Nerja festivals – calendar for the year
There are numerous dates in Nerja festivals calendar. Throughout Andalucia, fiesta’s are an intrinsic part of community life and Nerja is no exception.
Listed below are some of the most significant of the Nerja Festivals.
San Anton 16-17 January
This festival has been celebrated since the XVII century in honour of animals. All residents who own animals would light a fire to protect these from sickness. This is followed by a mass which gives way to music from local bands and an evening verbena.
This lasts for 3 days during which residents dress up in imaginative costumes and perform ‘Chirigotas’ which are humourous songs of contemporary issues. These are performed in public and then judged by a panel. Fancy dress competitions are held and on the last day, people dress up as if in mourning for the symbolic burial of ‘El Chanquete’ or small fry. There is nothing solemn about this funeral as the whole day is one big street party.
Semana Santa March-April
Semana Santa is not only a Nerja Festival. As evident throughout Andalucia, La Semana Santa, is celebrated either in March or April depending on the calendar for that year. It is a passionate affair with different ‘Cofradias’ or ‘Hermandad’s’ parading religious statues along the streets on different dates. These processions are serious affairs which culminate in an Easter Vigil commencing at 2300hrs at the Iglesia of El Salvador. The whole festival ends on the Sunday of Ressurection with a procession by a youthful hermandad carrying a statue of The Virgin.
Cruces De Mayo 3 May
This festival dates back to the 19th century and today is celebrated by exhibiting large floral arrangements adorned with Manilla Shawls or ‘Manton De Manilla’ which are then used to adorn the altars. Each altar will offer visitors a range of gastronomic delights typical of the area for them to taste. The whole event is accompanied by music and folkloric dancing typical of the region.
Romeria De San Isidro 15 May
San Isidro Labrador is the patron saint of labourers. The day starts off with a mass in La Iglesia De El Salvador where all the different ‘Penas’, dance groups and musicians congregate. The pilgrimage or ‘Romeria’ starts at El Balcon De Europa and finishes at the Cuevas De Nerja. The head of the procession consists of the statue of the saint aboard an ox driven cart followed by numerous, gaily decorated floats, carts, carriages and horses followed by residents all decked out in their fancy ‘Rosiero’ costumes. Several stops are made along the way allowing the participants an opportunity to eat, drink and sing the customary ‘Sevillanas’. Once the saint is installed in ‘La Ermita De San Isidro’, San Isidro’s Hermitage, the festival continues until the very early hours.
Noche De San Juan 23-24 June
I have never been to La Noche de San Juan as part of the nerja festivals, however this is one of the fiestas I most love!
This fiesta in honour of San Juan dates back to the 18th century. It is a family occasion which greets the arrival of summer. The whole town seems to congregate at La Burriana beach where at midnight large, wooden effigies are set alight and it is customary for young people to jump over the burning embers followed by a midnight swim whilst asking for three wishes. Barbecues are held on the beach with music, dancing and a fireworks display continuing well into the early hours.
Virgen Del Carmen 16 July
All towns and villages located on the coast celebrate the festival of La Virgen Del Carmen, patron saint of fishermen and seafarers. Floral arrangements are first offered to the saint and on the 16th July the Virgin is paraded along the seashore. On the Calahonda beach you’ll be able to see a magnificent fireworks display.
Festival De La Cueva De Nerja July-August
This international festival of classical music is staged in the Nerja Caves and has been in existence since the 1960’s. As you can imagine, it is an imposing scenario given the magnificence of the caves and has attracted world renowned singers like Jose Carreras and Monserrat Caballet amongst many others. Major orchestras and renowned works of ballet have performed in these concerts.
Dia Del Turista September
This fiesta is dedicated to the tourist and takes place at the Balcon De Europa. Stalls are installed with drinks and food along the Balcon and flowers are handed out to all visitors in appreciation of the numerous tourists spending their vacations in the area. Music and dancing is evident throughout the festival.
Feria De Nerja 8-12 October
This celebrates the town’s festival in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Michael the Archangel. It kicks off with a religious procession and mass followed by flamenco singing and folkloric dance shows. Throughout the festival there are beauty pageants, cavalcades, parades and open air parties or ‘verbenas’.