06 Oct
Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera: European Wine City 2014

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.


 

25 Sep

Feria de San Miguel in Arcos de la Frontera: Immerse yourself in a culture like no other

If Spain is world-renowned for its penchant to party until dawn in its monthly, if not weekly, fiestas, then Andalucía has to be king in hosting unforgettable celebrations. And none more so than in the magical town of Arcos de la Frontera. In late September this traditional hilltop town in the province of Cadiz comes alive in a way only the Spanish make possible.

This four-day festival always takes place at the end of September when a throng of revelries of all ages, from different parts of Spain and of numerous nationalities, ascend on this pretty whitewashed “pueblo blanco”.


 

22 Jun

Arcos de la Frontera – 750th anniversary in 2014

Arcos de la Frontera – 750th anniversary: This magical hill top town celebrates its 750th anniversary this year, marking independence from the Moors and becoming part of the Kingdom of Castille.

Throughout 2014, a special committee will be organising various events to involve as many of the local people and tourists alike.

 These events include open air concerts, exhibitions, medieval markets, festivals, theatre performances and guided tours.

The idea is to remember Arcos’ history and past whilst promoting its present and future.

Vintage Travel have a number of luxury villas in Arcos de la Frontera, including the wonderful La Soledad, click HERE for more details.

 


 

18 Jun

Vejer Fashion Weekend 2014

Vejer Fashion Weekend returns as one of the most anticipated events in Vejer’s summer calendar. Last year it attracted over 6,000 visitors to the town, this year we hope it will bring even more.

From the 4th – 6th July the event will unite young and creative artists related to the world of fashion, contemporary art and music, in the historic monumental centre of Vejer, considered to be one of the most fashionable places to visit in Spain.

Prestigious international designers will send their models down an open-air cat walk specially constructed along the old city walls. There will also be various exhibitions, workshops, conferences and concerts. It is a program designed to stimulate creativity and convert trend and ideas into useful resources.

There will be numerous showrooms and stalls, primarily located in the exterior patio of the church. Here designers will be able to sell, divulge and network directly with the public.

The event was originally created by local Andalucian entrepreneurs with the support of Vejer’s Town Hall and Tourist Office.

The location is unrivalled, as well as being recently voted one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, Vejer is close to infinite sandy beaches and enjoys a climate which attracts surfers.

Its gastronomy and bohemian sophistication has made its mark and put Vejer on the radar of the most cosmopolitan and selective traveller.


 

06 Jun

International Sherry Week 2014 in Andalucia

International Sherry Week (ISW) invites all Sherry lovers to join in a global celebration of Spain’s unique Sherry wines.

Developed and managed by an independent group of Certified Sherry Educators positioned globally, the 2014 campaign has been designed in consultation with the regulatory council of Sherry Wines to support the promotion of Sherry worldwide.

International Sherry Week 2014 coincides with Jerez winning the title of European Wine City 2014, even more reason to celebrate this unique and historical wine region.

There are numerous events taking place in Vejer, Jerez, Sanlucar and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

These include Sherry & tapas, Sherry & pairing menus, Sherry cocktails, tastings, flamenco, Sherry & sushi, cookery classes as well as Sherry & art.


 

23 May

Top festivals in Barcelona this summer 2014

As always, there’s plenty going on in Barcelona this summer. The festivals are plentiful and diverse in this vibrant Spanish city. If you are staying in reasonable proximity to the Catalan capital then designating a day or two to become acquainted with the magnificent architecture, fabulous restaurants and quirky festivals will undoubtedly be a holiday highlight.

Take a look at four great festivals in Barcelona this summer 2014.

Sonar festival

The Sonar festival is principally an electronic music festival which is constantly recognised as one of the great European musical events. Massive Attack will headline this year’s extravaganza. There will also be performances by James Holden, Jon Hopkins, Woodkid and I Am Legion, among others. The festival takes place over the three days from June 12 -14, 2014.

Sant Joan

With bonfires and fire crackers banging and crackling all over town, the night of June 23 will seem like a Guy Fawkes has come early on the streets of Barcelona. Revellers enjoy a heady mix of   sparkling Cava and thumping music as they head to the beach and party until dawn.

Grec

The festival of Grec is named after a Greek amphitheatre. With dazzling acts uniting from all over the world, Grec is Spain’s largest multi-cultural festival. Dance, circus, theatre and music can be seen with artists coming from as far away as Australia to join in the revelry. This leading music festival in Barcelona is held throughout July.

