The Marbella Feria


marbella-feria-san-bernabeThe Marbella fair is better known as the “Feria de San Bernabé”. If you are coming to Marbella in the first two weeks in June you won’t be able to miss it. And if you live here already you’ll know about it! A whole week of sheer fun and hedonism!

San Bernabé is the patron saint of Marbella and in Spain, especially in Andalucía, the birthday of your patron saint is an excuse to party for days. And without a doubt Marbella is no exception to the rule!

There is a bit more history than this-the fair also coincides with the Christian reconquest of the city of Marbella from the Moorish hordes in 1492, in fact on the 11th of June 1492.

Lots to celebrate then! The fair starts on the first or second Sunday in June and continues until the following Sunday. A religious process starts the fair with the effigy of San Bernabé being solemnly carried to the chapel of the Santo Patron. Monday evening kicks of with the crowning of the Queens and their entourage-the “damas”.

There is normally a Juvenile Queen ( 18 years old or thereabouts) and an infantile Queen(about 8 years old). It is a great honour to be a Queen or a dama and the girls all look spectacular in their gorgeous feria dresses!

This is beginning-be prepared for spontaneous and vivacious singing and dancing for the next week. Watch it, however as 2 or 3 “finos” or dry Sherries in the sun can be fatal. Better to have a tapas (snack) with each drink and then you won’t notice it so much!

The dancing is not so much Flamenco as folk dancing. Girls and women together will dance Sevillanas – but with chaps if they are around and wiling!

Sevillana dresses for the women and girls (the traditional feria or flamenco dresses) and high horse riding costumes for the blokes are definitely in but you are just as likely to see office girls in their working clothes letting their hair down dancing vigorously with each other as well. Everything goes as long as the spirit is right.

In the evening the fairground (Recinto Ferial) with all its attractions is the place to be. Here the music is louder and all the fun of the fair is to be had. One sad note only – please make sure your bag is done up and don’t take more money than you intend to spend and then you can’t loose more than you would have done anyway!

Leave the credit cards behind! Not just your extravagance but the presence of the inevitable pickpockets. We won’t mention them again.

Music is all important during the fair and big names are contracted every year to play in the bull ring and in the plazas (squares) in the old town. Previous names have included “Andy and Lucas” and Hakim (harking back to the town’s Arabic roots!)

Many other activities take place during the fair. There is a regatta, football and tennis tournaments and of course bullfighting on the final Sunday. Horses are an important part of the fair as well with a traditional Romeria (horses and small horse drawn carriages and carts) procession to the Chapel as well. A very colourful and traditional sight!

Rockets announce the beginning of the fair each day and the end of the fair is marked by a fantastic firework exhibition! Altogether a week not to be missed!


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