Andalucia is fun all year round but the summer is THE time to go. It’s party month! Every city, town and village has a summer fair ostensibly in the name of the patron saint but actually more in honour of Dionysus!
Cartajima feria 13 – 16th August
Cartajima is one of the smallest of the famed pueblos blancos. But its small population doesn’t stop it organising an unrivalled summer fair. The resident population of less than one hundred more than triples as people from the village come back “home” for the festivities. Spanish people wait all year for the summer fair to come, a chance to dress up, dance all night in the warm summer air to live music, meet old friends. Cartajima’s Feria is archetypal: exuberant street parties every day with lunch provided by the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). Live music and dancing all afternoon, theatre, flamenco, water sports, photographic exhibition, and much more. A whole ten days packed with events. The only thing missing is the funfair rides, but there is always a bouncy castle!
A totally different experience from …
Feria de Málaga 13th to 20th August
A big city with one of the biggest celebrations. Millions of people visit the fair of this great city which is far more than just an airport. The Feria dates to 1487 when the Catholic kings, Ferdinand and Isabel retook the city from the resident Arabs. Few tourists know about this intrinsically Andalusian traditional fiesta which, in Málaga, is two distinct events. The daytime street parties up to 7 pm after which the action moves to the Recinto Ferialfrom about 10 pm till dawn. The festival of lights at night is impressive.
And now a break from fiestas to visit a fascinating ancient complex, just this year been made a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Dolmenes de Antequera
An important European megalithic site and even if you don’t care a toss about your predecessors and their ways of life, I am willing to bet you would enjoy a day out in this rich and fascinating landscape. There are unique features here: the Menga dolmen for example is positioned towards a large feature of the landscape, Lovers’ Leap, the only one in continental Europe that doesn’t face the sun. Similarly, another of the dolmens, El Romeral, is aligned with the crags of El Torcal.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) from 9 am to 330 pm. Free admission.
The dolmenes are just part of a larger and fascinating complex including the extraordinary mountains of El Torcal and la Peña de los Enamorados or Lovers’ Leap. The mountain has the shape of an Indian’s head which has nothing to do with the legend that a young Arab boy in love with a Christian girl sought the heights for safety when escaping her outraged father. Rather than submit, they jumped.
Follow this trip down memory lane to the delightfully Spanish town of Antequera for lunch at the highly rated Meson Adarve.
Then back on the party trail …
Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos weekend of 27th August
Benadalid, a small town in the Medio Genal Valley on the road to Algeciras from Ronda, celebrates the epic battles between the Moors and the Christians during the reconquest of Spain from the Islamic people in the 16th century.
For two days the Moors and Christians battle theatrically around the old Arab castle . It always ends predictably with the Christians winning and converting the Arabs to Christianity. The narration of what happened five hundred years ago is in verse. Most of the residents of the town take part. It begins with a procession of the Moors and the Christians, followed by verbal abuse on both sides, and then the battle begins with skirmishes and dances. The costumes get more and more spectacular every year.
The only feria in Spain not dedicated to a saint is Ronda’s which memorialises a bullfighter.
Feria de Pedro Romero 6th September to 11 September
Following the now familiar format, there are daytime parties in the central streets of the town. The action moves to the Recinto Ferial, the fairground, on the outskirts, for the night time celebrations. All the fun of the fair, rides, casetas (private bars where you can try charming your way in. You stand a better chance if you are dressed in traje de gitana! – the long frilly, usually polka-doted dresses) and three days of bullfighting. People come from all over Spain to attend the corrida Goyesca which this year will be on the 10th September. Everybody, participants and spectators alike, dress up in Goyesque costume. Leaving aside the bullfighting, the most entertaining part is when the audience and bullfighters arrive. Dressed extravagantly and riding in beautiful carriages drawn by magnificent horses, they arrive at the Plaza de Toros and enter through the ancient gates. It is a sight to be seen.
No excuse for not enjoying a fun and party-filled summer!