These celebrations date right back to the year 1474, and are held in honour of Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes, the patron saint of Villena, who freed the town from the horrors of the plague.
14 "comparsas" (musical groups) take part in the festivities, half of whom belong to the Moorish side and the others to the Christian side, and they go on a pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin of “La Morenica”, as she is known in Villena. The celebrations are the result of the transformation undergone over the years by the old “soldadesca” (provincial militia created by Felipe II to accompany the Virgin of Las Virtudes firing arquebuses in a salute).Amongst the most significant acts in its programme, it is worth highlighting the symbolic representation of “La Conversión del Moro al Cristianismo” (the conversion of the Moors to Christianity). Other highlights are the “Escuadras Especiales” (special squadrons) due to the beauty of their traditional outfits, which are made every year. Another highlight are the musicians, grouped into more than 80 bands, accompanying the parades and processions with their music.