Virgen del Carmen Fiesta
Although many of Spain's festivals and fiestas have a religious theme, they are never dull and seldom sombre, with the townsfolk and visitors joining in and having a jolly old time such as the festivities held during Torrevieja's Virgen del Carmen Fiesta. Many of the Costa Blanca's coastal towns and cities started life as small fishing villages or important trading posts depending on the size of their port, and such is the case with Torrevieja which, besides its lucrative salt industry has a rich fishing heritage.
In order to give thanks for the continued safety of their fishermen and prayer for a bountiful harvest, Torrevieja's Fishermen's Association organise a Fiesta each year in mid July in honour of their patron saint, the Virgen del Carmen. The fiesta starts with a colourful early morning parade beginning at the Plaza de la Constitucion that makes its way along the streets lined with cheering spectators and along Paseo Vista Alegre to Torrevieja's port area. Here everyone gathers for a bit of traditional fun and bravado known as cucaña that originated in the 16th century and gives the town's younger generation the chance to test their balancing skills.
Basically a greased pole is laid across a stretch of water in the harbour and everyone is invited to have a go and see if they can make it to the other side, resulting in many a dunking! The Virgen del Carmen Fiesta continues into the late afternoon when the event's main procession starts. Sailors, accompanied by a beautiful statue of the Virgen del Carmen parade through the streets and down to the water where the statue is put on a boat and taken out to sea, followed by practically every boat in the harbour all loaded with cheering passengers that makes for quite a sight. The fiesta ends with a huge evening firework display and lively beach party.