Malaga is a Spanish city on the southern coast of Spain in the Costa del Sol region. Beautiful nature, wide beaches, and well-developed tourist infrastructure attract thousands of travellers there. Another reason to visit Malaga is to take part in the fun local festivals and celebrations. If you want to experience the cultural and traditional side of this amazing Spanish destination, check out the biggest events taking place there throughout the year.
Also called La Noche de San Juán, Saint John’s Night takes place on the shortest night of the year, from June 23 to 24. The roots of this holiday go back to pagan times, and the celebration itself personifies the victory of light over darkness.
Closer to the night, the Spaniards in huge companies and families, including children, come to the beach and kindle fires. According to local legends, the fire burns away everything bad. Then, at midnight, they begin to plunge into the sea. The Spaniards believe that a dip in the sea at Saint John’s Night promises good luck for the whole year ahead.
After the water procedures, the celebration continues with an impromptu dinner, songs, dances, and jumping over the fire, and ends only at dawn. However, no one is in a hurry to go home, because the next day is a day off!
If street fairs are your passion, head to the Malaga Fair (Feria de Málaga) held every year in mid-August. However, we recommend that you properly prepare in terms of transport. During the week, public buses run only to the fair. Therefore, pick up a 9 seater minibus hire Malaga Airport upon arrival. Minibus hire allows you to travel freely with the whole family and not depend on public transport. That is, car hire is one of the few ways to get to the right place during the fair.
So, the opening ceremony takes place on Saturday evening and starts with a festive concert and midnight fireworks over the sea. From that moment, Malaga goes into an atmosphere of continuous round-the-clock fun for a week.
Afternoon events begin in the historic centre. They include performances by various creative groups, a flamenco festival, and tastings of Andalusian cuisine. At night, the celebrations move to the fairgrounds – a special area built every year for the Feria de Málaga at the exit of the city.
Every evening, streams of festively dressed people merge here into a huge noisy crowd. This site looks almost like a “city within a city” with all kinds of attractions and more than 300 pavilions. Here you can taste national cuisine, listen to musical groups, watch various shows, and dance. The roar of music and the noise of human voices subsides only at dawn when tired townspeople and tourists return to their homes to rest and sleep.
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is an important local holiday that begins 7 days before Easter. This mesmerising spectacle brings together the customs, culture, and religion of the Spanish people.
The main feature of the action is the parades of penitent sinners (“nazarenos”) in high-pointed caps and long robes. At the same time, each brotherhood (“ermandada”) arranges its procession and uses unique symbols. Huge sculptures on religious themes head huge columns of people.
The holiday begins on Palm Sunday with the morning processions of brotherhoods. Religious brotherhoods organise traditional 8-12-hour-long walks between churches. Each brotherhood uses a special colour of clothing, and music, and makes a unique “paso” – a sculptural composition decorated with flowers and gilding. Sometimes these are single figures of the Savior or the Mother of God but more often these are sculptures of religious subjects, mounted on massive platforms. Their weight reaches 3-5 tons.
The most interesting thing happens at the doors of the churches, from where the “nazarenos” take out the paso. The “costaleros” (paso bearers) spend many months practising a special gait that will make the sculptures move and appear alive. Saturday is the most fun and noisy day of the holiday. The procession ends closer to midnight when the faithful go to Easter Mass and the whole city begins to celebrate Easter.
Want to see real Spanish fun, a plethora of music, dance, and taste all the gastronomic masterpieces of this European country? The carnival in Malaga will give you simply fantastic impressions and a truly heavenly vacation! It takes place in the last week before Lent – between the end of February and the beginning of March, and enters the list of the brightest local cultural festivals.
The sea, warm weather, and Mediterranean nature combined with a festive atmosphere are all about the annual Malaga Carnival, which has become the hallmark of this Andalusian city. Traditionally, carnival events start with a grand concert at the Teatro Cervantes. The celebration continues with a theatrical show at the Plaza de Constitución, with the participation of specially selected groups of artists.
The largest events take place on the last carnival days – the grand parade, the “election of princes and children’s gods”, as well as the competition for the title of Carnival Queen are considered to be the culmination. The celebration ends with the Burial of the Sardine and an obligatory gastronomic fair, which has no equal in scale in all of Spain.
Festivals and celebrations in Malaga are a perfect way to get in touch with Spanish culture and traditions. Also, you will just have fun and bring home full baggage of incredible emotions. So choose the right date and start planning your festival vacation now!