A guide to the best festivals in Andalucia you must attend at least once
Festivals, or fiestas as they are called in Spain, symbolize the very essence of the Spanish people. Unlike the people of Northern Europe and North America, Spaniards work to live and not live to work.
Colorful, vibrant, chaotic, and sometimes noisy fiestas in Spain are the lifeblood of the country and the true meaning of what it is to be Spanish.
Other than perhaps the San Fermin Fiesta in Pamplona, the Falles in Valencia, and the Moors and Christians, the country’s south has some exciting fiestas as well.
With that in mind, we will outline what we consider to be the best festivals in Andalucia.
History of the Best Festivals in Andalucia
Let’s see their origins before we get into what we consider the best fiestas in Andalucia.
Most of the festivals in Andalucia are based on religious feasts that often honor a patron saint.
There are festivals throughout the year in Andalucia at either a local, regional or national level.
While many revolve around Christmas, Easter, and All Saints Day, others can be local events based on folklore.
Best Festivals in Andalucia
- Noche de San Juan
- Semana Santa
- Feria de Abril
- Carnaval in Cádiz
- Corpus Christi in Granada
- San Barnabé festival Marbella
Best Best Festivals in Andalucia – Spring
Semana Santa all over Andalucia
Santa Semana or Holy Week represents the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Jesus on Palm Sunday; the betrayal on Holy Wednesday, the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, and the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.
While celebrated throughout Andalucia, the two best places to see what, in essence, is a moving pious event are Malaga and Seville.
In these Andalusian cities, you can witness hooded penitents walking through the streets as a sign of shame for their sins throughout the year.
Each day during Santa Semana, brotherhoods will carry magnificent “Pasos’ ‘ or floats with sculptures that depict different scenes related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary.
Opening times: Santa Semana takes place the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.
Feria de Abril – Seville April Fair
The Feria de Abril, or the Seville April Fair, is one of the best festivals in Andalucia to attend.
Starting as a livestock market back in the 19th century, the Seville Fair is a weeklong celebration that attracts more than a million visitors.
Located in the fairgrounds next to the Guadalquivir River, the Feria de Abril is where Seville’s high society’s creme de la creme hosts private parties for their families and friends.
Row upon row, tented pavilions fill the fairground bustling with costumed equestrian riders and women wearing traditional flamenco or gypsy dresses. – Check out guided tours here.
To enter one of the private tents, you need an invite, but if you don’t have one, there are plenty of tents open to the public where you can eat and drink while enjoying the festivities.
Opening times: The name of the Seville April fair is a bit misleading as it can often be in May.
The Feria de Seville takes place on the second Monday after Easter and ends with a spectacular firework show the following Sunday.
Festival de los Patios
Every May, what was once the capital of Islamic Spain, Cordoba, is awash with brightly colored flowers.
During the 700 years that the Moors occupied southern Spain, courtyards and entryways were full of vegetation to help humidify the air during summer’s dry, hot months.
Today it has become a tradition for the residents of Cordoba to compete to win the honor of having the prettiest house in the city.
While the mesmerizing multi-arched Mezquita is reason enough to visit Cordoba, the Fiesta of the patios during the first two weeks of May is a bonus.
Opening times: In 2022, the Patios of Cordoba festival is from May 3 until May 15.
The Cruces de Mayo – May Crosses in Granada
Since ancient times many cultures have celebrated the arrival of spring with festivals, and the City of Granada in Andalucia celebrates with crosses adorned with flowers.
Legend has it that the night before the Battle of Milvian Bridge outside Rome in A.D. 312, Emperor Constantine saw a cross shining brightly in the sky with the words ” In this sign conquer” marking a cross on his soldier’s shields.
Constantine won the battle. Later believing that the Christian God had led him to victory, he converted to Christianity.
Now a Christian, Constantine dispatched his mother saint Helena to Jerusalem to search for the cross on which Christ was crucified.
After consulting with priests, she was taken to the mountain where Christ died and found three crosses.
To discover which was the cross of Christ, they placed the crosses on top of a dead youth.
When the third cross was placed over the corpse, it returned to life.
On her deathbed, Helena pleaded that all those who believe in Christ should celebrate May 3, the day they discovered the cross.
