The Bread and Cheese Festival in Quel (La Rioja) has been traditionally held in this locality for more than 500 years. This festival’s popularity is growing since it is one of the most symbolic days in the calendar of this village with more than 2000 people.
The origin of this festival can be traced back to August 6th 1479. The founding Charter sheds light on an outbreak of a plague that killed most of the people of the village. It was back then believed that such destruction could have been attributed to a divine punishment because of the sins committed by the inhabitants of Quel, and thus they decided to ask for forgiveness by making a procession -which starts in the Mayor Church and goes to the Santo Cristo of Quel Chapel going through all over the village. The procession was carried out by carrying thirteen axes representing thirteeen saints plus the Saint Christ and the Virgin of la Antigua.
According to local story the axes were consumed except from those consecrated to the Virgin and Jesus. This fact was considered a miracle since after the procession all the deaths stopped. In order to thank God for these miracles, the inhabitants of Quel decided to set up a brotherhood in order to keep the tradition of taking the image of the Virgin of la Antigua out in the procession every year. At the end of the procession, the brotherhood would offer a lunch consisting of bread, cheese and wine in the Santa Cruz Chapel, foods which they would throw away from the balcony of the chapel.
Regional and National Tourist Interest
This festival has been held uninterruptedly since it began. This celebration is so famous to the extent that it has been declared regional event of tourist interest since 2004 and of national interest since February 2015. This year, this festival was awarded La Rioja Medal, since it is one of the oldest festivals in Spain.
The Bread and Cheese Festival starts every August 6th at 9 am with bugle calls in the middle of the streets of the village performed by the bag-pipers. The procession of the image of the patron saint of Quel gets underway half an hour later. Bread is then launched from the Chapel’s balcony at 11:15 am. More than 2500 rolls and 50 kilos of cheese were employed. Throughout the years, several activities have been carried out making out of this day the perfect moment to celebrate with dances, bands and orchestras.