Glitz, glamour, music, dancing and people wearing giant fish heads. Only in Murcia city…
As soon as the Easter celebrations are finished, the Costa Cálida – the warm coast – enters into the spring season, when festivals reach a whole new level of craziness in south-eastern Spain.
Battling for the title of the most unusual of them all – and also the most fun – is the Entierro de La Sardina (the Burial of the Sardine), which, to outsiders, may appear to be slightly bonkers.
Legend suggests the festival dates back to the reign of Carlos III. According to the story, the king planned to celebrate the end of the festival period and ordered sardines to be served, only for high temperatures to cause the fish to go off, which were then buried to disguise the smell.
Another theory suggests the tradition is simply to observe the end of Lent when Catholic worshippers were allowed to eat meat after a period of abstinence and buried or burned sardines in celebration.
Now more than 150 years old, the festival takes place on Saturday, April 7 with a large parade through the streets, attended by thousands of smiling, costumed participants, with decorated floats, music, dancing, fireworks and…large fish heads everywhere.
If something rather less eccentric is your preference, the Bando de la Huerta takes places a few days earlier on Tuesday, April 3 in Murcia and is another part of the Spring Festival.
The day itself is a celebration of Huerta traditions, with typical, local costumes, a parade of oxen-drawn carriages and booths from which the participants, known as “huertanos”, throw food for the spectators.
A four-night, bed-and-breakfast break in the modern, four-star Nelva, Murcia for two adults costs just £265 and is just 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre.
Access to the Region of Murcia is simple as it is served by Murcia-San Javier airport all year round, while Alicante airport is also nearby. Both airports are served by numerous airlines flying from a wide variety of UK and Irish airports, with flights to Murcia-San Javier in June currently available at just £72 one way from London Stansted.
For more information on any of Murcia’s wide range of festivals, visit www.murciaturistica.es/en