del 26-Sep-2018 al 29-Sep-2018

The Patron Saint and the Moors and Christians Festivities in Altea

The fourth weekend in September, is when Altea celebrates its festivities in honour of the Most Holy Christ of the Sanctuary (el "Sagrario" in Spanish), alongside the Moors and Christians festivities in honour of Saint Blas, the Town's Patron Saint. These festivities have been held since 1979 and include proclamations, missions, reveilles and parades.

Two festivities for the price of one, with the streets of Altea teeming with light, colour and music, lots of music. In actual fact, there's quite a story behind Altea's festivities. When King James I disembarked in the town, he discovered that Altea was the perfect spot to defend the rest of his maritime territories.

Centuries have passed but local people still hold the traditional festivities that evoke the struggle between Moors and Christians… festivities in which there is no lack of firecrackers, "mascletás" and, of course, the traditional battle that recreates the Arab occupation and the subsequent reconquest. The fact that the patron saint festivities are held at the same time as the Moors and Christians festivities, guarantees an atmosphere that is full of fun and high spirits, with activities and events for all ages. There are dances and suppers in the social centre for the older folk, while the programme also includes days full of storytelling, fairgrounds and games for the kids.

Street parties (known here as "verbenas"), fireworks, "barracas" (typical regional houses), parades and musical spectacles take place alongside more religious acts: a floral offering to the Virgin of Consolation, a staging of Christ arriving at the town, the "Entrá de la Murtá" (when they cover the streets in branches cut from aromatic plants on the mountain sides, particularly myrtle). Another of the outstanding events is the emotive procession in which they carry on high the Most Holy Christ of the Sanctuary, an event that is normally proceeded by a solemn mass and followed by an impressive barrage of fireworks on the pier at the dyke by the promenade.

The day set aside in honour of Christ gives way to commemorations in honour of the Patron Saint of the town, San Blas. One of the most emblematic moments is the entrance of the Moors and Christians in an impressive and colourful parade in which the outfits and the representations are prominent. The moment when all the troops gather in the Square of the Cross, before walking up to the Christian Embassy situated in the Church Square, the battle cries and the Moorish surrender are some of the other unmissable aspects of the festivities.

The parades are perhaps the most attractive part of the festivities as far as tourists are concerned, and they are held on two different afternoons, on the Saturday and on the Monday. Lots of music and colour fill the streets of Altea, particularly during the last four days.

The exchange of flags, paellas at midday, musical shows for the kids and the final farewell celebrations in the festival "barraca” with music and monologues, bring these intense days of commemorations and fun to an end.

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