Feria de Sabar
The village’s summer feria. It is in honour of the main patron saint of the town, Santo Cristo de las Cabrillas, who Alfarnatejo’s beautiful church is named after.
During the feria, the saint is processed about the village, though unusually, his image appears not as a sculpture but is on a large canvas (left).
Like the festival in September that also honours the village’s other patron saint, San Miguel, there are four days of celebrations mixing religion with more earthly fun. There is a spiritual rociera mass in honour of the patron, verbenas (traditional country songs) at night, plus other musical performances and usually a great firework finale at the end.
Being a summer feria there are also such outdoor activities as a ‘foam’ party, where a massive quantity of the stuff is sprayed in a street for kids to play in, and ribbon races where motorbike and bicycle riders compete to get their ‘colours’ over the finish line first.
During the first weekend of August, Alfarnatejo hosts its increasingly famous Fiesta del Gazpacho de los Tres Golpes, held in the Plaza de la Constitución, and regularly attracting more than 5000 people. It has been officially recognised as “A Festival of Provincial Tourist Interest”.
The simple objective is for visitors to enjoy this most typical Andalucian dish, a traditional cold soup made from tomato, cucumber, peppers and olive oil. A great summer dish, ideal for cooling off in a hot Andalucian afternoon.
The fiesta is named after Alfarnatejo’s famous take on the soup – ‘Gazpacho de los tres golpes’ – a tasting of which is given away in ceramic bowls which visitors can freely take home.
The gastronomic fair has been widened in recent years to include skewers of potato tortilla accompanying the gazpacho.
In the evening there are flamenco performances put on by local invited artists.
Noche de las Candelas
Apart from all the usual trappings of a Spanish festival – food, drink, music and general merriment – it is traditional for candles and bonfires to be lit around the village. In many villages, as it is in Alfarnatejo, it also popular for straw effigies – dolls – to be tossed on top of the fires.
In Alfarnatejo there is an annual competition for who can fashion the best doll. It is taken very seriously, a jury comprised of the Board of Directors of the Los Tajos Association judges all the entries. There is one competition for youngsters, another for the adults. Once the judging has taken place and prizes awarded, the dolls are then ceremoniously burned at the end of the festival.
The story behind the Night of the Candles festival
It is said that in the old days when most villagers lived in cortijos (farmhouses), they hung candles on the doors and lit large bonfires at their gates to mark the end of the harvest, during the raisin making season.
When the night of September 7th arrived, the young men of the town went around to the farmhouses to visit the girls. They spent the night, going from cortijo to cortijo eating, drinking, singing and dancing to folk songs around the bonfires.
To help them see where they were going between the cortijos, the young men apparently set fire to the stubble on the fields next to the roads. Thus, from the village you could see a trail of fire showing where they were going.
Apart from these pyromaniacal youngsters, others too set alight small bonfires in various corners of the village. Just as now, they would make a doll out of old clothes, put a sign around it with their name on, and then put it on the fire. Around these fires, the locals then ate and drank and sang typical village songs or ‘canciones’.
San Miguel and Cristo de Cabrilla Fiesta
Festival primarily in honour of the patron saints of the village, San Miguel and Santo Cristo de las Cabrillas, held at the end of September.
There are four days of festivities featuring masses and processions in honour of the patrons, as well as musical performances and fireworks in a grand finale.
As the Alcalde (Mayor) once said about the festival, it is not only an opportunity to pray to the saints to help mitigate one’s day-day troubles, but it’s also a joyous occasion when the village gets together to have fun!
The images of the patrons of the village that are honoured in this festival are quite striking. For example, the image of Saint Cristo de Cabrilla is not a sculpture but appears on a large canvas (see Feria de Sabar above).
The other patron, San Miguel, does have an effigy, (above left). Every September 29th the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the three archangels, including San Miguel, and there are many villages in Málaga who celebrate this day, and in addition to pilgrimages, hold their municipal fair then. Traditionally, the archangels perform different functions in sacred scripture, and San Miguel is recognised as the head of the celestial army, the defender of the Church. Thus, we can see that the effigy is holding a thrusting spear, and during the festival we see soldiers included in the processions (right).
The procession of San Miguel and Santo Cristo de las Cabrillas takes place on the 29th of September, and is accompanied by music provided by local groups.
During the 2018 festival there were lots of events held, such as petanque and paddle competitions and children’s bike races, and portions of a huge paella was freely dished out to visitors. In the marquee tents there were of course displays of music, dancing and theatre put on in the evenings for young and old.
We don’t think a poster was produced for the 2018 event, hence the one for the 2010 event shown on the right. Although local councils sometimes produce very striking posters advertising some of their upcoming events, it is still the case in some of the smaller villages that ‘word’ just seems to get around among the locals, and tourists are sometimes left bewildered when fireworks go off and an enormous procession appears as if from nowhere in the village! Of course, if you are aware of the traditional festive days in the Catholic calendar then many will come as no surprise, but for those that aren’t, it is another of the many reasons this website came about!
Alfarnatejo pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Alfarnatejo, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.