The next major cultural event here in Andalucia is the Cordoba Patios Festival, which takes place on 8-19 May.
This is one of the region's most charming festivals, where flowers take centre stage. Music and dance, usually the protagonists of any Andalucian celebration, are featured, but the patios are all about appreciating nature at its most colourful - bright pink, red, yellow and blue flowers in pots, especially geraniums, arranged across in perfect patterns across dazzling white walls, plants winding around staircases and trailing down from wooden balconies, creating little oases of green inside the city. The patios belong to Cordoban residents, who open them up to the public for this festival. The Fiesta de Patios de Cordoba was inscribed on the list of UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity in December 2012, joining other recent Spanish additions Flamenco and the Mediterranean Diet.
The festival experiences its peak times at weekends, when people arrive from all over Spain to enjoy the beautiful courtyards. For this reason, this year a new ticketing system has been introduced for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (10-12 May and 17-19 May) - on each of these days, you will need a ticket to get into the patios.
To get your ticket, you just fill in a form online, stating which patios you want to see, and when. On each day, there are three sessions - morning 11am-2pm; evening 6-9pm; and night 9pm-12 midnight Friday and Saturday (6-10pm Sunday) - you can choose one, two or all three. At the same time as the late sessions you'll also find live music and other performances, in the patios themselves and outside in plazas, where bars are set up and people dance. (On other days, Monday to Thursday, the opening hours are 11am-2pm and 6pm-10pm.)
For each session, you choose one of six areas: Regina-Magdalena, Santa Marina-San Andres, San Lorenzo-San Agustin, San Pedro-Santiago, Juderia and Alcazar Viejo, each of which has around ten patios to visit.
This new system means that you can see three areas in a day, from 11am-2pm and 6pm-12 midnight: for example, Friday morning Juderia, Friday evening Alcazar and Friday night Regina-Magdalena. You can book up to ten tickets for each day, although they must all be for the same sessions and areas.
This ticket is free, so there's no cost involved either in booking, or in seeing the courtyards. Once you've made your choices, you submit the form, and your tickets are emailed to you. Each ticket, which you print off yourself, shows the date, session(s) and area for each session, as well as a QR code and the list of patios for each area. When you're walking around the patios, you need to keep your ticket to hand, so that the volunteer in each patio can scan it.
To book your tickets go to this page. This is the programme of musical events, and here's the website for the official Patios Association.