Spanish Fiestas 2014 May-June
Manu López. Ayuntamiento de Jerez
In May, cities such as Seville and Alcoy (Alicante) celebrate their biggest and more popular events of the year, the April Fair and The festival of Moors and Christians respectively. In June, the village of El Rocío gathers close to one hundred different brotherhoods to enjoy this pilgrimage to the Blanca Paloma Shrine. Also fire is a very important element this month to celebrate the arrival of summer in the Fires of San Juan in Alicante and Fire walk. Come and experience them for yourself. Moors and Christians Festivities (Alcoy, Alicante). 02nd - 05th May The festival of Moors and Christians is the biggest event of the year in Alcoy. It is dedicated to Saint George, a figure steeped in age-old tradition. The festival dates back to the 16th century and commemorates a battle which was fought in 1276. On the first day, there is a spectacular procession of Moors and Christians: the different groups that make up each army march majestically through the streets of Alcoy dressed in luxurious costumes. Around 5000 people take part in this highly popular event. On the second day, many different events are held in honour of St. George. On the final day, a huge battle is fought in España Square in a specially-built castle which represents the city. April Fair - Feria de Abril (Seville). 06th - 11th May Seville's April Fair follows close on the heels of Holy Week. A festive mood takes over Andalusia's capital city as the locals dress up in traditional attire to celebrate their famous festival. The fair is not exclusive to Seville, as summer in particular sees similar celebrations held throughout the region in locations such as Malaga, Cordoba, Almeria, Fuengirola, Huelva, etc. Other festivities such as Corpus Christi, the May Crosses (particularly in Granada) and the Romerías or pilgrimages draw thousands of people year after year. Two pilgrimages worthy of special mention are El Rocio, which boasts a million participants, and La Virgen de la Cabeza in Andujar. The fiesta officially begins at midnight on Monday with the "lighting test", the illumination of the thousands of multi-coloured light bulbs in the fairground and adorning the main gateway, which is almost 50 metres high and has a different motif every year. The lively and festive atmosphere spills over into the area outside the tents: people usually dance in the street, and the friendly personality of the Sevillian people will entice passers-by into the celebration. You should bear in mind that most of the stalls are privately owned and can be entered only by invitation from the members or their friends. There are however public tents which are open to all. The information office at the entrance to the fair will tell you which they are. San Isidro Fair (Madrid). 14th - 18th May In the month of May Madrid celebrates the fiestas in honour of San Isidro, the city's patron saint. Bullfights play an important role in these celebrations, with a top-level line-up and a fair that lasts some two weeks, with normal bullfights and "rejoneo" (horseback bullfights). Furthermore, the Spanish capital's most traditional streets come alive with concerts, performances, competitions, street entertainment and open-air parties. On 15 May, the feast of San Isidro itself, there is a procession/pilgrimage and a public lunch. Patios Festival & Competition (Córdoba). 5th - 18th May "Pilgrimage and competitions whose main protagonist is beautiful Cordoba". It has been held since 1918. It comprises the Virgen Conquistadora pilgrimage to Linares Sanctuary, with riders and richly adorned carriages on a route through the mountains; a competition of May crosses and another of decorated patios, window grilles and balconies, covering the most typical parts of the city in flowers. There is also plenty of folklore, with the best regional flamenco artists. Horse Fair - Feria del Caballo (Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz). 11th - 18th May The Jerez Horse Fair consists of joy, fun and purebred animals. The nobility of the horses you can see during the event has made it internationally famous. Of ancient origins (1284), it was originally a livestock market. Over the years it evolved into today's conglomerate of festivities. Among the different events, mention should be made of the equestrian contests and competitions, and of the marquees set up in González de Hontoria park, adorning its avenues and paths with flowers and garlands over the course of the fair. There are all kinds of horse-related activities during this festive week, such as international show-jumping competitions, dressage, horse rally, select livestock exhibitions and auctions. Furthermore, during the day, González de Hontoria park fills with hundreds of male and female riders, and carriages that drive through the streets of the show ground in a majestic spectacle well worth seeing. There are also food and drinks stands and children's attractions. Bullfights, Sevillana dance competitions and fireworks are other festive activities that complete the programme of the Fair. El Rocío Pilgrimage (Almonte, Huelva province). 