Fiesta del Carmen

The Fiesta del Carmen is held on the 16th July, and is of particular importance in Málaga city and the surrounding towns and villages with a maritime tradition. Carmen is the patron saint of seafarers and the festival dates back to when the main source of revenue in the area was the fishing industry. It wasn’t long ago, perhaps in my grandmother’s time, that people wouldn’t go swimming until the Virgin had blessed the waters.

During the procession, a statue of Our Lady Carmen is carried through all the fishing districts in the evening by bearers dressed in the traditional marengo costume of white shirt, black trousers, a red cummerbund and canvas espadrilles. Afterwards they take off their shoes and wade out to sea, carefully placing the statue on a fishing boat adorned with flowers. It is then taken out to sea, followed by a multitude of small jábegas (fishing boats). There is music and cheering, singing and dancing as well as a fireworks display.

Celebrations vary slightly from town to town. In Málaga city the procession takes place at the Malagueta beach and carries on until the Baños del Carmen. There is another procession in the old fishing quarter of Pedregalejo (where these photos were taken), with people from the city and other neighbouring fishing quarters taking part. The fabulous seafood restaurants in this area get booked up well in advance, as they also do in El Palo and Rincon de la Victoria, and the celebrations usually continue well into the night.

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