Held around February the 2nd.
It is a celebration that is held in many towns and villages in the Axarquía.
However, in Alfarnate they also have the tradition of ‘Running of the Aulagas’.
The aulaga plant, which we know as gorse, is dried, then prepared in bunches and left in the middle of the main square. They are ignited and then youngsters drag the burning bushes through the streets!
The celebrations finish with a bonfire in the main square, around which people sing and dance.
Festival of San Marcos
Held around April the 2nd.
In the evening of the celebration there is a procession into the countryside, to an area called La Breña, which is in the Puerto de la Azores.
The people gather there to eat the traditional hornazo con choto (roast kid).
The image of Saint Mark is borne in the procession, as is that of the Virgin of Monsalud, which remains in the church until the 13th of June, the day it is returned in a procession to its chapel.
The famous festival of St Isidore that is celebrated all over the Axarquia, held on May 15th.
After a mass in the Santo Cristo chapel a romería (pilgrimage) takes place starting in the village before winding its way out into the surrounding fields. Unlike in the old days when San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers, would be carried by shoulders, these days he is often seen on the back of something far more appropriate to contemporary farmers – a 4 by 4!
Given that, even in this era of tourism, agriculture and tending livestock is still the main income of the village, San Isidro is a very popular festival, and the Saint’s favour is still sought. Thus, the carrying of him to the outskirts of the village to bless the wheat fields and provide good harvests, is still an integral part of the day.
Apart from the procession, there is usually food and entertainment on offer during the day, just as in other Axarquian villages, all of whom celebrate this day.
Dia de la Cereza
Held during the 3rd weekend in June.
The ‘Alta Axarquia’ (high Axarquia) has one of its most delicious celebrations in June called ‘Día de la Cereza’ (Day of the Cherry) in Alfarnate.
Growing cherries has become such a success in this area, with 70,000 – 80,000 kilos produced each year, a special day has been dedicated to cherries since 2006. Apparently it is the altitude that makes such an optimal condition for growing cherry trees, with almost 1,000 hours a year at less than 5 degrees centigrade. Thus the cherry trees grown in Alfarnate have an excellent fruit yield and quality. The varieties grown produce very fleshy, juicy and large cherries, with the most popular being ‘la quince’, although there are others like the sweet ‘la celeste’, and the latest variety ‘corazon de cabrito’.
Alfarnate’s town hall offers almost 600 kilograms of cherries to locals and visitors to taste, and if you like them you can buy more!
Apart from the cherries there are other famous local delicacies on offer to visitors such as ‘zoque’, a local gazpacho, and ‘porra’ (similar to churros). There are also over 20 stands where you can can taste other locally produced products like bread, sweets, vegetables or olive oil.
During the festival there is even a cherry stone throwing competition (‘concurso de lanzamiento de huesos de cereza’)! Plus, of course, plenty of music and dancing. The event takes place from 11.00 in the morning till evening.
Fiesta of the Virgin of Monsalud
Held on the nearest Saturday to the 12th
The festival includes the traditional Moors and Christians festival.
It also coincides with the festivities in honour of the Virgin Monsalud which is celebrated over four days, including a fair, competitions and flamenco music and dancing.
The type of festivals which remember the Moorish occupation and the Christian reconquest are very popular in Andalucía. In Alfarnate, during the Moors and Christians festival, the village transports itself back to the Medieval period, in memory of the Moors who lived in their lands. The Festival also remembers the subsequent reconquest of Spain by the Christian armies and the later expulsion of the Moors from Andalucía.
The re-enactment of these times is remembered in a simple story of three scenes, performed by the villagers in traditional costume.
The story is based on a 17th century romantic text by an anonymous author. The first scene is the theft and conquest of the Virgin of the Monsalud by a group of Moors. A group of Christian ambassadors demand the return of the image, making readings from the 17th century text, called ‘Relations’. The Moors reject their pleas and a series of mock battles ensue. Eventually the Christians recover the image and force the Moors to restore the image to the chapel after taking it in a parade through the streets.
During the festival there is also a market, set up to reflect the traditional Arab markets that would have been held in the Moorish villages of Andalucía. The market sells typical artisan products, and locally produced food.
Alfarnate pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Alfarnate, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.