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, often 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.
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.
What Goes On at the Nighttime Feria
The nighttime entertainment continues 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 musicians, 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 – which can often be obtained at the town hall on Plaza de las Carmelitas.
Feria de San Miguel 2017 Programme
The town hall have been a bit slow printing the programme for Velez feria in 2017. However, you can now collect your free copy from the tourism office or view it here.
Some highlights include:
Daytime feria kicks off on Thursday 28th September from 14.00hrs for lunch, then from 16.00hrs there’s live music all around the old town. Here’s where to see bands like Electroduendes, Play it again, Sam, Nexo, Little less and Break the Senses.
In the Plaza del Carmen from 16.00hrs there’s live music on 28th, 29th, 30th and 1st October.
14 Calle Luis de Rute, The brotherhood of El Huerto & Desamparados has live music from 16.30hrs on 28th, 29th, 30th and Sunday 1st October.
The nighttime feria begins on Wednesday 27th from around 20.00hrs. In the main tent at nighttime feria there are the following concerts. You can buy tickets now:
There’s a tent dedicated to children run by La Carpa (the local children’s theatre group) next to the main tent at the feria ground on Prado del Rey. There’ll be a mini disco from 21.30hrs and children’s entertainers from 22.30hrs on 28th, 29th and 30th September.
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.