Held on 3rd May each year in Granada- this is one of Granadas must sees!
A time of celebration and partying!
As far as I can gather, crucifixes are decorated with flowers in various neighbourhoods, then in the evening celebrations start with horse riders, singing, dancing, music, drinking and eating!
I arrived in Granada about 2000hrs, and as the bus passed by Plaza Nueva I witnessed people of all ages, some dressed in the traditional polka dotted flamenco dresses, or plain coloured silk dresses. I also spotted some men on horseback. By the time my taxi had arrived at my accom (we had to do a detour, due to the festivities) and I'd checked in, got changed and walked back into Granada, I'd missed the main parade. However, I came upon a small square, (Plaza Padre Suarez) where there was a bar, music and dancing, as well as a tableaux- a crucifix decorated with red flowers, an illuminated model of the Alhambra, plus religious figurines, and a table and chairs decorated with typical Andalucian home wear.
If you are lucky enough to be in Spain during Semana Santa, try to get to one of the cities that really celebrates it in style. I was in Granada and it totally blew me away. The amount of struggle and pain the people go through while carrying these effigies is staggering. Some people do it out of devotion, some have promised to do it if they're prayers were answered, some are doing it out of penance. There are many many people watching the procession, but since they go on for ten to twenty hours at times, you can find a place to watch without too many people. Early morning hours are usually best!
I chose this photo because you can see all the feet at the bottom. The side-to-side movement is spooky. The clothing on the effigy moves in a lifelike way. Try to catch a time when the participants have to hoist the platform onto their backs...they synchronize it perfectly.
In the beginning of may (3rd of may 2005) was "las cruces" - a time for celebrating in Granada. On many plazas local groups make like an exposicion with a cross. (It is a day celebrating the cross - more or less!)
Women and children wear the tradicional gypsy-flamenco-dresses, and there is a admosphere of partying throughout the city-center.
"Las Cruces" is celebrated every year on the 3rd of may - which is a partially day off in the province.
Sinde the Spanish government has prohibided "botellones" (drinking in the street) a couple of years ago the celebration of Las Cruces has been changing and it is still trying to find it's way back to the heart of the local people.
I witnessed the celebrating of this festival in Plaza Padre Suarez (as well as Plaza Nueva), I saw many people dancing, drinking, eating and chatting with friends.
I preferred Pl Padre Suarez to Plaza Nueva- I thought the atmosphere was ' more intimate' and friendly- Plaza Nueva was VERY Lively- very crowded, more for the young (and 'blasted' ones!)
I enjoyed watching groups of friends chatting , then breaking into spontaneous dances- I understand the dance is Sevillianoes, ( and not Flamenco as I'd originally thought!)
There was a bar serving an array of drinks - there had been food on sale too, but I was to late for this, but there was a nearby stall selling pastries. I was glad of something to soak up the beer that I was enjoying!
Having been to Andalusia and haven't seen flamenco? Impossible!
I advise you to visit Albayzin flamenco theatre and enjoy yourself with great concert.
The Tablao Flamenco Albayzin is located at the top of the Albaicín quarter of Granada close to the Mirador de San Cristobal, a plaza overlooking the Alhambra and the city center.
You can watch my 3 min 09 sec about Video Granada Flamenco Theatre Albayzin out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
This is a photo of my student, Noelia dressed in the typical dress of the women during Semana Santa (Holy Week: which is the week before Easter).
The men dress in hoods which British or Americans will associate with the KKK.
This is a free techno/dance festival that takes place every spring just outside Orgiva (although in 2010 it was held in Santa Fe and was much smaller). The site is a quarry and dried-up river bed that is home to a year round group of traveller types (many Brits). It gets bigger every year, in 2008 20,000 people attended. Although I'm not sure of it's legality, it's well organised, the local paper praised the provsion of bins, toilets and children's areas, and is 'tolerated' by the powers that be (and is probably too big to stop)
Not far from Granada on the Motril road, is the town of Durcal where we were lucky enough to be when they celebrated their annaul fiesta (last weekend in August).
The fiesta kicked off with a bullfight after which the whole town came out to play. Down the main drag were endless bars with music of all styles, market stalls, a decent sized fun fair and all manner of happenings. Something for everyone and great fun.
I highly advise you to take the car or stay the night if you want a drink, as all the towns cab drivers are at the fiesta too. The Gypsy Dancer and two small people braved the pre-dawn walk home across a main road and through some rather spooky trees ... Myself, a friend and the Small Person waited until a kindly waitress had finished her night shift (6am) and grabbed a lift after sunrise. Once back at the hotel where the hard working staff were still asleep, it was a climb over the gate to get back into the grounds and the main house was locked. Luckily, a friend who had joined us for the tail end of the trip, had been given a garden room, so happily exhausted, we crashed out tehre for an hour or two while the house slowly awoke !
May 2008 is the 3rd year this festival, " a celebration of life and alternative culture", has taken place. The site is in the mountains outside Granada, so has gorgeous views and has hundreds of live bands, dance acts, and arty events. There is a campsite, it lasts 3 days and you are almost guarenteed sunny, if not hot, weather. Friends of mine went the first year when not enough people attended and I believe it may have lost money but the website indicates it's done well since. Tickets are £70.
Easter in Spain is 'Semana Santa' (translation; saints's week) and is very important in this very traditional, catholic city. So yes, Granada will be absolutely packed as there are processions all week through the centre. They make a great spectacle (costumes, hoods, candles, bare feet, Virgen Maria etc)but block streets and cause traffic and pedestrian chaos. Pretty sure prices go up significantly for accomodation too.
If you are planning a visit over the Christmas period be aware that Christmas Eve is the time when most bars and restaurants will be closed! This is because families have their Christmas meal in the evening. So if you are staying in a hotel then maybe it's best to eat there that evening or else seek out a venue pretty early on as it will be very quiet!! Families venture out for midnight mass if they are religious, which I suppose would be an interesting sight for tourists interested in local customs.