FESTIVITIES IN BENIDORM
Benidorm can boast of being the city with the most festivals in the world, as not only does it celebrate the local festivals but also those of its multiple visitors. The most notable are the following:
This popular festival is held on the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday and fills the city with colour and a festive atmosphere when Benidorm locals and tourists take to the streets to show off their best costumes and to have fun.
Over the two days, parades, competitions and themed parties are held at entertainment venues. The Carnival celebrations culminate on Tuesday with the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine), which starts from Plaza Mayor at night time. The funeral procession parades Mrs. Sardine through the streets and sets her alight her at Poniente beach, sending her off with a spectacular fireworks display.
16th March. Commemoration of the discovery of the Virgin of Suffrage (Virgen del Sufragio)
This day celebrates the discovery of the image of the patron saint of Benidorm. Legend has it that it was found in 1740, when a crewless londro (type of sailing ship), mysteriously carried the image to the beaches of Benidorm.
14-19th de March. The Fallas
Benidorm is all decked out to celebrate Valencia’s most internationally renowned festival, the Fallas. Enormous monuments made of cardboard and wood are set up in the streets, inviting people to come out and participate in the festivities.
The main features of this festival are the mascletás (firecrackers), fireworks, street parades, bands and floral offerings to the Virgin. There are three Fallas in different areas of the city: the Centre Falla, the Els Tolls Falla and the Rincón de Loix Falla, with six monuments in the streets in total, including the children’s Fallas.
The festivities come to an end on the 19th, the feast day of San José (Saint Joseph), when the cremà (literally the ‘burning’) starts at midnight ― a spectacle of fire in which the ninots (puppets) are burned in the flames (the three Fallas are burned at different times so that you can get to see all of them).
March/April. Easter Week
During Holy Week, the party and beach activities take second place to give greater prominence to the processions and other religious events.
One of the most important processions is the Vía Crucis (Stations of the Cross) on Good Friday. It departs from San Jaime church and makes its way to Monte Calvario (the old cemetery), where the Stations of the Cross and the Sermón de las Siete Palabras (Sermon on the Seven Last Words of Christ) take place.
On Holy Thursday, the Stations of the Cross in La Cala is the main event. The Cofradía de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo en su agonía en el Monte de los Olivos (Brotherhood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in his agony on the Mount of Olives) departs from San Juan Bautista church and passes through the main streets in the area.
On Resurrection Sunday, a very emotional procession for the people of Benidorm takes place: the Encuentro (“discovery”). Departing from San Jaime church, the patron saint and the Virgin of Suffrage are carried to Alameda Street.
June. Romería del Corpus (Corpus Christi Pilgrimage).
These festivals in honour of the Virgen del Rocío (Virgin of El Rocío) have a long tradition among Andalusians living in Benidorm.
Over five days, marquees are set up in the fairground, with fino (sherry) and Sevillana music and dance to be found everywhere. Also taking place are the El Rocío mass, musical performances and the carrying of the Virgin of El Rocío by the romeras (pilgrims) from the fairground to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Almudena.
June. Hogueras de San Juan (Bonfires of San Juan)
Benidorm celebrates the festival of its capital, the Hogueras de San Juan (Bonfires of San Juan). You can sense the excitement in the air at the city’s two bonfires: La Cala bonfire and El Campo bonfire. Authentic works of art made of cardboard and wood.
The most representative figures of the festivals, the belleas del foc (Valencian for “Beauties of Fire” - the festival queens) and their damas (ladies-in-waiting), wear the traditional Alicante dresses with floral prints, apron, bodice and a white lace headdress.
San Juan is celebrated the night before the “burning”, and Benidorm locals gather on the beaches of Levante, Poniente and Mal Pas to have dinner and to have fun, but especially to make wishes in the water at midnight, leaving behind everything that is old or bad and welcoming in the summer.
July. San Fermín
Every year, Benidorm holds various celebrations to honour San Fermín. It is tradition that, at noon on the 7th of July, locals and tourists congregate on Levante beach beside El Tamboril restaurant to get the festival off to a start with the ceremonial chupinazo (inaugural rocket). Other celebrations that you can enjoy during these days are a Navarrese mass and the closing of the festival with the traditional farewell song Pobre de Mi (Poor Me).
