Life is worth celebrating..
Festivals and Fiestas - Spain embraces that ideal to the full. Spain celebrates Religious fiestas like Holy Week and the Mystery Play of Elche, Nit de Alba fiestas. Spain also celebrates battles and victorious Moors & Christians fiestas, dazzling displays of sequinned costumes and plush splendour.
Carnival in Alicante Fiesta, dark and mystical medieval rites, spring time May Crosses fiestas gay buntings and stairway to the stars, mid-summer Hogueras Fiesta which are Bonfires of San Juan, pyrotechnics' dream display. Patroness and saints fiestas abound everywhere in Spain - when you visit, the Spanish Fiestas are about to begin, had just finished its celebrations or you're landed right in the thick of holiday madness and fiesta fever
Spanish TV news broadcasts regularly show a list of festivals on each weekend, but there are so many its hard to read because it's a blur on the screen. What is offered on the plate has a "Spanish culture" flag waving above it. Culture is an aggregation of history of what the local people decide what is good and proper for them, and Spain is a heavyweight in that respect.
Religion, exploration, civil war,conquests, great expansions of humanity, art, architecture,local opinions likes and mores, and trade/business, and of course the perpetual ebb and flow of people and notable events stretching back thousands of years. This all adds to the kaleidoscope of influence that have distilled into the various fiestas that are on offer every year in Spain. Add in the competitive realm of sport, the choice of events goes off the chart.
Spain offers fiesta events involving wine & food to eat, or throw (!), running with bulls, eating bulls, cross-dressing, sport, Moors+Christians, burning anything that doesn't move or blowing it up with fireworks, floral tributes that make an Interflora executive break down and cry, and of course religious extravaganzas at Christmas, Easter, and whoever is celebrating their local saint. All of them will involve a lot of passion, effort, food, drink, and spectacle, and all ages are automatically wired into it, from two to ninety-two. We just had to make time available to experience some of these events:
I thought there was only one king? Not recent stuff, but the traditional Christmas story kings -> Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar; continuing the festive celebration, Spanish-style.
Alicante; Rio de Janeiro , Venice and New Orleans aren't the only cities to enjoy the medieval spirit of Carnival... Alicante is a delightful surprise, given that Spain is perhaps the best party country on the planet.
Santa Pola, where did all these people come from. Going into town for a quiet evening drink, we obviously missed an announcement somewhere as it looked like the Moorish invasion was on again..
Elche, Santa Pola and Alicante: it's more than just Easter eggs... big Palm fronds, bigger processions, some serious colour, and really pointy hats. The Spanish really celebrate Easter in style... the Easter Week from Palm Sunday through to Easter Monday is revered and truly celebrated...
Hurdy gurdy, jugglers, and chain-mail. 13th century comes to town for a weekend. Occupying the main Castillo and surrounding streets... plenty to eat and drink and enjoy the obscure,sacred and profane..
Our local village: ball gowns, huge paellas, and lots of firework displays. Perleta and neighbouring Maitino join up for the annual fiesta... our local village comes alive with more people than we've ever seen (!)
No argument: nature has the best colour palette: May Day is a spring rite/holiday in Europe. An Alicante suburb combines its annual fiesta with a riot of floral colour...
Alicante: this fiesta is celebrated along the Costa Blanca. In Alicante, think of not one 'basic 60-foot high Burning (stick-) Man' in a desert, but 'huge, colourful, anatomically perfect or cartoon-stretched creations in all manner of themes up to 50 feet high' in most squares in the centre of a major city, all in one night.... plus street parties every day leading up to it
Blessed be the fishermen: Going out into the Mediterranean for a spot of fishing sounds like fun, unless you do it most days and its a job; sometimes it can be very dangerous. So it's a good idea to annually celebrate the saint that is looking over you...
Our local village the other way. It's a party within walking distance: we were looking forward to the annual Valverde fiesta, and a fine affair it was too. Exhausting yes, disappointing no.
A full program of: bands, speeches, the firing of muskets and ammunitions re-inactment, the different groups depict the entrance of Moors and Christians with spectacular parades, display of the Moorish and Christian Embassies, marches... also including Nit de Alb., and Misteri d'Elx
Barco, Bulls and Beer.. bring it on. Santa Pola may be smaller in scale than Elche, but their big summer festival makes up for it in style
La Pobla del Duc, in the Vall de Albaida, is in the hinterland in the province of Valencia, and once again holding ‘La Raima’ or the ‘Battle of the Grapes’ in late August. An unusual and little publicised festival, except to the Spanish.
Javea, little north of Elche/Alicante, is where their August festival is a little bit dangerous, perhaps as reckless as running with the bulls in Pamplona, but it's hilarious and the seafood on offer is exquisite.
Clink of chain, smell of horse: the old city centre of Elche existed long before the Moorish occupation therefore it is older than the 13th century medieval label; the locals put on an impressive facsimile of what might have been....
Vibrant Culture in Spain: This festive season, 'Belen' comes to Elche. What on earth is a Belen? Is it a hot drink, a dance, or a cold weather cloud formation? None of the above - it's a Spanish Christmas celebration.
New Years Eve? Going native is sometimes a leap into the unknown, although our previous experiences have always been positive going on spectacular, whether it be Antigua, Australia, or Spain. When we're 90, we'll still be first in the queue for an all-night party...