Marbella’s Colorful Local Customs and Festivals

The coastal town of Marbella has been a favourite holiday destination for British tourists since the seventies. Although this Spanish town is better known for its nightlife, there is a different side to Marbella that not many visitors get to discover. If you have booked a deal to Marbella with Thomson and are keen on discovering the cultural side of this city, this page and video below will give you some interesting ideas.

A Colourful Taste of Marbella and Puerto Banus

Cultural traditions and festivals in Marbella

Marbella is located in the southern province of Malaga, in Andalusia. This part of Spain has a rich heritage owing to its past as an important cultural centre under Moorish rule. This is evident in much of Marbella’s architecture, and also in many of its cultural traditions. Visitors to Marbella will soon come across flamenco or cante jondo performances, which are thought to have Arab roots.

Marbella’s traditional festivals are also a reflection of the Catholic culture of the region, as every festival is devoted to a particular saint. Some noteworthy festivals include:

  • Romeria de la Cruz de Juanar, which takes place on 3rd of May. Pilgrims go in procession from Marbella’s old town to a mountaintop located 6 miles away from the city
  • Romeria de San Bernabe, held the last Sunday of June. San Bernabe is the patron saint of the city and the festival held in his honour marks a very important occasion. During the romeria, oxen-led carts carrying a representation of the saint circulate around the old town. The festival ends with a mass and a traditional lunch
  • Feria de Marbella (11th June), an opportunity to see locals dressed up in traditional flamenco dresses and to enjoy music performances in a convivial atmosphere
  • Virgen del Carmen, a festival held on 16th of July, where fishermen decorate their boats with flower garlands and go in procession along the harbour

Cuisine and gastronomy in Marbella

Marbellan gastronomy has all the elements of Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil features prominently in most dishes, along with vegetables and locally caught fish. While in the city, visitors must sample entrees like “gazpacho” or “ajoblanco”, refreshing cold soups made of tomato, cucumber, red pepper, garlic, almonds, and olive oil. “Pescado frito” (fried fish) is another traditional dish, served as a side dish or as an appetiser together with white wine. Main dishes are often accompanied by “ensalada malagueña”, a local salad prepared with oranges, potatoes, onion, and cod.

Visitors will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to desserts. “Roscos de vino” are donut-shaped sweets made of flour, wine, olive oil, lemon, sugar, and sesame seeds. These make for an excellent sweet treat to go with an after-lunch coffee. Other treats include “torrijas” (slices of bread soaked in eggs and milk and sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and grated lemon and orange rinds), and “tortas de aceite”, thin and crispy pancakes made with aniseed, olive oil, sugar, flour, and sesame.

Marbellan wines have been acclaimed since the 18th century. Locally produced ecological wines have become very popular over the past ten years, and are now included in most wine-tasting events in the city. Homemade herbal liqueurs are often served after coffee and dessert.

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