27th April to 1st May 2023
(Traditionally first week in May)
CORDOBA May Crosses
The May Crosses Festival (Cruces de Mayo) is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially in Latin America and Spain. In Cordoba festival holds special importance and is the best known of the festival locations in Andalucia.
For general information about the festival, its history and where to see in other locations in Andalucia consult our May Cross Festival page.
May in Cordoba - Flowes on Floats, on crosses and in pations
Springtime brings flowers galore to Córdoba, starting with a parade at end of April called La Batalla de las Flores ("the Battle of the Flowers"). This sees a long procession of flower-covered floats, with women dressed in traditional gypsy dresses throwing flowers into the crowd. Next come the two main floral events, starting off with the May Crosses, followed by the Patio Contests , and finally the Spring Feria. All this is accompanied by a host of cultural events - all kinds of music, theatre, flamenco and contemporary dance.
WHEN DOES THE FESTIVAL HAPPEN AND WHAT IS IT?
The May Crosses festival in Córdoba lasts four days, always at the end of April or beginning of May. It is actually more than a festival - it is also a contest, with 40 or so Catholic hermandades (brotherhoods) and neighbourhood associations competing for prizes for the best-decorated cross from the Ayuntamiento (town hall). The competition began in 1953, but the tradition of decorating the crosses dates back to the 18th century. The preparations take place secretly in the preceding months, with all the women and children from each street or neighbourhood joining in with the decorating of their cross, singing or dancing as they work. In older times it was an excuse for young single people to meet.
The competitors are arranged into three districts: the artistic-historic area, the modern areas and the recintos cerrados (patios). The crosses are judged according to four criteria: the decoration of the cross itself, the floral variety used, the lighting, and use of existing environmental elements (trees, walls etc), with representatives from each hermandad and neighbourhood acting as judges to vote on the best-dressed cross. Cash prizes of around 2,000 euros are awarded for first, 1,300 for second and 1,000 for third place in each category. While each participating group acheiving a minimum standard receives a 700 euro grant.
WHAT DO THE CROSSES LOOK LIKE?
The crosses are about three metres high, decorated with flowers, usually in red or white (occasionally green and/or yellow), and sometimes with more foliage emerging from the upper part of the cross, including its three points, or patterns imposed on the base colour. The effect is further enhanced by more flowers (often pink and white) in pots in a carefully arranged pattern to complement the cross, hanging on the wall behind it, placed at its foot, or going up the steps on which it sits. At night, the crosses are lit dramatically from below. Those set against white walls, such as Plaza de Capuchinos and Plaza de la Corredera, are particularly striking; others have white backgrounds erected to create a similar effect.
What else can I expect to find?
In spite of the religious origins of this festival, don't expect anything short of the traditional Spanish fiesta when you visit Córdoba at this time of year. Each Catholic brotherhood or neighbourhood association sets up a bar next to its cross to serve drinks (try the fino sherry) and tapas (local speciality, salmorejo, is a delicious, creamier version of gazpacho) to the partygoers - and let's not forget the music. In addition to the Sevillanas played during the day, with many local women dancing in their gypsy dresses, there are live performances by rock bands at night, which is also one of the best times to take a walk round the city, view the crosses lit up and soak up in the festive atmosphere.
The crosses are installed from 12.00 hrs to 02.00 hrs on the first day of the festival, and remain in place until 4pm on the final day. Music is generally played from 12.00 midday to 17.00 and then from 20.00 to 02.00 (the afternoon break and volume is turned down at 12 midnight, out of consideration for the neighbours). The prize for the winning crosss is about 2.000 euro.
The traditionally most popular neighbourhoods are are San Basilio, San Agustín and San Andrés, Santa Marina, and the city centre. Tourist office in Córdoba will provide May Crosses Festival maps featuring large cross icons to show visitors where participating neighbourhoods are.
In parallel to the Cruces de Mayo, there is a dance competition for the city's dance acedemies. This takes place from 28th Abril to 1st May 2022. As usual this takes place on the stage erected in Plaza de las Tendillas.
2019 competition winners
The 2019 competition winners (there was no competition in 2020 or 2021) were; La hermandad de la Oración del Huerto with a cross in Plaza de la Tierra Anzaluza in the artistic-historic area. in the modern area winner was Asociación de Vecinos Cañero Nuevo. In the closed areas (patios) the first prise was the Asociación Acpacys. Look out for these in 2022.
Here is a list of the 46 crosses in the 2022 festival.