Feria de San Miguel
Andalucians take their ferias seriously, and Velez-Malaga is no different. It’s one of the last of the many Axarquia summer festivals, with just Torrox, Nerja and Benamocarra taking place later. It’s celebrated around the weekend of Saint Michael’s day – which falls on 29th September – and stretches for four or five days with various celebrations held all over town.
Although San Miguel is not the patron saint of Velez-Malaga, it’s still one of the most important festivals held in town, only bettered by Semana Santa (Easter week).
The feria begins with an opening speech given by a popular Veleño (this year, Ruben Portillo Ponce of Flamenco Abierto Axarquia) in Plaza de las Carmelitas. The feria is split into day and night with the day’s festivities held in the historic centre, before in the evenings it’s moved down to Prada del Rey, which is just north of El Ingenio Shopping Centre.
Main Streets of Daytime Celebration
- Plaza de las Carmelitas, where there’s often an orchestra
- Calle Canalejas, with lots of stalls to eat or drink
- Pasaje Montera, also popular for eating and drinking
- Plaza del Carmen, hosting concerts by local groups
- Paseo Andalucia, a slightly quieter area with performances by dance groups
What to Expect from the Daytime Feria
Velez buzzes with atmosphere during feria. The streets are flooded with people and temporary bars are set up to make sure everyone is fed and watered. Live music is held in plazas, with large stages usually set up in Plaza del Carmen and Plaza de las Carmelitas. Daytime feria begins at 13.00hrs and finishes at 19.00hrs.
As well as the larger plazas, restaurants and bars opening their doors there’s also the opportunity to see into buildings that are otherwise usually closed off. Convento de las Claras is a great example of this. In recent years it’s been the scene of some excellent live Flamenco in its beautiful inner courtyard.
Parking: The best place to park is all around the edge of Maria Zambrano Park. Plaza de las Carmelitas is a 10 minute walk away.
Feria de San Miguel 2018 Daytime Programme
From 16.00hrs there are DJs on in the youth tent at the Mercado Mayorista (at the bottom of Paseo de Andalucia, next to the bus station).
What Goes On at the Nighttime Feria
The nighttime entertainment continues from around 19.30hrs at Prado del Rey just north of the shopping centre, El Ingenio, in between Velez-Malaga and Torre del Mar. Free buses are often laid on to shuttle visitors between the two. It’s good fun, drawing in a young crowd with lots of bright lights and big rides, quite different to the daytime festivities.
The large dusty car park undergoes a transformation in the weeks leading up to feria with a series of huge tents and fairground rides going up to accommodate everyone. As well as the rides there are concerts and gigs from Spanish acts, food and drink stands and children’s entertainment.
The King and Queen of feria are also announced to large crowds at the evening’s festivities. You’ll need tickets for the more popular events – such as concerts held in the main tent (see below) – which can often be obtained at the town hall on Plaza de las Carmelitas.
Feria de Noche Programme of Performers
The above acts are performing in the main tent every evening. It’s free entry to most of the acts, but for Dani J and Antonio Jose you can buy tickets on this site Malagaentradas.com
Horsemanship Exhibition – 30th September
From 12.00 – 18.00hrs on Sunday there’s an equine display held in the Recinto Ferial (nighttime feria ground in the carpark near El Ingenio). It’s a lovely opportunity to see Andalucian horses looking their best with prizes for each category as well as a free paella for all spectators. The itinerary is as follows:
12.00 – The bar opens Hermandad Rociera de Velez-Malaga
14.00 – Paella is served
15.00 – Flamenco and dressage exhibition
16.00 – Exhibition of carriages
17.00 – Prizes
18.00 – Hack through Velez-Malaga
Feria de Ganado
Alongside the flamenco dresses, drinking, dancing and general frivolity there’s also a livestock fair held in a field on Calle Ctra. de Loja (next to the cemetery), a short walk from the Paseo de Andalucia. Expect to see goats, sheep, horses and mules as well as some activities for children.
A Short History of Feria
The roots of the festival in Velez could be traced to a religious holiday celebrating the friars of the Convent of Santiago in late summer. It also coincides with the end of harvest, and in an area where so much depends on farming it’s no surprise that the celebration is so important.
The oldest records held marking the feria date back to 1894 and consist of religious functions, bullfights, fireworks and distributing bread out to the poor. The feria allowed traders to drum up extra business and went on long into the night, bringing the neighbouring communities of Velez-Malaga together to celebrate.
Nowadays the feria still has religious roots, and many of the event’s stalls and bars are set up by the Brotherhoods of Velez-Malaga. All money raised by these stalls is ploughed back into the community one way or the other, whether into maintenance, charity work or as a fund for the Semana Santa celebrations.