Top festivities, in Huelva
People from Huelva are friendly and outgoing and their festivities are a great excuse for getting out and having some fun. The local celebrations have a close connection to history and religion and many of the festivities have been given special national recognition as tourist attractions. People from Huelva, all over Andalusia and throughout Spain love them.
The Pilgrimage of El Rocío, for example, draws crowds of over one million people every year. The carnivals and Holy week in Ayamonte are also equally as popular. Find out a bit more about these and other popular festivities in Huelva. Let’s take a look at what goes on, from January to December, in Huelva and in the province.
The Pilgrimage of El Rocío
Faith, flamenco and religious fervour are all part of this pilgrimage. Every year, during the week before Whitsun, almost a million pilgrims walk, ride on horseback or drive several kilometres to their destination in El Rocío.
Pilgrims start out from a number of different points in Andalusia and follow a range of different routes. They wear traditional regional costumes – gypsy dresses for women and country-folk suits for the men – and travel through rain, heat, cold and dust to their common meeting point. As they draw closer to El Rocío, the intensity of the festivities rises. There is lots of music and dancing, and emotions run high.
The event ends when all the brotherhoods reach their destination, parade around the streets of the town and declare their devotion to the Virgin of El Rocío. The image is famously lifted onto believers’ shoulders and paraded through the streets.
The Columbian Carnival
This is one of the top festivities in Huelva. It is held every year in late February. It is so well-known that people from all over the province travel to see it.
If you happen to be in Huelva at that time of the year, you will be able to enjoy this fun-filled celebration that dates back to the early 19th century. It fills the city with lights, colour, fantasy and music. The top event is the Huelva Carnival Competition when all the carnival troupes compete in the Gran Teatro. They sing original compositions that put a satirical and critical twist on current affairs. But, most of all, the carnival is an excellent excuse to take to the streets and have a good time. Enjoy watching the local parades, the main parade on the Saturday night and, of course, the ‘quema del choco’ which is the icing on the cake. This is when the annual carnival mascot is burnt in a spectacular ceremony.
Isla Cristina Carnival
The Columbian Carnival and Isla Cristina Carnival are equally as good. The latter is one of the oldest and best known carnivals in Spain and it was awarded special status as a festivity of interest in Andalusia. Only the carnivals in Cádiz and Tenerife are a little more popular than this one.
It begins forty days before Easter so the actual kick-off date changes each year. It goes on for three weeks and carnival groups, troupes, music, fancy dress competitions and parades are all part of the entertainment in the streets.
There are two main parts. On the one hand, the increasingly popular competitive part (‘Semana de Teatro’). It can last for up to two weeks. The
Holy Week in Ayamonte
Holy Week in Ayamonte is a huge event and it draws people in from all over Spain. The celebrations have also been given special status as a festivity of national interest.
There are nine brotherhoods (the oldest one dates back to the 16th century) and they are responsible for processions that take place in the streets. One of the most significant ones is the one devoted to the local patron saint – Virgen de las Angustias – and it is held on Holy Saturday. If you happen to be in Ayamonte at this time of the year, there’s no doubt that you’ll be taken in by the religious fervour and devotion that is on display.
San Benito pilgrimage in Andévalo mountains
A popular pilgrimage is held on the first weekend in May. It is the oldest pilgrimage in the province and it is held in commemoration of the fact that Portuguese troops did not manage to invade the town in the 17th century.
At midday on the Saturday, a four-hour pilgrimage on horseback to San Benito hermitage begins. Once there, there are a number of religious acts that culminate with the Holy Rosary and religious songs. The celebrations are held over the weekend and end when the sun goes down on the Monday morning.
Bonares Festival of the Crosses
The Festival of the Crosses (‘Las Cruces de Mayo’) is very popular indeed in Huelva. It is held in the third week of May in honour of the twelve crosses in the locality.
The festivity does not last long (from Thursday to Sunday) but it is very intense. It is a sight to see if you happen to be in the area. There is a street party on the Thursday and a horseback pilgrimage and picnic party in the countryside on the Saturday. The Saturday evening festivities include a symbolic act led by the town mayor. The Festival of the Crosses ends on the Sunday after the twelve crosses have been paraded around the town and serenaded.
Huelva Festival: Columbian Festival
These particular festivities that are held in Huelva between late July and early August are linked to the discovery of America. They have also been given special tourist attraction status in Andalusia. The main event is on 3rd August to commemorate the day Christopher Columbus left for America in 1492. However, what makes the Columbian Festival so original each year is that a different Latin American country, Spanish city or important event in Huelva is chosen as the central theme.
There is a dedicated venue – ‘Recinto Colombino’ – which is at the heart of all the celebrations. Typically Andalusian huts, gypsy-style dresses, bright lights, music, singing and dancing are many of the things that you will see. The party goes on non-stop for several days.
Villablanca International Dance Festival
This festival is an experience for the senses. The event has been running for over thirty years and it is part of the local historical and cultural heritage. Music, dance and colour are its main characteristics.
An ancestral group dance that originated in the area (‘Danza de los Palos de Villablanca’) lays the foundations for several days of dances that represent different cultures and aim to disseminate cultural, musical and folkloric heritage.