del 16-jul-2020 al 16-jul-2020

Virgen del Carmen festivals in coastal towns

Abahana Villas - Detail of the sculpture of the Virgen del Carmen procession.
Abahana Villas - Detail of the sculpture of the Virgen del Carmen procession.

The Festival of the Virgen del Carmen (the Virgin of Mount Carmel) is celebrated in almost every seaside town across Alicante province on 16 July or the nearest weekend.

The Virgin is the patron saint of sailors and the sea, making it a very special celebration in the towns and cities on the shores of the Mediterranean. The traditional maritime procession, with floral offerings made to the sea is perhaps the most moving moment in this festival in honour of the Virgen del Carmen. These iconic events take place in towns such as Calpe, Dénia, Altea and Jávea.

In the town of Calpe, it is the fishermen's religious brotherhood which organises the celebrations in honour of the patron saint, festivities which date back to 1940, with solemn religious ceremonies and a unique atmosphere. The town's sailors organise this festival to honour their saint. A solemn Mass, mascletàs (firecrackers) and local cuisine form part of this programme of celebrations and commemoration.

Perhaps the most evocative and moving part of Calpe's patron saint festivals is the floral offering to the Holy Virgin which takes place in the fishing port and to which fishing families and other devotees are invited to offer flowers to the patron saint. Following a procession with bouquets of flowers, the participants dressed in regional costumes, deliver the Virgin to the oarsmen waiting in the faluchos and llauds (small vessels typical of the Levant region) to begin the solemn maritime procession. A very moving moment, the silence only broken by the splash of the oars in the water.

At the end of the procession, a prayer is said for the dead and a crown of flowers is taken to Calpe Rowing Club which will be left at sea in memory of all those lost at sea.

In Altea the sailors pay homage to their patron saint with a maritime procession where an image of the Virgin is carried on a boat across Altea bay, through waves carpeted with flowers. The celebration is brought to a close with an outdoor mass and the release of hundreds of ducks into the water.

This special devotion to the Virgen del Carmen that we see the on Costa Blanca fills the waters of the Mediterranean with floral offerings and maritime processions all across the Levant. As is common in Festivals in the Autonomous Community of Valencia, among the events and activities that take place, special mention must go to the impressive firework displays that mark the end of the festival.

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