On 16th July, many of the coastal towns and villages in Andalucía and Tenerife celebrate the Virgin of Mount Carmelo. As the patron saint of fishermen, seamen and even scuba divers, she is a very important figure in the life of those associated with the sea.
Each town or village will have a slightly different approach to the festival, but one thing that is consistent is that the statue will be paraded through the town to the sea shore, where prayers are made for all those at sea. The statue will then be placed on a boat and a procession along the shoreline, or around the harbour, follows with a flotilla of illuminated or decorated boats.
In 1981 in Málaga, local scuba divers placed an image of the Virgin on the sea bed and since then they have been part of the festival’s traditions with divers paying respects to their sunken patron.
Nerja, Estepona and Torremolinos are some of the larger towns on the Costa del Sol that hold this spectacular festival, along with the smaller places such as La Cala de Mijas. As is often the case, the Spanish combine the religious elements with partying, and as the Virgin is a patroness of the sea, barbecues and parties on the beach feature in many places.
This moving festival is a must-see for anyone holidaying on the Costa del Sol in July; join in with the locals to wish those at sea well, and then party!
Picture credit: Verónica Bautista