Moors and Christians, Alcoy: Spain's most explosive fiesta.
Due to a clash with Easter, the 2014 dates are to be announced. Most likely to be the the 1st weekend of May. Watch this post.
The armies march all day to the sound of the bands. Berbers, soldiers from Marrakesh, Mudéjares, Abencerrajes, Benimerines, all preparing for war. A group of Andalusian bandits is also there, as well as Basque soldiers, an army from Asturias, even a band of Valencian peasants armed with farming implements. All are set for the battle. Martial music announces the glory of the coming struggle. The people lining the streets admire and encourage the warriors. Soldiers march, sergeants wave at the crowds and horsemen show off their skills. All day long the hosts parade through a city decked with banners, especially the red cross of Saint George. The mood is festive as Alcoy sends her armies off to war.
Every year, in April, the Saint gives victory to the Christian hosts as Alcoy, in the Valencia, re-enacts the famous, and largely mythical, battle. The celebration is one of the great fiestas of Spain, the greatest in the world, according to many an Alcoyano. From our experience of over 20 years of enjoying and joining in the fun we would certainly agree with this.
La fiesta is a year-long business for the people of Alcoy, as they prepare for those four days. Membership in one of the 28 Moorish or Christian armies, called filaes, is much more than a hobby. The participants meet regularly throughout the year to commune with their brethren, raise funds, organize banquets, and plan out the many activities that make up the fiesta. For them the year starts and ends in April, the time when they don their costumes and march to the sound of the bands. The euphoria is topped off during the battle, when they fire hundreds of blanks with their blunderbusses in this, the noisiest of Spanish fiestas. Money and time are spent prodigiously by the members of the filaes. Many save up throughout the year, and more than a few make yearly visits to the local pawn shops. The matter of clothes is expensive enough. Every army has its own traditional costume design, both fancy and fanciful. Many of them, especially those of the captains, cost a small fortune. Every year, the Christian and Moorish captains are provided by different filaes on a rotation basis. They always vie for the best-dressed captain ever. At the end of the fiesta the captains, usually well-to-do businessmen, donate their costumes to the Moors and Christians museum.
Although no effort is made to achieve strict historical accuracy in the clothes, plenty of attention is given to the details, and the costumes have to follow certain rules. Some modern things are allowed, like eyeglasses and watches, and most of the soldiers, even non-smokers, chomp on cigars. These cigars are a tradition of the fiesta, although nobody seems to know exactly why. "They're just part of the fun," says one Alcoyano.
But this is no costume party, no carnival. No tell-tale trouser legs or modern shoes remind you that this is all make-believe. Maybe because, in a sense, it isn't make-believe; it seems, rather, that you are seeing these insurance salesmen, shopkeepers or bank presidents emerge from drab existences into their true, glorious selves. After the flags and drums, horses and castles, feathered helmets and shining armor, the rest of the year seems like mere Clark Kent stuff.
But you don't go to Alcoy to see grown men and women make fools of themselves, either.
A welcome balance is struck between all-stops-out abandon and respect for traditions kept alive over the centuries. This is fun taken seriously. Even in the wildest moments there are some set forms. At the end of the fiesta, Alcoyanos are always sad. But there remains a consolation: "only 361 days till the next one".
Mountainwalks are delighted to be able to offer our
"Taste of Spain in the footsteps of the Moors " guided walking holiday.
Commencing:- 2014 Dates TBC
This full board walking holiday includes, a visit to the Night of Music to witness the beginning of these wonderful fiestas; a full day at the fiestas to witness the spectacular parades. We have prime seating booked on the parade route and an excellent lunch booked in a local restaurant. A long day but loads of fun. You will have plenty of time to wander about and meet the locals and join the fun. Finally a visit to the fiestas on the final day to witness the re enactment of the battles. When we are not enjoying the fiestas we are in the splendid mountain countryside enjoying walks. The holiday duration is 7 nights and features 1 full day at the fiestas plus 2 other visits, and 4 days guided walking. Full board including wine with dinner, or lunch in the case of the visit to the fiestas on the day of the parades.
The price per person is 795 Euros.
No single supplements.
For more information on 2014 contact us now. email us:-