The tradition became rooted in Granada following the Reconquista, with residents putting flowered crosses on their houses each year.
The Día de la Cruz (Day of the Cross) has become one of Andalucia’s most popular fiestas attracting thousands of visitors from all over Spain.
While having religious overtones, the fiesta is your typical Spanish party. Various fraternities throughout the city compete to see who has the best cross.
While displaying their crosses, they all set up stalls selling drinks and tapas for reasonable prices.
Opening times: The May Crosses in Granada is held on May 3 but starts on the closest Sunday to that date.
Feria del Caballo – Jerez
Famous for being the birthplace of sherry and the home of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, Jerez de la Frontera, or simply Jerez, is also known for its Feria del Caballo (Horse Fair).
With its origins dating back to the Middle Ages, the Feria del Caballo was where people met to buy and sell horses.
Always held during the second week of May, the Feria del Caballo is divided into two parts: One is similar to a small village with bars and restaurants, while the other is an amusement park for children.
Unlike the April Fair in Seville, all the tent pavilions at the Feria del Caballo are open to the public to come in and enjoy the food and drinks.
The entire area is lit up with decorative lights at night, allowing revelers to party until dawn. – Get your entry ticket in advance here.
Opening times: The Feria del Caballo is a week-long affair during the second week of May.
Feria de Mayo in Cordoba
Held at the El Arenal fairgrounds on the city’s outskirts, the Feria de Mayo is in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health).
Like the April Fair in Seville, the fairground is full of marquees, most of which are open to the public.
Again, dating back to livestock fairs in the Middle Ages, the Feria de Mayo in Cordoba is a joyous affair where women wear flamenco dresses and the men wear equestrian clothes. – Check out flamenco guided tours here.
The Feria de Mayo in Cordoba is a week-long affair during the last two weeks of May.
The fair’s inauguration lighting and fireworks take place on the first day (a Saturday), with the best time to go on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, from noon until late.
Opening times: Always held during the last two weeks of May, the Feria de Mayo in Cordoba Starts and finishes on a Saturday.
Pilgrimage of the Rocío in Huelva
Celebrating the Pilgrimage of the Rocío is a celebration with a marked popular and religious character. It takes place during the weekend of Pentecost Sunday.
In the 15th century, a hunter discovered an image of the Virgin Mary next to a tree.
This led to the town of Almonte naming the Virgen del Rocío its patron saint.
Today the El Rocío pilgrimage is the most well known in Andalucia, attracting thousands of people.
The celebrations begin at noon on the eve of Pentecost when the first brotherhood appears before the sanctuary doors, with other brotherhoods following suit throughout the day.
At dawn on Monday, pilgrims jump over a fence to rescue an image of the Virgin, which is then carried through the town.
Opening times: The El Rocío pilgrimage is held on the day before the seventh Sunday after Easter.
The Best Festivals in Andalucia – Summer
The Cádiz Carnival
Full of sarcasm, mockery, and irony, the Carnival of Cádiz is one of the best-known carnivals in Andalucia.
While some carnival costumes are outlandish, Cádiz separates itself with how sharp and inventive its costumes are with face painting substituting for masks.
The Carnival of Cádiz is also known for its entertainers called chirigotas, whose music and verses become the focal point of the fair.
The Carnival of Cádiz dates back to the 16th century when Italian merchants settled in the area and wanted to recreate the carnival in Venice.
Opening times: Lasting ten days, the Carnival of Cádiz starts the weekend before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.
San Barnabé festival Marbella
To honor its patron saint, the residents of Marbella celebrate St. Bernabe by holding the San Barnabé Festival Marbella.
Designed so that there will be activities and programs for children and adults, tents called “casetas” are erected on the fairgrounds.
La Feria de San Bernabé is a brilliant celebration showing why Marbella’s attractions make it a popular vacation destination.
The fair always takes place each year around June 11 and lasts for one week. The local town hall sets the dates for the fall depending on which day of the month the 11th is on.
Typically the fair will commence on Monday night with a fireworks display on the beach in front of the El Fuerte Hotel.
Opening times: The Monday either before or on June 11.
Corpus Christi – Granada
Held each year in June 60 days after Easter Monday, Granada’s Corpus Christi festival is similar to Seville’s April fair but on a smaller scale.
Just like in Seville, large tents are set up on the fairground outside the city.
The area where the festivities occur is divided into three sections: tents, rides, and food stalls.
Every street in the fairground is lit with thousands of colorful lights to allow revelers to party through the night.
Unlike Seville, all of the casetas (tents) are open to the public unless a private event is taking place.
The residents of Granada love to party, making Granada’s Corpus Christi festival is a dynamic fiesta that guarantees fun for the entire family.
Opening times: Corpus Christi – Granada is held every year in June, 60 days after Easter Monday.
Noche de San Juan
Celebrating the feast day of John the Baptist on June 24, the Noche de San Juan starts at sunset on June 23, which also coincides with midsummer in the northern hemisphere.
After acquiring the magic of ancient pagan festivals organized for the summer solstice, the holiday is celebrated throughout Spain.
The Noche de San Juan has particular importance in coastal areas of Andalucia, where people light bonfires on the beach.
Tradition requires that partygoers write down three wishes on a piece of paper and then throw it into the fire.
Those who do this are required to jump over the fire three times. This ensures that their bodies have been purified and that problems were burned away.
While most city and town beaches will have celebrations, Playa Malagueta in the city center of Malaga has music and fireworks that attract thousands of people.
Opening times: After sunset on June 23.
Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada
Having originated from symphonic concerts that were once held in the Palace of Charles V and the Concurso de Cante Jondo, the International Festival of Music and Dance of Granada is one of Spain’s most attractive early summer events.
Attracting visitors from Spain and around the world, the festival takes place over 28 days in the Nasrid palaces and centuries-old gardens of the Alhambra. – Check out guided tours here.
Described as a unique experience for all the senses, the festival combines music, dance, and flamenco. Click on the link to learn more about the festival and who will perform and purchase tickets.
Opening times: June 13 to July 10, 2022
The Virgen del Carmen
Celebrated each year on the 16th of July, the Día de la Virgen del Carmen honors the patron saint of fisherman.
Most celebrations occur in Andalucia’s coastal communities, with its roots enshrined by seafarers.
One of the traditions is for fishermen to carry a flower-strewn effigy of the Virgin through the streets to the beach.
The statue is then put on a boat and taken around the harbor, accompanied by music and fireworks.
Opening times: July 16
The Málaga Fair
Celebrating Malaga’s integration into the kingdom of Castille on August 19, 1487, the Malaga Fair is a week-long party that attracts two million people.
Taking place during the height of summer during the third week in August, the Malaga fair is held in two locations.
During the daytime, events take place in the city center, while at night, the party moves to the city’s fairgrounds, where you will find amusement park rides and marques serving food and drinks.
Opening times: From Saturday to the following Sunday over the third week in August.
Columbian Festivals of Huelva
The Columbas Festivals of Huelva celebrate the day on which Christopher Columbus set sail to discover the New World.
While celebrations are held from June until August, the most important day is August 3rd.
Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, the port city of Huelva is full of activities for the young and old, including free concerts and sporting events.
When of the festival’s biggest attractions is the multitude of food stalls selling a wide variety of local produce and mouthwatering tapas.
Opening times: August 3rd.
Horse races of Sanlúcar
On the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda near Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz, each August horse races arew held on the beach at low tide.
Folktales say that the races started between fishmongers to see who could get the fish to market first.
In 1845 the races became the first regulated horse races in Spain after the formation of the Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Each year the event is held over two three-day periods during August. Located on the edge of the Doñana National Park in the “Sherry Triangle,” Sanlúcar is a charming riverside city with some excellent seafood restaurants worth a visit.
Opening times: August 9, 10, 11, 23, 24, and 25.
Wine Night in Cómpeta – Malaga
Every August 15 the Andalucian town of Cómpeta celebrates La Noche del Vino (The Night of Wine).
The fiesta celebrates the day that the farmworkers would say goodbye to their families before heading off to the countryside to harvest the grapes.
The festivities begin in the Plaza de la Vendimia, where grapes are tread, accompanied by music and folk dancing.
A traditional lunch is then held before the party moves to the Plaza de la Almijara for music, magic shows, and fireworks.
