Tuesday 18th April (2017) saw the residents of Murcia – along with numerous tourists – don the traditional “huertano” dress and take part in the day long, annual “Bando De La Huerta” festival.
After a week of Easter celebrations, with long processions working their way through the city’s streets, the “Murcianos” really let themselves go on what is probably their biggest festival of the year.
Taking place on the first Tuesday after Easter Sunday, the day begins with a grand offering of flowers to the Virgin of Fuensanta, who is the Patron Saint of Murcia. The streets then quickly fill up with men, women and children, bringing with them their decorated shopping trolleys, which are packed with all the essentials for a day long, outdoor fiesta: tortilla, patatas, aceitunas, tinto, cerveza… y mucho más (and ever so much more!) Yes, they head out for the day, well stocked up on enough alcoholic mixtures to last an eternity, typical Spanish snacks and plenty of plastic cups (of course).
The festival welcomes the spring and celebrates Murcia’s countryside and its produce. Moving around throughout the city, you’ll come across “barracas” (stalls), where you can sample the local delights; but be sure to take plenty of cash, as the bill here tends to be slightly more than what you’d pay in a cafe or bar. Nonetheless, the food is definitely worth it and the atmosphere in them on the day of “Bando” is always buzzing!
As the day moves along, around lunchtime (Spanish timing,so let’s say 3ish) Murcia’s “Gran Via” becomes a runway for those groups who wish to really show off the city’s traditions. The pavements find themselves jam packed with people on tip toes, trying their best to get a view of the parade as it makes its way down the street. From horses and carts, ben on bikes, to people dressed as grubs and shrubs…
And it’s not only those who participate in the parade who will be catching your eye, but everyone who takes the festival seriously will also spend time getting their outfits and accessories together. From gorgeous dresses, jazzy waistcoats to flowers in girls’ hair; and the boys go all out too! The ladies don’t always opt for the dress however, as it’s a heavy ensemble and tends to be pretty pricey.
The partyinggoes on well into the early hours of the following morning, with all the bars staying open extra late and setting themselves up out in the streets too. The parks fill up early in the morning (teenagers making the most of little adult supervision) and the main squares in the city have singers, dancers and all sorts of entertainment going on all day. Everywhere gets pretty crowded, so if your not a fan of waiting for the loo then don’t stray too far from your accommodation – otherwise be prepared to wait in line for a long time!
Without a doubt, this is a festival to experience. So if you find yourselves down in the south of Spain just after Easter, get yourselves to Murcia and enjoy a truly traditional fiesta.
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