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Welcome to 'All the Fun of the Fiesta', our rough guide to the many fiestas of Jávea. It goes without saying that the fiesta is an essential element of Spanish culture and the Spanish people simply wouldn’t be who they are without it. The concept may seem quite alien to the British, whose experiences may well have been limited to a rain-soaked summer carnival and a travelling fairground in a muddy local park every summer. However there are over 15,000 fiestas every year throughout Spain and it is said that even if you attempted to attend more than one a day, you wouldn’t be able to see them all in a single lifetime.

In a great many cases, the fiesta is deeply-rooted in religious tradition dating back many hundreds of years, customs that have been largely lost in the United Kingdom as secularism becomes more widespread. Because Spain has retained much of its historical adherence to Catholicism, there remain many religious observances throughout the year, marking specific landmark dates in the Catholic calendar, such as the Assumption in August and the Immaculate Conception in December. However, other fiestas can trace their roots back to Pagan times, such as the Valencia’s “Fallas” in March which celebrates San José but are thought to have originated in the ancient observation of the spring equinox. In addition, the complex history of Spain produces a wide variety of heroic legends and battles played out in the streets of towns across the country, such as Alcoy’s “Moros i Cristianos” in April which celebrates the appearance of San Jorge (England’s Saint George) during the recovery of the city from Islamic forces in the 13th century.

Fiesta Programme 2020

Los Reyes Magos

Jesús Nazareno


Jávea is no exception when it comes to the enthusiasm to party and there are celebrations of all shapes and sizes throughout the year. Some pass barely unnoticed by all but a handful of adherents, a brief explosion of noise marking a short parade through the narrow streets of the historic centre. Others, however, are difficult to ignore, from the much-anticipated arrival of the Three Kings bearing gifts in January and the religious observence of the treasured image of Jesús Nazareno through to the midsummer celebrations of San Juan and the colour and noise of the Moors and Christians with the end of summer marked in the port with the celebrations which honour the revered Virgin of Loreto. In this section, we outline the fiesta programme for this year.


On January 5th the Three Kings arrive in the port of Jávea by fishing trawler to be greeted by local dignitaries, the municipal band and of course hundreds of excited children. A colourful procession winds through the streets of the port to a special stage where their majesties will hand out token presents to the kids who have been waiting patiently in the square. As night falls, the procession climbs up into the old town, the escorts showering excited children with boiled sweets, and arrives at another special stage where more token presents are dished out. The evening has always been a special one in the Christmas calendar when children and adults can expect to receive their presents. In this section, we explain the significance of this special event for all the family.


On 15th October 1767 the town was presented with an image of Jesús Nazareno by the Duchess of Medinaceli as thanks for the town's tribute on the birth of her son. The image was carried to the church of San Bartolomé where it remained until the small Calvario chapel was completed to house the new statue three years later. When cholera swept the area in 1834, the population prayed to the image for salvation and there no more deaths that year and ever since. In gratitude, improvements were made to the chapel including the building of the Arabic-style blue tiled dome. In 1967, to mark the bicentennial of the arrival of the image, it was named as perpetual mayor and to this day the baton of office is carried at its feet. In this section, we explain all about this major religious event in Jávea.

Fogueres de Sant Joan

Moors and Christians

Mare de Déu de Loreto


Midsummer celebrations have been around for thousands of years ever since our ancestors lit bonfires to ward off evil spirits that were said to roam freely once the sun began its journey back southwards and the nights began to lengthen. Enduring time and social evolution, these traditions continue to uphold a central theme: the ancient custom of lighting fires to prolong the light through the night to the following dawn. These pagan rituals were "Christianized" and adapted to become a celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist. For Jávea, the modern celebrations of San Juan stretch back to 1950 and have become similar to those celebrated by the city of Valencia and other towns, who welcome the arrival of spring with the ‘Fallas’ of San José in March.


These colourful fiestas, celebrated mainly in the southern Valencian region, serve primarily as a reminder of a period of history when much of Spain was under the control of Muslim powers. However they also recall the daily struggle against Muslim Barbary pirates who prowled the Mediterranean coast between the 15th and 17th centuries and indeed the village of Jávea was once a walled stronghold to protect its citizens against such marauders. In essence, the festivities of the Moos and Christians celebrates the success of the "Reconquista", the ultimate triumph of Christian forces over what were considered as Islamic invaders in 1492, and the strengthening of the Christian faith, whilst also acknowledging the culture that controlled much of Spain for over 700 years.


Although the official celebration is on December 10th, many Spanish towns and cities celebrate their patron "Mare de Deu de Loreto" on September 8th - the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady. In Jávea / Xŕbia, she is the patron saint of the port area and regarded as a protector of its fortune, both on land and sea. The festivities date back to the 19th century; they were originally thought to have first taken place in 1896 but a few years after the centenary celebrations in 1996, evidence was discovered that dated the possible origin of the festivities to the 1870s. Quite possibly the biggest attraction of the festivities is the "bous al mar" - the "bulls to the sea" version of the popular but controversial bull-running event that is omnipresent in just about every fiesta in Spain.

