Festivals on the Costa Cálida
Find out about the festivals and annual events that take place in the Murcia region...
Spain is known for its festivals (fiestas) many of which originated in religious events. Most have evolved into more general celebrations.
Every city, town and village has its own festival, which includes feasting, colourful processions, fireworks and partying.
Here is an introduction to the most significant fiestas in the annual Costa Cálida calendar.
Holy Week (Semana Santa)
Easter week is the most important Catholic tradition of the year in Spain. It begins on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and ends on Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua).
There are street processions with colourful confetti and a carnival atmosphere every night, while religious icons are paraded through the streets, in re-enactments of the Passion of Christ.
While celebrations take place all over the coast, noteworthy processions are found in Cartagena, Jumilla, Murcia and Moratalla. Other festivals include:
- The Easter fiesta in Lorca, during which a procession of citizens playing Romans, Christians and Egyptians move through the streets on elaborate floats, horseback or in chariots
- In Murcia city, Salzillo's Holy Week sculptures are paraded through the town
- The Royal Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Resuscitated organises a single procession held in the morning of Easter Sunday to round off 10 days of procession and celebration in Cartagena
Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos)
This festival commemorates the Reconquista, or the re-establishment of Christian rule in Spain.
Towns celebrate Moros y Cristianos on different dates. In Murcia, the event is usually held at the beginning of September.
Locals dress as either Moors or Christians for the occasion and re-enact battles, combined with skirmishes and dancing. Costumes are generally spectacular and there are firework displays.
International Jazz Festival in San Javier
A celebration of international jazz held annually in the months of June and July in San Javier. This event brings together famous jazz acts from around the world.
- For more information, see the San Javier Jazz website: Click here
Festival of the Holy Cross Caravaca (Fiestas de la Santisima Cruz de Caravaca)
This festival celebrates the arrival of the Holy Reliquary in 1232 in Caravaca de la Cruz, when the town adopted the Catholic faith. The festival spans four days in the beginning of May. There is a special mass, followed by a riderless horse race (caballos de vino) to the castle, mock skirmishes and processions of Moors and Christians.
- See the Ayuntamiento de Caravaca de la Cruz website: Click here
Epiphany is marked with plays and processions in Aledo and Churro in the province of Murcia. There are plays and processions all over Spain, and there are important performances in Aledo and Churro in Murcia. The three kings Melchor, Gasper and Balthazar distribute the gifts on 6 January.
Burial of the Sardine (Entierro de la Sardina)
This festival signals the climax of the April Spring Festival. There is a procession of 20 Sardinero-themed floats, giant (gigantes) and big-head (cabezudos) characters, torch-bearers, entertainers, demons and Brazilian samba groups. Afterwards, toys are distributed among the crowd. The night before the sardine burial, Ms Sardine reads a testament at the town hall.
At the close of the festival, a giant effigy of the Lenten sardine is hit with fireworks until it catches fire.
- For more information see the Murcia Turistica website: Click here
Aguilas Carnival (Carnaval de Águilas)
The carnival takes place a fortnight before the start of Lent in Águilas. Carnival groups unveil their costumes on Sunday and parades take place until Shrove Tuesday. Visitors can also sample local food and drink.
- Further details can be found at the Carnaval de Águilas website: Click here (in Spanish)
Festival of the Miner's Lamp (Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas)
The Festival of the Miner's Lamp is a dance competition held in the mining town of La Unión. For a week, performers, often accompanied by local musicians, compete in the public market place for the coveted Miner's Lamp trophy.
Three Cultures International Festival
A festival celebrating multiculturalism and promoting tolerance, with activities and festivities centred around Judaism, Islam and Christianity. There are a range of concerts, dance and art themed activities to encourage the understanding and expression of different cultures and ideas. The event is held in May and June in the streets and squares of Murcia.
All Saints' Day (Festividad de Todos los Santos)
Celebrated annually on 1 November, Todos los Santos is a national public holiday (banks and shops close) honouring the dead. Traditionally, Spanish families get together at the graves of their deceased relatives and lay down flowers. There are religious services in the churches and cemeteries over the course of the day. Specific foods are associated with this event: these may vary from region to region.
- More information from Spanish Fiestas: Click here
Patron Saints' Days (Fiestas Patronales)
Each town and village on the Costa Cálida has a feast day to celebrate its patron saint, who is thought to protect the town. These festivities generally last one week and include processions and dancing. Most shops and businesses close down during this lively period. The patron saint days usually involve the cooking of giant paellas in the streets, as well as a beauty contest.
Dates vary from place to place, but local Tourist Offices can provide information.