Virgen del Carmen Festival
(aka Virgin Carmen Day)
Spain is a country that likes a party and throughout its provinces, cities, towns and villages there are hundreds of fiestas and festivals held each year. From tiny village fiestas enjoying paella competitions or celebrating the humble olive, to huge affairs where the whole province comes together for week long festivals in honour of a wide range of cultures and religious icons, some more serious and sombre and others a riot of colour, music, shows, parades and dancing.
The Virgen del Carmen Festival in Torrevieja is held in July each year and is in honour of the patron saint of fishermen, Virgen del Carmen. Torrevieja has a long and proud history with the sea, and indeed started life as a small fishing village before its lucrative salt production began. The festival starts with a colourful early morning music parade beginning at the Plaza de la Constitucion then winding it’s way down the Paseo Vista Alegre to Torrevieja’s port area. Here is where the fun tradition of Cucana takes place when a pole coated in grease is laid over a drop into the ocean and the more adventurous, and often inebriated revellers and fishermen try their luck at navigating their way across the pole; needless to say most end up in the drink !!
Later on in the day the more serious procession of carrying a statue of the patron saint through the streets, whilst the fishermen and their families pray for a safe and prosperous year, to the port where the statue is then put on a boat. Here the whole city comes alive and the port and surrounding seas are filled with boats of all shapes and sizes joining in the processions and festivities. Later in the evening there are firework displays, dancing and singing accompanied by gallons of beer and wine.
Held on the 16th July in 2016. (This is also a Red Day (Bank Holiday) in Torrevieja).
The event has mini-events leading up to it, like grab the flag off a greasy pole that’s put out over the sea, from the port area. The night time festival starts around 7:30pm and ends around 10:30pm approx. The Festival is a procession through the town from the church to the port area, the Virgen del Carmen is loaded on to a fishing boat and taken out to sea, after a quick tour of the coast line it returns to music and fireworks.