(Sorry for the randomness of this and following posts, I started writing it some time ago and didn’t get around to putting it up!)
Fiestas are a really big part of traditional Spain and the whole town, no matter how big or small, joins together to celebrate. The ability to party seems to be an innate Spanish thing. Since my time here in Estepona I have had the luck to experience two ferías, which traditionally celebrate the Patron Saints of the town (read about the Feria de San Isidro Labrador here), as well as two other fiestas: La Noche de San Juan and the celebration of the Virgen del Carmen (the Patron Saint of Fishing).
La Noche de San Juan
San Juan is celebrated in Andalucia on the 23rd of June every year. My brother had come to stay at this time, so the bf and I dragged him out for some real Spanish culture.
Throughout the day you can see bonfires being built along the beach, so when night finally fell, this is where we headed. However, these bonfires are not just the British version of a huge pile of wood – for San Juan, figures (or muñecos) are built, normally with some sort of serious or joke political statement and are set on fire just after midnight. It is also a tradition to throw in pieces of paper with your wishes for the year on them – this was particularly easy to do, as in true Spanish style (much to the horror of my British self) there were no barriers around the huge bonfire!).
However, before the bonfire is lit, at midnight everybody runs into the sea in a ritual that is meant to cleanse away the evil spirits. Washing your face and feet three times grants three wishes and happiness for the following 12 months apparently, however I settled for a little paddle!
Estepona Municipal Feria
The town feria takes place during the first week of July and is a long week of seemingly 24-hour celebrations. Needless to say, the Spanish did not let us down on the party front!
Throughout the day there is plenty of drinking of the traditional rebujito (sherry mixed with a soft drink), eating and dancing through the streets and the port, before heading home to freshen up before the feria del noche up at the fairground. I was lucky enough to go with my Spanish friends to the fería del día where they taught me sevillanas and got me to try rebujito!
This consists of plenty of fairground rides and games, fried food and casetas – marquees owned by different bars and clubs – that are open for drinking and dancing all night, as well as the caseta municipal which put on plenty of shows.
There was also a very odd parade of locals in traditional costumes on horses, a local band, wagons of children in their feria costumes and….spaceships. I have no idea why…
Virgen del Carmen
The celebrations for the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fishing, take place every year on July 16, and lucky us in Estepona got a nice bank holiday! I had arrived back from England that afternoon so in the evening I headed down to the paseo (and then up to the roof of my friends building for a better view) to see what was going on.
Boats of all shapes and sizes, full of people and playing music had gathered by the beach and the promenade was literally full of people – I didn’t even know there were that many people in the town! Eventually, the parade started as the Virgen del Carmen was carried along the promenade on a float covered in candles and accompanied by a band, before she was taken down the beach and into the water. She was later brought out again, however I had fallen into my bed by this point!
It was pretty spectacular to watch, especially with all of the fireworks, although I’ll never understand how the Spanish can still afford all of these elaborate celebrations…