2 Jul, 2023 @ 09:45
3 mins read

PARTY TIME: Summer in Spain’s Granada is known for its colourful ‘fiestas’, ‘ferias’ and ‘romerias’ – some have an unusual twist

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FIESTA SEASON is upon us – for many people, it’s the annual highlight of life in rural Spain. In early June, it kicked off in style with Corpus Christi in Granada. At this major event, decorated horses paraded around the fairground, mounted by riders dressed in flamenco finery. Dapper Andalus horses become a frequent sight at summer ‘romerias’, which all celebrate religious events.

At this time of year, even the smallest villages spring to life. With balmier and longer evenings, Spanish families sit at tables placed directly outside their homes. Here, they can congregate for a cold beer (or three) or card game.

Suddenly, you can’t find a parking place in your town because visitors from ‘Barca’ or Madrid have arrived to see their rural families. At night, the bars are buzzing, and there’s a feeling of excitement in the air.

A week before your town’s patron saint day, or feria, the municipal street decorations appear, the ‘columpios’ (rides) and shooting galleries arrive (where you pop at cheap toys with an air rifle), and market vendors setup their stalls. Everything from hot potatoes to artisan handbags are on sale. Not forgetting the delicious mojitos!

A loud ‘cohete’ (banger) marks the start of the fiesta – and off we go!

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All set to party on your horse! Photo: Jo Chipchase.


Trevélez and the fiesta of San Antonio

The Olive Press visited the fiesta of Trevélez – La Alpujarra’s highest village at 1,476m. Taking place from 14-17 June, the fiesta celebrates patron saint, San Antonio de Padua. The most popular attraction is a theater of ‘Moros y Cristianos’ held in Barrio Medio, on Saturday afternoon.

The performers include horses and riders, dressed to the nines, a comedy ‘Guardia Civil’ and his compadre whacking passers-by with a fur-covered pole (be warned: it hurts your bottom!), and orators dressed in Moorish garb.

The fiesta also features a procession with San Antonio and the Virgen del Carmen and a horsemanship contest, to grab ribbons from an overhead wire (called ‘cintas’).

If you attend the next fiesta in Trevélez, Virgin de las Nieves on 5 August, be sure to take your own water supply and a sun hat. The town is built on a steep slope (thirsty work, if you walk uphill), and its supermarkets close for ‘siesta’.


The madness of San Juan in Lanjarón

Lanjarón, a spa town known as ‘gateway to La Alpujarra’, is famous throughout Spain for its fiesta of San Juan. Annually, on the night of 23 June, it hosts a mass water fight. Attracting revellers from far afield, the ‘water race’ starts at the stroke of midnight and ends at exactly 1am. The municipal firehoses soak anybody running through the town’s main street – many wearing crazy outfits, or swimsuits, and carrying floats. It’s advisable to take a towel, a change of clothes, and don’t slip over!

The Lanjarón fiesta is also renowned for ‘La Publica’ (carnival parade), which always takes place on the Saturday evening. Groups of residents work for months, making intricate costumes for the lengthy procession throughout town. Although the participants look fresh as daisies at 6pm, by the time they reach the plaza, several hours later, many ‘tinto de veranos’ and mojitos have been consumed. There’s a real party vibe, which continues into the early hours.

The fiesta also features a water-throwing contest, a traditional ‘romeria’, accompanied by religious sermon and paella, a ‘Dia de la Bicicleta’, and a contest to climb a greasy pole to dislodge (and win) a ‘jamon serrano’. What more could you want from a town event?

Upcoming fiestas for your diary

  • Santa Ana in Cañar – 24-26 July. A shining example of a village fiesta that hasn’t been commercialised. It might be a small town, but they sure know how to party!
  • ‘Noche Vieja in Agosto’ in Berchules – Saturday 5 August. Thanks to a power failure on New Year’s Eve 1994, the town started holding their festive event in August. It’s amazing to see Papa Noel and other Christmas characters in the height of summer.
  • ‘Virgin de Las Nieves’, Trevélez – Saturday 5 August. This is a famous ‘romeria’ to Mulhacen to celebrate the snow virgin. Although another procession takes place to the peak of Veleta, departing from Monachil, many seasoned horsemen choose to ascend from Trevélez. There are reports of some being worse for wear!
  • Soportújar’s ‘Feria Embrujado(haunting fair) – 7 to 13 August. The biggest attraction is the ‘Night of the Haunting’ on the 10th, with witches parading through town.
  • Órgiva feria – last weekend of September. One of the area’s biggest fiestas, this features a fairground, municipal tent, horse ‘cintas’ race, and ‘migas’ bake-off on the Sunday.

Hints and tips

Do:

  • Book a cheap accommodation well in advance if you’re planning an overnighter.
  • Take enough cold water, or an empty bottle to fill at the fountain, if your fiesta is in a small village without shops.
  • Park legally, and not where you can get blocked by later-arriving vehicles.
  • Take a flower to adorn your hair.
  • Wear sensible shoes, not your killer heels. Ouch!

Don’t:

Jo Chipchase

Jo Chipchase freelanced for internet and lifestyle publications in the UK, and for Living Spain magazine, and was co-founder of Press Dispensary. She lives in the Alpujarra mountains of Andalucia with her teenage sons, dogs and a horse. Contact [email protected]

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