July. Fiestas del Carmen (Virgin of Carmen Festival)
Given the city’s fishing origins, it is no surprise that Benidorm holds this particular festival. Every year, around the 16th July, festivals are celebrated in honour of the Virgin of Carmen, and a marquee is erected in the port for holding concerts and open-air celebrations. Also worth seeing is the offering of flowers and the sailors’ procession.
July. San Jaime (Saint James)
On the 25th July, many religious and leisure activities take place in Benidorm in honour of the city’s patron saint, San Jaime. These include a huge Verbena (open-air celebration) with an orchestra, reduced bar prices, and the traditional castle of fireworks.
September. Fiesta de Asturias (Asturias Festival)
Every year at the beginning of September, the Casa de Asturias organises the Asturias festival in Benidorm, in honour of the Virgin of Covadonga. During the festival you can sample several typical dishes from the area, watch performances of regional dancing and costumes and enjoy many other festival activities such as plays and other musical acts.
October. Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians)
This festival involves plenty of popular tradition and commemorates the battles between both sides in the Christian Reconquista. It takes place in various towns in Alicante.
Over the three days, the filàs (battalions), dressed in magnificent costumes from medieval times, take over the streets and engage in mock battles, filling the air with gunpowder.
TBoth tourists and locals line the streets to watch the most representative moments. The processions, the offering of flowers to San Jaime Apóstol (St. James the Apostle), the floats and the musical marches are some of the most important events. But without a doubt, the biggest moment comes when the Christians emerge victorious and climb up to the castle to greet the public, thus ending the festival.
November. Fiestas Mayores Patronales (Patron Saint Festival)
This is the festival par excellence in the municipality and it is celebrated to honour the patron saint, the Virgen del Sufragio (Virgin of Suffrage). It takes place in November, from the second Saturday to the following Wednesday. During these five days the streets of Benidorm exude a festival atmosphere and are decked in lights and flowers, with bands playing the songs and hymns of Benidorm.
The locals gather together in peñas (clubs), where friends meet after the various activities, and which also welcome visitors.
The most representative figures in the city during these days are the adult and child queens (Reinas) and ladies-in-waiting (Damas), who wear regional dress and show their devotion to the Virgin throughout the entire year.
Among the most important events are the re-enactment of the discovery of the Virgin on Poniente beach, the floral offering in which all the peñas participate, the concerts, the ‘comedy’ parade (political satire), the procession of floats and the spectacular fireworks display that brings the festival to a close.
November. Fancy Dress Party
On the Thursday following the second Sunday in November, the English-speaking community holds the biggest fancy dress party in the whole of Europe. Cowboys, magicians, princesses, film personalities, etc. invade the bars and clubs to show off their costumes!
Thousands of British tourists return each year specifically at this time so as not to miss this huge carnival. The streets, closed to traffic, fill with colour, performances and people who are out to have fun. Everything is primed for a party!
The initiative was introduced by one of the bar owners 15 years ago, in an effort to promote tourism in the area. It quickly caught on and spread to other towns until it became what it is today, an event that is known across Europe and is even covered by the British media.
Third weekend in November. Fiesta de la Carxofa (Artichoke Festival)
This highly traditional festival among the locals takes place on the third weekend in November in the Plaza del Calpí, in the heart of the city’s old town.
Typical activities during the festival include a sardinada (meal with sardines), a street party, a mass in the church of San Jaime and the traditional burning of the artichoke, which closes the festival.
Various events take place in the city from 22nd December to 5th January. This religious festival opens with the pregón (announcement by the town crier), which takes place on the Saturday in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square), referred to during these days as the Plaza de la Navidad (Christmas Square). This spot is without a doubt the centre of all the Christmas festivities and events. If there is anything going on, it will be taking place here. Stalls and a bar are set up, with inflatables for the kids and even an ice skating rink.
A real postman collects the children’s letters on the 27th and the 28th of December, but then returns to the city on the 3rd and 4th of January to listen to each of the kids’ requests.
New Year’s Eve is very special. The party atmosphere really starts to get going in the square after 11 pm, when everyone gathers to see out the old year and welcome in the New Year by eating the traditional grapes.
Every year without fail, the three kings visit the city, arriving on the evening of the 5th, passing through the streets, greeting the people and handing out sweets to the kids. Once they reach the City Hall, a fireworks display signals the end of the parade.