By John Smith •
Published: 21 Sep 2023 • 18:26
Crowds turn out to enjoy Altea Moors and Christians Festival
Credit: Diputación Alicante
The pretty town of Altea in Costa Blanca celebrates its annual Moors and Christians Festival which runs from Friday September 22 until Monday September 25 although festivities continue until Saturday October 1.
It’s not just an excuse for a week of partying as towns all over Costa Blanca and other areas celebrate their rescue from the clutches of their Moorish overlords and their return to Christianity several hundred years ago.
One might have thought that all of those taking part in the various parades would be anxious to dress as the victorious Christians, but this is far from reality as many groups of ladies are more comfortable in dressing as part of a seraglio (Sultan’s Harem) than as common soldiers and even the odd crocodile has been known to appear!
The Festival starts at 1pm on Friday with the traditional ringing of bells throughout the town followed by the firing of mortars to alert residents of the imminent arrival of the Christian Army.
There’s music at 8pm as various bands parade through the streets converging on the Town Hall were a formal announcement of the event is made and then it’s party time.
The next day is all about celebration and will start at 8.30am with the Moorish parade, followed by a display of shooting and the formal surrender by the Moorish Embassy to the Christians and in the evening it’s the turn of the Christians in full costume to parade through the streets followed by music at midnight.
As it’s Sunday, there is a solemn Mass at noon but you can be sure that prior to this there will be a parade of costumed revellers and these will continue all through the day before the night sky explodes with batteries of fireworks at 12.30 am and when that dies down there will be even more music.
Once everyone has had the chance to get a bit of sleep, it all starts over again on Monday with more parades starting with the Christians, a Mass to honour Saint Blai, patron of the local Federation of Moors and Christians.
The day continues with another round of surrenders as well a return parade of the costumed Moors followed finally by several local DJs.
One local participant Narea, who has been a part of one of the Moors Comparsas for 12 years, told Euro Weekly News that for many, this event is the highlight of their year, often surpassing the cost and significance of a yearly holiday.
“We have an incredible amount of fun, not just during the fiestas but also in the lead-up to them,” she shared.
“Though I must admit, we often find ourselves in need of a holiday to recover afterwards. The partying and festivities can be quite exhausting!”
The Altea Council has contacted residents who might be affected by all of the processions and thanked them in advance for their patience, explaining that it’s only four days a year!
During the rest of the week there is a special lunch for the elderly, a performance of The Jungle Book for the local children, a music festival with the second part of the festival coming to an end on Sunday October 1.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development.
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