Because of its rich culture, history and religious and Moorish influences, there are many cultural events in El Puerto de Santa Maria and around. Indeed it has been said that in the province of Cadiz there is at least one local festival every week. Here are just a handfull of festivals happening in El Puerto de Santa Maria, and in Andalusia! Spark Spanish will be there every step of the way to ensure that everyone can experience some of this fantastic Spanish Culture. All of this making it a great place to learn Spanish.
Probably the most well known event is the Feria. Each town has its own Feria and it is often the subject of conversation for many weeks before and after. The most well known characteristic of the Feria are the girls in big swirly, brightly coloured dresses and the men (not as many) in typical ‘caballero’ costumes.
Other things you will find are: horses, lots of sherry, Sevillanas music and people dancing Sevillanas everywhere, a fun fair, jacket potatoes, fabulous food and tapas and much much more! There are fairs all over Andalucia from April – October, with Seville being the first fair of the season. Whilst Seville feria might be the most well known, personally from experience we find the El Puerto (usually in April / May) much nicer with the most important difference to Seville being that all the casetas (marquees) in El Puerto are open to all, whereas in Seville most are on ticket basis, meaning you can’t wander around from caseta to castea meeting friends and conocidos (people you vaguely know), which is one of the most enjoyable features of ferias. The Puerto fair is known as the “feria del vino fino” after the local sherry made in El Puerto de Santa Maria. The Jerez feria is usually the week after El Puerto and is also a must for horse lovers and is probably the prettiest of all fairs.
Also the wonderful Feria de Caballos in Jerez de la Frontera takes place the week before the Feria in El Puerto, during the 11-18 of May. Why not check out our special Spanish and Feria course?
Carnival craze spreads through southern Spain in January and February and provides an excuse for dressing up and partying. The carnival in El Puerto de Santa Maria is nice and you will certainly find yourself dressing up and joining in the festivities, but it is in Cadiz where the heartbeat of Spanish carnival spirit can be found and a day or night trip across the bay (easy to do from el puerto) is certainly worth the effort. In Cadiz Carnival consists of big processions with beautifully decorated karts and is most famous nationally wise for its carnival songs, which come in many forms, from the groups of friends dressed up and singing on the streets, to the big competitions that conclude in the Cadiz theatre and are televised throughout Spain. However it is the street atmosphere created by around 200,000 people who descend on the city nearly all in fancy dress, which is the real attraction for most and well worth getting involved in. Check out our blog posts for student experiences at carnivals.
Here is an example of a performance who appeared in the quarter finals of the music competition in Cadiz:
Another famous holiday is Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter. To celebrate this Catholic tradition every town has many processions, usually one per church, spread out over the week. Each church has their own ‘brotherhood’ of people and they usually carry a big ‘plateau’ with their Saint (usually Jesus or Maria) and many candles around the area of the church. To many this can sound a little boring but once you see the effigies, which can be as heavy as a small car, being carried one cannot fail to be impressed and also as all festivals in Spain (even religious ones!), the Spanish have the remarkable ability to quickly turn the festival into a party atmosphere once the effigies have passed. El Puerto de Santa Maria has impressive effigies and has a week timetable for when they will be leaving and arriving, which is more than enough to get a feel for the atmosphere, however if one gets especially into them, a day or night visit to Sevilla to see larger processions could well be worth the time. Check out our blog posts for student experiences during semana santa.
El Puerto de Santa Maria has its own 4 day independent music festival every October. Artists from all over Spain and some from other countries descend on the town as many of the venues in Puerto are taken up by live performances. The quality of the bands is usually high and the music is mainly Spanish language, making it another great opportunity to booster your language exposure. For more information refer to: http://monkeyweek.org/ and also check out our blog posts for student experiences at the music festival.
A motoGP race takes place every year in Jerez (a town 10 minutes from El Puerto via train) around April-May. For those who are a little unsure, the MotoGP is basically a form of Grand Prix motor racing, that involves motorbikes. Fans come from various corners of the world, most riding down on their motorbikes, to see the event and it is not an understatement to say El Puerto de Santa Maria is literally overun by motorbikes. Last year around 500,000 fans were said to have made their way down to the race. For more information see the Jerez race track`s web. Check out our blog posts for student experiences at the the motor GP race.
This is a pilgrammage at El Rocío in the countryside of Almonte, in the Province of Huelva, right here in Andalusia. It takes place the weekend before Pentecost Monday, last year, that fell on the weekend of Saturday June 7th. Monday June 9th 2014 was known as Whit Monday and it is a religious holiday in many countries including Ireland, Holland and Switzerland. The date on which it falls is always a Monday, but the date differs every year depending on when Easter falls. The pilgrammage attracts many religous groups from all over the world every year and is said to be a spirtually enhancing experience.
Bull-fighting has formed a part of Spanish culture for centuries. El Puerto de Santa Maria has one of the most famous bullrings in Spain (being the widest) and attracts some of the top bullfighters throughout the bull fighting season (Easter and Summer). One of Puerto’s unique ‘corridas’ is one that takes place in Easter with the bullfighters on horseback. There is also bull running in many local villages, like Arcos de la Frontera and Grazalema. Wherever you stand on the matter of bull-fighting, the El Puerto bull ring is an impressive architectural site in its own right.
It has just been released that the new Capital of Wine in Europe is the beautiful city of Jerez de la Frontera, which is located just a 10 minute train ride away from El Puerto de Santa María! We would like to dedicate this blog post to congratulate Jerez on this fantastic award! Jerez is a stunning city with so many cultural activities to enjoy there. With its phenomenal buildings and amazing bars and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to taste the wine the city is now renowned for.
Check out this promotion video for Jerez’s Wine industry. It beautifully shows some of the history in Jerez and much much more!
Click here for more on Jerez’s new award!
Other Local Festivals
Want to know more about Spanish culture? Why not check out our Andalusian or El Puerto de Santa Maria info? Have a query you want to check with us about the location? Why not request an answer or check with our online Spark Assistant. Inspired to learn Spanish? Check out our Spanish Language Courses.
We also give regular updates on What’s on in El Puerto de Santa Maria, and also What’s on in Cadiz and Andalusia! Check out what is happening and make sure you don’t miss out on witnessing amazing culture and festivities here in El Puerto and Andalusia!!
*1 Please note this article is about the bull ring and in no way endorses the activity. We in Spark are against bull-fighting but also respect that different attitudes exist.