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Fiestas, Fun and Culture in Benidorm
Siestas, flamenco, castanets, Beckham, sombreros (though you don't see many worn round town do you?)...... fiestas!!! - words synonymous with sunny Spain.
Spain's fiestas are famous. So famous in fact that we accept their existence assuming it's some sort of, er...... party? Well, yes, but much more besides.
It's a party, a celebration, a thanksgiving. To a Spaniard, it symbolises the town in which they were born: its patron saint; its culture. Therefore fiestas are important to places, to individuals and to families, and so they're celebrated!
Benidorm celebrates 55+ fiestas each and every year.
Why? As its popularity as a holiday destination grew, so people were attracted from all parts of Spain looking for employment and prosperity.
Now then, Spain is a large country and the different regions vary widely. Migrant workers brought their own festivals, celebrations and traditions - to preserve their cultural heritage, to celebrate their Saints' Days, and to feel 'at home'.
Here's a selection of Benidorm's Fiestas.
December & January
- No surprises here - it's Christmas and New Year. The festivities run from 20 December - 6 January.
- See in the New Year in the 'Triangle Square'
- And look out for the procession of the Three Kings on 5 January
- San Antonio and the Hermita de Sanz 17 January
- Carnival! Processions, fancy dress competitions and the intriguingly titled, 'Burial of the Sardine'. (que?)
- On 5 March, the discovery of a ship on Poniente Beach in 1740 is re-enacted. Back then, locals were afraid of the plague, so set the ship alight. A wooden statue, the 'Virgen del Sufragio' was discovered amongst the cinders, undamaged by the flames.... Celebrations are staged in fancy dress and present a fabulous spectacle.
- Now the Fallas is a b-i-g one! It's the Valencian festival that's evolved from days of yore, when carpenters would light pieces of wood they'd thrown in the street, to welcome spring. Like you do. And they still do, but now Benidorm's three 'Falla' are highly decorated, fabulous, satirical sculptures: there's Centre Falla; Rincon Falla and Els Tolls Falla, all in different districts. Celebrations comprising processions, street entertainment and fireworks (loud, banger-ish ones!) run from the 16 March, culminating on the 19th, when the 'Falla' are ceremoniously burned in the 'crema'. Wow..
- Holy week. Dignified and beautiful religious services and processions
- Fiesta de la Creu. 1 May, Foietes District
- Bonfires of St John, papier mache and wooden figures are displayed for a few days then burned on the 'nit del foc', 24 June. See them in the La Cala, Central Market and Old Town areas.
- Romeria del Corpus, traditional Andalucian fiesta with a procession of horses and a fairground.
- 6 and 7 July San Fermin
- First weekend in July St Christopher
- 16 July Fiestas of the Carmen
- 25 July Benidorm's patron saint St James
Bad news, no fiestas in August. Good news, the Council arrange loads of cultural and artistic events. There are live concerts most nights in the Aiguera Park auditoriums.
- 6 and 7 September Fiesta of Asturias
- Harvest Festival throughout the month
- Last week of September, Moors and Christians - 'get thee behind us Moors!' The festival commemorates 1492 when the Christians banished those pesky Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. Now this, reader, is worth seeing. For three days feasts and fun abound, until, finally, the 'filaes' (ranks of trooping Moors and Christians) parade through the town in a dazzling spectacle. The Christians in stalwart rows, strong and resplendent, wearing armourery of shiny helmets and breastplates. The swarthy, bearded Moors follow, exotic and dark in their feathered headwear and silk robes. The slow and insistent rhythm of the accompanying music sets an hypnotic scene. Fantastico.....But, don't make the mistake of thinking this opulent extravaganza is simply a draw for the tourists because it ain't. It seems that each year a Christian King and a Moor King are elected! (query - how would you decide which side you wanted to be on? Would you choose the best music? Best costumes?...or best wine?)
- First weekend of October Fiestas of Imalsa II
- Valencia Day exhibitions and stalls to promote and celebrate Valencian produce
- The Fiestas of the Town (Las Fiestas Patronales), celebrating Benidorm's patron saints, El Virgen del Suffrage and Jaime Apostle. It runs from the Friday before the second weekend of the month until the following Wednesday. HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE - the festival is preceeded by all sorts of sporting and cultural events including things like football, concerts, fishing contests etc.
And There's More
It has been suggested that Benidorm's a bit bashful about promoting the large number of cultural events it arranges each year. So, a quick reminder that apart from the fiestas and the fun, remember:
- The Benidorm Song Contest held in the Parque de l'Aigues in July
- The tiny theatre above Cam Bank, Carrer l'Alameda where you'll find a film club, school music group performances, string ensembles, exhibitions etc
- And once again, the August programme in the Parque de l'Aigues. Loads of acts and artists, free