San Antonio Abad

San Sebastian

Santa Llucia


Most people will know this fiesta; it’s the one where the animals are blessed during a huge concentration of pets of all shapes and sizes in the main square in the old town. However, the festivities are so much more than a single morning’s work for the local priest for there is the traditional burning of the pine tree to warm up a chilly January evening. The exact origin of the bonfire is lost in the mists of time but there can be no doubt that at some point it formed part of an important Pagan winter festival that was linked with Midwinter, celebrating the growing power of the sun after winter’s increasing darkness and chill as well as the ritual of purification as winter begins to shift towards spring. However there is also a traditional Mediterranean tale that links San Antonio to fire. Find out more in this section.


Even today, almost every street in the old town has a shrine to a particular saint or a virgin to which the neighbours would turn for special protection during periods of strife or danger of disease. Although it isn’t clear as to when exactly San Sebastián became the patron saint of Jávea, it is almost certainly during the late Middle Ages when the village was facing the horror of the ‘Black Death’. The terrified people likened the random nature of infection to being shot by an arrow from one of nature’s archers and thus they sought salvation from a saint associated with archers. His niche can be found at the bottom of Calle Major, close to the location of one of the gates through the ancient town walls. It was only recently his importance as patron saint was fully restored to the fiesta calendar.


This celebration has its root in pre-Christian celebration of Midwinter, an observance of the Winter Solstice and the “rebirth” of the sun as the daylight begins to lengthen again. The date is linked to the unreformed Julian calendar with December 13th as the longest night of the year. The origins of the choice of date as the fiesta of Santa Llúcia is possibly linked with the fact that it falls 12 days before Christmas and it is often seen as the start of the festive celebrations, marking the inauguration of the nativity scenes - with the baby Jesus as he has yet to "bring light" to the world. The patron saint of the blind, her name is derived from lux, lucis  - "light". Festivities take place on top on the hill of Santa Llúcia which is crowned with the chapel of the same name.

Festes del Portitxol

Festes La Plana

Virgen del Rocio


Revived in 2010, the Festes del Portitxol take place right by the tosca stone cross of Portitxol where, just opposite, there is a small farmhouse. It's a modest affair with an evening of traditional music and dancing which usually begins with a small parade through the village of Portitxol with drums and dulzaina, an attempt to make everyone aware of the celebrations. As the sun sets behind the mountain of Montgó silhouetted in the distance, there is traditional dancing and maybe even some stand-up comedy before a community dinner for everyone. The night is finished off with drinking and dancing to a live band into the early hours. A few heavy heads normally welcome a hearty breakfast of sardines and bread before a series of traditional games for young and old.


The fiestas in honor of the Virgen de los Ángeles are modest celebrations that are also known as the 'fiestas of La Plana' since they are centred around the sanctuary of Mare de Déu dels Ŕngels on La Plana. The fiestas honour the treasured painting of the Virgin Mary which is hung inside the chapel of the sancuary but on August 2nd, the feast day of the Virgen de los Ángeles, it is carried around the plateau of La Plana. The fiestas include traditional music and dancing, community dinners and dancing to a band or disco until the early hours. They not only promote fellowship amongst the neighbours of La Plana but they are open to everyone who wants to come along and become involved and maybe even learn a bit more about Xŕbia than its beaches and bars.


The Andalusian community of Jávea celebrate their heritage with the annual feast of the Virgen del Rocio in July, a special programme of events prepared by the Casa de Andalusia. The bulk of the events take place over a weekend with a special mass followed by flamenco music and dancing as well as a spectacular equestrian show in the Parque Reina Sofia in Thiviers. On Saturday morning there is the traditional procession with the image from Thiviers to the Parque Pinosol for more music and dancing as well as a communal dinner of paella. This parade consists of horses and carts accompanying the image along the coast and through the Arenal to the beautiful forested park in Pinosol. After an evening of music and dance, Sunday morning is for the kids with games before the image is returned.

Update 2019


Becoming A Moor

Sant Joan & Casalla



The huge bass drum pulsates through my body as we move forward slowly along the road, a cymbal crashing violently on every step. Either side of us the street is lined with people, some cheering, some applauding, some even bemused by it all. But everyone is smiling. I pick out familiar faces in the crowd. Their curious expressions turn into sudden realisation as they recognise me. They wave, they call out, there’s the occasional choice word. But all I can do is smile and give them a wink in return.

Since 2016 I have been involved with the Moors and Christians fiesta each summer in Xŕbia and these are my experiences of becoming a Moor ...


In 2016 we were asked by the Fogueres Commission to write an article based on our experiences and it appeared - in Castellano - in the official booklet for the 2016 edition of the fiesta. It proved to be a popular read with many people finding out how outsiders saw their grand fiesta. So we've decided to re-produce it - with a few edits and additions - to bring it up to date.



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