Out and about all day, in need of a little refreshment.  We decided to hit the Santa Pola seafront at dusk for a quiet drink at one of the cafes. Where are the people coming from? Packed places, was there a fiesta in Santa Pola that nobody told us about?

Wow, it’s really busy tonight… more than usual for August. Not only difficulty parking, but just getting around: queue and jams everywhere, but no sirens or flashing lights. We tried the underground parking station in the Castillo area - couldn't even get near it, as 50 other cars were in front also trying to find a spot.  We found out later it was indeed a fiesta, dedicated to the Our Lady of Loreto, a local saint. The festival or fiesta of Santa Pola, and it was the Moors and Christians parade already winding its way to somewhere.  Really? Would we be in time to see it?  Now we were in a rush to find anywhere to park.  If it's a fiesta (and I love fiestas), here in Santa Pola, we'd be in time to see a part of the celebrations.

We’d inadvertently stumbled into the middle of the Moros & Cristianos parade, and we'd just caught it.  Finding a park spot in the dark was a slight challenge.  The parade had already begun, from the Palmeral Park to the Castillo Fortaleza de Santa Pola. ...thousands of spectators, hundreds of participants, lights, action, noise, colour...

Santa Pola is a smallish seaside town on the Mediterranean that takes the full brunt of inlanders and tourists desperate for the coastal summer experience; despite its' modest size, this festival gave it the appearance of something much bigger.

black and white men: spain Santa Pola Palmeral Park Moors Christians fiesta , festival procession, spectacular colour, lavish Moorish costumes
adies: spain Santa Pola Palmeral Park Moors Christians fiesta , festival procession, dazzling colour, lavish, feathered head-dresses, Moorish costumes

We squeezed in amongst the crowds just down from the Palmeras Park, where camera flashes were that frequent they seemed to be in time with the drum beat.

The beat was going... uhmmm, uhmmm, .... drums cue (ratta-tat, ratta-tat), trumpets blared, cymbals clashed....the spectacle was amazing, spectacular even!

Videos or photos do not do justice: you just have to be there and experience it for yourself.  I had never seen such a fantastic, awesome sight up that close before. 

Maybe it’s not possible in larger cities since there are so many people. 

Santa Pola is just perfect for up close and personal with the event, as they had very few barriers between spectators and the procession.

So much detail of the costumes, so intricate the design, pomp and splendour, ancient somnolent chant, mesmerising the audience.... 

pyrotechnics: spain Santa Pola Palmeral Park Moors Christians fiesta, festival procession, dazzling colour, pyrotechnics, religious floats, spectators galore
float with archway: spain Santa Pola Palmeral Park Moors Christians fiesta, festival procession, dazzling colour, Moorish King and Queens, religious floats with archway, spectators galore

It was packed all the way from the start to the end of the parade winding its way down to the Castillo, with floats every five minutes it seemed like.
Difficult to gauge how many people there were, up the side-streets, standing 4 or 5 deep. Each one of the floats and the arm-in-arm walkers behind it, was even more splendid than the previous one. The crowds cheered and cheered some more... 

Later on, many bars had Moros & Cristianos themes and were open for drinks and tapas all over town, even some at the new Santa Pola marina.   Revelry all over the place until very early in the morning.   What an end to the glorious series of Fiestas that we were fortunate enough to be in town for!   Next year, we'll know when to come back ...