Marbella Feria – where glamour meets tradition
The Marbella Feria, or fair, pertains to an age-old European tradition that was once widespread across the continent. One of the countries that has continued to maintain this annual festivity is Spain, where every year the calendar is dotted with the annual feasts of everything from tiny hamlets and villages to large towns and cities. In the case of Marbella, the feria that takes place from the 5th to the 11th June and represents a rather unique coming together of luxury resort glamour and authentic Andalusian tradition.
The proceedings start with something of a beauty pageant, as the queen and princesses of the fair are presented and crowned in the centre of town, marking a ritual that is the official kick-off point for the days-long festivities. The latter transform the town into a scene of jovial festivity, where the main streets and squares are lined with impromptu bars, seating terraces and stages for indigenous song and dance, among which flamenco takes centre stage.
There are comparsas and zarzuelas too, filling the air with typically Spanish sights and sounds, to which barbecues and wine bars add the unmistakable scent of Andalusian sherry, grilled sardines and other local delicacies. It’s a time when international glamour meets local tradition in the streets of Marbella, when foreign residents and high fliers mingle with the townsfolk and get swept up in good-natured revelry.
Like most good things, it is over all too soon, impressive fireworks displays and all, though the day set aside in reverence of San Bernabé (Saint Bernard) reminds us that the feria is not only about hedonism and that it has its roots in religious remembrance and celebration. Many enjoy this time in June as a pleasant prelude to the rest of the summer and the August holidays to come, and if you’re not from these parts it’s a great way to immerse yourself in local culture and see what Andalucía really is all about.