Not only is Malaga one of the most under-rated cities in Spain, its annual festival is one of the biggest on the national calendar of fiestas yet it attracts little attention from overseas visitors. The origins of the festival can be traced back as far as 1487, the year when Fernando and Isabella rode triumphantly into the city to reclaim it as a part of Catholic Spain from its Moorish occupants. Lesser known than Seville’s Feria de Abril, the fiesta is similar in size and there is great competition between the two cities to outdo one another with their annual festivities.
The Feria takes place in August, usually for 10 days around the 15th of August, and begins with the ‘Pregón de la Feria’ which is the official announcement of the opening of the festival which is read out by a famous local celebrity from the balcony of the town hall. This is followed by an enormous firework display and ten days of raucous partying Andaluz style with open air bars serving thousands of litres of sherry, spontaneous flamenco dancing in the street and the city’s main annual bullfighting festival at the city’s Plaza de Toros.
By day activities are centred around Marques de Larios in the heart of the city centre just opposite the port. Throughout the city beautiful women with their daughters stroll around in flamenco dresses whilst the city’s horse and cart taxis are decorated with colourful ribbons and their drivers wear traditional costumes. Street music and sherry consumption are ever presents whilst there’s plenty entertainment to keep the children amused. The Feria de Día lasts from around noon until 7pm then there’s a lull before the storm as the evening session begins.
By night the focus of the Feria moves to the Real de la Feria on the outskirts of the city where the Feria de Noche starts to warm up around 9pm and continues until dawn. This is a huge fairground with over 200 marquees (casetas) specifically erected for the Feria each of which houses different groups of Malagueños, known as peñas, who meet here to party every evening. These casetas are open to visitors and you can buy food and tapas there whilst enjoying the party. There are shuttle buses running back and to from the city centre to the fairground throughout the night whilst the taxi business does a roaring trade.