Feria de Almeria: 9 days of full-on partying
The third week of August marks the beginning of 9 nine days of full-on partying when locals and foreigners gather to celebrate the vibrant Feria de Almería. It’s an all-out affair, filled with all types of entertainment: from live music concerts, bull runs, fairground rides and exhibitions.
The feria takes place in the week leading up to another important event in Almeria: the festivity of the Virgen del Mar, Almeria’s patron saint. The procession takes place the Saturday before the last Sunday of August so the dates of the feria vary year to year.
The Feria de Almería has earned a reputation of being the queen of Andalusian-style celebrations. Perhaps it owes its fame to the famous 1988 single ‘Fiesta’ that the Irish band The Pogues dedicated to the city’s festivities.
Read on to discover the entire entertainment programme of one the liveliest ferias of southern Spain.
Paying tribute to the Virgen del Mar
The Feria de Almeria celebrates the city’s patron saint, the Virgen del Mar (Virgin of the Sea), protector of mariners. The Gothic-like walnut statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, looking up at her adoringly, is adorned with a metal crown, clothes and jewellery that were added as of 17th century.
The statue is housed in the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Mar in the old town. The statue was found on 21 December 1502 by a sentry by the name of Andrés de Jaén on the beach of Torregarcía, just 15 km from the city. A chapel was built on the site where the statue was found to commemorate the Virgin.
The most impressive part of the festivity is when an elaborate procession takes the street to carry the statue down to the waterfront where flower-covered boats await to begin the water procession. Music and fireworks light up the sky as the Virgin is carried across the water.
The top areas of the Feria
Most of the events during the fair take place on the fairgrounds located in Vega de Acá, between the Andarax River and the municipal stadium ‘Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos’.
The fairgrounds are brimming with rides, and there is a circus, the traditional casetas, a wide variety of food and drink stands, and a massive stage. The indie music festival CoolturalFest takes place at the same time as the feria and the bands hit the main stage to offer live music.
There is a large car park by the fairgrounds that is open from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the fair. It costs between 3 and 4 euros to leave your car there. There is also a taxi stop and special shuttle buses to help you get to and from the city centre.
The old town during the feria
You can also enjoy the vibe of the feria during the day right in the city centre. Between noon and 6 p.m., the bars and taverns in the old town set up booths in front of their establishments where you can enjoy the best tapas washed down with delicious wine.
There are also many other temporary structures (casetas) set up throughout the old town where you can enjoy live music, flamenco shows, and of course lots of good times.
After lunch, people head to an area called Las Cuatro Calles where they begin their pre-feria party preparation. Packed with bars, it is a top destination to kick off an evening of partying before heading to the fairgrounds.
Daytime feria fun
Paseo de Almería is one of the main streets crossing through the city centre and it is a top destination during the feria for daytime entertainment for all ages. There are different types of activities organised during the fair between 11 a.m, and 3 p.m., including a myriad of activities and attractions for children. Come discover the traditional cooking contest where you can see chefs whip some of their most delicious creations.
This is also the part of town where people come to see and be seen. Elegant horse-drawn carriages pass by with their occupants dressed in traditional colourful costumes. The entire atmosphere is alive with live music played by local bands.
More than thirty different sporting competitions take place during the Feria de Almería, including the traditional and ever-popular Boules Tournament.
But that’s not the only sports competitions taking place. There are all types of racket sports, canoeing, rugby, fishing, basketball and even bottle-cap table football to name but a few.
Almeria hosted the 2005 Mediterranean Games, which promoted sports on a whole and carved a special place for sports during the feria.
Bulls are also an indispensable attraction during the feria. For four days, the bull ring hosts the most prestigious bullfighters and bull ranches. There is also an entire day dedicated to learning about bullfighting from an expert. The hands-on class is free.
The Battle of Flowers
One of the most stunning events during the Feria of Almeria is the vibrant Battle of the Flowers. A parade of elaborate floats, carriages and giant, papier-maché figures take the streets as onlookers are showered with approximately 20,000 red and white carnations. Folklore bands and the municipal concert band also take part, livening up the atmosphere with live music.
Information of interest
When is the Feria de Almería?
Celebrations last for 9 days, starting the second week of August.
Visit the official website of the Feria de Almería for complete information on programming (Spanish only).