Discover Real Andalusia, from the Inside
There is no better way to get to know inside Andalusia than by taking part in its traditions. A staggering 3,000 Spanish festivals take place annually in Andalusia, religious and otherwise. Here we detail just a few of the 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 week):
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 it’s 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 – 40 days after Easter
In the small town of El Rocio (‘the dew’) is it said that in medieval times said 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 takes place to visit her from all Spain.
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)
Centuries old, an annual event which sees the mares and foals of the marshlands of the Doñana National Park rounded up and taken to the town of Almonte to be branded, clipped and some sold. Afterwards they are returned to their home on the marshes. An incredible sight, especially as they pass through El Rocio.
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.
Contact us for details as there are also many other Spanish festivals all year around.