Car hire Spain

Malaga Festival & Traditions

Cosmopolitan, open, fun and passionate, Malaga is all of these to those who whish to sample the province’s culture and folklore. There is something for every visitor, wherever their taste, sensibility and sense of fun.

The first of a long list of events in the Summer Fair. Its origins date back to the incorporation of Malaga into the Kingdom of Castile at the hands of the Catholic Monarchs, who entered in the city in the 19th August 1487. This immensely popular week sees locals and visitors alike join in an effusive celebration lasting from midday to well into the early hours. Bathed in warm summer sunshine, the city’s historical centre is bedecked with fairy lights, fans and castanets, matching to perfection the gipsy costumes and smiles worn by the thousands of people who contribute to this explosion of local song and dance. The laughter is occasionally interrupted for a most just and nutritional cause: the obligatory sampling of tasty tapas, with cheese and ham the most popular items on the menu.

And so it goes on until nightfall ushers in a change of scenery, the festivities continuing by moonlight at the Cortijo de Torres fairground.

Here, a whole spectrum of rides and attractions wait young and old alike, while a variety of music ranging from verdiales and flamenco to rock is played loud in the many different casetas, custom-built premises to be found throughout the fairground. Both the Young People’s caseta and the recently opened Municipal Auditorium play host to some of the world’s most famous performers. The latter, which holds 13,000 people, was filled to capacity during the 2005 fair.

This unbridled joy turns to impassioned fervour in Holy Week.

The men of some 40 religious societies take to the streets, through which the y conduct a carefully-coordinated procession, carrying on their backs their societies’ tronos or floats, which bear enormous images and manifestations of human worship of the divine.

This 500-year-old religious and social phenomenon attracts thousands of parishioners and penitents alike, who embark on a pilgrimage through the heart of the city that starts at each society’s chapel or headquarters. The liberation of a prisoner by El Cautivo society, the blessing of the city offered by El Rico; the huge float of the Virgen de la Esperanza, the fluttering entourage of the doves released by the Virgen de la Paloma or the much-acclaimed darling of Malaga, the Virgen del Rocio; the perfect synchronization with which La Expiracion has conducted its ceremonial march since 1931 and the immense popularity of the Zamarrilla procession – moments and images which evoke intense fervour here in Malaga.

Each town and village lives and celebrates Holy Week in its own particular way.

Riogordo stages a theatrical representation of the passion and death of Christ on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, a historic and moving performance which has been attended by practically the whole of the village since 1951 and whose lines date back to the VXII century. The outskirts of Alozaina also host an outdoor religious play, though of a more modern ilk. In Alhaurin de la Torre, Alhaurin El Grande and Coin. Easter is characterised by the brotherly rivalry between two societies, “the greens” and “the purples”. Alora is famous for the dancing movements of the heavy floats of the Virgen de los Dolores and the Cristo de las Torres societies, which are borne by just eight carriers on each pole during the famous “Farewell” on the morning of Good Friday.

Wholly different affairs are the antics of the young men of Alfarnatejo, who take to the streets on Easter Saturday and ring cowbells, and the Easter Sunday pilgrimage to the country to enjoy a hearty feast that forms part of Benomacarra’s traditional “pava”.

Country get-togethers to enjoy good food are typical in many areas of the province, taking good advent age of the excellent local fare. Boiled or roasted chestnuts accompanied by liqueurs are devoured at the Tostonazo or Roast Chestnut Festival in Istan. Another fruit, this time of a juicer variety, was imported to Periana from Argentina 150 years ago: the peach, which enjoyed a particular boom in the 1970s. Considered the best in Spain, as many as four million kilos have been picked in single season to be sold at the popular fruit auctions known as “corrias”.

The orange has a whole day devoted to it in Coin, as does the almond in Almogia. All of these products serve to accompany a dish made from small pieces of bread in the town of Torrox: Migas. In fact, “Breadcrumb Day” has been officially declared an event of national tourist interest and is celebrated throughout the whole of the Axarquia region in which Torrox lies, an area boasting the finest grape harvest festival. Algarrobo, Competa and El Borge are three of the locations in which this celebration is particularly popular, especially so in the case of the latter, where thousands of bags of raisins are given out each year during the Raisin Festival.
However, it is not only our taste buds that will be stimulated at these celebrations –our ears will also delight to the sound of verdiales music.

Comares, Algarrobo, Almogia and Alora are just a few of the village whose inhabitants put their vocal chords through their paces on a day specially devoted to this ancient form of song, while in Torremolinos, the huge green expanse of Los Pinares not only provides a delightful backdrop for the performance of this most unusual of styles, it is also a meeting point for the thousands of participants in a religious pilgrimage that is second only to El Rocio, the romeria dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.

