Fuengirola has some particularly interesting festivals:
April: The International Fair : “La Feria de los Pueblos”
This is a wonderful fair, which is held in the main fairground of Fuengirola (between train stations of Fuengirola and Los Boliches) and lasts for a week. In just one day, you can visit up to 50 countries – or at least a microcosm of each one, since they are represented in full colour and flavour and sound. Each country is allocated its own caseta (stand or purpose-built area). For over 10 years, this annual celebration has grown and become increasingly popular with local residents and visitors alike. From mini German beer festivals, to Irish dancing shows and Cuban rhythmic music and dance, there is something for every taste. The typical dishes and drinks from each country are worth sampling, too. It is a very popular festival in Fuengirola and people come from all over, making this one of the highlights on the annual events calendar.
The countries represented are Paraguay. Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Ireland, Italia, Jordan,, Morocco, México, Norway, Palestine, Peru, Poland, Dominican Republic, Sweden, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The different autonomous regions of Spain are well represented by; Galicia, Asturias, Melilla and of course, Andalucia. This is a great opportunity to have fun, buy interesting handcrafts, clothes, foods and gifts, enjoy great entertainment and even dance the night away. It is like a world tour at a fraction of the price!
Easter Holy Week: Semana Santa
The processions of Holy Week in Andalucia are spectacular. Each day during the week of that important religious festival in Fuengirola, as in all other Andalucian towns and villages, streets are cordoned off and massive, ornate icons are held high, with images of Christ and the Virgin at the different stages of the cross. Each church has a cofradía (brotherhood) of men who carry these enormous weights between them, shoulder high, proving their dedication and faith. Rehearsing for the processions at Easter goes on behind the scenes throughout the whole year and it is considered a tremendous honour to be involved in the proceedings.
The people of Fuengirola turn out to either watch or participate in the Easter processions and celebrations. Visitors are known to come to Fuengirola at this time of year especially to watch in this wonderful display of colour and religious tradition.
June 24th St. John’s Day: La Fiesta de San Juan
The 24th of June is the day of St. John celebrated in other parts of Andalucia; this is a very special night of the year. The tradition is to build many bonfires, especially on the beach. It is said to be a night of magic. The background to the festivities comes from the first baptism given by St. John. Nowadays, it is a great excuse for night parties, particularly on the beach. The tradition is to be at the waters edge at midnight and to hold hands and walk into the sea backwards, while you make a wish. By 1:00 a.m. at various points along the Fuengirola beach, there are huge gatherings of people in party mood. There are bonfires at certain points along the sand and you will see that groups of people have set up open tents and the smell of barbeques and the many sounds of the fair can go on until very late into the night and early morning.
There is a specially organised Boquetillo neighbourhood (on the right, approximately way up Avenida de Mijas from the town centre) there is specially organized street party, with lively Spanish music and other entertainment and many children’s attractions. The local restaurants and bars in this area offer excellent local dishes and stay open till the small hours of the morning. This small fair normally goes on for several days and nights after San Juan on the 24th. This is an extremely noisy few days and nights for the residents of this very built-up area, so they often join in rather than try to sleep through the bedlam. Joining in with the vibrant Andalucian party atmosphere is a good way to get you into the swing of things, especially since this is considered to be the fiesta that gets summer underway.
16th July The Day of the Virgin Carmen:
As in other coastal part of Andalucia La Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is celebrated. On the night of the 16th July there is a colourful and very moving procession in Los Boliches neighbourhood of Fuengirola. An image of the Virgen del Carmen is carried in a procession all the way down to the sea, where a waiting boat takes the ‘Virgin of the Seas’, as she is known, to Fuengirola port. People wade into the sea (many fully clothed) to see the Virgin off on her journey. The virgin figure is later carried back again to the church in Los Boliches. Flowers and a blaze of candles decorate the procession and the boat. Along with this magnificent sight, there are fireworks lighting up the skies on this very special night of the year.
July & August: Dance and Music Concerts in the Castle
One of the most beautiful settings for summer is the Castle of Sohail, Fuengirola. High on the hill, looking down across the sea, this wonderful open air venue is the perfect place to enjoy the best of Spanish dance and music. It is a privilege to be seated under the stars surrounded by the fortress walls and enjoy a summer night of top entertainment. Well known Spanish groups such as the much loved Chambao (25 August 2006) and the sizzling Spanish dancer, Sara Baras have taken to the stage. It is always advisable to book early for these events, as they tend to be extremely popular and can sell out before the night.
There is also a tapas fair in August – giving everyone the chance to choose from an enormous variety of tapas, which enjoying the magnificent atmosphere of a heady summer night within the castle walls.
17th to 20th August an annual Medieval Market is set up inside the castle walls, when all efforts are made to re-create the atmosphere of those historic times in this very appropriate setting. There are stalls with food and drink of the period. People are dressed in authentic mediaeval outfits and music and side shows go on from the morning and right into the night. There are many concerts and other events on throughout these two months each year and the best thing is to pick up a programme of what’s on at the castle from the Fuengirola Casa de Cultura, Avenida Juan Gomez “Juanito’(tel: 95 246 07 50).
October 6th – 12th The Fuengirola Fair: Feria de Fuengirola
Each city, town and village in Spain has an annual fair. In Fuengirola the fair takes place in October, starting with a bang on the 6th with a huge fireworks display. Over the last 20 or so years the feria has increased in size and is now one of the most important fairs on the coast. It is held on the purpose built fair ground, on the road between Fuengirola and Los Boliches. It is roughly equidistant from Fuengirola and Los Boliches train stations and the fair ground can be seen from the train.
When the fair is on, you can’t miss it. The fairground is lit up and the entrance area is dedicated to the children’s fair, with noisy merry-go-rounds, dodgem cars - and other more exciting rides for the more trepid fair goer. Going deeper into the fair ground are brightly decorated casetas with their own music and special dance events going on throughout the day and night. There are many different ‘casetas’, which are like small bars, with music and plenty of food and drinks for sale. The feria by day and in the evening is very much a family affair and is also a time when many groups of office workers celebrate together by having a long lunch at one of the casetas. The feria by night is for the young who enjoy dancing and seeing all their friends.
The traditional drink of the feria is ‘fino’ – a very dry, pale sherry. However many people drink wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks as well. Local people and even foreigners dress up in traditional Spanish dress, the women in the typical flamenco dress and the men with the short jackets, high wasted trousers, boot and hats.
Horses are a large part of the feria agenda and usually on the Thursday of the fair, prizes are given for the best horses. During the week of the feria, there is also a lot going on at the Fuengirola bullring, such as horse drawn carriage displays. In fact, the whole town is in feria mode for this week in October and the best way to ensure that you don’t miss any of the events, is to pick up a programme, which are usually freely available in newspaper shops, bars, etc. – or go along to the Casa de Cultura.
Parking close to the fair ground is difficult when the feria is in full swing and if you are able to take the train, this is often the best form of transport at this time. Otherwise you will first have to find parking and then walk to the fair. This in itself can be very interesting, as you see all the women parading their beautiful outfits along the way.
For full information on fiestas and events (as well as exhibitions, courses, etc.) in Fuengirola, the best place to ask is at the Casa de Cultura:
Casa de Cultura
Avenida Juan Gomez “Juanito”
Tel: 952 46 07 50