing guilds of tradesmen or other groups. They spend all year long preparing the elaborate costumes and decorations. This is a serious fiesta and fireworks are not permitted. Drinking and celebrating is still frowned upon by many. The most outstanding Easter week processions are those of the cities of Sevilla, Málaga and Córdoba and Granada, though the spectacle is worth seeing in any town or village. The processions take place during the week leading up to Easter Sunday. The best days are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Saturday. Easter Sunday itself has less intensity generally.
The procession in Arroyo de la Miel is on Good Friday and leaves from the church behind the railway station in the early evening and returns well after midnight. The weighty floats are carried by dozens of the brotherhood who pay for the honour of carrying one of the statues, the money is spent on spectacular floral decorations. Many followers are blindfolded and barefooted to perform penance, others wear the klu klux klan style headwear of the brotherhood, several bands and the towns dignitaries complete the spectacle. If you are in the area at Easter make sure that you fit this event into your plans.
Day of Andalucia. A state holiday throughout Andalucia. commemorating the date of the successful referendum vote on autonomy.
1st of May - A National Holiday
International Labor day. A national holiday in Spain.
3rd of May -
Cruces de Mayo. This day is celebrated (principally in Granada) with competitions in decorating the most beautiful cross with flowers, but is not a holiday in Malaga.
Festival de los Patios Cordobeses/The Cordoba Patio Festival.
May (App 4th to 16th)
This centuries-old festival includes the pilgrimage of the conquering Virgin of the Linares Sanctuary across the countryside with horsemen and richly decorated coaches, a competition of Mary Crosses and a Patio, Iron Grille and Balcony Contest in which the patios, small side street and plazas so typical of the city are filled with flowers. The map provided by the local Tourism Office will help you find the competing courtyards which are open to the public during the day. This one is not to be missed for those who like flowers and gardens or are just interested to look inside the patios of private houses.
The nun Juliana of Liege used to have a strange vision every time she began to pray, in which a full moon appeared with its center darkened by shadow. Finally, Jesus himself told her of the significance of the vision: the bright circle signified all liturgical celebrations and these were only darkened by the absence of a feast day dedicated to the exaltation of the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which was debated at the time). Official recognition of the feast day was given in 1246. The new feast day arrived in Spain sometime during the 14th century. In the procession, the main feature is the Host, housed in magnificent masterpieces of silver work.
A tradition in Benalmádena Pueblo is to lay the route of the procession with a the beautiful carpet of petals of flowers and aromatic grasses the previous night. The procession stops at the various altars which are blessed by the priest before moving on eventually returning to the calle real where the carefully laid out designs become the carpet for the procession and the hours of works are erased and left to the street cleaners. Please wait for the images below to load then you can see some of the 2006 celebrations
Throughout the different neighbourhoods of Malaga, spectacular goings-on celebrate the Feast of St John (San Juan). The fiesta is a pagan tradition given Christian sanction for it dates back to an ancient celebration of the Midsummer Solstice. It is a festival of bonfires and mayhem in the streets, echoed all over Spain.
The climax of the festival comes at midnight on the 23rd when juas, large cloth figures filled with sawdust, paper or similar materials, are set on fire. These figures are made by the people of the neighbourhoods and usually represent a grotesque caricature of some public figure. The bonfire is also the occasion to get rid of old furniture, which helps to keep the fire burning much longer!
Most of the bonfires prepared to burn the juas are set up along the beach. When the flames have dwindled to an appropriate size, young people start jumping over the fire, demonstrating great ability in a competition of skill and bravery. At the same time the rest of the group continues to dance around the fire.
According to tradition, the night of San Juan is magical (in Rome it is thought the witches fly) and anyone having a swim in the sea or who washes his/her face with sea water at the stroke of midnight will conserve eternal beauty.
The Veladilla, or evening celebrations, organised by the youth group at the church of San Juan are particularly noteworthy. After decorating the Calle San Juan and surrounding streets, the group organises games for children and adults, dances, competitions, masquerades, etc. There is also a beauty contest to choose Miss Veladilla for the coming year. A great night to find oneself in the pretty town of Malaga, or any coastal town including Benalmadena where their festivities are accompanied by a glorious firework display that seems to go on forever, the beaches are packed as are the esplanades with onlookers. Those seeking eternal youth take to the sea at the stroke of midnight, and the firework display starts at 1.00 am and is worth staying up for, the locals dont mind the late hour as they are here for the night.
click on the pictures above to enlarge 2005 San Juan
MÁLAGA - Feria del Libro ------------ The Book Fair of Málaga starts in the first week of the hot month of June. It's located in the Paseo del Parque, close the Ayuntamiento (town hall). If you want to find rarities, old books, comics, encyclopedias, and lots more, just wander from stand to stand in the gardens of the park. If you like reading, this is your opportunity to roam about and buy whatever you want. Also the Book Fair is a good opportunity to enjoy the beautiful gardens of the best park in Málaga during an excellent season.