Barcelona Harley Days

Harley Davidson of America hold their largest European festival in Barcelona. From July 4 – 6, 2014, great motor cycles will on display in the Catalan capital by the legendary company. On America’s Day of Independence enthusiastic Harley Davidson fans will ascend on Barcelona for this incredible festival. Asides the exhilarating throaty roar of a throng of Harley Davidson engines, live bands supply the sounds.

Every day is fiesta time in the intoxicating and cosmopolitan city of Barcelona but if you want to experience the city at its liveliest, these four festivals would be a good place to start.


 

10 Mar

Experiencing Semana Santa in Barcelona

There is something special about Easter Week (Semana Santa) in Barcelona. The city is alive with vibrant colour as the sunlight returns to the streets, bathing it in warmth.

 

Blossom hangs from the trees as locals and visitors alike celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a truly marvellous time to visit the great city of Barcelona.

Processions and parades

Spain is a devout Catholic country and Easter is a huge event on the religious calender. Semana Santa starts on Palm Sunday when women with huge palm leaves parade through the streets of Barcelona. This year Semana Santa in Spain runs from 13 – 21 April. In Barcelona, as in most Spanish towns and cities, a large and flamboyant procession will make its way around the streets, marking the beginning of the week’s festivities.

Asides colourful processions and parades, Holy Week brings out the artisan in the chocolate makers of the city. There are vast displays of all manner of interesting items made from chocolate in shop windows and on stalls by the side of the roads. Naturally, the Spanish children love the chocolate aspect of the celebrations, a tradition which bears similarity to British kids and their Easter eggs.

The Feast of Sant Jordi

When it comes to partying and celebrations, Spain doesn’t do things by half. Even after Easter is finished and the revelry is thought by many a tourist to be at an end, yet another festival is waiting just two days after Easter Monday. In Catalonia this festival is known as the Feast of Sant Jordi. Many Catalans treat this special day as another St. Valentine’s Day, giving their loved ones’ gifts. Traditionally the women are given roses by the men whilst the men receive books from the women.

Here in England we share the same patron saint as Catalonia. Perhaps it would be a good idea to hand out books and roses as the Catalans do?


 

20 Feb

The Spanish festivals of Shrove Tuesday

When it comes to hosting traditional yet thoroughly explosive festivals, Spain has to be among the world leaders. So why should Shrove Tuesday celebrations be any different?

If you’re heading to the colourful land of Spain sometime soon and are keen to sample some authentic Spanish culture, you may want to head to one of the many Shrove Tuesday celebrations put on throughout mainland Spain and its islands. Here are two, for starters…

Verin Carnival,  Galicia

The Verin Carnival in the town of Verin, Galicia is centred Shrove Tuesday. Festivities will take place in this ancient town from 20 February until 9 March, 2014. One of the carnival’s highlights is a great rumbustious flour fight which takes place in the main square. The carnival kicks off with fireworks on what is known as ‘Corredoiro Sunday’, when masked men run through the streets of Verin encouraging one and all to join in with the party.

Street musicians play and Verin comes alive with the sounds of the fiesta. On ‘Women’s Thursday’ the women of Verin get dressed up and go out for dinner, which is the official start of the carnival. It seems that the Spaniards love of a fiesta is so great that they need a special party to introduce the arrival of a party!

Cadiz Carnival

Moving away from Verin to the opposite end of Spain another Shrove Tuesday fiesta takes place, equally as colourful and exciting. The Cadiz Carnival will be held from 27 February until March 9, 2014. Processions take place at both ends of the festival period. You can expect all the typical Spanish carnival splendour in Cadiz, with bands, fancy dress, choirs and chirigotas (satirical groups of performers), mutually contributing to the success of the fair.

These Shrove Tuesday carnivals are held with slight variations in many Spanish villages, towns and cities. They are designed to mark the beginning of Lent where Christian believers are supposed to give up eating rich food.

In Britain we mark Shrove Tuesday by eating pancakes, the Spanish in Verin have a flour fight! Well at least there is some kind of connection between the two countries’ Shrove Tuesday celebrations – A drastically different use of flour!

