La Axarquía, the best place to enjoy Malaga’s folklore: 10 festivals you cannot not miss this summer
Malaga’s La Axarquía is a region with a distinctive style in the province. Its beaches make up the Eastern part of Costa del Sol, and its traditions have turned it into a meeting point for locals and tourists at the time of summer festivals. Many festivities are linked to farm labor, others to the sea, but the truth is that in this region you will find the genuine flavors of Malaga. If you are travelling to Southern Spain this summer, make space in your diary to visit this place, where you will find impressive expressions of folklore and gastronomy in these summer months. Take paper and pen, because here are the ten summer festivals you cannot miss in Malaga’s La Axarquía.
1. Ajoblanco Feast, Almáchar
The first Saturday of September is the day when Almáchar dresses in all its finery to receive visitors to the Ajoblanco Feast. This dish is a cold soup based on water, garlic, olive oil and salt. In this beautiful town of La Axarquia you can taste this recipe during a festival considered of Touristic Interest in Andalucia. People go out to the streets to enjoy the day, to the music of “verdiales” groups, rocieros (pilgrims) and flamenco choirs. Don’t hesitate to come to this spot to experience firsthand one of the most deeply-rooted traditions of the region.
2. Night of the Wine, Cómpeta
August 15 is Cómpeta’s big day. Land of vineyards and farmers, this peculiar town of La Axarquía prepares for its most typical festival, the “Night of the Wine”, with traditional dances and verdiales groups. In the morning, the traditional grape treading takes place at the Vendimia square, to the music played by Cómpeta’s fandangos (a style descending from flamenco). At noon, the typical rural lunch is served to all visitors; when night falls, singing and dancing begin, accompanied with wine arrobas, fried breadcrumbs, salad and codfish shared between locals and visitors.
3. Raisin Day, El Borge
If you happen to be in Malaga on the third Sunday of September, you cannot miss the “Raisin Day” in El Borge. This festival has become one of the most attended in La Axarquía, and it pays homage to the star product of this beautiful town in Malaga: the raisin. The festival lasts for the entire day, and one can enjoy singing and dancing at the main square. Muscat wine and cold cuts are the kings of lunch, and for dessert we cannot miss having a handful of raisins. Throughout the day, demonstrations of the raisin elaboration process take place, from grape collection to packing. A cheerful and traditional festival that you must see if you are travelling to Malaga.
4. Saint Anthony of Padua, Frigiliana
June 13 is the day of Saint Anthony of Padua, and in Frigiliana they celebrate it in grand style. Although the fair begins five days earlier, on this commemorative day a singular procession is carried out, where the Saint is taken to commemorate the victory of Christians over the Moors, in the well-known “Battle of Peñón “. Women dress as gypsies and men dress in short trousers during a meeting held under the shade of pine forests by the river. You cannot miss it if you take a trip to the province of Malaga in June.
5. Night of San Juan, Nerja
The night of 23 June is the Night of San Juan. This festival is celebrated along the entire coast of Malaga, but in a very special way in Nerja. Families spend the whole day at the beach, where sardine skewers become the culinary stars of the festival, accompanied by a very typical dessert, the “cakes of San Juan”, made with flour, sugar and anise. At twelve o’clock at night people make three wishes amid bonfires, and then take the first summer bath. In the area of Burriana, they prepare a huge moraga (wood roasted fish) for locals and visitors, which lasts the whole night.
6. Virgen del Carmen, Rincón de la Victoria
The Queen of the seas, and the Lady of seamen is the Virgen del Carmen (Our Lady of Carmen). If you want to experience firsthand one of the most deeply-rooted traditions of Malaga’s La Axarquía, on July 16 do not hesitate to come to Rincón de la Victoria. The image of God’s Mother is taken out on procession in the sea by the seamen. This beautiful picture of seamen in the water with the Virgin surrounded by boats is one of the splendid snapshots you can see in Costa del Sol. After the bath, men take Her along the city streets, so that devotees can enjoy Her divine presence.
7. Encounter of Verdiales Groups, Benagalbón
The third Saturday of September is the day of Malaga’s folklore, as one of its typical songs and dances is in the spotlight. Benagalbón houses the famous encounter of verdiales, where this cultural expression of Malaga reaches its highest level. The “Verdiales Groups” comprise 20 people each, wearing hats decorated with flowers and colored ribbons. The instruments played include: guitar, violin, tambourine and cymbals. A cheerful celebration to enjoy Malaga’s music, which you cannot miss if you are in the province.
8. Peach Fair, Periana
One of La Axarquía’s richest features is the quality of its agriculture. That is the case with Periana, a small town in Malaga that has risen to Spain’s first place in peach growing. From 15 to 17 August a fair is held, where one can enjoy this typical fruit of the town. If you decide to spend a few days in the province, make space for this festival, where you can also enjoy the uniqueness of this small town.
9. Vintners Festival, Moclinejo
August 30 is the key date for the town of Moclinejo, because that’s when the “Vintners Festival” takes place. This celebration intends to pay homage to the peasant men and women who work hard to harvest the grape. The verdiales enliven the day, along with live representations such as the grape treading or sifting. The Muscat Museum displays the tools used in this labor from ancient times, and you can also learn how wine is made. If you visit Moclinejo on this date, you can also taste the town’s typical products.
10. Gazpacho Feast, Alfarnatejo
One of the most traditional products of Andalucia is gazpacho. Alfarnatejo devotes August 4 to prepare this typical dish, offered to locals and visitors to taste. This is a nice way to try this cold soup made with tomato, cucumber, pepper and olive oil, which refreshes the sunny afternoons of Andalucia. Do not hesitate to come to Alfarnatejo on such a special day, where you can also enjoy a flamenco night.
If you decide to spend a few days in Costa del Sol this summer, do not forget to note down in your diary the dates of the main festivals in La Axarquía where, apart from enjoying the deeply-rooted folklore of the province, you can taste the most typical local products. A great plan for a great vacation.
WHERE TO STAY
To enjoy Malagas’ Axarquía, there is nothing better than Fuerte Hoteles. Apartments Fuerte Calaceite are located in a perfect site of the Eastern Costa del Sol, between Torrox and Nerja, typical Andalusian towns with the best weather in all Europe. This accommodation offers tranquility, but also puts a great number of activities to do and places to see within your reach. The resort has air conditioning, a wide living-room with satellite TV, and a modern kitchen equipped with oven, dishwasher and drier. Some apartments have a terrace with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea.