A Fascinating Holiday in the Old Moorish Town of
The Festivals of Álora
Alora has a festival (sometimes several) virtually every month and if your visit here coincides with one you should make a real effort to see it – the people of Alora are proud of their traditions and they don’t do things by halves!
The first time our children saw this parade they were aged 3 and 5 and their eyes were out on stalks. On the evening of 6th January (or the day before if the 6th is a Sunday) the three kings, The Wise Men, are paraded round the town. Each King sits on a trailer surrounded by courtiers and they set off with much fanfare. Just your average parade really until they start throwing the sweets. I don’t mean just a few, each trailer has several beer keg sized barrels to distribute and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it rains sweets! All the children in the town line up with a supermarket bag, running round picking them up as fast as they can and none of them goes home disappointed.
On Shrove Tuesday. I’ve never seen this one but there is a parade through the town and “performances by troupes”.
Semana Santa (Week of Saints)
Easter is a massive event in Spain and Alora does it with considerable style. There are parades virtually every day of Easter week and from Wednesday onwards the town just comes to a standstill. The biggest are on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and each of these culminates in the square in front of the house, so you have to go no further than the terrace for the best seat in town. All involve many bands, much loud music and huge tronos (floats - see above), each weighing several tonnes and needing 40 people to lift, being carried round the town. The climax is The Despedia, the farewell of Jesus and Mary from which the plaza gets its name and which is enacted virtually under the balcony - see the photo at the top of he page! This is one of those things you just have to see, particularly at the end when scores of people converge on "Jesus" and literally run the enormous trono up the hill to the castle.
Cruzes de Mayo
The Chapel of the Cross, which dates back to the eighteenth century, is situated in the countryside between Alora, Almogía and Cártama. On the first Sunday in May it becomes a focal point and, during a party that has been declared a national event in Andalucia, local produce and food is displayed sampled.
Verbenas - Festivals of the Quarters
Festival de Cante Grande (The Flamenco Festival)
Alora has a special place in the history of flamenco as the birthplace of the Malagueño style of the dance, which became very popular throughout Spain in the 18th century. Alora has also nurtured several famous flamenco artists, El Canario, Los Penas, Pepe Vargara and El Pibri. In recognition of all this a rather grand municipal fountain, unfortunately currently being restored and re-sited, was awarded to the town. The Flamenco Festival, at the end of July, is organized by the Peña Flamenca de Alora to keep the flamenco tradition in alive here.
The Ferai (fair)
Another occasion when the town just stops for a week. Summer ferias are a tradition throughout southern Spain, the fairs travelling from town to town throughout the hot season. In Alora it’s usually the first week in August (if you miss it, it goes down the road to Pizarra the following week) and it’s just a five day party really. From one o’clock to seven o’clock each day the Top Square (you will be glad this one isn’t just outside the door) is turned into a festival site with live bands, bars, food stalls, singing contests and other amusements, all crammed under a temporary roof that is stretched across from the buildings on each side. Alora also hosts various sports tournaments at this time - dominos, chess, football, clay pigeon shooting and more and each day when all this brouhaha calms down, after a short break the fairground opens and goes on all night, every night. Wonderful fun but absolutely exhausting!
Romeria de la
Virgen de Flores
And just when
you’ve recovered from all that……… The
Virgen de Flores is the patron saint of Alora and has to be properly
honoured. She resides in the Convento de Flores, two kilometers away but
at the end of August each year she is brought into the town for a two
week “holiday” which, of course, involves a massive parade of
“bands, coaches, wagons, horses and walking pilgrims” – the horses
are particularly impressive. The Saint’s day is the Sunday after
September 8, when the parade is reversed and she returns to the convent.
The first parade is always two weeks before that.
Dia de las
Sopas Perotas (Day of the Perotas Soup!!)
As festivals go you
are unlikely to have seen anything like this! La Sopas Perotas is the
dish of the town, Perosias being the people of Alora. It’s traditional peasant
fayre to keep you going when you are working in the fields all day.
Again taking place just outside the door of the house, around the second Saturday of
October Plaza Baja is turned into a giant soup kitchen, provided by the
Town Hall. All the town turns up and, well, queues for soup. A very
sociable occasion and, not surprisingly, a party soon breaks out.