Málaga—August Festival

The spirit of fun reigns during this festival that draws thousands of tourists from around the world

Partying, summer, sea, and sun: what could be better? These are just a few of the things that the August Festival in Málaga has to offer. Málaga became a cosmopolitan city thanks to the Costa del Sol’s emergence as a booming tourist destination in the 1960s and 70s. The popularity of the August Festival amidst the jam-packed calendar of festivals in Spain lies in the survival of its classic essence and traditions.

The dates of the festival vary from year to year—ranging from the second Friday in August to the Sunday of the following week—but it always coincides with August 19th. This is the day that the Andalusian city commemorates its incorporation into the Kingdom of Castile by Ferdinand and Isabella, who arrived in Málaga on this day in the year 1487. The conquest of Málaga was a bloody episode in the final war against the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, coming as the result of one of the longest battles of the Reconquista. The conflict lasted six months, during which the town’s food supply was cut off, until it finally surrendered on August 18th. Centuries later, the August Festival in Málaga is one of the biggest festivals in Andalusia. It is so popular partly because the city is at the heart of the Costa del Sol, one of the most internationally renowned tourist destinations which is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world each year. Andalusian horses and people donning traditional flamenco outfits parade the streets of Málaga during the festival. The celebration takes place in the historical quarter of the city, with Calle Larios at the center of the activity. It is tradition to drink dessert wine and dance to malagueñas and verdiales, folk songs that originated in the city and its province.

Vecinos y visitantes disfrutando de la Feria

More current music can also be heard on the streets and in bars and performance spaces. At night, the party moves to the Cortijo de Torres neighborhood, where there are carnival rides and typical Andalusian casetas (tents) where the festive atmosphere lives on well into the morning. Equestrians and flamenco dancers, all dressed to the nines, parade through the streets on shiny horses and decorated carriages. Málaga takes on a fun and cheerful atmosphere and has an almost uninterrupted program of activities, starting with the kickoff of the August Festival with a fireworks show. The city is illuminated by multicolored lights and crowds gather to watch the display, with Malagueta Beach being the most popular vantage point for the fireworks.

The romería (pilgrimage) to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victory, the patron saint of Málaga, takes place on the first Saturday of the August Festival. Many pilgrims, equestrians, wagons, and beautifully decorated horse-drawn carriages gather for the pilgrimage, as well as a large crowd. At 12:00 on the dot on the stairs in front of city hall, the mayor hands the flag of the city of Málaga to the flag bearer, who carries it in a procession to the sanctuary where a mass is held and an offering of flowers is made. The pilgrims then make their way to the city center, which becomes a hive of activity during the peak hours of the festival, to continue the celebration and wait for the Real de la Feria to be opened at nightfall.

The mayor is in charge of flipping the switch that lights up hundreds of thousands of lights to illuminate this area, which is full of carousels, rides, and more than 200 casetas. Tens of thousands of people come here to have fun, sing, and dance, fueled by local wine and delicious tapas.

Most of the city’s organizations participate in the festival, whose program of activities is supported by the municipal government. The Municipal Concert Hall is also found here, which is the venue for performances by artists and groups of local and national fame.

The city center, in addition to being the site of the afternoon festivities, also hosts the Verdiales Festival, an International Folk Festival, and the Magic Fair, a mini amusement park for kids with clowns, wizards, children’s theater performances, puppet shows, parades, and other activities.

Vestidos tradicionales de faralaes

The festival’s diverse program of activities also includes a dressage and carriage driving competition for horse lovers as well as a bullfighting festival, with several bullfights featuring some of the most famous matadors—one of the most important bullfighting events in the month of August.

If one thing stands out about the August Festival in Málaga, it’s the enthusiasm of the local people, who fill the city with jubilation and decorate for the occasion with lanterns and flowers. Thousands of visitors from all around Spain and abroad also partake in the event.

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