The Feria de Julio has been celebrated in Valencia since 1871. With open-air cinema, concerts, fireworks and more, this month-long festival is an attempt to convince residents to remain in the city during the sweltering summer. The feria’s closing act is the Batalla de Flores, or the Flower Battle.
Jesus and the Virgin Mary rank high, too, but the two most important religious figures in Valencia are a pair of Vicentes. San Vicente Martir met his grisly fate here, while a thousand years later San Vicente Ferrer would become one of the city’s most influential sons.
With a history reaching back to 1263, Corpus Christi is perhaps Valencia’s oldest festival, and remains one of its most popular. Occurring 60 days after Easter, the festival is held in honor of the Eucharist, but really it just provides another excuse for Valencians to get out on the street and have a good time.
For three days in late April, everything comes to a stop in Alcoy, as the city celebrates its famous festival of Moros y Cristianos. Local groups parade around the city center in a series of exuberant and colorful processions which stretch, from Saturday morning to Monday. We visited on the first day of the festival, to see the entrances of both the Christians and the Moors.
On the second Sunday of May, Valencia celebrates its patroness, the Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), with a lethargic and low-key event. Subdued worshipers calmly line the Plaza de la Virgen, offering whispered prayers and privately reflecting on their faith as their beloved icon passes quietly by. (Are you detecting any sarcasm, here? Because I’m laying it on pretty thick.)
Valencians sure love their festivals. This might be a generally Spanish trait rather than one which is strictly Valencian, but once March rolls around, there’s another festival of some sort every weekend in this city. We have Fallas, wine and tapas festivals, Semana Santa, and various other religious festivals honoring a never-ending string of saints… and also, there’s a kite festival down at the beach.
Valencia doesn’t get a lot of time to recover from Fallas before the next big holiday rears its pointy head. Easter Week is celebrated throughout the city, but the main events happen in the city’s beachfront districts. The Semana Santa Marinera fills the streets of Cabanyal with processions, Jesus statues, flying flowers, marching bands, and brotherhoods in scary hoods.