If you’ve yet to visit Andalucía’s ‘big three’ cities, you’re certainly in for a treat when you do. By ‘big three’ we mean Granada, Cordoba and Seville, three remarkable Spanish cities, laden in extraordinary Moorish architecture, brimming with zest, traditionalism and vivacity and paradisal for culture vultures, foodies, musicians, shopaholics, historians and more.
The traditional and distinct southern region of Andalucía is brimming in wacky, wonderful and thoroughly unique fairs and fiestas all year round. In fact, you don’t have to travel too far or for too long to come across a memorable festival in Andalucía and party amongst the locals.
If you thought Halloween was a big event in Britain, you may be surprised to learn that it’s an even bigger celebration in Spain. Mind you the Spanish don’t need any excuse to host a festival!
Easter in Andalucía is a heady mix of faith, pageantry and raw emotion. The dates for Holy Week 2016, known in Spain as Semana Santa, will be March 20th until March 27th. Easter is the deepest rooted and heartfelt celebration of the year right across Spain. Centuries of tradition encompass the passion involved with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This fervour plays out in all the major cities, such as Seville, Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Huelva, and also numerous smaller towns and villages. Millions gather and cram the streets in order to see the magical and very moving processions.
Epiphany is celebrated around the world, but in Spain it takes on somewhat more importance. Although Santa Claus has made recent inroads, the ‘Three Kings Day’ has been a part of Spanish culture, celebrated since the end of the 2nd century, in one form or another. On January 6th the Spanish celebrate the visit of the Kings to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, as well as Jesus being baptised by St John the Baptist, in the River Jordan.
The culture of any country comes in many forms and often the best practitioners of enlightening everyone to the nuances of a people and place are the artists that come from that country. The fiesta de Teatro, is a three month long extravaganza of theatre, music, dance and experimental productions that enliven the Catalan cultural scene during October, November and December each year.
The province of Cadiz in Southern Spain is brimming with traditional and characterful towns. From charming coastal towns dotted along the shore to picturesque villages perched upon hillsides that boast incredible views of the stunning Andalucía countryside, Cadiz has something to offer for everyone.
With elegant fishing vessels, sophisticated boutiques and great bay side restaurants renowned for serving only the highest quality of fresh cuisine, the upmarket fishing village of Callela de Palafrugell is a popular spot for both Spanish and international holidaymakers.
We have to admit that in the UK, 6 January is widely considered one of the most depressing days of the year. Christmas and the New Year celebrations have been and gone and all that is left is a rather unhealthy bank account and a post-festive season headache.
As Britain battles with the reality of going back to work and school, in Spain, the 6 January is a different story.
The Southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera is a real privilege to visit. As well as its famous Flamenco dancing and internationally-admired white Andalucian horses gracing the surrounding countryside, this traditional yet elegant town also has more than its fair share of magnificent buildings. Though we have to admit Jerez’s most famous association is its wine.
Being globally-recognised for its local sherry, brandy and wine, it stands to reason Jerez was awarded the European Wine City of 2014. Wine lovers and buyers from all over the world have been descending on Jerez this year. Whilst wine shows and events have taken place in Jerez throughout 2014, it is the autumn, with the wine harvest, when the town will really come alive with visitors.
The accolade of European Wine Capital of the Year coincides with it being a special year for Jerez, which commemorates its 750th anniversary.
2014 might be an especially vibrant time to visit Jerez but the city remains as stunning and culturally-enhancing whatever time you decide to visit.
The buildings of Jerez stand up to any in the province of Cadiz or the whole of Andalucia for that matter. The Alcazar is a beautiful Moorish stronghold set upon the highest point in the city. This Moorish palace is superbly graceful with delightful pretty gardens and well-preserved arches. What’s more, every Monday morning visitors are permitted into the Alcazar free of charge.
Jerez’s cathedral is also well worth a visit, as is the church of San Miguel. The detail inside the church is incredible and the altar piece will certainly draw your attention, with the arch angel fighting off demons!
Horse enthusiasts will also be in their element in Jerez and could not possibly call into this city without paying homage to the world famous Andalucian white horses. The Fundacion Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Equestra hosts exciting equestrian events all year round.
Whether you love wine, horses, flamenco or history, Jerez de la Frontera has it all, particularly in 2014 with people from all over the world are flocking to its streets, intent on sampling the city’s famous tipples.