All the fun of the Feria

Sarah Matthews Guest Blogger BA Spanish and Business Management at the University of Manchester
Choosing the hottest month of the year to celebrate their liveliest street party, the Malagueños certainly know how to do it. For one week every year Malaga engages in one of the biggest ferias (fairs) of Andalucía. In the day time, parties take place with women decked out in the brightest flamenco dresses, lanterns hanging in the streets and castanets sounding on every street corner in the city centre. At night time, the venue moves to just outside the centre, at the recinto ferial (fairground). Here you can find fun and games for everyone, all night long and way into the next day. On Saturday night, a fellow guiri and I, along with five Andalucians, headed out to join the shindig for the final night of celebrations at the evening venue. Amidst a plethora of casetas de tocas (game stalls), attractions and food outlets - around 150 in total - we meandered through the hordes of excited faces and pretty flamenco outfits. The sky lit up by over 1,650,000 lights across the multiple venues, we were dazzled by the sights. After a few drinks beneath the light-tunnelled entrance at around 11.30pm, we headed towards the game stalls. From darting balloons to smashing down tin cans, all the usual amusement games were on offer, plus hundreds more. Children and adults of all ages were attempting to score that winning shot in a basketball hoop suspiciously too small for success, and scratching off their numbers on the bingo stalls. It was a delight to see so many thousands of people enjoying themselves in the evening warmth of over 30 degrees. Next, we gobbled down some delicious buñuelos (mini-doughnuts) and headed to the bars. The only thing in England which I can compare last night to, in terms of the atmosphere and goings-on, is a music festival. There is the buzz of live music, alongside bars and eateries where excitement can be shared by all. After playing amusement games, many of the visitors descend on the numerous open-air club tents. Each one of the dozen or so bars is hosted by a different local tavern and plays a totally different genre of music, much like tents at Glastonbury or something similar. Hundreds of Spaniards and sun-soaked tourists can dance the night away at Malaga’s biggest outdoor venue. We ended the evening (and began the morning) flitting about between two of the larger tents, one with very Spanish-sounding euro-pop music, and the other, a more Flamenco-styled sound. We danced around a rather large pile of stuffed animals and a plastic World cup, our booty from the stalls - reflecting perhaps our ages in terms of shoe size instead of actual years - until we ached too much to move any more. We left the Feria at the respectable time of 4.45am (since it didn’t close until nearly 8am), having acquired our new zoo of stuffed animals, some fairy wings, a World Cup, a real goldfish and some sore heads. If you’re thinking of heading to the Costa del Sol in the summer, Malaga’s August Feria is both unmissable and unforgettable.
Blog published on 23 August 2010