The Virgen del Carmen
On the evening of July 15th - 16th, in the fishing villages and towns up and down the Coast, her much-loved effigy is not only paraded through the streets but also taken for a spin round the bay on a flower-adorned boat, accompanied by a flotilla of "jábegas" (fishing boats). Brass bands play, crowds cheer, rockets shoot off and fireworks fill the late dusk sky.
To understand why the Virgen del Carmen should be held so dear to the inhabitants of towns such as Estepona, Velez Malaga, Torremolinos and Rincon de la Victoria, we need to go back to the Old Testament. Downshifting in his old age, the prophet Elias retreated to a cave in Mount Carmelo near Haife (Israel). Many centuries later, hermits following in Elijah's footsteps asked for the protection of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmelo - the Virgin of Carmen. Stella Maris, as she was also known, was soon adopted by mariners and fishermen everywhere as their patron.
Although long overtaken by tourism, many Costa towns still retain fishing communities and a strong attachment to "la Reina de los Mares" (the Queen of the Seas). It was once believed - perhaps in the days before water-purifying plants! - that the Virgin cleared up the waters with her presence and that only after July 16 would the sea be fit for swimming in.
Although something is going on somewhere in Benalmadena from the 12th to the 18th of July the Big day (or evening) is the 16th when at 19:30 hours, the image of The Virgin will be paraded through Benalmadena Costa. Carried shoulder high the virgin will take the following route from the "MAS" church by Bonanza square, Avenida Bonanza, Flamingo, Carril del Siroco, Antonio Machado, Alay, Juan Sebastian Elcano, and finally, to the yacht club, accompanied by the Banda de Música Nuestra Señora de la Paz of Malaga (band of bugles and drums).
At around 21:30, the Virgen del Carmen will be put aboard the boat "Torremolinos", Alonso Gallardo, which each year takes the procession out to sea. Dozens of boats accompany Virgen del Carmen who is also applauded by the thousands of faithful who line the shore. While the boats travel the coast from the Marina to somewhere about The Santa Ana beach, those remaining in the Marina will be presented with a glass of wine served by venenciadores, courtesy of the Delegation of Celebration, and will begin dancing with Orquesta Nuevo Día
Upon its return, around 22:30 pm the Virgin is received at the Yacht Club by a soprano and a tenor accompanied by saxophone and piano. This is followed by a spectacular firework display from the beach Malapesquera beach
And from midnight in the Puerta Marina there is a big band and dancing until dawn.
Andalucia is famous for its pilgrimages or "romerías" - so called because pilgrims traditionally walked to Rome, and therefore became known as "romeros" - to popular shrines, around which fiestas are held. Many towns celebrate their Romaria to a local shrine a few miles away. It is a day in the countryside visiting a chapel or a sanctuary. Interestingly it is one of the few fiestas that is celebrated outside the nucleus of the town. The sanctuary is a physical and a spiritual point of reference. The departure from the town for the sanctuary is a proud public ceremony with all the necessary elements in a certain order. Flags and standards carried are by horsemen, decorated carts, men or women who are serving a pennance, then tractors, lorries and all sorts of agricultural vehicles. The municipal band usually provides the music.
Perhaps the most spectacular is the one devoted to the Virgen del Rocío, popularly called "El Rocio" for short. Nearly a million people from all over Spain and Andalucia make the long journey to gather in a small hamlet of El Rocio in the marshlands of the Guadalquivir River delta (south of Almonte), where the statue of the "Madonna of the Dew" has been worshipped since 1280. The pilgrims come on horseback and in gaily decorated covered wagons from all over the region, transforming the area into a colourful and noisy party. The climax of the festival is the weekend before Pentecost Monday In the early hours of the Monday the Virgin is brought out of the church. This remarkable event is always televised
Locally a romería finishes in Fuengirola, when the streets are closed to allow the elaborate caravans and horsemen to parade - a spectacle well worth catching.
In Arroyo de la miel a samller version is enjoyed by all, click here for pictures of the
Asunción de la Virgen. According to Roman Catholic theology, the Virgin Mary, "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." This means that Mary was transported into Heaven with her body and soul united. The feast day recognizing Mary's passage into Heaven is celebrated as The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics
19th of August -
Incorporation of Malaga in the kingdom of Catilla. This is a local holiday in the province of Malaga.
