Spain – the country famous for its vibrant culture, incredible food and of course, fiestas. One of the biggest fiestas organised is La Feria, which embodies everything Spain is known for!
Every year in August, Malaga is getting ready for its biggest summer festival of the year: Malaga Feria. It is a week long fiesta celebrating Spanish culture and traditions, full of dancing, eating and drinking. There is nothing more Spanish or Andalusian than Feria!
So, if you want to know more about what it means, why is it celebrated and what to expect, keep on reading!
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The word ‘feria’ in Spanish means ‘fair’, but its roots come from the Latin word, which literally translates to ‘holiday’. The name is pretty self-explanatory, the Feria being either a fair where people sell goods (Feria de Abril in Sevilla) or combine selling goods with having a good time, i.e. partying.
It usually lasts between a week and 9 days, depending on the city that is hosting.
Typically, during Feria, the cities host bullfights, open up a large fairground with rides, food courts, and also hundreds of casetas are open to the public.
The casetas are probably the most incredible thing to see. They are textile booths adorned with loads of colourful ribbons where they sell everything you could possibly wish for.
They are also joined by tablaos de flamenco and, of course, flamenco dancers who make the festival even more joyous and colorful. Also, during feria, loads of musicians give free shows, people dress in traditional Andalusian costumes, and there are loads of horse carriages and typical Spanish decorations… All in all, it looks like a fairytale come to life!
There are a lot of festivities taking place in Andalusia during Feria time, and each city celebrates for various reasons.
Why do people celebrate it and when did they start celebrating it? Well, depending on the Feria, it has different reasons. There is no set explanation as to why so many cities celebrate it. A theory could be that after Feria de Abril started happening in Sevilla around 1487, other cities liked the event and created their own version of it.
Contrary to Feria de Abril of Seville, the Feria of Malaga didn’t start as just a regular fair.
It started being celebrated in 1491, honouring the Reconquest of the city by Isabella and Ferdinand the 19th of August 1487.
Before 1487, Malaga was a Muslim city that opposed harsh resistance to being conquered. The Moors locked themselves up in Alcazaba for years, defending Malaga. However, the collapse was inevitable and when the city was recovered by the Christians, they needed a day to celebrate.
Nowadays, Feria de Malaga is a huge event where you can feel the special atmosphere and vibes in the city.
I’ve noticed that people in Malaga are very welcoming and respectful of the people that party in the streets. Everyone is welcoming, and if you decide to visit a specific bar, you will be invited to at least a dozen on your way.
Now that we’ve covered almost everything about Feria, the most important question remains: Why is it celebrated?
In the beginning, as we all know by now, it was either started as a usual fair or as a way to celebrate a major event. Nowadays, however, it is much more than that.
First of all, people from all around the country return back to their homes to reunite with their families and loved ones. It is about bonding and enjoying the time together.
Secondly, it is the time to forget about the mundane problems and just take the time off to party.
Thirdly, it is a healthy competition between cities, of who throws the best festivity. It brings in people from all around the world, popularising Andalusia overseas and showcasing the culture of the region.
Feria is typically celebrated in Spain around summertime and Andalusia is the most famous region for this celebration. The biggest celebrations take place in Sevilla, Malaga and Cordoba, with each one being slightly different in its own way.
However, also some cities in the south of France celebrate the feria
In Malaga, the festivities officially begin on Saturday August 15th and end the following Saturday, August 22nd. But we have good news. The party really starts on Friday night so dress up and let’s go see the midnight fireworks!
Well, now that you know the history behind the feria, it’s time to talk about typical things you will encounter during the festival.
First and most important is flamenco. If you want to learn more about this folk artform, don’t hesitate to take a look at our blog about it. But right now I will focus on the flamenco dress.
This typical dress is known as “traje de flamenco” – flamenco dress. It was originated in Sevilla and it varies in style:
It became popular, as during the feria, people wanted to dress up a bit. So, the ladies showed off their craftsmanship skills by creating wonderfully complex dresses filled with ruffles, decorations made of old clothes, frills etc.
Throughout time, the cut, fit and accessories became a staple for the flamenco dress and the aristocracy started wearing it during important events.
Of course, the dress was modified according to the fashion periods it went through. In 1960’s, for example, when the miniskirt became popular, flamenco dresses were knee-length.
Nowadays though, there is a lot of variety to choose from. Polka-dot design, flower design, long, short… and the flamenco dress can even be turned into a pantsuit for the ladies that ride horses during feria. And even though there are a lot of shops that offer the flamenco dress, the Spanish still choose to create their own.
So, while attending Feria, you can rarely see two identical dresses. It is a wonder to observe these ladies strolling and dancing around the city.
So, if you get the chance to attend, check out these dresses…or even wear one yourself!
It is impossible to talk about a Spanish party without mentioning the most common alcohol served there. As you guys know, Spain has some of the best wines in Europe. However, what sets their wine apart from the rest is its diversity and the combinations that Spaniards make out of wine.
How can I not mention the staple wine of Malaga, vino dulce. Vino dulce is a great dessert wine, ideal for hot summer nights. Drink a glass of it, and the party has already started. So, as you can imagine, it is ideal for Feria as well.
This wine has a great history behind it, and if you want to know it, do not esitate to come to our Free Tour, perfect to take a break in the middle of the party!
During every party, alcohol is definitely important, but food pays an even more important role. It keeps you nurtured, happy and ready to do great things (or maybe I just like food too much).
In any case, there is no denying that the Spanish and Malagenians are good at food. One of the typical food you should try during Feria is Pescaito.
Pescaito is a wonderful array of fried fish. As Malaga is close to the sea, there is no doubt that their fish is the freshest and tastiest. It is great combined with beer or other drinks mentioned above, or even with other types of tapas.
The most incredible thing about Malaga Feria is that it is celebrated in 2 rounds: in the day and in the night. Each celebration has a distinct feeling.
The Feria de Dia (day fair) is more relaxed; there is not an overwhelming amount of shows and in general it is suitable for anyone (families, kids, the elderly, teens, adults, etc.). It lasts until about 6 P.M.
The day fería takes place in the city centre where the streets are filled with concerts and dance performances. Women put on traditional flamenco dresses and wear flowers in their hair. The streets are decorated and the city squares are filled with food stands and pink wine barrels of the Cartojal, typical sweet wine of for the Feria.
The Feria de Noche (night fair), however, is completely different. It starts at 9 P.M. and all party-goers move to the Recinto Ferial, about 20 min ride from the city centre.
The fairground, also known as El Real, is an outdoor site filled with rollercoasters, attractions, foodstands, bars and discos dedicated to partying until dawn. It is a place of fun for all generations. After dark, the entertainment is cooler, glitzier and has something to offer for everyone so let’s go and have some fun!
During the week of the fair there are shuttle buses running between the two locations. They are marked F, they depart from Alameda Principal and they run all night. The bus fare is €1.50 for a single ticket or €12,95 for 10 rides with a special Fería bus card (prices of 2019). In other words, you don’t have to worry about late hours and taxi fares.