Opening times: August 15.
Villablanca – Huelva
Celebrated as a historical-cultural heritage event in the province of Huelva, the Villablanca International Dance Festival features a traditional shepherds’ dance that was the sole preserve of men.
For centuries the dance has been performed in front of a statue of Nuestra Señora de la Blanca, Villablancas’ patron saint.
The festival usually takes place during the last week in August, but no dates have yet been published for 2022.
For all the latest information on when the festival will be held visit the town halls’ website.
Opening times: The last week of August
The Best Festivals in Andalucia – Autumn
Fair and Festival of Pedro Romero
During the first week of September, the citizens of Ronda celebrate Pedro Romero Martínez, a legendary bullfighter born in Ronda in 1754.
The Ronda September Fair has particular traditions, making it stand out from other Andalusian fairs such as the famous Corrida Goyesca ( Goyesque bullfight) and the Cante Grande Festival, the oldest flamenco festival in the province of Malaga.
The fair always commences on the first Saturday after September 2, with the main activities centered around a parade on Wednesday evening.
The bullfight takes place on the final Saturday at around 17:30.
Opening times: The first Saturday after September 2
Luna Mora de Guaro
Celebrating the 700 years that the Moors ruled in Andalucia when Christian, Muslim, and Sephardic Jews lived in harmony, a Moorish moon festival is a unique event held in Guaro, nine miles from Marbella.
Held at night and illuminated with more than 20,000 candles, the Luna Mora de Guaro highlights Arabic music, dance, and cuisine.
Revolving around a sizeable souk-flea market, on the main street, food stalls sell North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, while others sell handmade goods related to the Nasrid Kingdom.
Opening times: In the late afternoons and evenings from September 3 until September 25.
Saint Luke Fiesta in Jaen
Celebrated around the 18th of October on the feast of Saint Luke, the fiesta marks the end of Andalucia’s spring and summer fairs.
Organized each year by the city of Jaen, the Saint Luke fiesta in Jean was in times gone by an important animal and agricultural fair.
Like many of Andalucia’s other fairs, casetas (tents) sell food and drinks, while others represent companies, clubs, and religious guilds. The Jaen fair also holds the last bullfight of the season.
Opening times: Saturday, October 8, until Tuesday, October 18.
San Pedro de Alcántara
Avoiding the hot summer days, the festival and fair in San Pedro Alcántara occur each year around October 19th.
Dating back to the late 19th century, like many of Andaliucias’ fairs, it was once a livestock and agriculture market.
Held in the Marbella fairgrounds, the fair of San Pedro de Alcántara has all the traditional hallmarks of an Andalucian fair with food stalls, musical performances, and the added attraction of fireworks show on the beach.
Opening times: Monday, October 17, until Sunday, October 23.
Why Going to the Best Festivals in Andalucia is a Must
Symbolizing the very essence of Spain and what it means to be Spanish, the fiestas and fairs in Spain are colorful, vibrant, and noisy affairs.
Spring and summer is the best time to visit Spain for the best fiestas in Andalucia. Many of Andalucias’ fiestas and fairs have origins dating back hundreds of years. Some lie in religious feasts, while others honor a patron saint.
Andalucias’ big fairs like the Feria de Malaga and Sevilles’ April fair were once livestock and agricultural markets.
Perhaps it is due to the warm weather or the exuberant inhibited nature of Spaniards when it comes to having a good time, but one thing is for sure, there is no better place for a party than Spain.
Short FAQ about the Best Festivals in Andalucia
What is the culture like in Andalucia?
With a history dating back to the Phoenicians, Andalucia has a rich cultural heritage that spans many civilizations.
Andalucia also has things that are unique to it, such as its food and wine. In Andalucia, you will also find a passion born out of its horses, sherry, and love for flamenco.
Which two cities in the region of Andalusia have the most magnificent celebrations?
If you could only attend one Spanish fiesta, the top two picks would have to be the April Fair in Seville and the Malaga fair in August.
What is the most famous Spanish festival?
The most famous Spanish fiesta and the one most people will be familiar with is the Santa Semana religious festival in Seville.
The Night of San Juan is also a famous festival and marks the beginning of the summer solstice and has its roots in pagan rituals.