During the summer months in Spain and Portugal the heat intensifies during the day, averaging 40º, the days pass by in a blur of sticky sweat and heat induced siestas. When the sun goes down and the heat abates (a little), it’s time to come back to life and party! For whatever the reason, a saints day, a time-honoured tradition or sometimes there doesn’t even need to be a reason, if you are visiting the area, you are bound to find yourself in the middle of a Spanish fiesta or a Portuguese festa! It’s too hot to do anything much during the day, so why not stay up late and enjoy some fiesta fun!
When we have visited fiestas we are lucky enough to have been amazingly welcomed by locals who are always incredibly hospitable and rightly proud of their heritage. During our recent visit to Portugal we stayed in a remote village of Salvaterro do Extremo. After visiting the local bar for what we thought would be a quick drink, we were kindly invited to the small village’s festa. We were given directions to the far end of the village, told to ask for Pedro and that he would give us as many BBQ’d Sardines and bread as we could eat, as much wine as we could drink to celebrate and honour Saint Antonio. Pedro did not fail to deliver and the village certainly knew how to party, such fantastic hospitality that was so endearing and magical.
In Spain the Romerio’s, originally a religious pilgrimage, now involve many of the Romany population of Spain. In our local area, the majority of the local people highly decorate their caravans or trailers, pack them full of their favourite fabrics, belongings and festival goers. After church finishes their elaborate ‘creations’ are pulled through the village by spruced-up tractors to a beautiful campo picnic spot. Our local village’s Romerio was spectacular, everyone in their Sunday best and ready to party. Whilst we were watching, the colourful procession of tractors suddenly stopped as everyone welcomed us to their event. The boys were plied with plates and plates of Jamon, freshly sliced from the back of a trailer and we were given homemade wine by the pint glass!
The travelling fairs can be enormous in Spain such as in Malaga, and are worth visiting not just for the fun fairground rides but also as a great social occasion too; bands, bars show football and restaurants all pop up just while the fair is in town.
Produce is celebrated during ferias too; cherries, grapes, seafood, you name it, there’s a fiesta for pretty much anything and everything…if you want to celebrate the watermelon, the fiesta is in July! We visited a Seafood fiesta in Granada recently, when the Galecians brought their seafood to Andalucia; Octopus with potatoes, squid, prawns, crabs, a gastronomes delight!
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