Andalucíans are renowned for being a lively, joyous people who enter into the spirit of a party with body and soul. Over 3,000 fiestas are celebrated every year in Andalucía and the Costa Del Sol , including fairs, pilgrimages, carnivals, mock battles and religious processions. The Spanish need little excuse to throw a party. In fact, there is scarcely a day in the year without its fiesta, and visitors whose stay coincides with one, will enjoy the opportunity to experience the exuberance of the celebrating Spanish.
The three main events of the year are the local Summer Fair, the Easter processions and the Christmas festive season.
Every town and village has an annual summer fiesta which binds all sections of the community together in a frenzy of preparation and celebration. Towns and villages virtually shut down for the duration of the fair as everyone takes to the streets in their traditional Spanish finery. Women and girls prance in colourful frilly dresses while their men take advantage of bars set up in the street to drink and put the world to rights. Music and dancing continues long into the night followed by a few hours’ sleep before the next fair day dawns and the party can start again.
In Andalucía, the dates of some of the main local summer fairs are as follows.
Sévilla - 2 weeks after Easter
Córdoba - Last Week in May
Marbella - Second week in June
Estepona - First week in July
Málaga - Third week in August
Mijas - Second week in September
Torremolinos - Last week in September
Fuengirola - First week in October
San Pedro - Third week in October
In Spain the 24th of December is an important day for most, as families get together to eat a traditional meal. Christmas day is a quiet day although many restaurants and bars remain open. January the 6th is Three Kings day and the climax of the festive season in Spain. The procession on the evening of January the 5th is not to be missed if you have children. The Three Kings ride through the streets on floats, accompanied by local children in a re-enactment of the journey to deliver gifts to Jesus.
This sight of visual splendour may be missed by your children who are likely to be throwing themselves to the floor in an attempt to collect several hundred of the thousands of sweets that fly through the air throughout the procession. Some eager parents have been known to take an umbrella with them, not to protect against rain, but rather to collect sweets in the bulk amounts allowed for by an upturned umbrella. Join in and enjoy the sweets but do beware of older boys who have perfected their aim and can deliver a boiled sweet like a bullet.
This is also the day that Spanish children receive their gifts from the Three Kings, their equivalent of the stocking that Father Christmas delivers on Christmas Eve. However, the multi-cultural nature of Southern Spain means that some lucky children receive a visit from both benefactors. The 6th of January is a Spanish holiday when children can enjoy their new gifts and parents can recover from their sweet inflicted bruises.
Easter – Semana Santa
Every town in Spain marks this week with spectacular processions through the streets of models of Christ on the Cross and his mourning mother the Virgin Mary. Much time and effort goes into the creation of these scenes and indeed the creators of the most elaborate costumes and decorations may have been working on them the entire year. The parades leave from the towns' churches and wind slowly along the streets. The serious nature of this fiesta means that drinking and celebrating is unlikely to attract approval and fireworks are strictly a no-no.
The most outstanding Easter week processions are those in Sévilla, Málaga, Córdoba and Granada, although the spectacle is worth seeing in any town or village.