Every town and village in Andalucia has its own feria or fair, and it would be possible, if one had superhuman powers of endurance, to spend the whole summer following them about the region. The summer annual feria originated in the middle ages, and was the principal means of interchange of local products within the kingdom. The first feria takes place at Seville in April (two weeks after Semana Santa) and the last is at San Pedro de Alcántara in mid October.
With Benalmadena and Arroyo de la Miel celebrating in mid June
The 'day fair' takes place it the streets of the town itself. Streets are closed to traffic, businesses close for the week. Tables and chairs are set up and the bars serve food and drink in the street, and music plays from every corner. People of all ages sing and dance. Visitors are always welcome.
At night, the fair shifts to the public fairground or "recinto ferial" on the outskirts of the town. There is a traditional amusement park with lots of rides for the children, and tents or "casetas" set up by the various clubs, associations and political parties of the town, some with entertainment and all with a bar. . Many, some would say too many, of the Casetas are by private invitation only. Outsiders are invariably welcomed, just ask if you can go in, if not try the next one. There is always the large 'Caseta Municipal' put up by the town council and open to everybody. On some evenings there will be a top billing singer, for which tickets will be sold on the door at a reasonable price. These are usually very popular and often sell out.
The feria's usually start midweek and finish on Sunday night. In the larger towns they start at midnight on the Sunday night with fireworks. (Monday after the feria is often a local holiday designed for recovering from the festivities).
MÁLAGA - Fiesta de Verano.
The city's major summer festival commemorates the re conquest of the city from the Moors by the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) on 19th August 1487. usually starts the second Friday of August with spectacular fireworks. During the third week in August the centre is transformed into one big street party where entertainment is guaranteed. Join in the fun by tasting the local sweet wine and dance to the music in the street with everyone else. All the locals dress up in their finest traditional costumes for the occasion and dance "sevillanas" and "malaguenas" in the street; eat fish, cheese and ham and drink a delicious, sweet, red wine. The fair takes place during bullfighting season, so one can see a magnificent contest in the afternoon. At night, the festival moves to the new Real fairground in the suburbs where you will find carnival rides, party tents and live music that continue until early morning. It's an exciting, vibrant and colorful event that shouldn't be missed. The Town Hall lays on free buses to and from the fairground from the Alameda Principal (Main Avenue).
Virgen de la Victoria. Local holiday in the capital of Malaga.
MÁLAGA - Día de la Victoria (Victory Day) --------
is celebrated on September 8th every year when the locals commemorate the day when the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) took the city from the Moors in the late-1400s. At midday a famous local celebrity makes a speech followed by a procession from Nuestra Señora de la Victoria Church to the city centre with the presence of Town Hall officials. It is a colourful and exciting occasion and joining in the procession is a great way to get a different view of the city and its people
12th of October - A National Holiday
Dia del Hispanidad. This is a national holiday with official parades celebrating "being Spanish" commemorating the discovery of America by Christopher Colombus on 12th October 1492.
All Saints Day On November 1st - A National Holiday
is when relatives visit the graves of their loved ones in the cemetery. Fiestas called "Tosantos" (contraction of "todos los santos", or "all saints") are celebrated in the markets of Cadiz and the surrounding villages.
Halloween is celebrated in some places in Malaga but it is not a Spanish tradition. National holiday in Spain.
The feast of San Martín, on 11th November,
is the occasion for the slaughtering of pigs, in preparation for the winter-time drying of hams and sausages, at a fiesta called la matanza - literally, the killing - in all the towns and villages of the mountain areas of Andalucia. The day begins with the killing of the pigs and is spent butchering the carcass and stuffing sausages and black pudding. A great deal of eating and drinking accompanies these events.
6th of December - A National Holiday
Constitution day in Spain marks the national referendum which took place on 6th December 1978 to approve the Spanish Constitution. The Spanish Constitution came into effect on 29th December 1978, and the day to celebrate the referendum by the Spanish people was established as a national holiday in 1983. This is a National holiday, but is only celebrated with official events.
8th of December - A National Holiday
Imaculada Concepción. This is a national holiday celebrating the patron of Spain, The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother's womb.
As far as the holiday is concerned because there are two National Holidays so close together many businesses close for 3 days - the 6th to the 8th and is called a puente (a bridge) which is a spanish extention of these and any other public holidays that fall close to the weekend so if a holiday falls on Thursday many take the Friday or if it falls on Tuesday, Monday is taken and with the week-end many have a four day break.
is the quietest evening of the year in Andalucia. Even most of the bars are closed. An evening reserved for a family dinner.
25th of December - Christmas day. National holiday.