Where to see it: The Festivals
Another excellent place to see flamenco is at one of the many festivals that are staged throughout Andalucía during the summer months.
When one thinks of a flamenco festival, or any music festival, one conjures an image of open air, moonlight sky, and all the aromas that a warm summers night has to offer.
One of the major aspects of a flamenco festival is the proximity of the bar, where people congregate to have a few drinks and conversation, some not even bothering to take their seats because the bar has a perfect view of the stage.
Fortunately the festivals are reserved for the more orthodox flamenco, where the voice and guitar will be the only thing on the stage, and it is at these festivals that you will be able to enjoy the true aspect of flamenco.
Depending on the towns past history of flamenco singers, and I say singers because the festivals are mainly dedicated to the cante, will depend on the quality of the show.
Most festivals are held in the town’s bullring or an open field, and they will normally start around ten thirty and go on until three or four in the morning and even the most ardent of fans will find it exhausting to last the course of the night.
The atmosphere at these festivals is always exciting, and people from all walks of life will be in attendance. The older men with their fraying straw hats conversing in the bar area over a glass of cool fino, the women in the most striking dress designs, silk shawls, and fans in motion, and the smell of jasmine that mingles with the warm summer air combine to make the setting the most enjoyable you could possibly encounter.
Another aspect of the festival is the large gypsy contingent that will also be in attendance, and sometimes to watch their antics will be as enjoyable as the festival itself.
The large gypsy clans can that look so regal on arrival, the women, if widowed dressed in black, and the younger women, their long dark hair trailing down the backs of their brightly coloured gitana dresses, and their piercing dark eyes transfixed on their men.
The older gypsy men with their dark copper complexions and in lined gypsy features look so authoritative with their large clan assembled around them, gold rings and chains adorn the fingers and wrists, and they have a look that tells you that they are the ancestors of what we are all here to see tonight.
Málaga and Seville hold their Bienal de flamenco on alternate years, and these festivals are normally held between September and October, and will last for one month. During these two important festivals most of the top names in the world of flamenco, along with many of the local artistes will perform at the many recitals that are staged in different venues in the cities.
Cordoba also holds an annual festival, as well as Jerez de la Frontera, which is normally staged in February, and again these two festivals will attract some of the best artistes around.
Many will put the reason for flamenco’s continuing progress on these festivals, and they are one of the best places to get that true flamenco atmosphere, Un forma de vida- a way of life!
Semana Flamenca Benalmádena
Held in November, Semana Flamenca de Benalmádena presents a journey through the more orthodox styles of the art of flamenco and includes singing, dancing and guitar recitals by up-and-coming performers and some of the genre’s most formidable artistes. Previous years have presented La Cañeta de Málaga, La Rempompilla, Manuel de la Tomasa, Pansequito and Aurora Vargas, to name just a few. The week-long festival also presents poetry recitals, exhibitions, book presentations and screenings of flamenco documentaries and films at different locations in the town: these include La Peña Rociera Nuestra Señora de la Cruz in Benalmádena Pueblo, the Casa de Cultura in Arroyo de la Miel and Castillo El Bil Bil on the Costa. The festival, which began in 2009, is organised by the Peña Flamenca La Repompa de Málaga and Benalmádena town hall, and it pays special attention to promoting young local artists in a bid to highlight the flamenco tradition of the area. The festival is dedicated each year to an artiste who has left their mark on the history of flamenco, like Juan Breva (2018) and La Repompa (2019).
The festival includes the Cuchara Flamenca night, a recital of the most orthodox cante that offers visitors the chance to sample a ‘plato de cuchara’, customary Andalusian dishes like Gypsy stew (potaje gitano) and lentil soup (lentejas) - which, as the name suggests, are traditionally eaten with a spoon.
The festival comes to a climax with the Gala de Clausura held at the Castillo el Bil Bil, a show that presents a collection of Málaga-based performers who offer a traditional family fiesta style show.
This has become one of the most popular local flamenco festivals due to the subsidised ticket prices. Ticket prices range from 3 to 10 euros, while the Cuchara Flamenca night costs 15 euros (2019) including food.
Festival Flamenco Fuengirola Juan de la Loma – El Jabegote
Held during the Feria de la Virgen del Rosario in October, The Festival Flamenco Juan de la Loma – El Jabegote - began in 1976 and has since featured some of the arts most renowned performers. Organised by the Peña Flamenca Unión del Cante and the Fuengirola town hall, this coveted event is held in the Palacio de la Paz theatre and tickets have a symbolic price of 5 euros, or 10 euros for those who prefer a private box. This festival offers the more traditional style of flamenco singing, although it also presents spectacular dance performances by some of the top flamenco troupes and individual dancers in Andalucía. The 43rd edition (2019) presented the formidable singers Pedro El Granaino and Jesús Méndez; local performers Paqui Rosales and Diego Morilla, while the dance was supplied by the Cuadro Flamenco de Carlos Haro.
Ciudad de Málaga Flamenco Festival
The Ciudad de Malaga Flamenco Festival is staged over three-days in late June or early July and presents around 30 artistes who perform on a stage that is set up in Calle Alcazabilla. The event usually has seats for around 1,000 people, while others enjoy the performances from the terraces of the many surrounding bars and restaurants. One of the wonderful assets of this festival, along with the fact that there is no entrance fee, is its spectacular location: the stage is erected in front of the Roman theatre, with the colossal Alcazaba fortress as its backdrop. This festival has the ambience of a traditional 1970s style event, where the crowd become as much part of the proceedings as the artistes on the stage. It has become a well-attended festival because it presents local established artistes alongside some of the most revered in Spain.
The 40th edition of the festival (2019) presented an array of performers from all over Andalucía, including, La Cañeta de Malaga, El Carrete, María José Santiago and La Macanita.
Although the Ayuntamiento de Malaga has indicated that the festival will go ahead in 2021, although with possible capacity restrictions, no details of the actual date or the line-up of artistes has yet been made available.
|Alhaurín de la Torre||Festival Torre del Cante-June|
|Alora||Festival de cante grande-July|
|Antequera||Noche Flamenca de Santa María-Aug|
|Dos Hermanas||Festival de Flamenco Juan Talega-June|
|Granada||Noche Flamenca de Albaycin-August|
|Jerez de la Frontera||Festival de Jerez-April|
Bienal de Arte Flamenco Malaga
|Mairena del Alcor||Festival de Cante jondo A.Mairena-Sept|
|Morón de la Frontera||Gazpacho Andaluz-August|
|Ronda||Festival de cante grande-August|
Bienal de Arte Flamenco Sevilla