8th - 9th June More than a million people and close to one hundred different brotherhoods enjoy the wonderful festive atmosphere of this pilgrimage to the village of El Rocío. The celebration combines religion and fiesta, and is held 50 days after Easter. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over Spain, and even abroad, to make this annual pilgrimage to the Blanca Paloma Shrine in the village of El Rocío, 17 kilometres from the town of Almonte (Huelva province). As they arrive in the village of El Rocío, pilgrims pitch their camps and await the arrival of the remaining brotherhoods. On the Saturday there is a parade where they present themselves with the simpecado (the association's standard) before the statue of the Virgin Mary, while the church bells ring. On the Sunday there are various religious acts and that night nobody sleeps, in anticipation of the weekend's most exciting moment: the "jumping the fence", when the people of Almonte jump over the fence to bring the statue of the Virgin out of the shrine and parade it around the village on Monday morning. Once the procession is over, the brotherhoods start the return journey with their minds already on next year's pilgrimage. Corpus Christi. 19th June Don't miss out this fiesta which is celebrated in several Spanish towns and villages. Nevertheless, the most outstanding ones are Ponteareas (Pontevedra) and Toledo, where you will be amazed by carpets made out of petals, and the arches decorated with flowers, plants and seeds. The day before Corpus Christi, the local people set up these triumphal arches, walkways and flower tapestries in the village streets. Later, the religious procession, which is notable for its solemnity, passes over these works of art that adorn the different neighborhoods; that is why it is considered to be an ephemeral art. In the case of Toledo, it is known to be one of the oldest festivals, recorded as having been celebrated since the 15th century. The highlights are the Monstrance, a priceless work of craftsmanship in gold and silver dating from 1515 and weighing about 160 kilos; and the distinctive and traditional retinue of followers made up of the different religious fraternities and guilds. Five weeks before the religious procession, the route is decorated with awnings, wreaths and lanterns. The day before the feast of Corpus Christi, walls, windows and balconies are adorned with antique pennants and tapestries from the 16th and 17th century, and the ground is strewn with aromatic herbs whose scent pervades the festive atmosphere of the following days. The procession begins at midday: the bells of Toledo begin to peal, and the first to appear is a group of giants representing the different continents. Then the procession itself leaves the cathedral, bearing the Monstrance and accompanied by the religious guilds in order of antiquity. If you wish you can watch the proceedings from the seats arranged along the streets by paying in advance at the booth installed in the Zocodover square. You will also have the chance to see the beautiful interior courtyards inside the city's mansions and stately homes, as these buildings open their doors to the public on the day of the Corpus. There is also a programme of events lasting a week which includes concerts, shows and sports competitions. Fiesta de la Luna al Fuego - "De la Luna al Fuego" festival (Zafra, Badajoz). 16th - 24th June It aims to celebrate two festivals: the Corpus Christi and San Juan. An event that takes place within the walls, where the atmosphere of a street market from the 16th to the 18th century is recreated, and there are traditional celebrations such as the Corpus Christi or the "mojá de varas" (wetting of poles) of the night of San Juan. Fires of San Juan (Alicante). 24th June Alicante celebrates the arrival of summer with the Bonfires of San Juan. In an atmosphere of music, colour, fireworks and extravagance, thousands of people throng the streets to experience this fiesta which pays tribute to fire. The festivities officially begin on 20 June with the building of enormous bonfires with their tongue-in-cheek cardboard figures which fill the streets of Alicante with wit and good humour. On 21 June the parade of musical groups and the various bonfire committees takes place, with their respective "beauties" and the maids of honour dressed in traditional costumes. The following day there is a floral offering to the city's patron saint, the Virgen del Remedio; and on 23 June there is the international folkloric dance parade, a colourful procession of dance troupes from all around the world. In addition, every day at two in the afternoon from 20 to 24 June, there are firework displays in the Luceros square: the ear-splitting "mascletás", which should be seen wearing ear-plugs because of the racket of the firecrackers and rockets." But the fiesta is not over yet. From 25 to 29 June there is a fireworks competition on the el Postiguet beach, and the historic center of the town comes alive with a medieval market and a range of shows.