 


 

01 Jan

Granada’s San Cecilio Festival – Andalucia at its most vibrant and playful

Barely a week goes by before the Provence of Andalucia plays host to some kind of time-honoured and memorable fiesta, with February being no exception. If you are looking for an excuse to get some late-winter sun then Granada’s San Cecilio Festival might be just the excuse you are looking for.

It is believed that Saint Cecilio was killed by the Romans and his remains were placed in the Monastery of the Sacremonte in Granada. Every year there is a pilgrimage to pay homage to the martyr’s remains. As the pilgrims move through the streets and squares of Granada slowly climbing to the monastery above the towers of the Alhambra, this annual pilgrimage makes a striking spectacle that is there to be enjoyed by everyone.

The pilgrims gather at the meeting point in Granada’s Plaza Nueva. The walk only takes about an hour and by the time you get to the monastery you will be accompanied by a  swathing sea of pilgrims all paying their respects to San Cecilio’s remains. The views from this focal point overlooking the whole of Granada with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada as a backdrop are simply stunning.

The pilgrimage is held on the first Sunday in February and despite taking place in the winter, the weather is often warm and sunny for the San Cecilio Fiesta. The long hike to a hilltop monastery is accompanied with food,drink and music, which goes on well into the early hours of the morning.

Huge paella dishes are cooked and stirred by cooks who have what could be described as a ship’s oar in their hands as they methodically stir the delicious food. All manner of wine and drink is a plenty, accompanied by music and dancing put on at various temporary stages.

Gypsy music is the dominant musical genre at this well-attended festival. The music of “passion and pain” is enhanced by a colourful display of flamenco dancing. It is said that when the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end as you are moved deeply and soulfully by flamenco you experience “duende”. The first time you experience ‘duende’ it is believed to mark the era of a new understanding of this type of music.

Granada is a fantastic city to visit at any time of the year but especially when the San Cecilio Festival is taking place, when this vibrant, traditional yet playful provincial capital comes alive with particular vigour and zest.


 

15 Sep

A rather unconventional selection of festivals in Catalonia this October

They certainly love their festivals in Catalonia just as much as they do in the rest of Spain. Like paella, sangria, the siesta and a landscape dominated by pine forests, fishing villages and legendary resorts, festivals of all shapes, sizes and themes, help craft Catalonia’s unique identity.

While many of Europe’s leading tourist destinations have all but gone to sleep come October, Catalonia is bursting at the seams, with a glut of flamboyant and utterly unique festivals in Catalonia.

In the Catalan capital of Barcelona, film is the happening thing this October, with three film festivals being held either in or near Barcelona. From 10 – 13 October, the Barcelona Erotic Film Festival will be taking place at the Fira De Cornella Exhibition Centre. This annual Spanish pornographic film festival and awards ceremony has been running since 1992. In contrast to France’s equivalent event, named the Hot D’Or Festival, which takes place in Cannes, the Barcelona Erotic Film Festival is deemed as less exclusive and more comprehensive.

From 10 – 20 October, the International Fantasy Film Festival will be held in Sitges near Barcelona. Often referred to as the Sitges Film Festival, this annual event is widely considered to be the world’s foremost international festival specialising in fantasy and horror films.

The International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will be held from 16 – 27 October at the Filmoteca de Catalunya in Barcelona. Now in its eleventh year, this inspiring event looks at many issues facing homosexuality portrayed in contemporary cinema.

Elsewhere in Catalonia there is a Cava Festival at Sant Sadurni. The locals of Sant Sadurni celebrate their locally made Cava on October 4 – 6 and obviously a festival which honours such a potent drink is highly likely to turn into a rumbustious affair.

Meanwhile in Tarragona, a Human Castle Building Festival will be held on October 6 – 7. Human-made towers are elevated to frighteningly lofty heights and are typically topped by a very young person – the mind boggles.

If you happen to be in the beautiful city of Girona from 28 October until early November, checking out the Fires de Sant Narcis would definitely be an eye-opening experience. This festival celebrates the patron saint of Girona and is the biggest festival of the year in the town. Bonfires are lit; there is live music and stalls galore in the Parque De La Dehesa.

It has to be said that colourful festivals in Catalonia aside, October is a great time to visit Catalonia. Sales are on, beaches are empty and the temperature is usually very agreeable with plenty of sunshine. Click the link to view Vintage Travel’s collection of luxury villas in Spain for rent.