Malaga’s Feria de Agosto

Like a moth to a naked flame, I am irrepressibly drawn to the carnival sounds of a horn section giving Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” a vigorous Latin-inspired lift. Gathered around the brass band is a sea of happy revellers, singing and dancing in the street. A mass of arms, holding hats and fluttering fans, sways back and forth in the air like a giant rhythmical anemone. I allow myself to be sucked into the jubilant writhing crowd and am instantly absorbed into the festive melee. In the summer heat, under the brilliant blue Malaga skies, embraced by this joyful crush of people, I am singing, dancing, and sweating profusely. And I’ve never been happier.

Malaga’s Feria de Agosto is an exuberant street party full of food, flamenco, fino (a local sherry) and fun. This vibrant annual festival commemorating the Catholic Monarchs’ conquest of the city in 1487 is one of southern Spain’s biggest and longest-running summer fiestas. For 10 days and nights, the city becomes an open-air spectacle of colour, music, merriment, and good-natured mayhem. Here in the Andalucían home of flamenco, the castanet rhythms of spirited verdiales, and the passion and drama of traditional copla andaluza emanate from all corners. Senoras and senoritas swish their way through the city in traditional brightly coloured flamenco dresses, like ruffled polka-dotted mermaids. Every street is a party, as restaurants and bars swing open their doors, turn up the volume and ply the insatiable crowds with tapas, sherry, and pints of mojitos and beers.

The traditional Spanish Abanico (fan) is one of the most symbolic icons of Spanish culture. With the temperature hovering around 40oC, it is also the perfect means of keeping cool and a required accessory for Feria revellers. Just be careful how you use it: unbeknownst to most, there is a secret language hidden in their fluttering.

Malaga Spanish Fan

Festivalgoers take to the streets under a rainbow of bunting, flags, paper lanterns, and floral displays. Malaga’s annual festival is one of the biggest on the Spanish calendar of fiestas, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. Surprisingly, very few overseas tourists know about this vibrant Andalucían fiesta.

MalagaFeria

The brighter the better! Flamenco dresses on sale during the festival.

Flamenco dresses

The dress is only part of the flamenco package. The perfect ensemble requires elaborate hair accessories, like the biznaga (the official flower of Málaga), a peinata (ornate hair comb), oversized earrings, a fan and a handbag.

MalagaFeria Flamenco senoritas

Spontaneous dancing in the street erupts throughout the city as locals and visitors alike try their hand at the traditional finger-clicking, foot-stomping, passionate flamenco. When the music finally ends, the crowd shows their appreciation with a resounding “Ole!”

Feria Street Dancing - Ole

Organised performances by dancers of all ages from local flamenco schools occur throughout the festival week. Here a young performer gets a final touch-up to her elaborate hairpiece before taking to the stage to perform for the crowd.

Malaga Feria flamenco competition

Throughout the festival, the city’s horse and cart taxis are adorned with bells, flowers, and ribbons, while their drivers don traditional costumes and proudly parade their charges through the streets.

Malaga Feria Horse Parade

As night falls, the festival moves from the city streets to the local fairground, in a blaze of neon lights, gravity-defying rides, Ferris wheels, sideshow alley games, and makeshift nightclubs. The carnival atmosphere ensures the party will continue until dawn.

Malaga Feria by night

One comment on “this post

  1. David Sinn on said:

    great story shaz! i can SO see you getting lost in this festival! i love the colours, the people. thanks for that.

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