A great time to visit Alhama is during one of it's many fiestas and ferias. Here is the annual calendar:
Three Kings Day/Cabalgata de Reyes:
Always held on the 5th January, this is bigger than Christmas Day for Spanish children. It is the day they receive their presents in the morning; often put in a slipper left out the night before; they could receive presents or a bag of coal if they have been naughty. In the evening every village, town and city in Spain has a Three Kings Parade where a procession of children is led by the three kings who throw sweeties onto the street for them to collect. Afterwards the main square in Alhama has music and a lovely atmosphere with all ages out to enjoy the event. It's a busy night for the bars and you may run into quite a few kings as the evening progresses!!
On 2nd February every year the local council provides firewood, local wine and wooden swings for each little neighbourhood of Alhama. In the evenings the fires are lit in the streets and plazas, food is BBQ'd on the open fires and people gather to sing, talk, eat and drink .... The swings are hung across the roads and people of all ages have a go to see who can get the highest. The tradition comes from an ancient idea that it is an evening to welcome travellers to Alhama with warmth and sustenance. This is a lovely evening for a wander around the whole town enjoying the hospitality and warmth that the people of Alhama do so well.
The feast before lent is celebrated in style in Alhama. There are lots of events on all week but the big finale is on the Sunday which falls six weeks before Easter Sunday). The people of Alhama love to dress up and this is a day for the weird and wonderful to party! Men dress as women and women dress as men with often quite disturbing faces painted onto pillowcases to complete the disguise. This was a tradition banned by Franco as the disguises were used to satirise and criticise and the only places in Spain to uphold the tradition on this day are Alhama and Sevilla. You'll need some stamina for this one as the bars are packed til the small hours....
On the Friday before Easter Friday a giant effigy of the Virgen de las Angustias, Alhama's patron saint, is led out of the main church and paraded around Alhama visiting all the other churches in town. The streets are lined with onlookers holding candles and the procession is enfused with incense. A solemn drumbeat marks out each step of the way and trumpets wail. On the Wednesday evening before Easter and Easter Friday itself there are two other processions in the town. Malaga, just over an hour from Alhama, is famous all over Spain for it's processions and there are events from Thursday evening til Sunday.
Feria San Juan:
Midsummer is celebrated in Alhama with a fair. Bars and fairground rides are set up in the main square and various bars and businesses from the town offer free Alhama stew or paella and free beer or wine. Every evening there is a fair with lots of rides, live music and dancing, food and drink. In the afternoons the fairground rides are half price for children.
Every year the local council offers a series of events from mid-July til September. This is the Verano Cultural or Summer of Culture. On two or three evenings a week, often held in the open air theatre in the attractive council buildings, there is free theatre, dance, music and cinema. Some plays are put on by children, some by local theatre groups. There are regular celebrations of dance and music; flamenco and tango in the last couple of years. In Granada every summer a play by their most famous author, Federico Garcia Lorca, is held in the beautiful Alhambra Palace gardens and at the end of August a bus takes Alhamenos to the event. Highly recommended - it's an incredible night out.
15th of August every year in Alhama is the day to celebrate Wine!! Local young people spend weeks preparing costumes and vehicles dressed up as old fashioned gypsy caravans and head out of town to a nearby woodland where the day and following night are spent celebrating the harvest. Once again, free local stew and drinks are offered. There is music everywhere with lots of staged and impromtu flamenco singing and dancing. Andalucian horses are famous all over the world and today is an opportunity to see some magnificent displays of horsemanship including dressage and racing. The Romeria is held in is a pretty woodland so very shaded and sheltered from the August heat; even so, it's delightful that sprinklers mist refreshing water over revellers during the heat of the day.
Time to get dressed up and party once again .... the first week of September brings the fair back to Alhama; another four days and nights of food and wine, music, dancing .... the municipal pool is free to visit all week.
The best things to do in Alhama during the festive season are enjoy the lights and music in the square and treat yourself to eating out in style. You can book in advance for a five course feast at Pato Loco or Ventorro, the two best restaurants in the area, on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Christmas is pretty low key here so you can really escape the crush and pressure back home! We've had a couple of white christmases recently and it is an amazing time to take a trip up to the snow on the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.