We all love a good party, and no more so than the Spanish who seem to hold festivals and fiestas for just about every occasion, from small village paella cook-offs to huge street festivals that spread through entire cities such as the astonishing Fallas de Valencia that lights up the city in a spectacular display of fire and fireworks. The majority of Spain's festivals have a religious theme although very few of these are sombre affairs as visitors might imagine, but rather a celebration of various past religious events, many dedicated to patron saints with marching bands, colourful processions and even drinking and dancing in the streets.
Costa Blanca Festivals & Fiestas
Although the main Fallas takes place in Valencia, it is the celebration of San José, the patron saint of carpenters and many towns and cities in Spain celebrate it, including some on the Costa Blanca. The festival started in the Middle Ages when carpenters used to burn their small scraps of wood at the end of winter to celebrate the end of the cold, dark days. As the tradition grew some of the townsfolk would throw cardboard pictures and effigies resembling town councillors they were disgruntled with into the bonfires, and this tradition continued to grow each year to the extent the Fallas de Valencia now attracts many thousands of worldwide visitors.
The Moors & Christians Festival is also extremely popular throughout Spain and is celebrated in various towns and cities on different dates that coincide with past battles that were fought between these warring religious armies. Great fun is had by all with street processions and various reenactments of past battles ending with the Christian victory and banishment of the Muslims from Spain. The different costumes and weapons are spectacular and the crowds get involved by choosing sides and cheering on their chosen army.
visitors to the city of Elche during the autumn months of late October to early November should not miss the splendid Medieval Festival which includes over 60 different events over an entire week of fun and festivities. The city is literally transformed into a giant stage dedicated to life during the Middle Ages with wonderful street performers, plays, recitals, parades, fireworks and a delightful Medieval Market. The lovely north Costa Blanca town of Calpe boasts a number of festivals throughout the year including the Three Kings Festival, Calpe Carnival, Semana Santa, Calpe Fallas Fiesta, Midsummer Festival and a lively, slightly drunken Oktoberfest!
The coastal city of Torrevieja is another great place to visit during festivals and fiestas where even the religious Virgen del Carmen Fiesta is loads of fun, especially when young showoffs try to walk across a greasy pole in the harbour, most ending up in the drink! The final procession sees the harbour filled with every type of floating vessel following the statue of the Virgen as it's taken out to sea. Unlike Britain where dancing around a Maypole is a tradition, Torrevieja's May Fair originated in Seville and is a celebration of Andalusian traditions, food and dance where wonderful flamenco dresses and men's traditional costumes abound, and magnificent Andalusian horses perform dressage shows and parades accompanied by much merriment.