OUR TOP SPRING CELEBRATIONS IN MALAGA & CADIZ
May is the month for countryside celebrations across Andalucia, and the best – we're biased – are in rural Malaga and Cádiz, within easy access of La Donaira. Each day brings gastronomy fairs, cinematic historic re-enactments, best bull contests, flamenco dance contests, and the bucolic gypsy-esque romerías – pilgrimages – in which villagers take their patron saints off in a procession of flowery floats and prancing horses for a day of song and wine. So many to choose from, so here are our favourites.
Top 7 Springtime Sierra Celebrations in Malaga and Cádiz (within easy access of La Donaira).
1. Ronda Romantica. May 23-27. Many writers and sketchers wandered through the old Moorish town in the 1800s and sucked in tales of smugglers, mountain bandits, fair maidens and general swashbuckling. That spirit is recreated comprehensively and pretty authentically, complete with enthusiastic re-enactments of moments in history.
2. Fiesta de San Isidro, many towns and villages. May 15. Celebrations for San Isidro de Labrador, patron saint of farmers, take place across Andalucia, with agricultural shows, bonfires, processions of carts and horses, and floats bearing saints to rivers and fields for a picnic and blessing. Algatocín south of Ronda and Almogía, Archidona and Ardales, Sierra de Yeguas. Check first though: some villages, like Prado del Rey (in Cádiz) have their processions the following weekend (May 21-22).
3. Offering of Flowers and Romería, Algodonales. May 28-29. Find a table at one of the cafes on the plaza on the Saturday and watch people in traditional dress arrive on horseback to present wildflowers to the Little Virgin of the Sierra. Then on Sunday join the procession to the shady picnic area under the Puente la Nava for impromptu flamenco, feasting and demonstrations of riding skills.
4. Week of the Patios, Vejer de la Frontera. May 14-20. There are glorious flower-filled patios right here in El Gastor, but if you are going to explore white villages further afield, May is about the best month to do it. The always lovely town of Vejer ramps it up for a week of floral glory and spring celebrations in which different patios are opened to the public each night at 8pm.
5. Feria de Manzanilla de Sanlúcar 2018 May 29-June 3: The drive to the seaside in Malaga or Cádiz is an easy one, but here is an excuse to indulge in Sanlúcar's own nectar of the gods, Manzanilla sherry, while enjoying the beaches, boat trips on the Guadalquivir and a programme of music, gastronomy, folklore and general merry-making.
6. Real Fería de Mayo, Ronda. May 18 19 & 20. It's known for its history and culture, but Ronda is also the hub of farming country. Everyone gathers at the Recinto Ferial Angel Harillo for best cow and best chicken contests, for live music and socialising, and to buy animal feed, tractor parts and artisan handicrafts. Authentic!
7. III Olive Oil Fiesta, Setenil de las Bodegas. May 18, 19 & 20. An action-packed programme of activities for everyone from experts to gourmands with demonstrations, contests and tastings not just of local oils, but local wines, breads, charcuterie and cheeses. Also art exhibitions, flamenco (late on the Friday), market and open-air painting contest (on the Saturday).