Some fifty wagons pulled by tractors or oxen, along with numerous horses and their riders, make up the huge procession that wends its way through the street of Torremolinos in late September before finishing up in the aforementioned pine forest, where a sumptuous feast awaits.

Another culinary-based celebration takes place on St. Mark’s Day in Villanueva de la Concepcion, where a cake baking contest sees bakers and villagers alike give free rein to their imaginations by creating figures of animals, plants and other objects from a mixture of dough and eggs. These creative efforts work up an appetite that both competitors and spectators then satiate by devouring the works of art on a display in a delicious afternoon tea in the country.

On the same day in a similar setting, though in a different location, the people of Cuevas de San Marcos ay homepage to their patron saint by “tying up the devil”. Legend has it that a when a travelling band of Christian warriors lost their way, they came across Belda Cave, from which a strange light and blood-curdling howls and screams were known to emanate. The warriors alerted the village chaplain, who immediately headed for the cave, cross in hand, to catch the devil. When he had done so, he tied some yellow flowers to the base of the cross. Each year, young and old alike take part in the symbolic ritual of trying to interweave handfuls of grass without breaking them. This followed by the eating to the aforementioned cakes, which are usually decorated with kidney beans.

This same fare is eaten, though in the month of May, on what as known as “Kidney Bean Day”, a festival held in conjunction with Cross Day in Colmenar. Other towns and villages in the province also observe this celebration, turning interior patios and even streets into humble but welcoming shrines in which a cross is decorated with flowers and surrounded with manila shawls, ancient containers, sea shells and a variety of rural farming tools. While in the majority of these localities the religious images paraded through the streets are showered with rose petals, in Mijas stones are thrown instead.

No offence is intended, however. Quite the contrary, in fact. It is all done by way of making a request to the Virgin’s male companion, a handsome individual of high standing. The target of the stones is a figure of St. Anton, and, in accordance with a XV century legend, the 17th January sees hundreds of single women bombard the saint with three stones that they have previously collected in the sacred surroundings of the chapel in which he has laid to rest. An original way of seeking a fiancé. Or fiancée. The young men of Tolox once requested their girlfriends’ hand in marriage by covering their loved one’s face in flour. This is now know as Power Day, for with the passage of time, the flour has been replaced by talcum powder, some 3,000 kilos of which are thrown in the village on Carnival Tuesday.

This musical celebration laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm has been held in Malaga for over twenty years, each edition attracting and increasing number of participants. The biting lyrics of the songs and hilarious fantasy of the carnival costumes worn take over the city streets in the month of February.

A very different form of dress known as Goyesque costume takes centre stage at Ronda Bullring in September during the Pedro Romero Fair. This festival began in 1954 to mark the bicentennial of the birth of the man who invented the art of bullfighting on foot. The Goyesque bullfight is now famed throughout the world and its fans include ministers and members of the Spanish Royal Family, who, from the Royal Box, watch, along with huge numbers of famous and anonymous spectators alike, as a scene from the times of Francisco de Goya, the painter commissioned to immortalise the celebrated matador on canvas, is played out before them. Behind this spectacle, the ashes of the great maestro lie buried beneath one of the arena’s safety barriers.

Also reduced to ashes are the effigies known as “juas” burned on the bonfires lit beneath the moonlight on St. John’s Night. With the arrival if the witching hour at midnight, the sands of the Malaga coast are filled with footprints; some belong to the revellers drawn to the heat of the flames, where sardines and other tasty morsels are cooked, others to midnight bathers heading for the sea, and other still to those observing the ritual of seeking the path to good fortune traditionally associated with the magical night of the 24th of June.

The sun then replaces its nocturnal friend to illuminate the “marengos”, men who transport a float bearing the statue of the Virgen del Carmen. The Malaga coats is now carried along on a tide of emotion as the patron saint of fishermen is brought out from her chapel to embark upon a precession characterised by the aroma of geraniums and the sea, creating a fervour that reaches fever pitch for the traditional mass on the beach. After this, the marengos carry their “Queen of the Seas” into the water before depositing her on her boat. A colourful backdrop of vessels and fireworks light up the waves like marine glow worms before the Virgin is returned to dry land well into the night.

Things to do in Malaga

  • Malaga Art Galleries
  • Malaga Beaches
  • Malaga Bullfight
  • Cinema, Theatre and Music
  • Malaga Equestrian Art
  • Malaga events
  • Malaga Feria / Fair
  • Festivals & Traditions
  • Malaga Gardens
  • Malaga Going Out
  • Malaga Golf
  • Malaga Itineraries
  • Malaga Monuments
  • Malaga Museums
  • Malaga Natural Parks
  • Malaga Racecourse
  • Malaga Restaurants
  • Malaga Shopping
  • Malaga Street Markets
  • Malaga Sports
  • Malaga Theme Parks
  • Car hire Spain