The long awaited Benidorm Fiesta is nearly upon us and hopefully today´s torrential rain will be long gone by Friday when the Fiesta Queens turn on the lights at 6pm to mark the beginning of the celebrations.
After that they will all head to the fair – located next to the Bull Ring to officially open it and at 10pm all the peñas will parade down Calle Ruzafa – and so ends Day One of the Benidorm Fiesta!
Almost every town in Spain has a fiesta, which in fact is a celebration of the local Patron Saint - and for Benidorm that is "La Virgin del Sufragio". Religion is a major part of the fiesta and almost every day there will be a mass held at the San Jaime church - with the distinctive blue doomed roof at the top of the Old Town.
On Saturday 7th there will be a mass starting at 10:00am in the San Jaime Church and at 11:45am the traditional “Opening of the church doors” followed by a huge aerial bombing display (lots of very loud bangs) from the Mirador to officially mark the start of the 275th Anniversary of the fiesta in Benidorm. The firemen are out in force, ready to spring into action if needed.
Everyone then marches down to the Town Hall Square led by the fiesta queens and bands. Every day at 2:00pm there will be mascletas – very loud and smokey firecrackers, let off from the Plaza Triangular and at 10:00pm there will be a DJ´s at the Park de L´Aiguera to party the night away. At 6pm there is a solemn procession and flower offering when the entire front of the San Jaime church is covered in beautiful flowers.
The streets of the Old Town will come to life after midnight - just walk around and you will see locals partying in their "penya´s". If you want to experience some true Spanish festivities then head here. Penya´s are part of the culture here in Spain - the best way to describe them is little clubs or groups of friends who fundraise throughout the year to finance the annual fiesta. They take part in the parades and some of the money goes towards the costumes, but the rest is for drinking and eating! The penya base is usually someone’s garage or empty shop and the owners make a packet renting them out - charging hundreds of euros for the week. There are cash prizes for the best decorated street and penya base so a lot of thought goes into it. Children are an integral part of the fiestas here and also stay up late. On Sunday 8th, Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th there are free children’s activities in the Town Hall Square between 11:00am and 2:00pm.
Sunday 9th coincides with Remembrance Sunday and there will be an "Act of Remembrance" held at 11.00am at Cuidad Patricia by the Royal British Legion - it is not a religious service but there will be a 2 minute silence held at 12 Noon.
Back to the fiesta agenda and at 7:00pm there will be a solemn procession through the streets of the Old Town finishing at the church. A band will be playing at the Town Hall Square from 11:00pm then at 00:30am the madness of Correfocs... something that most definitely would NOT pass the Health & Safety back in the UK!
It is basically a moving firework display that weaves in and out of the crowds on the streets of the Old Town, starting at the Town Hall. If you do decide to go then wear something with sleeves as you may be hit by sparks coming off the fireworks. As far as I can work out from the official fiesta program posted by the Town Hall, the Correfocs will be repeated again on Monday 9th at the same time… so you have two opportunities to join in!
On Tuesday 10th at 7pm is the Humor Fancy Dress Parade down the Avd Ruzafa and Calle Gambo, with each of the penyas choosing a theme - often they are political caricatures of the "Spitting Image" type and they compete for a €1200 euro prize, so as you can imagine a lot of effort goes into them. Again a DJ will keep the buzz alive down Calle Gambo from a specially erected stage and night time mascletas will be let off from the Avd Mediterraneo.
Wednesday 11th is the final day of the fiesta celebration - at 5.30pm there is a grand float procession starting at Dove Park, making its way down the Avd Ruzafa and finally down the Calle Gambo - sweets will be thrown from the floats so go armed with bags like the Spanish!
Then the final act is the spectacular firework display which is lit from the Poniente beach (Dove Park end) usually around 8:30/9:00pm - crowds tend to head up to the Mirador after the parade, where you get a fantastic view and atmosphere, with many locals taking bottles of cava to celebrate.
Then Thursday 12th is the long awaited British Fancy Dress Day, when literally thousands descend on the Square and Calle Gerona dressed in a variety of costumes – anything goes on this day! It´s become a really popular finale which always takes place on a Thursday - the day after the official end of the Benidorm fiesta. Then don´t forget the giant FREE paella on Friday afternoon outside Sinatras in the Square!