Discover Real Andalusia, from the Inside
There is no better way for you to get to know inside Andalusia than by taking part in its traditions, Spanish festivals, ferias and events.
A staggering 3,000 Spanish festivals take place throughout the year in Andalusia, religious and otherwise. Below are details of those festivities and events of particular interest.
Candelaria del Rocío (The Fiesta of Light). Last week of January
This celebration, forty days after the birth of Christ, is a mass where the worshippers carry candles to represent the light of Jesus entering the world. Dating back to the 5th Century, the mass goes by many names, and is mentioned in Leviticus and Luke 2:2-40. It is also known as the
Presentation of the Lord, the Purification of Mary, and Candlemas. It celebrates the purification of Mary after childbirth and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Semana Santa in Seville (Easter).
During Semana Santa in Seville visitors come from all over the world to see one of the greatest Spanish traditions. Highly decorated “Tronos” (floats) weighing up to 5,500 kilos, depicting the various stages of the death and resurrection of Christ. Embellished with silver, gold, flowers and candles, the Brotherhoods escort their floats through the streets.
Beneath the Trono, you can spot only the toes of the “Costaleros” who are honoured to carry it for up to twelve hours. Brass bands and pilgrims follow, holding candles. Children dart from the crowd to collect the wax to see who has the largest candle ball. Famous opera singers visit Seville at this time, and when they sing, the Tronos and the city stops to listen. An amazing and moving spectacle.
Feria de Sevilla (Seville Fair).
Following Holy Week is the Feria of Sevilla, possibly the most famous of Spanish fiestas. People from all over the globe converge on the city and the people don their best Feria dresses and spend a week of singing, dancing and socialising in celebration of spring.
The party is continuous, day and night, and during the day both horses and carriages pass through the fair ground. Leaving around dawn, an ideal time to sample one of the gastronomic delights of our region – fresh chocolate and churros, a delicious silky cup of hot chocolate in which you dip your doughnut type sugar coated churros – worth it for that experience alone!
Feria de Jerez (Jerez Fair).
Jerez’s largest fair is the May Horse Fair, possibly the most elegant of all the special events in Andalucia. Covering 52,000 square meters, the Casetas border a wide pathway where the best of Andalusia’s horses and carriages parade.
An ideal time to visit Jerez as the whole city turns out in its finest every year. To sit outside a caseta, with a glass of chilled “Fino” in your hand and watch the spectacle passing by is both relaxing and enthralling.
Pilgrimage of El Rocío.
In the small town of El Rocio (‘the dew’) it is said that in medieval times a shepherd discovered a statue of the Virgin in a hollow tree. Consequently a church, which can only be described as an exquisite white chapel, was built and houses the image of the Virgen del Rocio (Virgin of the Dew). Every year during Whitsuntide the annual pilgrimage from all Spain takes place to visit her.
One of Europe's most extraordinary spectacles, whole communities journey between 2 and 5 days on foot, horseback, in horse drawn carts and caravans, all escorting a lavishly decorated ox-drawn cart carrying the village's representation of the Virgin.
The processions, in fiesta spirit and colourful traditional costume, cross rivers and camp out each night amidst the cork trees - building fires to gather around for the evening's festivities of eating, drinking and singing! By the time the pilgrims reach El Rocio their numbers amount to many thousands, by the time the visitors join them, it is usually over one million.
Saca de Yeguas (Roundup of Mares).
A yearly event which has been carried out for centuries where the breeders round up and bring in the mares and their foals from the marshlands of Doñana National Park to El Rocío.
They are then driven to the town of Almonte and on the following day in the municipal enclosure the foals are branded and the mares are clipped and some are sold. They are then returned to the marshes at the start of the Cattle Fair on the 29 June.
Horseracing in Sanlucar de Barrameda – August
Horse Racing on the beaches of Sanlucar de Barrameda at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. A unique sight and one of the main summer events in Andalusia.
SICAB (International Pure Bred Spanish Horse Event).
Spanish festivals of Andalusia would not be complete without the truly international display of the beauty of the Spanish horse. Organised by the ANCCE (National Association for Purebred Horse Breeders).
Each day sees classes for stallions, mares and youngsters. Proud breeders bring their horses to show off the particular attributes of each stud. Trade stands, exhibitions and entertainment – a must in November, with nightly shows of Spanish equestrianism at its best.
Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez
The Real Escuela Andaluza del Art Ecuestre (Spanish Riding School, Jerez) provides a captivating equestrian experience for all visitors, especially those interested in horses. The architecture, the haunting Spanish music and the incredibly beautiful Andalusian horses will remain in your memory forever. It encompasses all the passion, flair and colour of the Spanish horses and their incredibly skilled riders.
Choose from a ‘espectaculo’ (show) where the music and demonstrations will enthral you, or watch a training session.
These visits are an excellent culmination of all that you have learnt if you have taken part in a riding course at the Hacienda, and provide the chance to view classical equitation at its absolute best, with renewed clarity, understanding and inspiration.
Yeguada La Cartuja.
Yeguada La Cartuja is the oldest stud in Spain, and a testament of the history of the Spanish horse. Every Saturday they open their doors to the public. Your entrance fee includes a tour of the stables and facilities (in your language) and a ‘espectaculo’ (show) demonstrating the diversity of the Spanish horse and the captivating effect the breed has had on many people!
A Campo Abierto. March - October
A Campo Abierto is a display by the famous Alvaro Domecq, the founder of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez. The show gives you a taste of the country life with the bulls of Andalusia, including displays of incredibly skilful riding in Doma Vaquera, which show you how the Spanish work with bulls and cattle in the countryside. A unique view of how both horses and bulls are an intrinsic part of ‘campo’ life here in Andalusia.